Especially on the older micros, the term "disk operating system" could be seen as having more to do with "disk operating" than with "operating system" since they didn't typically provide features we now associate with OSes.

It wasn't uncommon that one system would have multiple DOSes to choose from. 8-bit apple II had two. (16-bit Apple II seems to have actual OSes.) TRS-80 Model I/III had about half a dozen competing ones. Hence asking one question about two or several DOSes is also not uncommon.

It seems most questions about DOSes are currently using the . Is that ideal?

In the day these were referred to as "DOSes" but these days "DOS" is so strongly associated with MS DOS that wouldn't make a good tag. And looks like it would be about medication.


I'm not convinced.

Not every OS loaded from disk was named as a DOS so a tag could exclude some systems. The tag covers all cases, as well as the good old tape-loaded OSs like those I cut my teeth on.

  • I agree, a generic DOS tag would only bloat the tag list for each entry. And a bloated list makes them arbitrary and rather random instead of meaningful. In addition it would add sparation where none is needed. We always need to keep in mind that RC.SE is as well about times before certain terms became canonical - i.e. as clear defined as they are now. Such 'fine' definition can not be used retrograde for areas and times when that separation didn't exist.
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 3 '20 at 20:57

I haven’t noticed this discussion before. I have actually created , but I defined it to apply to DOS systems on x86 computers only. I believe this is justified as they share a common ABI and therefore maintain a certain degree of compatibility between each other, but since not all of them were actually derived from Microsoft code, they shouldn’t be lumped under .

I don’t think the concept of a ‘disk-operating system’ itself deserves a separate tag; should suffice for that.


In my opinion, it's nowadays a pointless distinction, like the adjective in "colour TV" - they practically all are.

After about the mid 1960s, by my approximation, all general-purpose operating systems -- with the possible exception of low-end home computers -- were disk-based. The ubiquity meant that there was no real need to call out that an OS was a "disk OS"; that term was only needed if the vendor also had tape (magnetic- or paper-) or card operating systems.

DEC had one early PDP-11 system actually called DOS, but after that, there was nothing in the collection of PDP-11 operating systems (you could propose a new one at the drop of a hat, it seemed) that wasn't run from disk.

The form of the question seems to be concerned with operating systems for personal (i.e., desktop) computers, but the initialism "DOS" does not solely refer to them. If the tag is intended for personal compuer systems, that should be clarified. If it's intended for wider use, then I'd call it unnecessary. Even though this is retrocomputing, disk operating systems would seem to be in the majority. If we're getting a new tag, maybe "non-disk-OS" would be better?

  • True, for most parts it's really pointless - and I doubt that adding tags will help in any way. This includes a 'non-disk-OS as well, not at least, because the term disk in itself is turning more and more vague. Is a ROM booted DOS, using network mounted virtual disks still a disk OS? I'd say yes, but to make it valid a lot of definitions have to be applied - so much that it gets useless in itself. Even more so when in addition wanting to separate between manufacturers.
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 5 '20 at 13:34
  • And can computers be said to have "disks" unless said disks are actually circular? ;-) Jun 15 '20 at 0:48
  • Good question :) So why are SSDs catalogued under Disk Storage in many stores?
    – Raffzahn
    Jun 15 '20 at 1:23
  • Clearly we need an ROS tag - Rectangle Operaing System - for today's chip-based storage. Jun 15 '20 at 1:28
  • Just because the distinction is pointless when discussing contemporary systems doesn’t mean it’s pointless when discussing historical systems. Mar 5 at 19:24

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