Dosbox basic usage: running DOS games on modern Windows system
Step 1 - How to organize games
We recommend you to create a directory where to store all the games, for instance c:\games. After games download, extract the games in specific game directories (in our example, d:\games\aladdin and d:\games\warcraft2
Step 2 - Download and install dosbox
You need to download the program from official Dosbox web page, choose your operating system, wait the download to finish and double click to run the installation. After the installation you will have a Dosbox folder within your application.
Step 3 - Run dosbox and basic commands.
Run the Dosbox application and the line command interface will open. In order to quickly run your games you need to make the following commands:
- Create a virtual drive pointing to your games directory: mount c d:\games
- Switch to the new drive created: c:
- List your directory content: dir
- Move to the game directory: cd aladdin
- Looking for executable files: dir *.exe
- Run the game: aladdin.exe
Other executable files you may try are *.bat or *.com. Another tip we give you is related to file names: since Dosbox fully emulates DOS, it won't support long names for files or directory. In many cases the long names are shortened through a ~ character. You can write that character with ALT+126 or you can use the TAB button in order to complete the file name, repeating the tab to switch (ie, when you've written "alad", using TAB will complete the name).
Step 4 - ISO mount
In some cases you will need to play the games simulating a CD ROM. In such case you will have the cd-rom games in a file .iso that represent the CD-rom itself. To use the cd-rom you will have to run the following command:
- Go down one directory: cd ..
- enter the directory where the iso is present: cd warcraft2
- List the ISO file: dir *.iso
- Mount the cd-rom using drive d (that is dos default): imgmount d warcraft2.iso -t iso
- Check directory content dir d:
- Run the game: cd war2
Step 5 - CPU cycles managment
Once in the game you can adjust speed by using CTRL+F11 (cycles down) and CTRL+F12 (cycles up) to give less or more speed to the game. You may need to adjust this in few occasions.
Step 6 - Setup and sound managment
In many cases the game come with a setup.exe or install.exe in order to setup various aspect of the game. About sound it may be programmed in such setup programs or you can edit settings following step 8 below.
Step 7 - Games compatibility
Almost all the games are running fine with Dosbox. We have provided a facility to let you know the percentage compatibility and the possibility to access the specific game configuration following the suggestions of other user. There is a link under every game running through dosbox at the bottom of every game page.
Step 8 - Dosbox configuration
Altough majority of the time the games will run with no problem, you'd better make familiarity with dosbox.conf configuration file. Manipulating this file will allow you solving any problem you may face in running the games. The most important section you'll need to know:
- cputype=auto (you can change to: auto, 386, 386_slow, 486_slow, pentium_slow, 386_prefetch)
- cycles=auto (you can adjust the value or use CTRL+F11 and CTRL+F12 during gameplay)
You can edit based on the game configuration.
- [joystick] section (use your joystick section here)
- [serial] section (setup the modem to play some multiplayer games)
- [autoexec] section (useful to add some commands at startup, such as directory mount)
For the full usage of the program and its specific configuration the best thing to do is to follow the wiki you'll find on Dosbox site official page.
Dosbox is a great system and will work 90% of the games. However an alternative is to install an emulated Windows machine and play games from there.