MS-DOS Emulation

What is MS-DOS Emulation on the Internet Archive?
The Internet Archive’s software collections have a number of in-browser emulators to allow limited access to software, by making the software play within (most) browsers. The majority of this is done with the JSMESS (Javascript MESS) system, which is utilized in multiple collections, such as the Console Living Room or the Internet Arcade. For one collection, the MS-DOS Software Library, we have implemented the EM-DOSBOX emulator, which is based off of the DOSBOX project and which is designed specifically for DOS-compatible programs.

The Program is running WAY TOO FAST!
Some of the programs running in EM-DOSBOX relied on timing loops and CPU types that the emulator is not showing. We’re working on a solution where we can pre-repair the speed before running, but until then, there is a fix: While the program is running, press CTRL-F11 to slow the program down. Pressing CTRL-F11 repeatedly will slow it down further, until the speed is more reasonable. (Pressing CTRL-F12 repeatedly will attempt to speed things up.)

I want to save my game! How do I do that?
Currently, there is no way to save your game, although we are trying to work out if this is technologically possible.

I can see my mouse and the program’s mouse.
In the programs where a mouse cursor is provided, your mouse will generally work. However, to prevent both mouse cursors (the DOS cursor and your computer’s cursor) from being on the screen at the same time, select the full screen option.

I have questions or want to walk through a non-working program.
The MS-DOS emulation is part of the Software Library of the Internet Archive, which is overseen by curator Jason Scott Please mail him at jscott@archive.org with any questions, suggestions or discussions.

The program runs very slow.
The EM-DOSBOX emulator is a javascript program running in a browser – it requires a lot of CPU to run, and definitely requires the most up-to-date browsers to take advantages of speed enhancements. We highly suggest you update to the latest Chrome or Firefox to ensure the program runs at top speed. The difference between versions even a few months or a year apart can be multiple times. In a few rare cases, the game or program being run does certain video or programming tricks that confuse the emulator, and the whole program runs notably slow, slower than even a taxed system should run. This is due to incompatibility with the emulator, and unfortunately will require the DOSBOX project to improve emulation going forward.

It’s not working for me. (Common Issues)
As it is experimental and very new technology, there are a number of places that the MS-DOS Em-DOSBOX emulator can fail to work.

The most common is browser incompatibility – the EM-DOSBOX emulator works best in the Firefox and Chrome browsers, but also works in Internet Explorer and Safari. Bear in mind that only the most recent versions of these browsers will work best with EM-DOSBOX.
If you do not see the DOSBOX Logo in the player, be sure you do not have javascript blockers or ad blockers working on the page – the player is created in Javascript.

If the browser has slowdown issues or crashes, please let us know – there might be a MS-DOS program that is not compatible with EM-DOSBOX in a way our testing has not yet revealed.
If the “spinning disk” after pressing SPACE to load the program never stops spinning, there is an error with the program image. Please let us know about the non-functioning program and we’ll track down the issue.

These are the most common problems; be sure to contact the software curator if there are additional problems you are seeing.

My Favorite Game isn’t in there! What’s wrong?
There are multiple reasons the MS-DOS section might not have a game or application in its library. They include:

The game requires a CD-ROM’s amount of information to run. Since this is an in-browser emulation, larger datasets (greater than 10 or 20mb) run into all sorts of issues when being loaded. The size, not the use of a CD-ROM, is the core issue, so even disk-based games that used a lot of space are not being loaded up.

The game, in some way, is not compatible with the EM-DOSBOX emulator. If we find the current incarnation of the emulator plus the version of the game is causing crashes, freezing or strange errors, we will likely remove the item just to limit frustration for users – there’s nothing more bothersome than trying to track down a problem that could be anything from your browser to a strange programming choice made 25 years ago.

The game is still for sale. Happily, a number of vintage DOS programs have been updated, fixed for compatibility, and continue to be sold at a deep discount to a modern audience. Sites that provide sales to these updated DOS versions include Good Old Games and Steam.
Finally, we may simply not be aware of the application or game and not have an example of it. We’re always adding more programs as we can.

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