This all sounds so complicated, isn’t there an easier way?
Indeed, there are graphical frontends for DOSBox to do most of this. But they will still require you to setup a working DOSBox environment. So, it’s a good thing to understand the basics. More about this at the DOSBox Wiki.
Why don’t I hear anything or only the PC speaker?
Most games don’t detect the sound card automatically. You have to run SETUP.EXE, SETSOUND.EXE or INSTALL.EXE in the game directory before you run the game for the first time. Use a Sound Blaster 16/Pro/compatible or AdLib driver.
I set the sound card but I still can’t hear anything. What’s wrong?
Some old games don’t detect the sound card properly if the emulated system is too fast. To slow down DOSBox, look at the Configuration chapter how to set a lower cycles value. Setting cycles=3000 in the cpu section should do the job in most cases.
Why did the installation of a game get cancelled due to lack of free disk space?
Since the harddisks nowadays have much more disk space than the ones back then, the available space will be limited after mounting a drive in DOSBox in order to avoid problems using old software. It should be enough in most cases, but it might happen that it’s too little for some games. In that case, append the following argument to the mount command: -freesize 1024 (described in the DOSBox Wiki). This will increase the free disk space to 1 GB.
Why does the game still ask for the CD, even though I already mounted it?
If the CD was mounted using the mount command, some games may have problems to detect it properly. The most secure way is to create an image of the disc (DOSBox supports the .ISO and .CUE/.BIN image formats) and to mount it like this:
imgmount d "C:\mydisc.iso" -t iso
(described in the DOSBox Wiki)
If your game CD got additional audio tracks, you have to use the .CUE/.BIN image format, because it’s the only supported one which can store them properly. Please refer to the .CUE file and not to the .BIN file at the imgmount command.
Why does saving game settings always fail?
If you copied the game files from a CD, there’s a big chance that they’re write-protected. In that case, mark all files and clear the read-only attribute in their file properties.
I have trouble getting a game working. What can I do?
Most games will work fine with DOSBox, but there still are some few games which cause problems. Look at the DOSBox games database for more information about a specific game. If you don’t find anything related to your problem, try to slow down DOSBox (described in the Configuration chapter), because most of the old games were developed for slow systems.
I configured DOSBox as you wrote, but it still runs choppy. What now?
Edit your configuration file (described in the Configuration chapter) and try a bit around with the cycles option in the cpu section. The higher this value is, the faster will be the emulation. In case this value is higher than your CPU can handle in realtime, the emulation will be slowed down and the sound will stutter. That’s why you have to find out the right value yourself.
The sound always stutters, even though the game runs fine. What can I do?
On some systems, DOSBox appears to have problems with the sound buffer. In that case, edit your configuration file (described in the Configuration chapter), scroll to the mixer section and increase the prebuffer value. It seems prebuffer=100 (100 milliseconds) helps in most cases, but the higher this value is, the more the sound will be lagged. You additionally can set the blocksize to a higher value.
Why is the keyboard layout in DOSBox not the same as the one of my system?
Since DOSBox has full control over the keyboard, it uses the US layout by default. If you want to know how to change it, try a look at the Configuration chapter.
I recorded some videos with DOSBox, but why do I only hear the sound?
That’s because the videos are encoded with the ZMBV (Zip Motion Block Video) codec. In Windows, you need to have the ZMBV codec installed to watch them. Fortunately, it’s shipped with DOSBox, so you just need to execute the codec installer from the start menu. After that, you can watch these videos with your favorite player or recode them to a more common video codec format.
Where can I learn something about the history?
You can get an overview at the History chapter.
Wow, now I can play all my favorite games! How can I thank you?
If your friends like to play DOS games, tell them about DOSBox and this tutorial. If you got a DOS related website or weblog and you think, this may help others too, then you can link to this page, of course.
You also can help to improve this tutorial by telling us what you think about it or what problems you got 🙂