From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dosbox for the win!

My Mom is almost 100% Ubuntu.  I've given her a couple of computers running Ubuntu over the years, and she's gotten really adept at using it, but she still has one Windows XP desktop hanging around.  And it seems like it's always ailing...

She's been a professional photographer for years, and she has one, ancient MS-DOS program that she uses for tracking all of her small business finances, transactions, and pictures.  It's a classic database called Q&A 4.  Of course, I've showed her newer databases (of which there are many).  But she's been using this program for 20+ years, and has schemas and views that are just that old.  So let's just take it as a given that she's not moving off of that, okay?

That one program is pretty much the only thing holding her to her Windows desktop, which is several years old now, and of course, cluttered and slow and on its death spiral.  So she asked me if there was any way I could get her Q&A running on Ubuntu.  Ooooh, a challenge :-)

I started with Wine, of course, but that promptly blew up with multiple errors.  Googling for those errors, though, turned up a few hits referencing "dosbox", a program already in the Ubuntu archive for running old-school MS-DOS programs.  It seems it's been around and in the archive forever, I've just never stumbled across it, so yeah, I'm out of the loop...
sudo apt-get install dosbox
dosbox QA4.EXE
And wow, she's working like a charm!!!  She's ever so much closer to dumping her last Windows PC :-)

Anyway, toying with dosbox got me thinking about some of those old-school MS-DOS games I played as a kid...Oregon Trail, Scorched Earth, Ultima, Warcraft I, Wolfenstein.  All games that I owned and loved, at some point.

I stumbled on where I found a couple of old school games that ran perfectly under dosbox, like this one...

Anyone up for a modem game of WarCraft?  atd...ata :-)



  1. I remember Q&A4! It was an *awesome* piece of softare for the time. It's also had a word processor where you could merge data from the database. And best of all was the AI that you could talk to to query things from the database. It was about 15 years since I last used it, but I remember being able to tell the program things like "Hello! What's the phone number for Mike?" and it would come back with a useful answer. I haven't seen anything like it since :)

  2. DosBox is GREAT for old games like Ski or Die, Super Offroad Racer, Lemmings etc. You can get DosBox for Windows also...

  3. Seriously cool post Dustin. Will remember that for future should the need arise.

    I used to use an old DOS based database called 'DataEase' back in the early 1990's which, to my amazemenet, is still going 30 years later it would seem (!!.

  4. Please, anyone: how can I get DosBox to successfully run DataEase for Dos v 2.53 in windows 7? I've tried all sorts of configurations, but can't get past the log-on screen. It tells me my database doesn't exist,m when it does; and when I try to create a new one I get a database initialization error, but the error number doesn't show.



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