DR-DOS is a popular PC operating system that was originally created and
developed up to version 6.0 by Digital Research. After the demise of Digital
Research, it was acquired by Novell who released version 7.0 as Novell DOS 7.
Despite being a commercial success, Novell lost their interest in the further
development of DR-DOS and in 1996 sold it to Caldera, who changed the name to
Caldera OpenDOS 7.01 and released the source code of the kernel under an Open
Source license. Subsequent versions were named DR-DOS again, but unfortunately,
the development model was changed back to Closed Source. Caldera Thinclients,
a subsidiary of Caldera which later renamed itself to Lineo, continued the
development of DR-DOS as an OS for embedded systems, before they abandoned its
development in favour of Linux. The current owners of DR-DOS, Devicelogics,
acquired it in November 2002 and promised to produce an 8.0 version of DR-DOS
for the embedded systems market, which was released in March 2004.
In July 2002, when the commercial development of DR-DOS was stagnating and the last official version had been released three years ago, I decided to continue the development of DR-DOS as an Open Source operating system. Since the source code of later versions was not freely available, I used the source code of DR-DOS 7.01 alias OpenDOS as a base for my work and started to write my own set of patches for it. Thus, The DR-DOS/OpenDOS Enhancement Project was born!
Like the name states, the aim of this project is to enhance the capabilities of DR-DOS/OpenDOS 7.0x and to add support for new standards. In the course of the first two years, the project reached many of its short-term design goals, including native support for large disks (LBA) and the FAT32 file system, and it became a bigger success than I had ever hoped, last but not least thanks to the support from the DR-DOS community!
Like other, similar projects, it strives to achieve compatibility with most existing software written for DOS. Unlike these, however, it will not stop there. The long-term goal will be to gradually evolve DR-DOS into a modern PC operating system with all features that one would expect of one of these, but hopefully without the weaknesses of other existing next-generation PC operating systems. How long it will take to achieve this goal remains to be seen, but I am confident that it will become reality.