An incredible library of games and other software is available for your Raspberry Pi. You probably know that it’s a great base to emulate other platforms, but did you know that it can run retro PC software?
Before Windows was MS-DOS. This old disk operating system from Microsoft can be emulated on the Raspberry Pi in several different ways. Which method you choose depends on the result you are looking for.
Here’s how to install old PC games on Raspberry Pi!
Running DOS Software on Raspberry Pi
Microsoft’s first PC operating system, MS-DOS, was released in 1981 and discontinued in 2000. During this time, over 2,000 games were released for the then office computer system.
Also, Windows 95 and 98 can run DOS software. Often you leave the desktop operating system to run MS-DOS games and applications.
The process is simple:
- Install DOSBox
- Customize DOSBox
- Find MS-DOS games
- Install MS-DOS games
For best results, make sure you’re using a Raspberry Pi 2 or later with an 8GB SD card or higher. Classic PC games usually require a keyboard and mouse, although some controllers and joysticks are supported.
You’ll also need an HDMI cable and a display to enjoy gaming (instead of a VNC or RDP remote connection, which can kill the magic a bit).
Step 1: Install DOSBox on Raspberry Pi
You must already have an operating system installed on your Raspberry Pi before starting. With the Pi turned on, open a terminal and check for updates:
sudo apt upgrade sudo apt update
After that, install DOSBox:
sudo apt install dosbox
Step 2Set Up DOSBox on Raspberry Pi
The setup is a little more difficult. You will need a directory to run DOSBox and software from:
Then edit the DOSBox configuration file in nano:
sudo nano .dosbox/dosbox-0.74.conf
Then scroll to the end of the file and add a mount instruction under the heading [autoexec].
This ensures that when DOSBox starts up, it uses the dos directory as the C: drive.
mount c ~/dos c:
Save and exit the text editor with Ctrl + X and press Y for confirmation.
You can now launch DOSBox from the Games menu on your Raspberry Pi!
Step 3: Find MS-DOS Games for Raspberry Pi
Where can I find suitable games? Okay, thrift stores and eBay are a good place to start. Older games will usually be available on CD-ROM or floppy, so you need to make sure the correct type of drive is connected to your Raspberry Pi.
If this is not possible, then you need to rely on disk images found on the Internet. We cannot link you to this as there are copyright considerations. Such ROM files can be found in ZIP format, unpacked, and installed in DOSBox just as they might be on a genuine MS-DOS PC.
To avoid copyright infringement and breaking the law, limit your use of game ROMs to titles you already own.
However, you don’t need to break copyright law to access older games, as many of them were made open source. A large selection of such games can be found at the Internet Archive. Here you will find everything from original games to discs filled with shareware games.
In short, you will be able to find something to play with very easily. But what do you do after downloading games? How can you load them into DOSBox?
Step 4Install MS-DOS Games on Raspberry Pi
To run DOS games on your Raspberry Pi, you need DOSBox to keep up with the game. The best way to do this is to create a new directory for your games in the dos directory:
You can then use the mv (move) command to copy any games from the downloads to this new folder:
mv Downloads/[GAME_TITLE] dos/games/
You are now ready to start installing and playing games.
Start DOSBox and use the command line to navigate to the /games/ directory. Remember that you are in an MS-DOS emulation environment, so different commands are needed. While cd still changes directory, the content is listed using dir (you can use dir /p to list the content on the page at the same time). Type help for more help.
After you have copied the games to the games directory, open the specific directory, then find the install.bat file and run it. Sometimes it may be named after the game. For example, in this example, I used cm2.bat to start installing Championship Manager 97-98.
Wait for the game to install. After that, you can usually launch the game using the abbreviated form of its name. This is often the same as a BAT file, but without the suffix.