A few days ago I got a mail from the developer who ported an emulator that lets you use real PC apps on a Palm. It’s the Palm OS port of the well-known DOS emulator DOSBox. It doesn’t only emulate an x86 CPU but also a DOS environment, so you can’t install another x86 operating system. But you can run many DOS apps / games in this DOS environment, even Windows until 3.11 and maybe even Windows 95 / 98.
This version is the first alpha release and very buggy, of course. But I can confirm that it’s no fake, and some things already work relative well:
- CPU emulation works without many problems (though it’s relative slow)
- 80 columns x 25 (43) rows color screen
- VFS access
- mouse is controlled by touchscreen, but very uncalibrated
- my Tungsten C and my on-screen Graffiti 2 inputs aren’t recognized
The port contains all necessary program parts in one PRC file which is about 400 KB. In the app you can set the size of RAM and some CPU settings. Other settings can be stored in a file dosbox.conf in the root directory of your card, for example autoexec commands.
As this version doesn’t support entering text – at least on my Tungsten C – I have to set the app I want to start in the auto execution list of dosbox.conf. This works, and I can show you some screenshots:
DOSBox command prompt
Microsoft DOS Shell
Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS
A screen mode with 43 (instead of 25) lines is also supported!!!
I’m already waiting very long for such news. A DOS emulator is, of course, NOT meant to be a replacement of Palm OS. But it makes you able to run your old DOS games on a Palm, to write small scripts in QBasic or to run apps that aren’t out yet for Palm OS.
I don’t want to upload this here yet because I don’t know if the developer agrees and I want to ask him first. But I want your feedback – now. And perhaps you have some feature requests I could send to the developer. So please comment.