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DOSBox logo
DOSBox 0.73
Basic data

Publishing year July 22, 2002
Current  version 0.74-3
( June 26, 2019 )
operating system Microsoft Windows , macOS , Linux , OS / 2 , FreeBSD , RISC OS , Solaris , KolibriOS
programming language C ++ , C
category emulator
License GNU GPL
German speaking Yes

DOSBox is a free x86 - Emulator , the PC-compatible DOS and the common in the era hardware replicates. The aim is to run older, DOS-based software that is only partially compatible or incompatible with modern computer systems .


In contrast to the virtual DOS machine supplied with Windows operating systems or to emulators such as DOSEMU under Linux , DOSBox not only emulates the hardware environment of an IBM PC - compatible computer , but also the processor and the DOS operating system . This allows better control over the execution of the emulated program. As an emulator, the software is also able to create an environment that is largely compatible with MS-DOS / PC DOS , even on computers with different processor architectures and on incompatible PCs. A real DOS operating system (such as MS-DOS , PC DOS or DR-DOS ) can be run within DOSBox, but this is rarely necessary.

Extended memory ( EMS ) and special EXE loading programs (for example for the game Jazz Jackrabbit ) are also supported from version 0.61. In addition, DOSBox is portable or mobile , i.e. no installation in the existing operating system is necessary, as DOSBox is only configured using a simple text file .

The DOSBox developers mainly have in mind the emulation of a platform for older computer games which either cannot be executed at all or can only be executed incorrectly under Win32 operating systems. Due to the full emulation of the x86 processor, DOSBox enables DOS applications to be run under the 64-bit versions of Windows, which themselves no longer offer support for 16-bit software. This means that 16-bit Windows applications can also be executed if Windows 3.x has been installed within DOSBox.

Since DOSBox uses Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL), it is comparatively easy to port it to other operating systems or computer architectures .



DOSBox needs a lot of computing power in order to reproduce the emulated system at the original speed. Depending on the software used, more powerful processors than Pentium or 80486 are required in order to run smoothly programs originally written for the Intel 80486 or Intel Pentium family.

For IA-32 (which actually x86 includes in its entirety, therefore, 16- / 32- / 64-bit) - specifically for Intel 80386 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit, AMD64 / Intel 64 , alternative name x86-64) - as well as for ARM there is a dynamic translator ( English Dynamic Recompilation ) or JIT compiler , whereby the emulated CPU core of DOSBox allows the program code to be executed directly by the host's processor , instead of emulating the individual commands in software. This increases the execution speed on these processor architectures within the emulated DOS environment.

Another way to speed up protected mode software, sometimes drastically, is to replace the frequently used DOS / 4GW Protected Mode Memory Extender with the more compact and faster open source derivative DOS / 32A .

Parallel interface

The official version of DOSBox lacks support for the parallel interface , which is used by most of the older printers and some control devices in the manufacturing industry. There is now an unofficial version of DOSBox that includes support for the parallel interface.

Character set

The emulator does not translate the character sets of mounted partitions at the file system level into the DOS character set (see also FAT - without Unicode support). As a result, files and folders (e.g. with German umlauts in their names that are stored on NTFS partitions) are not always displayed correctly in the emulator and thus such files (e.g. libraries ) are not saved by the Programs running in DOSBox can be used.

Emulated system properties and functions

User interfaces for DOSBox

DOSBox does not offer any graphical user interface for configuration , just a text file that can be edited by the user. Although this is provided with information on configuration, less experienced users are often overwhelmed by it. Some programmers have remedied this by delivering a graphical user interface ( front end ) as an external program.

Such frontends can also be of interest to experienced users because they make some work steps unnecessary. An example of this is creating individual configurations for different games.

Most of the frontends are now available for most operating systems. They are also advertised directly on DOSBox's official website.

Developer versions and extensions

DOSBox is delivered by the developers in English (by default). In addition to German , other languages ​​are available which can be downloaded as language modules from the DOSBox website (to be found under “Translations”).

In addition to the official version of DOSBox, there are many extensions (in the form of source code - patches ), upgrade the lack of system functions as an emulation or improve existing ones. There are also numerous ports to operating systems and platforms that are not supported by the official DOSBox development team .

In most cases, these extensions relate to a developer version (SVN version) of the project and are therefore up to date with the further development by the DOSBox developers. However, there are also improved versions whose development has been discontinued by the author concerned and which are therefore no longer up-to-date. It is also not always clear what quality the additional program parts have and, in general, whether they come from a trustworthy source.

Some examples of extensions are:

With various additional emulations, DOSBox becomes an almost full-fledged virtual machine for DOS-based operating systems - for example, it is even possible to run Windows 95 within DOSBox using special extensions . However, since a full emulation was never the intention of the DOSBox developers, these extensions will probably never be included in the official development branch.

Palm OS

On 23 September 2006, the English Palm Info page TamsPalm wrote about the alpha version of a new x86 - emulator for Palm OS. It was developed by forum member voda , who had already ported other emulators to the Palm OS platform. Among other things, QBasic , Microsoft Word 5.5 and DOS Shell were successfully tested. While the mouse could be controlled using the PDA's touchscreen , there was no way to enter text. With this version one could present the first direct x86 emulation under Palm OS; however, productive use was hardly possible.

At the beginning of 2008, the German software developer Henk Jonas presented an expanded version of the PalmDosBox. The most important innovation was that the built-in keyboard of Treo telephones could now be used for input; a screen keyboard was available for other devices. This current version cannot be regarded as stable either, as it only works sporadically on some devices.

Another special feature of emulation on Palm OS devices is that newer models have very little dynamic memory and the emulators often cannot be executed. Programs such as UDMH (Unlimited Dynamic Memory Hack) or the open source tool MMH (More Heap Hack) release more dynamic memory at the expense of the remaining data memory and thus enable memory-intensive applications to be executed.


The developers of the Windows-compatible runtime environment Wine started with version 1.3.12 with the integration of DOSBox in Wine.


DOSBox-X is a spin-off that attaches particular importance to the most accurate possible emulation of hardware. The aim here is to cover all hardware constellations of the DOS era in order to a. to provide a test platform for programmers. It is also planned to be able to use DOSBox-X as the basis for Windows versions 3.x, 95, 98 and ME, whereby acceleration mechanisms are also to be implemented.


In order to make DOS-based software such as games run under newer operating systems, DOSBox is bundled with the software by digital distributors . For example, older games on Steam and are run using DOSBox, although the latest version of the emulator is not always included.

Since 23 December 2014, the used Internet Archive , a emscripten -konvertierte DOSBox version for browser-based presentation of archived by thousands DOS - computer games , only for "education and research".

See also

Individual evidence

  1. DOSBox 0.74-3 has been released! . DOSBox, June 26, 2019 (accessed July 19, 2020).
  2. .
  3. a b .
  4. DOSBox SVN Daum , accessed on September 6, 2018.
  5. Character sets: Synopsis of DOS and ANSI with ASCII part ( Memento from December 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) - overview by Olaf Nensel , July 25, 2005
  6. Downloads - page at
  7. DOSBox CVS Builds (English) - official forum post at Vogons , July 4, 2005
  8. SW emulation of the Voodoo Graphics chipset, which also enables Voodoo support for games that access the hardware directly without a Glide library
  9. A true x86 emulator for Palm - first facts and pics ( Memento from July 25, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  10. PalmDosBox - the resurrection (English)
  11. Change history for Wine developer version 1.3.12
  12. Pro-Linux: Wine 1.3.12 starts DOSbox integration
  13. DOSBox-X website (eng)
  14. Rob Purchese: id sorts GPL Steam issue . Eurogamer . August 7, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  15. ^ Statement from id Software ( Memento from June 29, 2011 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved September 6, 2011
  16. We would like to thank ... ( Memento from November 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  17. a b DOSBox Wiki: GOG games that use DOSBox . Permalink dated July 3, 2011
  18. Abby Ohlheiser: You can now play nearly 2,400 MS-DOS video games in your browser . The Washington Post . January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  19. Each New Boot a Miracle by Jason Scott (December 23, 2014)
  20. collection: softwarelibrary_msdos in the Internet Archive (2014-12-29)
  21. Internet Archive's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Copyright Policy . December 31, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2015: " Access to the Archive's Collections is provided at no cost to you and is granted for scholarship and research purposes only. "

Web links

Commons : DOSBox  - collection of images, videos and audio files