The FreeDOS 1.3 distribution was released on February 20, 2022.


FreeDOS 1.3 followed a similar release candidate plan as used in FreeDOS 1.2, with several Release Candidates ("RC") before an official release:

Major blocking bugs were previously tracked in FreeDOS 1.3 Issues

Core assumptions

  • Compatibility is key.
  • FreeDOS 1.3 will remain 16-bit.
  • FreeDOS 1.3 will retain focus on a single-user command-line environment.
  • FreeDOS 1.3 will continue to run on old PCs (XT, '286, '386, etc) but will support new hardware with expanded driver support, where possible.
  • The "Base" package group will contain everything that replicates the functionality from MS-DOS.

Major features

  • The install CD-ROM is also a Live image
  • Updated the HELP program to use AMB (ebook reader)
  • ZIP and UNZIP are now installed as part of the plain DOS system, so users have the tools to create or extract FreeDOS packages outside the package manager
  • Included games may change (we agreed that games are not "core" in the same way as utilities, so we can be flexible what games we do/not include)

Discussion and decisions

The FreeDOS Project builds consensus via the freedos-devel email list, so discussion occurred there. See the email list for archived discussion on this topic.

Packages to include?

Question: What other programs should be installed as part of plain DOS? Should FDIMPLES be moved into Base, or at least installed by default in a plain DOS setup? FDIMPLES is important for users to be able to install extra packages afterwards.

Resolved: We decided Base was still the core parts that replicate classic DOS behavior. Other packages were not moved into Base, although some other packages were installed in a "Plain DOS system" that were not part of Base. This includes packages such as ZIP, UNZIP, FDIMPLES, and a few others. Check the release report for details.

1.3 or 2.0?

Since the planned changes are incremental, this version will be "FreeDOS 1.3."

16-bit or 32-bit?

FreeDOS 1.3 will remain 16-bit.

In 1994, FreeDOS aimed to create a free, compatible alternative to MS-DOS. FreeDOS 1.0 met that goal several years ago, and extended the feature set (utilities) beyond MS-DOS 6. But FreeDOS is still - essentially - a replacement of classic 16-bit DOS.

There has been some discussion by developers to create a 32-bit version of FreeDOS:

In December 2014, an independent developer created a Kickstarter project to update the FreeDOS-32 Kernel for use in FreeDOS. This project also suggested some classic DOS applications would break under the updated FreeDOS-32. If FreeDOS-32 will break DOS application compatibility, it should not use the "FreeDOS" name. This project seems to have stalled. Not on the Road Map.

More recently, work has started on the Night DOS Kernel; a different project which aims to create from scratch a drop-in Protected Mode replacement for the FreeDOS Kernel which may be used with FreeDOS. This project must demonstrate application compatibility with "classic" DOS programs before the FreeDOS Project would consider including it in the FreeDOS Road Map. The Night Kernel is currently under active development as the developers' freetime allows, but it will likely not be ready for several years, making it not a candidate for inclusion in FreeDOS 1.3. Not on the Road Map.

Support for UEFI?

FreeDOS 1.3 will not support UEFI-only systems. You will need to enable "Legacy" mode or "Compatibility" Mode in your UEFI to emulate a BIOS.

Since Intel plans to end "Legacy BIOS" support in their new platforms by 2020 (in favor of UEFI) users have asked if FreeDOS will be updated to support UEFI. The short answer is No.

Like any DOS, FreeDOS makes use of BIOS for video and disk functions. But even if these functions were moved into the FreeDOS kernel, note that there are many, many existing DOS programs that directly use BIOS to work. FreeDOS cannot "emulate" BIOS for these programs.

Packages and licenses?

See FreeDOS 1.3 Packages for decisions on packages.

See FreeDOS 1.3 Licenses for decisions on licenses.

FreeDOS 1.3 will include software that uses recognized Free software and open source licenses as much as possible. Note that some licenses are very old and pre-date the popularity of the GNU GPL (v1 in 1989, v2 in 1991) or the Open Source Initiative (1998). Other programs use their own licenses or other licenses not evaluated by GNU or OSI. These licenses will need to be evaluated by FreeDOS. Goal will be to include programs with licenses that are suitably "free" and "open source."