How to install and remove packages with FDIMPLES

On Linux, you may have used a package manager to install or remove packages. For example, the default package manager on Debian Linux is the deb command, and the default package manager on Fedora Linux is the dnf command. But did you know that FreeDOS has a package manager, too?

Installing packages

The FreeDOS 1.3 RC4 distribution includes lots of great programs and applications you can use. However, we don't install all of them by default - we don't want to fill your hard drive space unnecessarily, especially on older systems that may have hard drive capacities of only a few hundred megabytes. And if you selected the "Plain DOS system" option when you installed FreeDOS, you will find your FreeDOS system is quite small (about 20 megabytes).

However, it's easy to install new packages. From the command line, run the FDIMPLES program. Because DOS is case insensitive, you can type this command using uppercase or lowercase letters: fdimples is the same as FDIMPLES or FDImples.

The FDIMPLES package manager on FreeDOS 1.3 RC4 (running in QEMU)

FDIMPLES is an acronym for "FreeDOS Installer - My Package List Editor Software," and is an interactive package manager. FDIMPLES reads the installation media to identify packages that it can install or remove. If you see a different menu that says "Installed" but does not let you install other software, check that the FreeDOS install CD-ROM is loaded on your system. On a physical machine, you'll need to insert the CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive; on a virtual machine like QEMU or VirtualBox, you'll need to associate the install CD-ROM image with the virtal machine.

fdimples installed
If you only see an "Installed" message, check that the CD-ROM is loaded

Let's say you wanted to install software that let you play music and other sound files. Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate to the "Sound" entry in the menu. This is called a package group for the sound and music programs.

fdimples sound
Highlighting the Sound package group in FDIMPLES

To select all of the packages in this group, just press the spacebar on your keyboard. Or if you wanted to install individual packages in this group, hit the Tab key to move into the package list pane, then select each package with the spacebar.

fdimples sound select
Select all the packages in a group by pressing the spacebar

You can continue to select other packages or package groups that you want to install. When you have selected everything, use the Tab key to highlight the "Ok" button, and press the spacebar.

fdimples sound select ok
Highlight the "Ok" button when you're ready to install

FDIMPLES will then install all of the packages you selected. This may only take a few moments if you selected only a couple of small packages, or it could take minutes if you asked to install many larger packages. As it installs each package, FDIMPLES prints the status. Afterwards, FDIMPLES will exit to the command line, so you can get back to work.

fdimples sound install done
FDIMPLES shows the progress as its installs packages, and automatically exits when done

Removing packages

What if you install a package, only to discover afterwards that you don't want it? Removing packages is just as easy in FDIMPLES.

Just as when installing packages, start FDIMPLES, and use the arrow keys to navigate to the group that contains the packages you want to remove. For example, if I wanted to "uninstall" a few of the music-player packages I installed earlier, I would navigate to the "Sound" package group.

fdimples sound select
Navigate to the group with the packages you want to remove

To remove the entire package group at once, you can press the spacebar on the group you want to remove to "unselect" it. But let's say I only wanted to remove a few packages that I didn't need, like the CDP audio CD player. (I don't have any physical music CDs.) To remove CDP, hit the Tab key to move into the package list pane, then use the spacebar to "unselect" the CDP package. This removes the "X" on that package.

fdimples unselect cdp
Unselect a package to remove it

You can continue to unselect other packages or package groups that you want to remove. When you have selected everything, use the Tab key to highlight the "Ok" button, and press the spacebar. FDIMPLES will remove the packages you "unselected," then will automatically return you to the command line.

fdimples cdp removed
FDIMPLES removes the package, then returns to the command line

We include many packages in FreeDOS, across a variety of package groups. Use FDIMPLES to install the software you need. Feel free to experiment! If you decide you don't want to keep a package, you can remove it and free up your disk space for other things.