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How to play Vintage games with DOSbox

Author: Nick Bembridge | Files under Dos, OS X, Windows, linux

MS-DOS has been around for many years now. Whilst I started working with PCs towards the end of the MS-DOS era many of the first PC games I can remember playing  were run in MS-DOS.

Many old DOS games simply cannot be run on modern PCs and operating systems and this is where DOSbox helps, DOSBox emulates an Intel x86 PC along with everything necessary for running many old MS-DOS applications.  In this guide we will setup and configure DOSbox and install a couple of sample games.

Click for full size image

DOSbox runs on a variety of different hardware/software including: Windows, Linux, Mac OS-X, BeOS and even the Sony PSP.

1)    Installing DOSbox

Installing DOSbox will vary depending on the operating system that you are running.  Installation may be as simple as running an executable file or you may have to resort to compiling the source code.  For further information please refer to the authors website : www.dosbox.com

2)    Mounting Drives

The first thing you will need to setup to be able to install and run your old games and programs is to set an area aside on your hard drive for DOSbox to use.  Create a folder in the root of your C: (or your Home folder in Linux) drive called DOSGAMES.  Then within DOSbox type: -


This mounts the folder C:\DOSGAMES to the new drive C: This is where all our installed games will reside.

Next we will require a CD or DVD drive mapping, just incase we require to install software from CD, to do this type the following into DOSbox.

MOUNT D E:\ -T cdrom

In the above example this creates a cdrom drive in DOSbox called D:\ that uses my existing drive E: in Windows.  Below is an example of the same command for Linux users.

MOUNT D /media/cdrom0 -T cdrom

3)    Mounting ISO Disc images

Perhaps like me you have backed up some of those aging DOS cdroms to CD images to preserve them from the gradual wear and tear.  The following command will mount a disc image that we have copied into the root of our DOSbox C:\ drive as a CDROM drive labeled D:\

imgmount d C:\MyISO.iso -t iso

4)    Making these settings permanent

As you may (or may not) have noticed the mount point(s) that we have set up for your hard drive and cdrom will disappear once you quit.

First we will need to create a configuration file to do this type the following into DOSbox:

config -writeconf dosbox.conf

This file will be saved where you installed DOSbox to in Windows, If you are running Linux it will be saved in your “Home” folder

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To make these settings a little more permanent we will have to edit the “dosbox.conf” file we just created, open it in your favorite text editor (I use gedit), look right at the bottomof the file and you will see the following:

# Lines in this section will be run at startup.

Under this add the command you used to mount your DOSbox C:\ drive and cdrom for example:

# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
MOUNT D E:\ -T cdrom

Save and exit the text editor, now next time you load DOSbox your mount points will be ready for you to use.

5)    Further reading
If you are new or unfamiliar with MSDOS then please pay a visit to the following link for a quick crash course in the basics of using MSDOS

Don’t worry if all this seems a little complicated at first there are various frontends for DOSbox as well as other ways to launch your old games but we’ll cover those in more detail in another post.

2 responses. Wanna say something?

  1. Rake
    Jun 2, 2008 at 12:23:50

    A very nice tutorial ;)
    I know myself some people who have problems running the old DOS games ^_^

  2. Jeff
    Aug 1, 2008 at 08:33:03

    I never thought I’d say it, but I kinda miss the good ol’ days of DOS…

    Hey you wouldn’t happen to know how to get the multiplayer mode of old win98 games(that use IPX) to work on win2000, or debian linux, would you? Can you recommend some virtual IPX software ‘cuz I’ve never been able to get anything to work. *sigh*

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