Tuesday, 16 October 2018 00:03

Microsoft releases OS source code on GitHub

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Microsoft released the source code for MS-DOS v1.25 and v2.0 on GitHub at the beginning of this month.

After releasing the source code to the Computer History Museum in 2014, Microsoft announced the public availability of the full source code (in ASM files).

Microsoft's Rich Turner wrote, "In March 2014, Microsoft released the source code to MS-DOS 1.25 and 2.0 via the Computer History Museum. The announcement also contains a brief history of how MS-DOS came to be for those new to the subject, and ends with many links to related articles and resources for those interested in learning more.

"Today, we're re-open-sourcing MS-DOS on GitHub. Why? Because it's much easier to find, read, and refer to MS-DOS source files if they're in a GitHub repo than in the original downloadable compressed archive file."

He further writes, "Important: As noted on the repo readme, the source files are being (re)published for historical reference purposes and to allow exploration and experimentation for those interested in early PC Operating Systems. The source will be kept static, so please don't send Pull Requests suggesting any modifications to the source files!"

Turner also observes:

  • All the source for MS-DOS 1.25 and 2.0 was written in 8086 assembly code.
  • The source code for the initial release of 86-DOS dates from around 29 December 1980.
  • The MS-DOS 1.25 code dates from around 9 May 1983, and is comprised of just seven source files, including the original MS-DOS Command-Line shell – COMMAND.ASM!
  • MS-DOS 2.0 dates from around 3 August 1983, and grew considerably in sophistication (and team size), and is comprised of 100 .ASM files.
  • There are some interesting documentation (.TXT, .DOC) files interspersed with the source and object files – many are well worth a read, as are many of the source code comments!

Turner concludes with the exhortation, "Enjoy exploring the initial foundations of a family of operating systems that helped fuel the explosion of computer technology that we all rely upon for so much of our modern lives!"

Already, one commenter to the announcement has indicated that he/she plans to port the source to the Arduino platform.

The software is provided under the MIT Licence:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the Software), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: (not included here – read the licence.md file on GitHub for the full text)

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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