Installing Freedos in qemu
If you'd like to install Freedos in Linux and not deal with the longer
instruction set for installing in dosemu, consider installing in the freely
available Virtual Machine (VM) qemu.
Qemu is an open-source emulation system that lets the user install
guest operating systems within a host OS. The Host can be a number
of different architectures, the best supported being Microsoft Windows and
Linux. It's a totally new take on the old idea of having a multi-boot
computer with different operating systems, made available by the speed
and memory capacity of modern computers.
Operating systems installed within the qemu virtual machine see an
artificial architecture of their expectation, and thus generally run nicely.
Qemu isn't the fastest VM out there, but it is respectably fast, especially for
DOS and older Windows versions as guest operating systems. In addition, qemu
sports many nice features, including networking and usb support.
First, install the qemu Virtual Machine
In Debian, and possibly other Linux versions, qemu is a package
included in the distribution. For Debian, install with the following
sudo apt-get install qemu qemu-launcher
You can also install the kqemu accelerator for your architecture, but
it doesn't do anything for a Freedos install.
It might be even better to get the latest version of qemu. It's a snap to
install on Linux, and fixes a number of issues you might find useful for
windows installs, such as usb access. Get the latest version at bellard.org.
For Linux, what you'll get is a tar.gz file, which can simply be un-tarred in
the root directory. From there it automatically installs in the appropriate /usr
directories. The accelerator package can also be downloaded and installed using
the standard Linux make command (look at the README that comes with the
package). You'll probably need the Linux headers appropriate to your install
if you try to build the kqemu accelerators
If you do a Debian package install, you can use the qemu-launcher
utility to set up a Freedos VM partition, selecting cdrom as the install
medium. While in the launcher, you can turn off the accelerator, as it will do
nothing for you during the install.
From the launcher, when you select install, the qemu VM will boot
from the Freedos cd and install with no difficulty.
When the launcher begins installation, note the qemu command line used by
the launcher that is shown in the launch window. Make a script file to launch qemu
with those arguments (except eliminate the -b boot option).
If you download the latest package from the qemu website, you'll have to go
find the qemu-launcher as it isn't part of the qemu website package. You might try
Even without the launcher you can still do the install with the following commands:
qemu-img create qemu_freedos 1000M|
qemu -m 128 -b d -cdrom /dev/cdrom -hda 'qemu_freedos' \
-net nic,vlan=0,mode=ne2k_isa -net user,vlan=0 -localtime -no-kqemu
The first creates the qemu disk image, and the second will boot (within
qemu) the Freedos cdrom and let you install. On the first, adjust the file
name and file size (shown as 1000 megabytes). On the second, adjust to use the
same file name you created.
Freedos Networking from within qemu
Yes, you can even get your Freedos qemu install to communicate over your network.
If you wish to do networking within your Freedos install, set the vlan mode
to ne2k_isa. This tells the VM to emulate a ne2000 compatible network
card, and fortunately Freedos also has a ne2000 packet driver.
Below is the command line I use to load my Freedos/qemu install:
qemu -m 128 -hda 'qemu_freedos' -net nic,vlan=0,mode=ne2k_isa \
-net user,vlan=0 -localtime -no-kqemu
By just typing in the name of my script file, a fully functional, network
capable version of Freedos pops up in a qemu Virtual Machine window.
Pretty neat -- don't you think?
When you're in your Freedos install, adjust the autoexec.bat to load the
ne2000 packet driver.
With this setup, the qemu VM also support DHCP, so when you set up arachne choose
the DHCP setup option and you'll be on the web from Freedos in no time.