Installing MS-DOS 6.x in DOSBox-X


Editions this applies to

  • MS-DOS 6.0

    • Adds F5 and F8 clean boot and selective boot options

    • Adds Startup Menu support

    • Adds MEMMAKER memory optimizer with better HIMEM/EMM386

    • Adds Disk defrag (based on Norton SpeedDisk)

    • Adds DBLSPACE disk compression

    • Adds MSCDEX

    • SmartDrive upgraded with write caching and double buffering

    • New MS Backup software for DOS and Windows (based on Norton Backup)

    • Adds MS AntiVirus for DOS and Windows (based on Central Point AntiVirus)

    • Adds a Windows version of UNDELETE

    • Adds APM Power Management (POWER.EXE)

    • Adds InterLink file transfer tool (using serial or parallel ports)

    • Adds DELTREE and MOVE commands


  • MS-DOS 6.20

    • SCANDISK added featuring a more user-friendly interface than CHKDSK

    • Improved DBLSPACE stability

  • MS-DOS 6.21

    • DBLSPACE removed (due to Stacker lawsuit)

  • MS-DOS 6.22

    • New DRVSPACE disk compression added


  • From this point, Microsoft MS-DOS and IBM PC DOS have diverged.

  • MS-DOS 6.x was available to both OEM’s and end-users. However the only version (officially) available to end-users was the "Upgrade" release, which requires that you already have DOS installed. It will refuse to install on a clean system. The workaround to this is fairly simple. You boot from the first disk, at the welcome screen press F3 twice and your at the command prompt. You can now, if necessary, partition and format the HDD and transfer the system files (SYS C:). After your done, just run SETUP.EXE or simply reboot from Disk 1 and the installer, because there are now system files on the HDD, will allow you to install MS-DOS 6.x Upgrade edition.

Creating a MS-DOS 6.x HDD image

Note: In addition to the below DOSBox-X command line utility, starting with DOSBox-X 0.83.9 it is possible to create harddisk images from the DOSBox-X menu. Go to the "DOS" menu, and select "Create blank disk image…​". This option allows for various common harddisk types to be created, for less common types you need to use the command line utility.

Starting with DOS 5.00, installing DOS in DOSBox-X is much more straight forward, as you can have IMGMAKE create a HDD image that is already partitioned and formatted.

Maximum HDD size has increased to 8GB (or more exactly 7.84GB), but the maximum partition size is basically still 2GB, which is a FAT16 limitation.

 IMGMAKE hdd.img -t hd -size 2048
 IMGMOUNT C hdd.img

If you want to create a HDD image with a size less than 65MB (such as the hd_st251 template which creates a 40MB HDD image) for use with MS-DOS 6 Setup, you may want to specify the option -FAT 12 for IMGMAKE command so that the FAT12 file system will be used (instead of FAT16 or FAT32), e.g.

 IMGMAKE hdd.img -t hd_st251 -fat 12

Followed by the IMGMOUNT and BOOT commands.

In any case, when prompted to change disk, on the DOSBox-X menu bar select "DOS" followed by "Swap disk". After the installation is finished, from the DOSBox-X menu bar select "Main" followed by "Reset guest system" and you will be back at the DOSBox-X Z:\> prompt.

You can now boot these DOS versions directly from the HDD image as follows:

IMGMOUNT C hdd.img