DOSBox-X Manual (always use the latest version from dosbox-x.com)
DOSBox-X is a cross-platform DOS emulator based on the DOSBox project (www.dosbox.com)
For more information about DOSBox-X, please read the user guide in the DOSBox-X Wiki.
This project has a Code of Conduct in CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md, please read it.
I am rewriting this README, and new information will be added over time --J.C.
How to compile DOSBox-X in Ubuntu (kapper1224)
sudo apt install automake libncurses-dev nasm libsdl-net1.2-dev libpcap-dev libfluidsynth-devffmpeg libavdevice58 libavformat-* libswscale-* libavcodec-* ./build sudo make install
How to compile in general
General Linux compile (FFMPEG/libav support required) ./build-debug
General Linux compile if FFMPEG/libav not desired ./build-debug-no-avcodec
Mac OS X compile ./build-macosx
Mac OS X compile (SDL2) ./build-macosx-sdl2
MinGW compile (on Windows, using MinGW64) for 32-bit Windows XP ./build-mingw
MinGW compile (on Windows, using MinGW64) for 32-bit Windows XP, lower-end systems that lack MMX/SSE ./build-mingw-lowend
MinGW compile (on Windows, using MinGW, not MinGW64) to target MS-DOS and the HX DOS extender ./build-mingw-hx-dos
NOTICE: Use the 32-bit toolchain from the main MinGW project, not the MinGW64 project. Binaries compiled with MinGW64 have extra dependencies not provided by the HX DOS extender.
Mac OS X: If you want to make an .app bundle you can run from the Finder, compile the program as instructed then run "make dosbox-x.app".
Visual Studio 2017 compile for 32/64-bit Windows Vista or higher Use the ./vs2015/dosbox-x.sln "solution" file and compile. You will need the DirectX 2010 SDK for Direct3D9 support.
As of 2018/06/06, VS2017 builds (32-bit and 64-bit) explicitly require a processor that supports the SSE instruction set.
Visual Studio Code is supported, too.
Check the README.Windows file for more information about this platform.
XCode (on Mac OS X, from the Terminal) to target Mac OS X ./build-debug
Open source development
Ideas and patches are always welcome, though not necessarily accepted.
If you really need that feature or change, and your changes are not accepted into this main project (or you just want to mess around with the code), feel free to fork this project and make your changes in your fork.
As joncampbell123 only has limited time to work on DOSBox-X, help is greatly appreciated:
- Hardware accuracy
- Software accuracy
- Games, applications, demoscene executables
- Windows 1.x through Millenium guest OS support
- Retro development
- Bug fixes, patches, improvements, refinements
- Suggestions, ideas, general conversation
- Platform support (primarily Linux and Windows, but others are welcome)
- Notes regarding games, applications, hacks, weird MS-DOS tricks, etc.
If you want to tweak or write some code and you don't know what to work on, feel free to visit the issue tracker to get some ideas.
Future development experiments
Scattered experiments and small projects are in experiments/ as proving grounds for future revisions to DOSBox-X and it's codebase.
These experiments may or may not make it into future revisions or the next version.
Comments are welcome on the experiments, to help improve the code overall.
Warnings regarding C integer types
Contrary to initial assumptions, never assume that int and long have specific sizes. Even long long.
The general assumption is that int is 32 bit and long is 32 bit. That is not always true, and that can get you in trouble when working on this or other projects.
Another common problem is the use of integers for pointer manipulation. Storing pointers or computing differences between pointers may happen to work on 32-bit, where ints and pointers are the same size, but the same code may break on 64-bit.
Therefore, for manipulating pointers, use uintptr_t instead of int or long.
For quick reference, here is a breakdown of the development targets and their sizes:
Windows (Microsoft C++) 32-bit: sizeof(int) == 32-bit sizeof(long) == 32-bit sizeof(long long) == 64-bit sizeof(uintptr_t) == 32-bit
Windows (Microsoft C++) 64-bit: sizeof(int) == 32-bit sizeof(long) == 32-bit sizeof(long long) == 64-bit sizeof(uintptr_t) == 64-bit
NOTE: If you ever intend to compile against older versions of Microsoft C++/Visual Studio, the "long long" type will need to be replaced by __int64.
Linux 32-bit: sizeof(int) == 32-bit sizeof(long) == 32-bit sizeof(long long) == 64-bit sizeof(uintptr_t) == 32-bit
Linux 64-bit: sizeof(int) == 32-bit sizeof(long) == 64-bit sizeof(long long) == 64-bit sizeof(uintptr_t) == 64-bit
This code is written to assume that sizeof(int) >= 32-bit. However know that there are platforms where sizeof(int) is even smaller. In real-mode MS-DOS and 16-bit Windows for example, sizeof(int) == 16 bits (2 bytes). DOSBox-X will not target 16-bit DOS and Windows, so this is not a problem so far.
For obvious reasons, far pointers are not supported. The memory map of the runtime environment is assumed to be flat with possible virtual memory and paging.
When working on this code, please understand the limits of the integer type in the code you are writing to avoid problems. Pick a data type that is large enough for the expected range of input.
It is suggested to use C header constants if possible for min and max integer values, like UINT_MAX.
If the code needs to operate with specific widths of integer, please use data types like uint16_t, uint32_t, int16_t and int32_t provided by modern C libraries, and do not assume the width of int and long.
If compiling with older versions of Visual Studio, you will need to include a header file to provide the uintptr_t and uint32_t datatypes to fill in what is lacking in the C library.
When multiplying integers, overflow cases can be avoided with a * b by rejecting the operation if b > (UINT_MAX / a) or by multiplying a * b with a and b typecast to the next largest datatype.
Remember that signed and unsigned integers have the same width but the MSB changes the interpretation. This code is written for processors (such as x86) where signed integers are 2's complement. It will not work correctly with any other type of signed integer.
2's complement means that the MSB bit of an integer indicates the number is negative. When it is negative, the value could be thought of as N - (2^sizeof_in_bits(int)). For a 16-bit signed integer:
2^16 = 0x10000 = 65536
hex int unsigned int equiv
0x7FFE 32766 32766 32766 - 0 0x7FFF 32767 32767 32767 - 0 0x8000 -32768 32768 32768 - 65536 0x8001 -32767 32769 32769 - 65536 ... 0xFFFE -2 65534 65534 - 65536 0xFFFF -1 65535 65535 - 65536 (carry, overflow all 16-bits, roll back to 0) 0x0000 0 0 0 - 0 0x0001 1 1 1 - 0
Another possible problem may lie in using negation (-) or inverting all bits (~) of an integer for masking. The result may be treated by the compiler as an integer. Make sure to typecast it to clarify.
Another possible incompatiblity lies with printf() and long long integers.
Always typecast the printf() parameters to the data type intended to avoid problems and warnings.
While Mac OS X and Linux have runtimes that can take %llu or %llx, Microsoft's runtime in Windows cannot. Either avoid printing long long integers or add conditional code to use %llx or %llx on Linux and %I64u or %I64d on Windows.
Note that MinGW compilation on Windows suffers from the same limitation due to use of Microsoft C runtime.
When dealing with sizes, including file I/O and byte counts, use size_t (unsigned value) and ssize_t (signed value) instead. This will help with using the C++ standard template library and the C file I/O library. If compiling for a target where read and write use int for a return value instead, then use typecasting.
When handling file offsets, use off_t instead of long. Modern C runtime versions of lseek and tell will use that datatype. For older runtimes that use "long", make a typecast in a header file for your target to declare off_t. Remember that off_t is a signed value and that it can be negative.
Make sure to use the 64-bit version of lseek (often named lseek64 or _lseeki64) in order to support files 4GB or larger if allowed by the runtime environment.
On most modern runtimes, an alternate version of open() may be required in order to open or create files larger than 2GB. However the alternate open() reference can be eliminated in certain cases.
On 32-bit Linux, direct calls to open64() can be avoided if CFLAGS contains -D_FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64 or #define _FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64 is added to the project.
Remember that lseek() can return -1 to indicate an error. lseek() however will permit seeking past the end of a file.
writing at that point will extend the file to allow the file write to occur at that offset. Depending on the platform, that will either cause a sparse file (Linux + ext) or will cause a loop within the filesystem driver to extend the file and zero clusters to make it happen (Windows XP through 10).
Use of the FILE* file I/O layer is OK, but not recommended unless there is a need to use text parsing with functions like fgets() or fprintf(). For other uses, please use C functions open, close, read, write, lseek and learn to use file handles.
Understand that when fgets() returns with the buffer filled with the line of text, the end of the string will always include the newline (\n) that fgets() stopped reading at.
If fopen() was called with the "b" flag on DOS and Windows formatted text files, the end of the string will probably contain \r\n (CR LF). On platforms other than DOS and Windows, \r\n will always appear if it is in the file.
C file handles are signed integers. They can be negative. File handles returned by the C runtime however are never negative except to indicate an error.
A good way to track whether an int holds an open file therefore, is to initialize at startup that integer to -1, and then when open succeeds, assign that value the file handle. When closing the file, assign -1 to the integer to record that the handle was closed.
Other parts of the code can also check if the file handle is non-negative before operating on the file as a safety measure against calling that function when the file was never opened.
On Windows, the HANDLE value at the Win32 API level can be obtained from an integer file handle using _get_osfhandle() for use with the Win32 API functions directly.
When using open(), make sure to use O_BINARY to avoid CR/LF translation on DOS and Windows systems. Make sure there is a header that defines O_BINARY as (0) if the platform does not provide O_BINARY to avoid #ifdef's around each open() call.
When using arithmetic with C pointers and integers, understand that the pointer is adjusted by the value of the integer times the size of the pointer type. If you intend to adjust by bytes, then typecast the pointer to char* or unsigned char* first, or typecast to uintptr_t to operate on the pointer value as if an integer, then add the integer value to the pointer.
At the lowest level, a pointer could be thought of as an integer that is interepreted by the CPU as a memory address to operate on, rather than an integer value directly.
Therefore, when adding an integer to a pointer value, the result could be thought of as:
(new pointer value in bytes) = (current pointer value in bytes) + integer value * sizeof(pointer data type)
If the pointer is char, then adding 4 will advance by 4 bytes. If the pointer is int, then adding 4 will advance by 4 * sizeof(int) bytes, or, 4 memory locations of type int.
Keep this in mind when manipulating pointers while working on this code.
Software security comments
DOSBox-X cannot claim to be a "secure" application. It contains a lot of code designed for performance, not security. There may be vulnerabilities, bugs, and flaws in the emulation that could permit malicious DOS executables within to cause problems or exploit bugs in the emulator to cause harm. There is no guarantee of complete containment by DOSBox-X of the guest operating system or application.
If security is a priority, then:
Do not use DOSBox-X on a secure system.
Do not run DOSBox-X as root or Administrator.
If you need to use DOSBox-X, run it under a lesser privileged user, or in a chroot jail or sandbox.
If your Linux distribution has it enabled, consider using the auditing system to limit what the DOSBox-X executable is allowed to do.
Comments on DOSBox-X development
The four major operating systems and platforms of DOSBox-X are (in this order):
Linux (with X11) 32-bit and 64-bit x86.
Windows 10 (followed by Windows 8, and Windows 7) for 32-bit and 64-bit x86.
Linux (with X11) on a Raspberry Pi 3 (arm 7).
Mac OS X Sierra 10.12 or higher 64-bit.
Linux and MinGW Windows builds are expected to compile with the GNU autotools.
A preliminary CMake build system is available, see README.cmake.md for details.
Straight Windows builds are expected to compile using the free community edition of Visual Studio 2015 or Visual Studio 2017 and the DirectX 2010 SDK.
Mac OS X builds are expected to compile on the terminal using GNU autotools and the LLVM/Clang compiler provided by XCode.
In all cases, the code requires a C++ compiler that can support the C++11 standard.
Note that DOSBox-X is written to compile against the in-tree copy of the SDL 1.x (Simple Directmedia Libary), or against the SDL 2.x library provided by your Linux distribution.
For Visual Studio and MinGW compilation, the in-tree copy of SDL is always used.
The in-tree SDL 1.x library has been HEAVILY MODIFIED from the original SDL 1.x source code and is somewhat incompatible with the stock library.
The modifications provide additional functions needed to improve DOSBox-X and fix many issues with keyboard input, window mangement, and display management that previously required terrible kludges within the DOSBox and DOSBox-X source code.
In Windows, the modifications also permit the emulation to run independent of the main window so that moving, resizing, or using menus does not cause emulation to pause.
In Mac OS X, the modifications provide an interface to allow DOSBox-X to replace and manage the OS X menu bar.
Comments on what DOSBox-X is lacking
DOSBox-X aims for accuracy in emulation however there are some things the design as implemented now cannot accomodate.
Cycle-accurate timing of x86 instructions and execution.
Instructions generally run one per cycle in DOSBox-X, except for I/O and memory access.
If accurate emulation of cycles per instruction is needed, please consider using PCem, 86Box, or VARCem instead.
Full precision floating point emulation.
Unless using the dynamic core, DOSBox and DOSBox-X emulate the FPU registers using the "double" 64-bit floating point data type.
The Intel FPU registers are 80-bit "extended precision" floating point values, not 64-bit double precision, so this is effectively 12 bits of precision loss and 5 bits of range loss (64 to 53 mantissa bits and 16 to 11 exponent bits).
This slight loss of precision is perfectly fine considering DOSBox's original goal in supporting DOS games, but may cause problems in other cases that need the full precision.
It is known at this time that this lack of precision is enough to cause otherwise straightforward comparisons against integers to fail in DOS applications originally written in QBasic or Turbo Basic. There are such DOS games written that check their file size using a floating point compare that will fail in this manner. To run these games, you will need to disable FPU emulation (fpu=false) to force the QBasic/TurboBasic runtime to use software emulation instead.
Pentium II or higher CPU level emulation.
DOSBox-X contains code only to emulate the 8088 through the Pentium Pro.
If Pentium II or higher emulation is desired, consider using Bochs or QEMU instead. DOSBox-X may eventually develop Pentium II emulation, if wanted by the DOSBox-X community in general.
Emulation of PC hardware 2001 or later.
The official cutoff for DOSBox-X is 2001, when updated "PC 2001" specifications from Microsoft mandated the removal of the ISA slots from motherboards.
The focus is on implementing hardware emulation for hardware made before that point.
Contributers are free to focus on emulating hardware within the 1980-2001 timeframe of their choice.
Windows guest emulation, Windows XP or later.
DOSBox-X emulation, in terms of running Windows in DOSBox-X, will focus primarily on Windows 1.0 through Windows Millenium Edition, and then on Windows NT through Windows 2000. Windows XP and later versions are not a priority and will not be considered at this time.
If you need to run Windows XP and later, please consider using QEMU, Bochs, or VirtualBox.
Any MS-DOS system other than IBM PC/XT/AT, Tandy, PCjr, and NEC PC-98.
Only the above listed systems will be considered for development in DOSBox-X. This restriction prevents stretching of the codebase to an unmanageable level and helps keep the code base organized.
However, if adding emulation of the system requires only small minimal changes, then the new system in question may be considered.
You are strongly encouraged to fork this project and implement your own variation if you need to develop MS-DOS emulation for any other system or console. In doing that, you gain the complete freedom to focus on implementing the particular MS-DOS based system of interest, and if desired, the ability to strip away conflicting IBM PC/XT/AT emulation and unnecessary code to keep your branch's code manageable and maintainable.
It would be easier on myself and the open source community if developers could focus on emulating their platform of interest in parallel instead of putting everything into one project that, most likely, will do a worse job overall emulating all platforms.
If you are starting a fork, feel free to let me know where your fork is and what system it is emulating, so I can list it in this README file for others seeking emulation of that system.
To help, I have added machine and video mode enumerations as "stubs" to provide a starting point for your branch's implementation of the platform.
Stubs implemented so far:
- FM Towns emulation (machine=fm_towns)
Known DOSBox-X forks
DOSBox-X Emscripten port (runnable in a web browser) by Yksoft1. Significant changes are made in order to run efficiently within the web browser when compiled using LLVM/Emscripten. These significant changes require dropping some useful features (including the menus) but are required for performance.
url: https://github.com/yksoft1/dosbox-x-vanilla-sdl/tree/emscripten (look for clone URL and use the emscripten branch)
Origins, and crediting of source code
by Jonathan Campbell.
As the developer of DOSBox-X, I cannot legitimately claim to have written all of the code in this project.
DOSBox-X started as a fork of the main DOSBox project sometime mid 2011. It was started out of a desire to improve the emulator without having to fight with or worry about submitting patches upstream.
As the forums make it clear, DOSBox's main focus is on DOS games. This is evident by the fact that much of the code is somewhat accurate code with kludges to make DOS games run, instead of focusing on what hardware actually does.
Many of the changes I wanted to make were non-game related, and therefore were unlikely to be accepted by the developers.
Since then, I have been modifying the source code over time to improve emulation, fix bugs, and resolve incompatibilities with Windows 95 through ME. I have added options so that DOSBox-X by default can emulate a wider variety of configurations more accurately, while allowing the user to enable hacks if needed to run their favorite DOS game. I have also been cleaning up and organizing the code to improve stability and portability where possible.
It's more accurate to say then, that I wrote some of the code, that I rewrote other parts of the code, and the rest is the DOSBox SVN code as it existed since mid 2011.
The purpose of this section, is to try and build a comprehensive list of source code in this repository that was borrowed from other projects.
Some of the code is DOSBox SVN code in which some of the SVN commits made since 2011 were incorporated into DOSBox-X.
The main DOSBox project was not written by one programmer. It has been under development since late 2000 with patches, fixes, and improvements from members all over the Vogons forums. Despite not having an official release since DOSBox 0.74 over 10 years ago, the project is still in active development today. Some of the changes themselves incorporated code from other projects, which are also credited in the list below.
Some of the code in this source tree also came from another branch of DOSBox known as DOSBox Daum (http://ykhwong.x-y.net) which itself incorporated code from the main DOSBox project, DOSBox-X, and many experimental patches. Although the Daum branch seems to be dead, the code borrowed from it still exists in DOSBox-X.
This is my attempt to properly credit the code and it's sources below. Feel free to revise and correct this list if there are errors.
NE2000 network card emulation (Bochs; LGPLv2+) src/hardware/ne2000.cpp
MT32 synthesizer (MUNT; LGPLv2.1+) src/mt32/.cpp src/mt32/.h
AVI writer with OpenDML support (written by myself; GPLv2+) src/aviwriter/.cpp src/aviwriter/.h
Framework-agnostic GUI toolkit (Jorg Walter; GPLv3+) src/libs/gui_tk/.cpp src/libs/gui_tk/.h
Porttalk library, to read/write I/O ports directly (Unknown source) src/libs/porttalk/.cpp src/libs/porttalk/.h
FreeDOS utilities as binary blobs (FreeDOS; no license) src/builtin/*.cpp
NukedOPL OPL3 emulation (Alexey Khokholov; GPLv2+) src/hardware/nukedopl.cpp
OPL emulation based on Ken Silverman OPL2 emulation (LGPLv2.1+) src/hardware/opl.cpp
MOS6581 SID emulation (GPLv2+) src/hardware/reSID/.cpp src/hardware/reSID/.h
SN76496 emulation (MAME project; GPLv2+) src/hardware/sn76496.h src/hardware/tandy_sound.cpp
PC-98 video rendering and I/O handling code (written by myself; GPLv2+) src/hardware/vga_pc98*.cpp
3dfx Voodoo Graphics SST-1/2 emulation (Aaron Giles; BSD 3-clause) src/hardware/voodoo_emu.cpp
PC-98 FM board emulation (Neko Project II; BSD 3-clause) src/hardware/snd_pc98/*
QCOW image support (Michael Greger; GPLv2+) src/ints/qcow2_disk.cpp
HQ2X and HQ3X render scaler (ScummVM, Maxim Stepin; GPLv2+) src/gui/render_templates_hq2x.h
Tips for hacking and modifying the source code
As a SDL (Simple Directmedia Layer) based application, DOSBox-X starts execution from main(), which is either the real main() function or a redefined main() function called from SDLmain depending on the platform.
On Linux and Mac OS X, main() is the real main function.
On Windows, main() is SDLmain() and is called from the WinMain function defined in the SDL library.
The entry point main() is in src/gui/sdlmain.cpp, somewhere closer to the bottom.
Configuration and control state (from dosbox-x.conf and the command line) are accessible through a globally scoped pointer named "control".
In the original DOSBox SVN project, "control" is most often used for accessing the sections and settings of dosbox.conf.
In DOSBox-X, "control" also holds flags and variables gathered from the command line (such as -conf).
Most (though not all) of the sections and settings are defined in src/dosbox.cpp. There is one function DOSBox_SetupConfigSections() that adds sections and settings.
Each section has a list of settings by name. Each setting can be defined as an int, hexadecimal, string, double, and multivalue item. Read include/setup.h and src/misc/setup.cpp for more information.
There is one section (the autoexec section) that is defined as lines of text.
In the original DOSBox SVN project, each section also has an init and destructor function. The codebase in SVN is heavily written around emulator setup from each section, which is why the order of the sections is important. DOSBox-X eliminated these init and destructor functions and encourages initial setup from functions called in main(), and additional setup/teardown through VM event callbacks (see include/setup.h). A callback mechanism is provided however (at a section level) when settings change.
Most of the code in this codebase assumes that it can retrieve a section by name, and a setting by name, without checking whether the returned referce to a setting is NULL. Therefore, removing a setting or referring to settings before the creation of them can cause this code to crash until that reference is removed.
Time and cycles in DOSBox-X
Time is handled as a macro unit of 1ms time called "ticks", tied heavily to SDL_GetTicks() to track time.
Within each 1ms tick, a cycle count specified by the user is executed as CPU time.
Setting cycles=3000 therefore, instructs DOSBox and DOSBox-X to execute 3000 cpu cycles per millisecond. That generally means (though not always) that 3000 instructions are executed per millisecond.
Other parts of emulation may consume additional CPU cycles to simulate I/O or video RAM delay.
Normal_Loop() in src/dosbox.cpp controls per-tick execution as directed by PIC_RunQueue() whether or not the 1ms tick has completed.
Generally the CPU core will execute instructions for the entire 1ms tick, but the loop will cut short if events are scheduled to execute sooner.
Events are scheduled in src/hardware/timer.cpp, using PIC_AddEvent() given a callback and a delay in milliseconds. Scheduling an event will cut the CPU cycle count back to enable the event to execute on time.
PIC_AddEvent() events are scheduled once. Periodic events should call PIC_AddEvent() again within the callback. For precision reasons, PIC_AddEvent() can identify whether it is being called from an event callback, and it will use the delta time differently to help periodic events maintain regular intervals.
Events can be removed using PIC_RemoveEvents().
Per-tick event handlers can be added using the TIMER_AddTickHandler() function in src/hardware/pic.cpp. The callback will be called at the completion of the 1ms tick.
Emulator code can query emulator time at any time using the functions in include/pic.h.
PIC_TickIndex() returns the time within the 1ms tick as a floating point value from 0.0 to 1.0.
PIC_TickIndexND() returns the same as cycle counts within the 1ms tick.
PIC_FullIndex() returns absolute emulator time by combining ticks and cycle count time.
How DOSBox and DOSBox-X mix x86 and native code
Much of the DOS and BIOS handling in DOSBox and DOSBox-X is done through the use of the "callback" instruction and a callback system in src/cpu/callback.cpp.
Each BIOS interrupt is a callback, as is the DOS kernel interrupts. INT 21h is handled as a callback to src/dos/dos.cpp function DOS21_Handler(), for example. That native code function can then manipulate CPU registers and memory as needed to emulate the DOS call.
Some callback functions will also modify the stack frame to set or clear specific CPU flags on return, using functions CALLBACK_SCF(), CALLBACK_SZF(), and CALLBACK_SIF().
The callback instruction is 0xFE 0x38 <uint16_t>. This is an invalid opcode on actual x86 hardware, but it is a call into a callback function within the DOSBox emulation. The uint16_t value specifies which callback.
Callbacks are registered through CALLBACK_Allocate(), which then returns an integer value that is an index into the callback table. 0 is an invalid callback value that indicates no callback was allocated, though at this time, CALLBACK_Allocate() is written to E_Exit() and abort emulation in the case that none are available, instead of returning zero.
CALLBACK_DeAllocate() can be used with the index to free that slot so that other code can use CALLBACK_Allocate() to take that slot if needed, though it is rare to use CALLBACK_DeAllocate() so far.
When allocated, the emulation code can then write x86 instructions where needed that include the callback instruction in order to work from native code at that point in execution. Generally, most of the x86 code generation is done within the callback framework itself using CALLBACK_SetupExtra to write common patterns of x86 code depending on how the native code is meant to execute or return to the caller.
When the CPU core encounters a callback instruction, the index of the instruction (nonzero, remember) is returned from the execution loop with the expectation the caller will then index the callback array with it.
If the callback instruction is called from protected mode, memory and I/O access may cause recursion of the emulator. Memory access functions called by the native code may trigger an I/O port or page fault exception within the guest. DOSBox and DOSBox-X resolve the fault by pushing an exception frame onto the stack and then recursing into another emulation loop which does not break until the fault is resolved. While this is perfectly fine for DOS and Windows 3.1 simple fault handling, this may cause recursion issues with more advanced task switching and fault handling in Windows 95 and later.
The most common reason a callback handler might get caught with a page fault is the emulation of DOS and BIOS interrupts while running within the virtualization environment of Windows 3.0 through Windows ME.
Another possible source of page faults may occur with DOS extenders that enable paging of memory to disk.
Callback functions will typically return CBRET_NONE.
General description of source code
src/shell/shell.cpp SHELL init, SHELL run, fake COMMAND.COM setup, startup messages and ANSI art, AUTOEXEC.BAT emulation and setup, shell interface, input, parsing, and execution
src/shell/shell_batch.cpp Batch file (*.BAT) handling
src/shell/shell_cmds.cpp Shell internal command handling, shell commands: DIR CHDIR ATTRIB CALL CD CHOICE CLS COPY DATE DEL DELETE ERASE ECHO EXIT GOTO HELP IF LOADHIGH LH MKDIR MD PATH PAUSE RMDIR RD REM RENAME REN SET SHIFT SUBST TIME TYPE VER ADDKEY VOL PROMPT LABEL MORE FOR INT2FDBG CTTY DEBUGBOX
src/shell/shell_misc.cpp PROMPT generator, command line input interface, shell execution, and command location via PATH interface.
src/gui/sdlmain.cpp Entry point, emulator setup, runtime execution, cleanup. Menu management, GFX start/end handling, GFX mode setup and management. Menu handling. Logging of GFX state. A lot of other misc code.
src/gui/sdlmain_linux.cpp Linux-specific state tracking and handling.
src/gui/sdl_mapper.cpp Mapper interface, mapper event handling and routing, mapper file reading and writing. Keyboard, mouse, joystick, and shortcut handling. In DOSBox-X, also ties mapper shortcuts to the menu system.
src/gui/sdl_gui.cpp Configuration GUI (using gui_tk), dialog boxes, background "golden blur" behind dialog boxes, input management and display of dialog boxes.
src/gui/menu.cpp Menu handling and management, processing, application of menu to host OS menu framework if applicable. In DOSBox-X, contains the menu C++ class and menu item object system which then maps to Windows HMENU, Mac OS X NSMenu, or the custom drawn SDL menus if neither are available.
Which menu framework is used depends on the assignment of the DOSBOXMENU_* constant as defined in include/menu.h. By default: Windows (HMENU) is used if targeting Windows and not HX DOS and not SDL2 Mac OS X (NSMENU) is used if targeting Apple Mac OS X and not SDL2 SDL drawn menus are used in all other cases. A define is available via configure.ac if SDL drawn menus should be used regardless of the host OS and environment. A NULL menu define is provided if a build with no visible menus is desired.
src/gui/render.cpp RENDER_ and render scaler code. Also handles color palette, aspect ratio, autofit options. The selection of render scaler is defined and chosen here.
src/gui/render_scalers.cpp Render scaler definitions and code. Note that scalers are defined using header files as templates and #defines to support each color format.
src/gui/midi.cpp MIDI output framework. Header files include additional platform-specific code.
src/gui/menu_osx.mm Mac OS X Objective C++ code to bridge Objective C and C++ so that the menu manipulation code can work correctly.
src/gui/direct3d.cpp Windows Direct3D9 support code. This code allows output=direct3d to work properly. Uses DirectX 9 interfaces.
include/bitop.h Header file to provide compile-time and runtime inline functions for bit manipulation and masking. Additional code is in src/gui/bitop.cpp
include/ptrop.h Header file to provide compile-time and runtime inline functions for pointer manipulation and alignment. Additional code is in src/gui/ptrop.cpp.
src/aviwriter/* AVI writer library, written by Jonathan Campbell sometime around 2010, and incorporated into DOSBox-X. Unlike the initial code from DOSBox SVN, this code can support writing OpenDML AVI files that exceed the 2GB file size limit.
All definitions, including Windows PCM formats and GUIDs, are provided here.
src/misc/cross.cpp Cross-platform utility functions.
src/misc/messages.cpp Message translation table functions.
src/misc/setup.cpp Configuration, section, and setting management.
src/misc/shiftjis.cpp Shift-JIS utility functions.
src/misc/support.cpp String support functions including case conversion.
src/builtin/*.cpp Built-in executable binaries, defined as unsigned char arrays and registered at runtime:
25.COM 28.COM 50.COM APPEND.EXE BUFFERS.COM COPY.EXE CWSDPMI.EXE DEBUG.EXE DEVICE.COM DOS32A.EXE DOS4GW.EXE DOSIDLE.EXE EDIT.COM FCBS.COM FIND.EXE HEXMEM16.EXE HEXMEM32.EXE LASTDRIV.COM MEM.COM MOVE.EXE TREE.EXE XCOPY.EXE
src/cpu/paging.cpp Paging and page handling code, TLB (translation lookaside buffer), Page handlers
src/cpu/modrm.cpp x86 mod/reg/rm effective address handling and lookup
src/cpu/mmx.cpp Minimalist MMX register handling and effective address lookup
src/cpu/lazyflags.cpp Lazy CPU flag evalulation. CPU flags are evaluated only if needed.
src/cpu/flags.cpp CPU flag evaluation code.
src/cpu/cpu.cpp NMI emulation, protected mode descriptors, stack push/pop, Selector base/limit handling, CPL, flags, exception handling, TSS (Task State Segment), task switching, I/O exception handling, general exception handling, interrupt handling, general flow control instruction handling, evaluation of [cpu] section settings and application of settings and changes to settings, I/O instruction stubs, model-specific register emulation, CMPXCHG8B.
src/cpu/core_simple.cpp Simple CPU core (core=simple). Uses normal core header files. Core cannot be used if paging is enabled or when executing from memory outside the valid range of system memory.
src/cpu/core_prefetch.cpp Prefetch CPU core (cputype=*_prefetch). Uses normal core header files. This core should be used for any application that is dependent on CPU prefetch including anti-debugger, copy protection, or self modifying code.
src/cpu/core_normal.cpp Normal CPU core.
src/cpu/core_normal_286.cpp Normal CPU core, 286 emulation.
src/cpu/core_normal_8086.cpp Normal CPU core, 8086 emulation.
src/cpu/core_full.cpp Full CPU core (core=full). Appears to have been borrowed from Bochs.
src/cpu/core_dyn_x86.cpp Dynamic CPU core (core=dynamic). On 32-bit x86 builds, this code interprets the guest executable code and produces executable code for the host process. This core is faster than the other cores however it may have problems with paging and it does not emulate CPU cycle counts accurately.
src/cpu/callback.cpp DOSBox/DOSBox-X callback instruction and callback handling system.
src/debug/debug.cpp Debugger, breakpoint handling and enforcement, debugger commands, debugger interface, debug runtime loop (when broken into the debugger)
src/debug/debug_gui.cpp Debugger interface windowing system, GUI drawing, logging system and LOG() C++ class, LOG_MSG() function, log file writing
src/debug/debug_disasm.cpp 16/32-bit i486 instruction disassembler, used in the debugger to show instructions in the code window. Apparently taken from the GNU debugger.
src/debug/debug_win32.cpp Win32 console handling code, including resizing.
src/hardware/iohandler.cpp I/O port handling code and registration system.
src/hardware/memory.cpp Memory mapping, handling code, registration, system RAM allocation, A20 gate control, CPU reset vector handling, A20 config setting.
src/hardware/mixer.cpp Audio mixer, audio system. All audio is mixed in 1ms frames from all mixer channels. Other parts of the emulator register mixer callbacks, where they are called on to render up to 1ms of audio. All audio is processed and rendered as 16-bit stereo PCM even if the audio source provides 8/16-bit mono/stereo. See mixer framework section for more information. This also provides MIXER.COM on drive Z:, volume control mapper shortcuts, menu controls "mute" and "swap stereo".
src/hardware/adlib.cpp Adlib OPL2 and OPL3 emulation. Also provides the NukedOPL emulation. Note that this is accomplished by including nukedopl.h, and including opl.cpp twice inline. Once for OPL2, and once for OPL3.
src/hardware/opl.cpp This is the OPL2/OPL3 implementation, except for NukedOPL.
src/hardware/nukedopl.cpp NukedOPL FM emulation.
src/hardware/sblaster.cpp Sound Blaster emulation, overall. The same codebase emulates Sound Blaster 1.0 through Sound Blaster 16 as well as ESS688 and Reveal SC400.
src/hardware/pci_bus.cpp PCI bus emulation and framework.
src/hardware/vga.cpp VGA emulation, modeset, resize event, lookup tables, config parsing.
src/hardware/vga_attr.cpp VGA attribute controller emulation
src/hardware/vga_crtc.cpp VGA CRTC emulation
src/hardware/vga_dac.cpp VGA DAC (palette) emulation
src/hardware/vga_draw.cpp Code to draw pixels in each VGA mode, including PC-98
src/hardware/vga_gfx.cpp VGA GFX (0x3CE-0x3CF) emulation
src/hardware/vga_memory.cpp VGA RAM and RAM access emulation, video RAM allocation
src/hardware/vga_misc.cpp Misc VGA ports, including port 3DAh, 3C2h, 3CCh, 3CAh, 3C8h
src/hardware/vga_other.cpp Other emulation, including CGA functions
src/hardware/vga_paradise.cpp Paradise SVGA emulation
src/hardware/vga_s3.cpp S3 SVGA emulation
src/hardware/vga_seq.cpp VGA sequencer emulation
src/hardware/vga_tseng.cpp Tseng ET3000/ET4000 emulation
src/hardware/vga_xga.cpp VGA XGA emulation
src/hardware/vga_pc98_cg.cpp PC-98 CG (character generator) emulation
src/hardware/vga_pc98_crtc.cpp PC-98 CRTC emulation
src/hardware/vga_pc98_dac.cpp PC-98 DAC (palette) emulation
src/hardware/vga_pc98_egc.cpp PC-98 EGC (extended graphics charger) emulation
src/hardware/vga_pc98_gdc.cpp PC-98 GDC (graphics display controller) emulation
src/hardware/voodoo.cpp 3Dfx Voodoo emulation
src/hardware/voodoo_emu.cpp 3Dfx Voodoo emulation
src/hardware/voodoo_interface.cpp 3Dfx Voodoo emulation
src/hardware/voodoo_opengl.cpp 3Dfx Voodoo emulation
src/hardware/voodoo_vogl.cpp 3Dfx Voodoo emulation
src/hardware/pc98.cpp PC98UTIL.COM utility built-in command
src/hardware/pc98_fm.cpp PC-98 FM board emulation (ties DOSBox-X to emulation code borrowed from Neko Project II)
src/hardware/snd_pc98/* PC-98 FM board emulation (code borrowed from Neko Project II)
DOSBox-X menu framework
Instead of using a specific menu system directly, DOSBox-X uses a menu framework as defined in include/menu.h and src/gui/menu.cpp.
This menu framework allows using the same menu item and menu layout on all supported targets.
Prior to the framework, DOSBox-X menus were exclusively for Windows only and defined in an *.rc file.
The design of the system is that all components of the emulator define and register their menu items during init by a specific name. Mapper shortcuts automatically register a menu item named "mapper_" + mapper shortcut name.
Popup menus are also menu items by name, controlled by src/gui/menu.cpp.
The final layout is controlled by src/gui/menu.cpp which refers to menu items by name and the order that they are arranged in.
The final layout can be seen through the display list in the menu object and the display list in each menu item that was created as a submenu. The display list contains the exact order that menu items are arranged.
In the SDL drawn menus, each menu item also contains the screen and relative coordinates that were decided on when the menu object was last called to rebuild or arrange the menus.
The SDL drawn menus are the only type that requires the main DOSBox-X event loop to process menu events on their behalf including drawing and reacting to mouse/touchscreen input. Windows and Mac OS X menus do not require the main event loop's attention except when the user selects an item.
Access to the menu items is by name, as well. get_item() returns a menu item by reference, which itself contains methods to control the state of the menu item and to reflect the changes to the menu framework.
Menu item methods return a reference to themselves to permit chaining the calls on one line to keep visual clutter to a minimum.
The menu framework will call E_Exit() if the menu item by name does not exist. Another method exists in the menu object to test if an item exists by name.
It is expected that references returned from get_item() are used short-term and never held onto for longer than needed. References point directly to a vector within the menu object that can become invalid if anything is done to cause the vector to resize. Always call get_item() for a menu item to operate on it, never cache or store the return value. Never add items while holding a reference.
In builds where it is enabled, DOSBox-X supports breaking into the debugger interface, which is shown on the console.
A mapper shortcut is provided to break into the debugger on demand. Normally this shortcut is set to Alt+Pause.
In Windows, DOSBox-X can create a console and show the debugger interface on it.
On other systems including Linux and Mac OS X, DOSBox-X must be started from a terminal in order to enable the debugger.
The debugger interface should scale and respond to resizing of the terminal window.
WARNING: Fitting to the window was added in DOSBox-X. The debugger interface in DOSBox SVN requires a minimum terminal window size to function, and may segfault if the terminal is too small.
The debugger interface is written against the "ncurses" library.
The window regions of the debugger interface are:
- Register Overview
- Data view
- Code Overview
- Variable (not shown by default)
The register window will show at all times the contents of the CPU registers and segment registers as well as other important CPU state.
Data view allows viewing the contents of memory while debugging. The location shown is controlled by a segment:offset pair.
In DOSBox-X, the Data view also permits viewing data as a linear (pageable) offset and as a physical memory view (outside the CPU's paging control).
The code overview/disassembly window shows the contents of a memory location as disassembled x86 instructions. Normally, this is set to the instruction pointer, but it can be set anywhere. Decoding is based on the CPU mode.
The variable list is used when the debugger is given variables to debug by.
The output window allows you to scroll through the last 1000 or so log messages written from within the codebase by LOG() or LOG_MSG(). If the window is scrolled to the bottom, new messages will appear by default.
The lowest row of the terminal is reserved for a line where the user can enter debugger commands. An underscore shows where the cursor is positioned.
The code and data views have been fixed in DOSBox-X to indicate when data is not available to view for a specific segment:offset or linear address.
If the CPU is in protected mode, and the segment portion refers to a segment that does not exist, or the offset extends past the limit of that segment, the code or data view will show 'na' instead of a byte value.
If 80386 paging is enabled, and the segment:offset or linear address refers to a page that is not present, then the data view will show 'pf' to indicate this.
na = segment does not exist, or offset exceeds segment limit
pf = segment:offset or linear address is paged out or not present according to page tables.
Debugger keyboard shortcuts
Tab Switch between windows F5 Resume emulation F9 Set/clear breakpoint F10 Single step (over) F11 Single step (into) Up arrow Scroll up one line (if applicable) Down arrow Scroll down one line (if applicable) Page Up Scroll up by window height (if applicable) Page Down Scroll down by window height (if applicable)
MOVEWINDN Move current window down MOVEWINDU Move current window up SHOWWIN Show window (by name) HIDEWIN Hide window (by name) MEMDUMP Dump memory to file (MEMDUMP.TXT) MEMDUMPBIN Dump memory to file (MEMDUMP.BIN) IV Insert variable SV Save variables to LV Load variables from SR Set register value to SM [bytes in hex] Set memory at : to byte values given BP Add breakpoint (real mode) BPM Add breakpoint (protected mode) BPLM Add breakpoint (linear/virtual address) BPINT Add breakpoint on interrupt BPINT Add breakpoint on interrupt and AH= BPLIST List breakpoints BPDEL Delete breakpoint RUN Resume emulation RUNWATCH Resume emulation, but show state while running A20 Show A20 gate state A20 ON Turn on A20 gate A20 OFF Turn off A20 gate PIC Show interrupt controller state PIC MASKIRQ Mask IRQ at interrupt controller PIC UNMASKIRQ Unmask IRQ at interrupt controller PIC ACKIRQ Acknowledge IRQ at interrupt controller PIC LOWERIRQ Manually lower interrupt signal PIC RAISEIRQ Manually raise interrupt signal C Set code view to address D Set data view to address (segment:offset) DV Set data view to address (linear/virtual address) DP Set data view to address (physical) LOG Log CPU state, for the specified number of instructions, to LOGCPU.TXT LOGS Log CPU state, short log, to LOGCPU.TXT LOGL Log CPU state, long log, to LOGCPU.TXT INTT Trace interrupt INT Start interrupt SELINFO Show selector information DOS MCBS Dump DOS kernel MCB chain (conventional memory allocation chain) DOS KERN Dump DOS kernel memory allocation list DOS XMS Dump XMS (extended memory) allocation list DOS EMS Dump EMS (expanded memory) allocation list BIOS MEM Dump BIOS allocation and layout list GDT Dump GDT (global descriptor table) LDT Dump LDT (local descriptor table) IDT Dump IDT (interrupt descriptor table) PAGING Dump page table information CPU Dump additional CPU information INTVEC Dump interrupt vector table to INTHAND Set code view to start of interrupt handler EXTEND Toggle additional information TIMERIRQ Start timer IRQ HEAVYLOG Toggle heavy CPU logging ZEROPROTECT Toggle zero protection HELP Show some debugger commands for reference
Mixer audio framework
Audio is rendered from all sources once a millisecond (once per tick).
Audio is rendered to 16-bit stereo at the sample rate of the user's choice (in dosbox-x.conf).
Audio may be rendered within the 1ms tick at any point if code calls the MIXER_FillUp() function or FillUp() member of a mixer channel. Typically that is done when a significant state change is made to an audio source in order to render accurately while not rendering once per sample in an inefficient manner.
It is important to note that when a significant state change happens, the device calls FillUp() first to render audio UP TO THAT POINT, then applies the state change.
When the 1ms tick is completed, the audio is filled out to 1ms and then sent off to a circular buffer where it can be picked up and sent to the sound card when the Simple Directmedia Library calls to pick it up.
In DOSBox-X, the mixer is written to render exactly 1ms at the sample rate per 1ms of emulator time. Fractional integer math is carried out in src/hardware/mixer.cpp to ensure the exact number of samples is rendered.
Audio is rendered down to a common mixer buffer that is at least 16384 samples large.
The mixer channel specifies the sample rate of the source, so that the mixer can upsample properly. The source format is determined at the time of writing to the mixer channel. The source is free to change from 8/16-bit PCM mono/stereo at any time.
In DOSBox-X, there is additional framework provided to emulate analog properties and DAC characteristics through lowpass filters and rate vs slew rate interpolation.
Normally, the source does not specify a lowpass filter nor does it provide a slew rate. In that case, normal linear interpolation is applied on upsample.
If the source provides a slew rate, the slew rate is used for linear interpolation. If the slew rate is higher than the sample rate, then the interpolation within the sample completes faster. If the slew rate is lower than the sample rate, the interpolation will be done too slow to complete fully before the next sample.
The reason for slew rate rendering is simple. DACs without filters change instantaneously between samples. This is what gives older sound cards (including the older Sound Blaster cards) their grungy metallic characteristic. Sound cards since then filter the audio after the DAC (or filter as part of DAC output) to smooth transitions between samples to improve sound quality for low sample rates.
However, as anyone knows in the analog domain, transistors do not actually change instantaneously. There is a transition period from ON to OFF, and OFF to ON, however fast it is. The slew rate parameter specifies the "sample rate" that defines the transition period. The higher the slew rate, the faster the transition.
The lowpass filter is there to simulate the analog filtering post DAC. In most cases, a sound card could be thought of as a DAC with or without DAC interpolation, put through an audio amplifier circuit that can only amplify and pass up to about 20KHz.
Sound Blaster 1.0/2.0 emulation in DOSBox-X for example is written to simulate a DAC with a slew rate of 16-20KHz and a lowpass filter of 20KHz, to simulate the grungy metallic flavor of the sound.
Sound Blaster Pro adds to the setup by using the lowpass parameter according to the "filter bit" in the mixer registers.
Sound Blaster 16 and ESS emulation simulates the newer DACs using normal linear interpolation and the lowpass filter according to the source rate.
Within the mixer framework, audio routing is provided to render to a WAV file if instructed by the user, and to the audio track of an AVI file if also instructed by the user.
In DOSBox-X, individual audio channels from each source are also recorded to an AVI file that has one audio track per channel, to allow recording each channel individually. The intent of this setup is to enable editing audio and video from a DOS game with the ability to selectively disable unrelated audio or extract game music without the sound effects in ways appropriate for video production.
In DOSBox SVN, audio rendering is driven by the SDL audio device, which may (usually) or may not drift slightly from emulation.
In DOSBox-X, audio rendering is tied to emulation time, and audio/video sync will never drift in a captured AVI file.
In DOSBox-X, if compiled against FFMPEG, the captured audio may be sent instead to the AAC codec and muxed into an MPEG transport stream as part of video capture.
A device creates a mixer channel by calling MIXER_AddChannel() to create another audio channel. The function will return a pointer to a mixer channel object which can then be directed to start, stop, and render audio. The function will also call the callback handler function given at creation time when audio rendering is needed.
When a device is finished with the channel, it should call MIXER_DelChannel() to destroy the channel.
Mixer channel enumeration is possible with MIXER_FirstChannel() or MIXER_FindChannel(). Mixer channels are linked together in a singly linked list when active.
src/hardware/mixer.cpp also registers a .COM program on drive Z: that can be used to list mixer channels and control mixer volume.
Sound Blaster emulation
src/hardware/sblaster.cpp emulates all models of Sound Blaster from Sound Blaster 1.0 through Sound Blaster 16. In DOSBox-X, additional code was added to emulate the ESS688 and SC400 cards as well.
The code is written to be as accurate as possible about the state and function of Sound Blaster cards, including many undocumented quirks.
Additional hacks were added for additional tricks that some old DOS games and demos use. One such hack is "goldplay" mode, referring to an old music tracker playback library that supported playing MOD files to LPT DAC, PC speaker, and Sound Blaster. The reason a hack was added is due to the way this library renders single-sample output via DMA. Instead of normal DMA, the library allocates a 1-sample buffer and instructs the DMA controller to loop over the single sample. The timer interrupt then overwrites the 1-sample buffer at the sample rate it believes is the best to render at.
In DOSBox SVN, sample rates are not capped.
In DOSBox-X, sample rates are capped according to the behavior of the actual hardware. That includes the 23KHz cap for non-highspeed and 45KHz cap for highspeed DSP playback.
The emulation is written in a fairly straightforward way that should be easy to modify if needed. DSP commands are collected into a buffer according to a table that indicates how long each command is from the first byte.
A buffer is used to return DSP bytes read back from the sound card.
Unless otherwise asked, the Sound Blaster code will also register I/O handlers for and initialize OPL2/OPL3 FM emulation at port 0x388. The code may initialize Game Blaster compatible CMS emulation as well.
On DOS kernel initialization, the Sound Blaster emulation will also automatically create the BLASTER environment variable. This environment variable is used by many DOS games to find the sound card. Some games require it, while others will probe manually for the sound card.
The VGA emulation written in DOSBox-X is written in two parts.
The first part concerns IBM PC/XT/AT emulation and VGA emulation, with adjustments for some SVGA chipsets and for MDA/Hercules/Tandy/EGA as well.
The second part concerns NEC PC-98 and emulation of it's subsystem.
The two parts work somewhat independently. Which one becomes active depends on the machine= setting, whether it enables IBM PC or NEC PC-98 emulation.
All VGA emulation is tied to a VGA state structure that is globally visible in the code. The state stores in the structure exactly or closely mirrors the values written to the registers. Extended state is either carried in the same registers or stored in other values. Extended state is generally stored and represented as if emulating the S3 chipset. Some fields are either extended or stored separately when holding Tandy/PCjr state.
All PC-98 emulation is tied to the GDC controller emulation state of both GDCs (master and slave). VGA state is not used much in PC-98 mode.
Support is not implemented for oddball PC-98 GDC state such as programming the master and slave GDCs to run out of sync with each other. Custom modes are supported however, such as the custom video timing used in Ishtar.
VGA state is determined by the register contents (low level) instead of INT 10h mode (high level). The register contents are used to select a mode enumeration which affects the way video memory is rendered. The modes are the M_* enumeration constants defined in include/vga.h.
M_CGA2 CGA 1bpp 2-color mode (e.g. 640x200) M_CGA4 CGA 2bpp 4-color mode (e.g. 320x200) M_EGA EGA/VGA 4bpp 16-color planar modes M_VGA VGA 8bpp 256-color modes, usually chained planar, or highcolor DAC output M_LIN4 SVGA 4bpp 16-color planar modes M_LIN8 SVGA 8bpp 256-color modes (linear) M_LIN15 SVGA 16bpp highcolor modes (15bpp 5:5:5 RGB = XRRRRRGGGGGBBBBB) M_LIN16 SVGA 16bpp highcolor modes (16bpp 5:6:5 RGB = RRRRRGGGGGGBBBBB) M_LIN24 SVGA 24bpp truecolor modes (24bpp 8:8:8 RGB) M_LIN32 SVGA 32bpp truecolor modes (32bpp 8:8:8:8 ARGB) M_TEXT Alphanumeric text modes (CGA/EGA/VGA/SVGA/Tandy/PCjr) M_HERC_GFX Hercules 1bpp 2-color mode (usually 720x348) M_HERC_TEXT MDA/Hercules alphanumeric text mode M_CGA16 CGA composite video emulation M_TANDY2 Tandy/PCjr 1bpp 2-color mode M_TANDY4 Tandy/PCjr 2bpp 4-color mode M_TANDY16 Tandy/PCjr 4bpp 16-color mode M_TANDY_TEXT Tandy/PCjr text mode M_AMSTRAD Amstrad 4bpp 16-color mode M_PC98 NEC PC-98 text/graphics output (combined) M_FM_TOWNS Stub for FM Towns NOTICE: A string array is also defined for private use of the VGA_SetupDrawing() function for each M_ constant. If you add a new constant, you must add a string for that constant in src/hardware/vga_draw.cpp, or else DOSBox-X may segfault when announcing the video mode on mode change. The order of the enumeration MUST match the strings. The string array is defined (at the time of writing this documentation) at line 2755 of src/hardware/vga_draw.cpp.
VGA drawing setup is initialized using the VGA_SetupDrawing() function in src/hardware/vga_draw.cpp. The function uses machine type, VGA mode, and register state to determine the active display area (used to size DOSBox's window) and refresh rate.
DOSBox SVN will generally render the VGA display in quarters of the screen, except when machine=vgaonly, where it will render one line at a time.
DOSBox-X will always render one line at a time, in all video modes.
Rendering one line at a time may be required if the DOS game in question uses raster or palette effects that require scanline precision. "Copper" effects in the demoscene, such as the act of changing color palette entries per scanline to produce moving bars of color, require per-line rendering to appear correctly.
NOTE: To better understand the term "copper effects", read the following links describing the original Commodore Amiga video hardware:
PIC events are used in the VGA code to trigger rendering a scanline at the interval determined by the horizontal sync rate. Some additional events are used for horizontal blank, sync, and return to active display. The VGA system is set up so that these events set up continuous rasterization of the display.
If for any reason, these events should stop, the display in the emulator window will stop updating.
Rendering of VGA memory per scanline is carried out using a function pointer to a function assigned by the last call to VGA_SetupDrawing(). At call time, the function is expected to render to a buffer and return the pixel data as the return value. In most cases, that is done by rendering to a specific temporary buffer set aside for rasterizing, and then returning any number of bytes (0 to 31) from the start of the buffer. VGA text rendering may return 0 to 8 pixels from the start depending on the horizontal panning (hpel) register state for example.
Per-scanline rendering is handled by PIC event VGA_DrawSingleLine() which calls the render function and manages VGA state as it advances through the scan lines and addresses in memory.
Vertical retrace is handled by PIC event VGA_VerticalTimer().
Emulation of a vertical retrace interrupt is handled by PIC event VGA_VertInterrupt. This event has code to emulate the IRQ 2/9 interrupt of EGA and the IRQ 2 vsync interrupt in PC-98 mode.
It is known that some double-buffered VGA registers take effect some time between blanking at the end of the active display, and active display at the start. Whenever that happens the PIC event function VGA_DisplayStartLatch() is set up to emulate the transfer of those registers.
DOSBox SVN will generally render per scanline in video memory, using the scaler to double the scanline if appropriate. machine=vgaonly however may override that.
DOSBox-X will generally render all scanlines that would be sent to a CRT, meaning that 200-line modes are doubled, by default for accuracy. This can be disabled by setting doublescan=false to get DOSBox SVN behavior.
The reason it matters is that the doublescan behavior prevents the advanced scalers (such as 2xsai) from working. To enable these scalers, turn off the doublescan mode.
VGA memory size and allocation is handled in src/hardware/vga_memory.cpp. VGA memory is mapped to the appropriate memory ranges depending on register state, machine type, and video mode in VGA_SetupHandlers(). Register-level emulation of certain registers will call VGA_SetupHandlers() if it might or will affect how VGA memory is mapped.
VGA_SetupHandlers() also determines the callback handler used to respond to video memory access from the CPU. Register state and hardware state determine how the video hardware handles read and write operations, this is where it's handled.
In the simplest case, VGA_SetupHandlers() will emulate straightforward memory access for MDA/CGA/Hercules text and graphics modes. No advanced logic is involved, video RAM behaves like normal RAM.
In the more complex cases, especially EGA/VGA, a handler is set up to accept reads and writes and route it through the read/write modes that determine how it's handled across the planar memory of the EGA/VGA hardware.
In PC-98 mode, the memory handler accepts read/write to text and character RAM, non-volatile RAM, and maps read/write operations to graphics RAM through the state of the EGC hardware.
There is separate code for S3 emulation to map a linear framebuffer to an extended memory address (currently 0xE0000000) defined in src/hardware/memory.cpp. VESA BIOS emulation involving linear framebuffer modes rely on S3 emulation to provide them. There are registers emulated by src/hardware/vga_s3.cpp that indirectly control the linear framebuffer.
In DOSBox SVN, the linear framebuffer is handled directly by the MEM_GetPageHandler() function.
In DOSBox-X, the linear framebuffer is given using the memory callout system when reads and writes are issued to that range for the first time.
Note that the linear framebuffer handler also includes the memory-mapped I/O registers also provided by S3 chipsets.
VGA memory handlers, just like any other memory handler, must translate the given address to the physical address before handling.
For some strange reason, DOSBox SVN page mapping calls the memory handler with the CPU's virtual memory address. This behavior was inherited by DOSBox-X when forked from DOSBox SVN.
Convert the virtual address to physical using the PAGING_GetPhysicalAddress() function before using it in video RAM emulation.
The memory handler C++ base class is written so that there are methods for getting a host pointer or handling memory read/write as a byte, word, or dword.
A memory handler object can simplify code by implementing only the byte handler, and letting the C++ base class break word and dword I/O down to byte access. Memory handlers can implement their own word/dword handlers if the device requires different handling for larger than byte sized I/O, or for performance reasons.
The base C++ class of a memory handler has a flags member that describes how to handle memory I/O. The constructor can call down to the base constructor with the flag value to initialize by.
DOSBox-X includes code to consume CPU cycles on memory I/O to simulate the fact that, at least on older hardware, video memory is slower than system memory. There are older DOS games that rely on slow system memory, and they will run too fast without it.
EGA/VGA planar write modes are handled in src/hardware/vga_memory.cpp function ModeOperation().
EGA/VGA planar memory is emulated by treating the allocated RAM as if an array of 32-bit unsigned integers (uint32_t). Each bitplane occupies 8 bits within that 32-bit unsigned int. Keeping the planes together enables faster more efficient emulation of VGA bit planar operations including copying with write mode 2 and raster operations, as well as Mode X tricks used by older DOS games.
Due to the general way that video modes are handled on EGA/VGA/SVGA hardware, all modes including text mode must operate within the constraints of bytes through the planar layout of VGA video RAM.
One good example of that requirement is the Windows 95 "boot logo", which relies on IO.SYS setting 320x400 256-color Mode X, then resetting BIOS and VGA hardware state so that DOS and INT 10h still think the display is in text mode, and the VGA hardware continues to accept writes to B8000 as if running in text mode. In this way, the text console can continue to show console output underneath the Windows 95 logo unscathed. When Windows 95 switches the VGA hardware back to text mode, whatever was written to the console is revealed.
Some exceptions are made for SVGA chipsets known to function differently, such as the Tseng ET3000/ET4000 chipsets known to operate VGA Mode X differently from standard VGA.
VGA planar memory is handled in the code by typecasting video RAM as a 32-bit unsigned int (uint32_t) determined by an index directly computed from the planar byte offset.
All EGA/VGA modes are mapped on top of this planar memory structure, in the same way that real hardware maps it. This includes text mode (planes 0 & 1 for char/attribute), CGA modes (planes 0 & 1 for even/odd bytes), and 256-color mode (every 4 pixels is one planar byte, and the pixel in that group is mapped to a plane).
The code as written depends on a host CPU that is little endian, including bit masks and shift operations. Bitmask computation will need to be altered to work correctly on big endian systems in order to work correctly through the uint32_t typecast.
To aid with planar memory, a VGA_Latch union is defined that allows the uint32_t to be accessed as one whole unit or individual bytes of video memory from the base of the bitplane up.
The uint32_t masks and shifting should be maintained so that b to b refer to the same bytes of video memory. Only uint32_t should be handled differently to accomodate host byte order.
For more information, see vga/hardware/vga_memory.cpp and vga/hardware/vga.cpp where these bitmasks are computed and used.
Foreign keyboard layouts
DOSBox-X was developed around the US keyboard layout, with only a few additional layouts natively supported.
To add additional layouts, see file "README.keyboard-layout-handling" on how to do so as a developer.