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DOSBox Staging is a modern continuation of DOSBox with advanced features and current development practices.

It is a (mostly) drop-in replacement for older DOSBox versions—your existing configurations will continue to work, and you will have access to many advanced features.

DOSBox Staging comes with sensible defaults, so you’ll need to write a lot less configuration than with older DOSBox versions. Most games and applications require no tweaking and will work fine with the stock settings. However, the extensive configuration options and advanced features are available if you wish to delve deeper. Please refer to the Feature highlights on our front page to learn more about these.

The key features for developers are summarised here.


  • Faithfully emulate the DOS operating environment running on IBM PC compatibles and the IBM PCjr, with the primary goal of running all PC Booter, DOS and Windows 3.x games released in the 1981–2000 period. Running applications and demoscene productions or more recent DOS software is a secondary objective.
  • Improve the out-of-the-box experience.
  • Provide a self-contained emulator that requires no extra legacy or “modern retro” hardware to function.
  • Focus on supporting up-to-date, current operating systems and modern hardware.
  • Implement new features and quality-of-life improvements.
  • Deliver a consistent cross-platform experience.
  • Leverage upstream and community developments in DOSBox.
  • Encourage new contributors by removing barriers to entry.
  • Fix, clean up, and integrate notable community-developed patches.
  • Prioritise code quality to minimise technical debt and ease maintenance. This generally means following the Staging Coding Style Guide and best practices such as the C++ Core Guidelines.


  • Support old, end-of-life operating systems (e.g., Windows 7 or older, OS/2, or Mac OS X 10.5 or older) and limited CPU/memory hardware, which are constraints the original DOSBox continues to support.

  • Support legacy or “modern retro” hardware. DOSBox Staging is a self-contained emulator; its aim is to emulate all PC hardware it supports in software. Legacy and retro hardware are not supported (e.g., ISA boards, CRT monitors, RetroWave OPL3 and similar devices, etc.).

  • Support the use of Windows 9x/Me in the emulator. Windows 9x/Me emulation is supported by projects such as QEMU, VirtualBox and the DOSBox-X and DOSBox Pure forks. This may change if the DOSBox Staging community wants it.

  • Pursue hardware accuracy above all else. If you’re after a more faithful emulation of an entire PC, look into MartyPC, PCem, 86Box, PCBox, QEMU or VirtualBox (although DOSBox Staging often matches or surpasses the graphics and especially audio emulation fidelity of these other emulators).

  • Be the fastest DOS emulator on x86 hardware. Linux users interested in emulation speed should look at dosemu2.

  • Act as a general-purpose DOS operating system. For that, there is FreeDOS.

Relationship to the original DOSBox project

DOSBox Staging is separate from, and not supported by, the SourceForge-hosted DOSBox project, or its development team, the DOSBox Team.

We acknowledge and are thankful for the work shared by all DOSBox contributors.


This project is maintained by the DOSBox Staging team.


Content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

DOSBox Staging is licensed under a GNU GPL version 2 or later.

Data privacy policy

DOSBox Staging never collects any personal information about you or your computer, and it never connects to the Internet or any network without you asking it to do so in the first place (e.g., by running BBS software or playing multiplayer DOS games over Ethernet).


Free for personal use, but no warranties!

Although we do our best to emulate the DOS environment and legacy IBM PC hardware as accurately as we can, we cannot guarantee DOSBox Staging has zero bugs or can run every single DOS software ever written 100% correctly.

Under no circumstances should DOSBox Staging be used for professional applications, especially where DOS software malfunctioning due to emulation bugs or inaccuracies could result in significant financial loss, data loss, or putting living beings at risk.

Neither the members of the DOSBox Staging team nor our contributors can be held responsible for such unfortunate accidents resulting from the misuse of our software. DOSBox Staging is intended for personal use only in low-stakes scenarios, such as playing DOS games, watching demoscene productions, or researching the history of IBM PC compatibles and the DOS software catalogue.

If you disregard this and get into trouble, you’re on your own!

IEEE 754 80-bit extended precision floating point emulation

One particularly risky area is engineering software that requires accurate 80-bit extended precision x87 FPU emulation to function correctly. Support for 80-bit floats is not available on all platforms that DOSBox Staging runs on. The logs will warn you about this at startup:

FPU: Using reduced-precision floating-point

Do note, however, that the lack of such log messages does not imply or guarantee bug-free operation!