*** Why would I want to use SvarDOS instead of FreeDOS? ***
The FreeDOS project is a free, open-source operating system that aims to be
100% compatible with MS-DOS. And it is awesome. So why would I want to use
Long release cycles
The FreeDOS project began 29 June 1994. Version 1.0 came around in 2006.
Version 1.1 has been released in 2012, and the version 1.2 followed in
December 2016. Version 1.3 was released in February 2022. This translates
roughly to a 5-years release cycle. Granted, the DOS scene is not as active as
it used to be, but still, many things happen during a few years. Such
version-centric approach also requires users to perform full-system upgrades
every now and then.
SvarDOS is very different in this regard: there are no versions at all.
Whenever a new program is included into or updated within the distribution, it
becomes immediately available through the SvarDOS repository and may be
pulled either through the SvarDOS website or SvarDOS' pkgnet tool. Already
installed systems can be easily kept up-to-date using the distribution's
Constraints of legal nature
The FreeDOS project mimicks a proprietary operating system, with all its APIs
and peculiarities. For this reason, the project always had to be extremely
careful about what can and what cannot be included within the FreeDOS
distribution. As a result, only "free software" (as in freedom, think GPL,
BSD, and so on) can make its way into the official distribution. While such
cautious approach is sane and legally safe, it is far from practical for
users. Allowing exclusively free software means that a high number of useful
programs, tools and games are left behind. For example "freeware" tools (as in
"gratis but no source included") are a no-go. Even open-source programs can be
rejected, if they do not clearly state that they comply with an OSI-approved
SvarDOS, on the other hand, is much more liberal about including packages.
Basically, anything that is objectively useful, of reasonable quality,
free/gratis and can be legally distributed in the form of a package, can be
included in SvarDOS. The only exception is for the "core" system (ie. the
operating system itself), which must be based exclusively on free/libre
software. Read more about SvarDOS package inclusion rules.
It must be noted, that although the goals of SvarDOS and FreeDOS may be
slightly different, SvarDOS wouldn't exist without FreeDOS. Indeed, SvarDOS
uses the excellent FreeDOS kernel, as well as a few other utilities borrowed
from the FreeDOS ecosystem.
Read also: SvarDOS origins