DOSBox

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DOSBox
DOSBox cover
Developers
DOSBox Team
Release dates
Windows July 22, 2002
Linux July 22, 2002
macOS (OS X) March 30, 2006
DOSBox at Wikipedia

Key points

DOSBox allows DOS-based games to run properly on modern systems.

General information

Official DOSBox site
Official DOSBox wiki

Essential improvements[edit]

Graphical user interface[edit]

DOSBox does not use a graphical user interface. However, front ends such as D-Fend Reloaded (an updated successor to the program D-Fend) can be used.

D-Fend Reloaded[edit]

Does not require DOSBox to be installed.

Unofficial builds[edit]

There are various unofficial builds of DOSBox which provide additional functionality such as support for Glide. A full list can be found on the DOSBox Wiki.

A good one to start with is DOSBox-X. It streamlines the interface and adds support for features vanilla DOSBox cannot do such as Glide support.

For Mac, you should try Boxer. It makes running and installation of games easier by wrapping them in Application Bundles, called "Game Boxes", that can be launched in Boxer by double clicking them as well as having a builtin GUI interface for configuration that more easily integrates into the Mac OS. It also has much over looked audio features; it already includes Gravis UltraSound patches and has builtin CM-32 & MT-32L emulation available through MUNT.

Also, installing FreeDOS (or just it's included utilities) grants a more complete DOS experience.

Windows installation[edit]

Windows 3.0 through 98(SE) can be installed inside DOSBox however this is unsupported and instability issues occur. At least one person has gotten Windows ME to work.

You could also, alternatively, try The HX DOS Extender which grants a minimal Windows runtime environment. Note that it only supports Windows console apps and simple GUI ones. An unofficial continuation of the project called HX+ can be found here.

Example input[edit]

DOSBox running in Windows:

Z:\>
Z:\>mount c c:\game_directory
Z:\>imgmount d d:\game_disc.iso -t iso
Z:\>cd d:\
D:\>game_install.exe
D:\>cd c:\
C:\>
C:\>game.exe

Substitute the pathways with the given conventions of the host operating system.

Alt+ Enter to maximise the window; Ctrl+F4 to switch between mounted disc images. Use double quotes, " ", when mounting folders with spaces ("c:\installation folder"); For mounting multiple disc images, -t iso is required only once at the end of the last disc image, this defines how DOSBox should emulate the volume and iso defines the type of volume.

DOS/32A[edit]

DOS/32A is a more advanced extender and open source replacement to DOS4GW. It can improve both performance and stability of many games. More info here.

If DOS/32A gives you issues with a particular game, you could alternatively try the Causeway extender or PMODE/W. Worst-case scenario, stick with the stock extender. [1]

UniVBE[edit]

Although DOSBox will not gain the performance improvements this program promises, it will add additional video modes. Although 5.0+ were initially released as commercial software, SciTech later released them as freeware. Versions 1-4 were always freeware though. The 5.x series is generally the best to use with DOSBox. Additional (possibly useful) DOS display utilities can be found here.

Gravis MIDI/Patches[edit]

The Gravis Ultra Sound or GUS was a sound card produced by Advanced Gravis Computer Technology, who were best known for their Gravis PC Gamepad. One of the features of the GUS is its ability to use real world sound samples instead of digitally generated instruments. This allows for a richer quality of sound when playing midi sound. Unfortunately, the official patches (drivers/samples) cannot be distributed with DOSBox due to conflicting Licenses. You can however find some here.

DOSBox configuration[edit]

DOSBox stores configuration information in *.conf files. Individual conf files can be create for each piece of software used and additional parameters can be appended.

To modify a configuration option within DOSBox, use the config command. For example, config cpu cycles fixed 30000

Video settings[edit]

Graphics option Option Notes
Widescreen resolution
Multi-monitor
Ultra-widescreen
4K Ultra HD
Field of view (FOV)
Depends on game being emulated (not implemented by DOSBox itself).
Windowed
Toggle with Alt+ Enter.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Vertical sync (Vsync)
See Unofficial builds.
60 FPS
120+ FPS
Color blind mode
Depends on game being emulated (not implemented by DOSBox it's self).

Input settings[edit]

Keyboard and mouse Native Notes
Remapping
See Mapper.
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Adjustable in DOSBox configuration settings.
Mouse input in menus
Depends on game being emulated (not implemented by DOSBox it's self).
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller
Controller support
See Controller support.
Full controller support
Controller remapping
Controller sensitivity
Controller Y-axis inversion
Additional information
Button prompts
Controller hotplugging
Haptic feedback
Simultaneous controller+KB/M

Remapping[edit]

The DOSBox Mapper (Ctrl+F1/ Command+F1) can be used to reassign keyboard, mouse and joystick commands.

Controller support[edit]

DOSBox has several virtual joystick modes which affect what inputs are seen in-game and also what inputs can be remapped using the Mapper. See the DOSBox manual for details.

Issues fixed[edit]

Green or black screen in fullscreen mode[edit]

With some video cards, DOSBox's default output mode will render with a green or black screen in fullscreen mode.
Edit DOSBox configuration file (DOSBox.com versions)
  1. Edit the DOSBox configuration file (dosbox-0.74.conf, dosbox.conf, or similar).
  2. Change output=surface to output=overlay
  3. Save your changes and run the game again.
If the problem persists, edit it again and try different modes until you get one that works.
Run Graphic Mode Setup (GOG.com versions)
  1. Run the game's Graphic Mode Setup in the Start Screen/Start Menu.
  2. Change Graphic mode to "Overlay" or "DDraw".
  3. Choose Save Settings and run the game again.
If the problem persists, run it again and try different modes until you get one that works.
GOG's setup utility can be rather buggy: it may crash, freeze or simply not save changed settings when exiting.

Character/camera/cursor constantly moves in one direction[edit]

Change joystick timing setting
  1. Edit the game's DOSBox configuration file.
  2. Change timed=true to timed=false (if it is already set to this, try timed=true instead).
  3. Save your changes and run the game again.
Disable joystick support
This fix is only suitable if you don't want to use a controller with the game.
  1. Edit the game's DOSBox configuration file.
  2. Change the joysticktype value to none
  3. Save your changes and run the game again.

Can't remap keys/joystick[edit]

Some games have fixed inputs. Use the DOSBox Mapper to remap the controls.

Can't open Steam overlay in-game[edit]

The Steam overlay only works in some output modes; OpenGL seems to work the best.[2]
Change output in configuration file[2]
  1. Go to the game's installation folder and edit the DOSBox configuration file (.conf).
  2. Change output= to read output=OpenGL
  3. Change fullresolution= to read fullresolution=desktop for the best overlay resolution.
  4. Save your changes. The Steam overlay should now work in-game.

Printer support[edit]

Official DOSBox builds don't support printing in games that use it.
Enable printer support[3]
  1. Download DOSBox SVN Daum 20140127.
  2. Install it over top of the game's existing DOSBox version.
  3. Extract the FONTS folder into the DOSBox SVN Daum installation folder (required for some games).
  4. Edit the game's DOSBox configuration file and add the following lines at the bottom:
[printer]
printer=true
dpi=360
width=85
height=110
printoutput=printer
multipage=false
docpath=.
timeout=0

[parallel]
parallel1=printer
  1. Start the game normally.
  2. When you are ready to print, first switch into windowed mode (Alt+ Enter) to ensure you can see the printer dialog box.

Notes

If DOSBox does not start printing increase the value for timeout=0 (e.g. timeout=100); if a printed page is incomplete increase this to a higher value.
If a menu bar is visible in fullscreen mode after making this change, ensure output= is not set to OpenGL.
The printer selection window is only shown once per session; relaunch the game to change printers.
Accented characters are not printed correctly; for text mode games use DOSBox SVN-lfn to copy screen text to the clipboard.

References

  1. https://www.gog.com/forum/m_a_x_series/changing_dos_extenders_might_be_the_solution_for_all_of_us
  2. 2.0 2.1 Adding DOSBox to Steam Client and enabling Steam Overlay, page 1 - Forum - GOG.com
  3. Verified by User:Garrett on September 27, 2017