A Linux user switches to DOS

An experiment to see how different "outdated" technology really is from the shiny new tools widely in use today.

Every now and then a new piece of hardware, or software, is released that causes me to pause and think, "Why, on Earth, do we update our tech so often? What, exactly, can I do with the latest stuff that wasn’t possible with the previous version?"

A good example would be the iPhone 5 and iOS 6. What do we really get if we upgrade to the latest kit from Apple (other than a broken Maps app)? Ok, so you get a mildly improved camera, but, other than that, it looks pretty much the same as what was available the year before. And the year before that. So, in most cases, upgrading seems a tad...silly. (Note: Apple apologists and fans, please don't take offense...pretty much every phone and operating system maker on the planet could be used in that example.)

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But what if we take this to a bit of an extreme? What if someone like me - who lives in a modern Linux Desktop all day - makes a big switch and starts using some older tech? Even just for a week. At first I thought, "I’ll use OS/2 or Windows 3.11. I’m sure I can get most of my work done in either system."

Not extreme enough. Windows 3.11 was released in 1993 and, as such, is only 19 years old. It's not even old enough to buy a beer. So I thought for a moment. What would be the most awesome way possible to prove that "old" and "outdated" technology can be truly viable alternatives to having something new and shiny?

DOS. MS-DOS 5.0, specifically. Released in 1991, MS-DOS 5 is now 21 years old. And, as it just so happens, I had some floppies for it in my closet (in a box labeled "things that are older than dirt").

Flash forward a bit, and I now have a virtual machine set up and running DOS in full screen - so as to at least emulate the old- school nature of things, even if I am running a modern Linux distro underneath. In fact, I have written this very post from DOS. In a moment I will be attempting to email this to my editor. If you are reading this, then I suppose it worked.

Over the coming days I will be living, full-time, in DOS. And, with my next article, I will be detailing how I did it, what software I used and, most importantly, what the experience is like.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your stories on any "old tech" that you still cling to (or wish you did). Perhaps you still run a Suse system from way back when you could actually buy it in a box on store shelves? Or maybe you are a die-hard Amiga user? Share your story in the comments and let us all reminisce for a bit.

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