Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 01:00

After years, people doesn't use Disk Operating System (DOS) anymore. Among many DOS systems ever available, MS-DOS was the most popular for desktop computers. But probably for some purposes such learning the basic of Windows command system, learning to install an OS with many disk series (and how to do it later on Debian), playing old DOS games, or any other learning purpose, you will need MS-DOS again. But MS-DOS was proprietary and was abandoned by Microsoft. Don't worry, free software community has created FreeDOS as 1:1 replacement for MS-DOS. FreeDOS was licensed with GNU GPL v2 and available freely. It's almost 100% compatible with MS-DOS internally (to help install some Windows systems) or externally (to install many MS-DOS games or programs). Now, we want to share how to install FreeDOS in Virtualbox. We use Ubuntu as host.

Obtain FreeDOS ISO Image

You should have FreeDOS image first. Download it from FreeDOS official site For example, we download fd11src.iso 40 MB.

Preparing Virtualbox

To install FreeDOS inside Virtualbox, first create its virtual environment.
  1. Create a new virtual machine (Ctrl+N). Give it name My FreeDOS.
  2. Give it virtual RAM as 32 MB.
  3. Create a new virtual disk (VDI) as 500 MB.
  4. Attach FreeDOS ISO image you've downloaded into this virtual machine.


Run your My FreeDOS virtual machine.
  1. On the first screen, a blue screen like BIOS appears offering to install FreeDOS. Answer with Enter.
  2. Second screen, a black screen, appears offering to format (fdisk) your hard disk. It is virtual machine so no worry. Press 1 instead and press Enter.
  3. Blue screen with menu-driven interface again. After this, all screens will be like this. You will choose keyboard. Select English (US) by pressing Enter.
  4. FreeDOS setup says you haven't format your HDD. Follow it, select Yes and press Enter. If there is any confirmation question, answer it YES.
  5. Next two screens are just confirmation to continue FreeDOS installation. Press Enter instead.
Here, you've finished pre-installation stage.


In this stage, you will deal with OS installation progress.
  1. Blue screen titled FreeDOS Install appears and show you GNU GPL license text. Press Enter. Any confirmation question should be answered by Enter instead.
  2. FreeDOS Install will ask you for two things, where are the install files (source) and where will files be installed (destination). The default options are save. Press Enter.
  3. FreeDOS Install will ask you for what FreeDOS components to be installed. If you are learning, choose the default options (only base and util selected) instead by selecting DONE button and press Enter. Yes, X character means selected (like a checkbox on GUI) and DONE text is a button.
  4. FreeDOS Install will show you many package names with 'x' postfix such as kernelx, localizx, etc. Select DONE button and press Enter.
  5. FreeDOS Install will show you the installation progress. It is very similar with Windows installation by visual appearance.
  6. If FreeDOS Install asks you for more installation (such as "please insert disk #1"), then just press Enter. In our FreeDOS, it will add one more stage where it will install wgetx (dude, it's amazing), syslnxx, upxx, and so on.
  7. The last blue screen, FreeDOS Install shows you've done the installation. It takes approximately just 5 minutes or less to install.


A black screen appears ask you to choose what to do with your bootsector. It's somehow similar with bootloader installation in Linux. Just select number 1 (Write FreeDOS specific code...). After rebooting, just choose on "Welcome to FreeDOS" blue screen Boot from system harddisk option. Virtualbox will boot your installed FreeDOS. See our final result.