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DOSBox is about to get more advanced, with the community-made 'soft' fork dosbox-staging have a first proper release out. Made as an attempt to reinvigorate DOSBox development, it has a very admirable aim.

The point, they say, is to provide a better experience than the standard DOSBox and hopefully get their work into the upstream project to improve it for everyone.

Today, dosbox-staging 0.75 was officially released, here's some highlights:

  • Upgraded to use SDL 2.0 - bringing with it improved input handling, low-latency audio using OpenSL ES, more output interfaces such as Wayland and much more.
  • Support FLAC, Opus, and MP3 CD-DA tracks.
  • Pixel-perfect scaling mode.
  • Resizable window.
  • 64-bit Dynamic Recompilation - "Support for 64-bit dynarec improves CPU emulation speed and quality across the board - this is especially visible to Linux and macOS users".
  • It now complies with the XDG Base Directory Specification.
  • Plus loads more you can see the release notes here.

DOSBox is a truly an essential bit of free and open source software, one that keeps some truly classic games alive and so it's important that it's in good shape itself as operating systems themselves grow and evolve so DOSBox needs to keep up with it all too.

See more about dosbox-staging on the official site and GitHub.

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raneon 6 May, 2020
This is great, I've used my own PKGBUILD for dosbox-sdl2 with a minor patch combined with sdl2_compat12 to get rid of sdl1 on my system. Thank you :-)
jens 6 May, 2020
  • Supporter
oh this is really cool, thanks a lot dreamer_ and colleagues!
Out of curiosity, is it known why the original project somehow got "stuck" in time?

Last edited by jens on 6 May 2020 at 6:56 pm UTC
dreamer_ 6 May, 2020
Quoting: Purple Library GuyI was wondering, and then seeing you here clearly involved gives me a hint that the answer is fairly positive--so, what's the relationship between this and Boxtron?
They are really close - dosbox-staging started when I found bugs in DOSBox, that I couldn't work around in Boxtron. I plan to bring those two projects closer, but very likely they will stay as 2 projects (we'll see). dosbox-staging is much bigger with many more contributors at this point.

Quoting: ripper@dreamer_, what are the chances of eventually merging your changes to the original dosbox? Or merging those two projects? Is dosbox development completely dead - so dead, that it can't be even revived? Can you share some background regarding this? I'm extremely happy for your project, because I long felt that dosbox was missing user friendly features (like window resizing). But of course it would be even better if you could the same change in the original project instead of starting a new one.
I agree - the best outcome would be if all the improvements landed upstream and fork could be avoided. I spent a lot of effort (and grew few more grey hairs) trying to avoid creation of the fork (while wanting to get some work actually done), but failed at that :( You can find context in this /r/emulation thread.

At the moment chances of merging the projects are close to 0, but maybe in few dosbox-staging releases, when everything will cool-down, we could pick up the topic again. But this time the upstream would need to show initiative - and willingness to restructure their workflow.

But I need to be clear here: DOSBox SVN project is not dead. They are doing their own thing, on their own terms and schedule.
mcphail 6 May, 2020
I've been bundling this as my dosbox-of-choice for my snapped games for a while. It is a huge improvement over the upstream project, most significantly from the switch to sdl2. All the issues with broken multiple monitor setups and resolution switching have resolved. It is a real pity that forks have become necessary to support modern requirements but I suppose it means we still have the older project to support older hardware, where there isn't sdl2 support.
voyageur 7 May, 2020
Really nice! Thanks for the article, dosbox with SDL2, x86-64 dynamic and dynrec cores, resizable windows, XDG base directory, ...
It compiles fine on Gentoo, testing an ebuild in my overlay before adding it to main tree soon.

Hopefully MT-32 and 3dfx integration will be there soon!
dreamer_ 7 May, 2020
Quoting: voyageurHopefully MT-32 and 3dfx integration will be there soon!
Due to popular demand, FluidSynth 2.x integration is in front of those two in the queue, but we'll get to it :) People who want to follow (or contribute):
- MT-32 work is tracked here: #257
- 3dfx emulation work is tracked here: #339
legluondunet 7 May, 2020
I tested several of my dos games and I observed a performance boost and less graphic tearing (SDL 2 positive effects?). But we still need a vsync feature to avoid completely graphic tearings. I saw they are working on it.

Last edited by legluondunet on 7 May 2020 at 12:34 pm UTC
jaylittle 7 May, 2020
DOSBox SVN is definitely not dead. But as a member of the DOSBox Beta Testing team, I can tell you that a new release isn't coming anytime soon. Almost a year ago now they put out a 0.75 beta build and those efforts seem to have fizzled out. I'm still using it as my go to DOSBox version however. Sadly it contains a lot of private non-published patches, so we have been asked not to share it.

In any event, I look forward to giving dosbox-staging a go and seeing how it ranks up. I'm especially excited about the move to SDL2.

EDIT: Just downloaded the source and compiled it. Most impressive. I love the ability to resize the window. So much nicer!

Last edited by jaylittle on 7 May 2020 at 11:41 am UTC
dreamer_ 7 May, 2020
Quoting: legluondunetI tested several of my dos games and I observed a performance boost and less graphic tearing (SDL 2 gains?). But we still need a vsync feature to avoid completely graphic tearings. I saw they are working on it.
Yeah. We decided to disable the user's ability to change vsync setting for now - turning it on causes severe problems (mostly because emulator code is targetting output of CRT refresh rate - usually 70FPS). If someone is feeling adventurous, then vsync can be forced via OpenGL (using e.g. MangoHud), but the results are likely going to be terrible.

We're going to work on this again, but old "simple" implementation inherited from SDL2 patch is not robust enough, more effort is required.
axredneck 7 May, 2020
Is it better/worse than dosbox-x ?
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