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Is this a good idea?

Casey

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Posting here since I'm referencing MS-DOS/XT/Turbo systems.

We all know about DOSBox, and I suspect most know there's a Linux version. It's also possible to run Linux on a Raspberry Pi. Ergo...

What are the advantages & disadvantages of running DOSBox under Linux in a Pi to emulate a PC/XT/turbo clone? Even 8Mz turbo clone motherboards are getting pricey, and it's not that hard to find a decent 17" vga monitor at a local thrift store. Not for the purist, yes, but I'm looking at economically viable choices. I certainly can't afford a NuXT motherboard! If you really want to cut costs, buy a Pi 2. You'll likely need a HDMI to vga adapter, but they don't cost too much.

Download the images to an SD card, copy them over to the Pi, and Bob's yer uncle. It might be fun (if you have an old carcass) to emulate (excuse the pun) what 8-bit Guy did and put a Pi into a vintage case as a sleeper.

I can imagine some pluses & minuses on my own, but I'm curious about what opinions the regulars have?
 

lotonah

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Well the negative side is that it isn't perfect emulation. But then again, what is? It's close enough but some programs will misbehave. The pluses definitely outweigh the minuses.

Also, if you get tired of it being a MS-DOS machine you boot into a different emulator and it can be an Amiga, Atari ST, Arcade cabinet, whatever.

I've even seen the ARM version of Windows 10 running on it. No, not the IoT version (which is completely out of date and useless). It requires a lot of work to get it running, and even on a Pi4 with 8Gb of RAM its slow (might want to spring for an M.2 card and Pi Hat). https://www.tomshardware.com/how-to/install-windows-10-raspberry-pi
 

alank2

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Aren't there some baremetal DOSBox type projects for raspberry pi?
 

whartung

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What are the advantages & disadvantages of running DOSBox under Linux in a Pi to emulate a PC/XT/turbo clone?
Yea, it all depends on what kind of experience you're looking for.

If you just want to run software, and the software that you want to run works OK on DOSBox, then, yay -- you're on your way. You may also explore running MS-DOS on an actual VM (like Virtual Box). I don't know if that offers a noticeably different experience than DOSBox, but the approach is different. DOSBox is a system designed to run "DOS", vs a VM which is OS agnostic.

At some point when you've got a full screen console and it's just you, the screen, and keyboard, it's all pretty much the same.

But if you want hardware, then, go hardware.

There's a lot of physicality lost with emulation. Things a silly as inserting floppies, but also just the sounds of the machines, their presence, etc.

Others, just seem to want to run games and be done with it.

This group seems to be focused on repair and restoration, very hardware oriented group.
 

Chuck(G)

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Astute observation, but hardware is the thing. Software can be hosted on anything that meets the requirements. There was a Japanese fellow years ago who demonstrated PC98-based games on his cellphone.
 

Casey

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Astute observation, but hardware is the thing. Software can be hosted on anything that meets the requirements. There was a Japanese fellow years ago who demonstrated PC98-based games on his cellphone.

Fair point. I just wish whitebox XT "turbo" clones weren't so expensive. Or even a motherboard...
 

Svenska

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I can imagine some pluses & minuses on my own, but I'm curious about what opinions the regulars have?
DOSBox in particular has its pros and cons, since it is not a particularly good hardware emulator. That being said, it is a great way to run DOS games, on a modern machine and using modern conveniences.

When it comes to software emulation, there is always the trade-off between accuracy and usefulness, and it depends on your specific usecase on what matters. For XT or early AT machines, DOSBox is way more useful than accurate. PCem is way more accurate than useful. VMware or VirtualBox are neither, but shine at running modern systems at decent speed (although not on a Raspberry Pi).

In addition to new (re)designs such as NuXT, there are also FPGA-based approaches, which may be the next best thing in your case. And as long as there are cells available, you don't have to deal with hard-to-find and expensive additional hardware.

Personally, I don't like DOSBox. It fails at too many things I want to use it for and didn't succeed well in fixing issues for a very long time. On the other hand, I use it a lot anyway, because of its convenience. It's a love-hate relationship.
 

Benedikt

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Personally, I would call PCem both, accurate and useful.
However, you will need additional software, like GNU mtools, to shift files around. And maybe a few shell scripts to automate that.
Another possibility, when it comes to emulation, is to combine modern hardware with vintage or vintage-looking cases and peripherals.

A purely software-based emulator that tries to mimic the look and feel of the entire system would be cool, as well.
It could show e.g. the front of an IBM 5155 portable computer on a big screen along with fan and floppy drive sounds.
Some Game Boy emulators of that kind existed, IIRC.
 
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