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DOSBoxWP Source Code for Text-Based Applications

Note: You should probably use Jos Schaar's excellent vDos instead of this system. The vDos system is specifically designed for text-based DOS applications, and is the only system you should use for running database applications.

DOSBox was written for games, not applications, and in many causes may cause serious problems when used to run applications. For example, the developers report that it includes intentional bugs that make it inaccurate and potentially dangerous if used to run (for example) applications that control a power plant.

The developers of DOSBox, however, did such a good job of writing DOSBox that it remains an excellent solution for running non-critical DOS-based applications. It is certainly accurate enough for word-processing, but it should not be used for databases because, lacking file-locking features, it is almost guaranteed to lose data when multiple users work on the same database.

I have prepared two versions of this project, one for Windows, one for OS X/macOS. Please let me know of any problems with these builds on the feedback page.

Although the heading of this page refers to "Text-Based Applications" the Win32 code should work as well as standard DOSBox with graphic applications such as WPDOS in graphics mode.

I occasionally make minor improvements to this system without notification.

1. DOSBoxWP under Windows

Because I needed a DOSBox version suited for a project that runs WordPerfect for DOS under 64-bit Windows, I put together a programming project that slightly modifies DOSBox to work better with applications. As of 17 December 2017, this project is set up for Visual Studio 2015 or 2017, unlike the original DOSBox source code, which was written for Visual Studio 2010.

It is based on DOSBox SVN (as of 11 December 2017), with parallel-port output from DOSBox Megabuild 6 by h-a-l-9000, together with a system menu and clipboard-paste feature based on dbDOS, plus many minor changes to DOSBox that help make it suitable for use with text-based applications, as supplied in posts on the DOSBox Development forum at Vogons.org by TeaRex (who generously let me have his build environment some years ago), ripsaw8080, Dominus, h-a-l-9000, wd, HunterZ, and ykhwong, plus some indispensable help supplied in a long series of private messages.

Briefly described, this project does the following:

I have prepared a full development project, complete with all the needed includes and libraries, set up to be built with Visual Studio 2015 or 2017.

You may download Windows binaries for the project from this link. The archive includes a standard 25-line version and a version that opens by default in 43-line mode.


You may download the source code and libraries for this project from this link. After extracting the project, run the StartVisualStudioProject.cmd batch file, wait while the project parses the necessary files. Then choose Build, and, if all goes well, you will generate an executable named DOSBox.exe in the DOSBoxBinaries folder, in the DOSBox\visualc_net folder. (The DOSBoxBinaries folder also contains the SDL.dll file that is required for launching DOSBox). Prebuilt copies (25-line and 43-line versions) of the executable are already in the zip file in case you want to test this without building.

The config.h file in this project has many optional defines. The define FORTY3 is set by default to "1" to build a 43-line version; change it to "0" to build a 25-line version; and of course examine other options.

I don't pretend to know anything about programming. (To me, "C++" sounds like a grade I once got in high school.) All I've done is put together code developed by other people with a few very slight changes added. Basically, all I have added is a "keyboard help" message box to the system menu. (The system menu itself was added in the dbDOS project, which may be found through a web search.) So all the coding that actually runs the program was written by people who know what they are doing; my own changes are limited to some key-mappings and messages, the default startup video mode, some other video mode settings, and some custom commands.

2. DOSBoxWP under OS X/macOS

The same download linked in the section can be used to build this project under OS X/macOS.

  1. Extract the full set of files to a convenient folder, for example, ~/Development/DOSBoxWPMac
  2. Open a terminal, navigate to the DOSBoxWPMac folder, and enter the command: chmod +x *.sh
  3. Study the contents of the OneStopDOSBoxOSX.sh script; it will download and install all the executables and libraries needed to build a static-linked copy of DOSBox, and then build DOSBox itself.
  4. If all went well when creating the build environment, now build 25- and 43-line versions of DOSBoxWP by entering the command: ./BuildDOSBoxWPMac.sh

These scripts were written with the patient, expert help of Dominus at the DOSBox Development forum at Vogons.org, who deserves all the credit for it. I merely collected his knowledge into a pair of scripts.

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