PC Operating System Comparison

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Revision as of 02:32, 3 April 2006 by Felsir (talk | contribs) (Image:OS windows icon.gif Windows)
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Back in the day, MAME was developed to run from DOS and users had to use a Windows frontend or Mame32 to get it running in Windows. From MAME v0.37b15 onwards, Windows became the MAME developers' platform of choice.

Running an older version of MAME from pure DOS will allow you to run a large number of games at a higher speed than would be possible on the same computer running Windows.

These days, a DOS system can take a lot of work to set up correctly, due to the lack of software support from motherboard and device manufacturers. For these users, a Linux install makes a lot of sense.

Each of these three operating systems has advantages and disadvantages.

OS DOS icon.gif DOS


  • Boots to your Front-End faster
  • Stable, does not crash
  • Can display on an arcade monitor without special hardware
  • Using batch files (.bat) a high degree of customization is available (including menu creation)
  • Low cost


  • Newer hardware may not work under DOS (such as TV - Out and USB)
  • Nobody seems to understand DOS anymore

OS linux icon.gif Linux


  • Free
  • Open Source
  • More likely to support newer technology than DOS


  • Lower market share
  • Can be complicated to set up

OS windows icon.gif Windows


  • Huge market share advantage
  • Software generally is developed primarily for Windows (MAME and most front ends included)
  • Much larger selection of software


  • Is difficult to display on arcade monitor without special hardware
  • Longer boot time
  • Security holes (however less relevant in a stand-alone environment such as an arcade cabinet)
  • Frequent operating system patches needed
  • Higher cost

Relevant Links

Purple MAME - a good (but outdated) site on getting DOS Mame running on a cab.

Dos Mame Support - another good site on getting DOS Mame running on a DOS cab, including getting sound cards working and memory management.

How to make DOS Menus - a site showing how you can create menus in DOS (great for boot menus).

TODO: add FreeDOS add links to some Linux distros