Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The FAQ is still under development, so it may not cover all topics. Our apologise for the inconvenience.


Who created Dioscuri?

Dioscuri has been developed by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (national library of the Netherlands) and Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands, with support from software company Tessella Support Services plc. Initial ideas about Dioscuri started at the end of 2004 as part of developing a strategy for digital preservation to ensure that interactive applications (like games and other digital objects) would remain accessible for the long term.
In 2005 the project team was founded and a special design for a durable and flexible emulator has been created. In 2006 and 2007 Dioscuri has been build step by step following the official specifications for various hardware components.

In 2008-2009, development was continued under the umbrella of Planets, a major European project on digital preservation. With the launch of Dioscuri in July 2007 to the open source community, the team aims to gain better support and contributions from the community.

Currently, development is done within the European KEEP project.

Is Dioscuri open source?

Yes, Dioscuri is released under the GNU GPL version 2 license and is therefore open source.

Why is Dioscuri equipped with FreeDOS instead of MS-DOS?

As most operating systems and applications are proprietary, Dioscuri is not allowed to be distributed with such software. Instead, Dioscuri is distributed with the open source operating system FreeDOS, which is quite similar to MS-DOS.

However, during tests Dioscuri was able to successfully run MS-DOS versions 4.2.0 and 5.0.0. At the following website, you can download floppy bootdisk images for MS-DOS which will run on Dioscuri:

How can I experience my old documents, games and applications?

To experience your obsolete digital documents, games and other applications it is necesarry to recreate the original computer environment. As Dioscuri only facilitates the original hardware via emulation, the original software should be offered by the user. Basically, Dioscuri requires a system BIOS, video BIOS and operating system. This can be attached to the emulator by using disk images. See the topic "How to create a disk image?" for more information.

By default, Dioscuri is equiped with an open source system BIOS and a video BIOS which support all common facilities like boot sequence, date and time settings, etc. A proprietary BIOS (Award, AMI, etc.) may be used as well, but is not included in the download package.

Operating system and applications
The current version of Dioscuri only supports a 16-bit CPU like the Intel 8086 and Intel 80286. This means that the operating system and applications should be able to operate on 16-bit as well. For example, MS DOS is a 16-bit operating system and all applications that run on MS DOS are 16-bit as well. Dioscuri has been tested successfully with MS DOS versions 4.2.0 and 5.0.0, but other operating systems may work as well.

How to create a disk image?

Dioscuri only supports virtual media which means it does not give access to physical storage devices. Instead, a disk image has to be created from the original physical carrier. Dioscuri currently supports a virtual floppy drive and virtual hard disk.

Creating a disk image can be done using a separate tool like WinImage (shareware). This tool is capable of creating and manipulating (change contents of) disk images that can be used by Dioscuri. Make sure that the disk images you create are flat files (no compression).

Floppy disk image
A floppy disk image should be an uncompressed linear binary file (flat file) and should not be larger than 1.44 Megabytes. If it needs to be a bootable floppy disk, make sure the disk image has an MS DOS boot signature (see Winimage menu options).

Hard disk image
Hard disks can be of any size (although the file system will limit the amount of available space). Just like floppy images, hard disk images have to be uncompressed linear binary files (flat files). If it needs to be a bootable hard disk, make sure the disk image has a Master Boot Record (see Winimage menu options).

Note: Dioscuri is currently only 16-bit which means that only 16-bit operating systems and applications can run on it. The Dioscuri development team is working to extend the CPU with 32-bit instructions.

Can Dioscuri run more modern operating systems like Windows?

Dioscuri is not yet capable of running modern operating systems (MS Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP/Vista, Linux Fedora/Ubuntu/etc.). This is because the current emulated processor in Dioscuri only supports 16-bit. As most modern operating systems require a 32-bit processor, these OSes will not run.

As listed in the roadmap, the Dioscuri development team is currently working on a 32-bit version of the emulated processor. The first phase is to run MS Windows 3.11. After that, newer OSes will be tested.

If your question is not listed down here, please check the forum for further support before contacting us.