Android MS-DOS Emulation with aDOSBox

April 28, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Emulation on an Android mobile device (such as a phone or tablet) enables you to enjoy a vast selection of other operating systems, many of which are now consigned to history.

One such example is MS-DOS, the command line interface that gave early PC users access to programs and disks (hence Disk Operating System) in the days before (and for a few years after) the first version of Windows.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, games could only be played on a PC by issuing first a text based installation command and then launched in a similar manner. If you’re familiar with UNIX, you might appreciate how unwieldy this might be for a user who simply wants to play games or read email or write a document, which is why Microsoft developed Windows.

Android MS-DOS Emulation with aDOSBox

However back in the days of MS-DOS a massive selection of games were released, from classics such as Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon to many more unusual titles. This is a rich seam of gaming history that transcends processor architectures in most cases to allow the installation and enjoyment of different titles aimed at different PC designs.

Many of these titles can be enjoyed in Android thanks to the aDOSBox emulator app, a mobile version of the popular DOSBox MS-DOS emulator for Windows and other desktop environments.

Finding and Installing aDOSBox

You won’t find aDOSBox on the Android Market at present; instead, head to androiddosbox.appspot.com and download the latest version directly to your Android phone. Once downloaded you will need to run the APK file to install the emulator; before doing this head to Settings > Applications and ensure the Unknown sources box is checked.

Run the downloaded file (which you should be able to access via the Notifications menu) and tap Install. Installation should be pretty quick, so click Run when done to get started!

Begin by specifying where to download data to, and use the configuration options to select how you might interact with the app and any software that you run on it.

The Limits of aDOSBox

More than being an out and out emulator that you can run games on, at present aDOSBox is at the beta stage. Unsuitable at this moment for some tablets, the developers are hoping for plenty of feedback so that they can create bug fixes, etc., and end up with a viable MS-DOS emulator for Android.

If you’re using an Android phone and fancy trying out aDOSBox, you will need to find some ROMs of MS-DOS titles. These can be found online in various places, such as the popular Abandonware websites, and as the vast majority of them were available on floppy disk, these should be small enough to download directly to your Android device.

ADOSBox is waiting for you to use it – get started, enjoy it, keep a note of any of the issues you encounter and let the developers know so that we can all enjoy classic MS-DOS games on Android!

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