Hi Newbies! Congratulations!

You made the first important step in understanding FreeDOS. You found
the Quick instruction manual for FreeDOS!
Many of the reported commands also work in Windows and - with
restrictions - in Linux and Mac OS so that this manual also helps you
to understand the basics of all these OSes.

Let's start:

You are at C:\ and have no idea what to do?

Simply enter:
  "dir" or "dir /p" or "dir /w" or "dir /?"
What happens? This command shows the content of the current "dir"ectory
(folder) where you actually are. Depending on which option you have
chosen you see it without sort order, page wise, in lines or you see
the help to this command which offers much more options. You can do this
in each folder where you are. The help should be available via:
  "command /?" or in some cases
  "command -h" or
  "command --help"
for each executable ("*.exe") file so that it is not necessary to open
the manual for each command. This was step 01.
You got it? Fine!

As you started in C:\ you should see among others:
  "fdconfig.sys" and maybe
In FreeDOS it is at another position, but it exists.
The kernel is, what it's name says: the kernel. Without it, the
OS will not boot. You will hear about "fdauto.bat" and "fdconfig.sys"
  "command.com" is a very important file. Inside it there are almost
50 (!) commands that can be executed by simply typing the command's name.
As they are inside command.com you will not find external .exe files and
it is recommended to know their names by heart. But you can also find
them by simply typing:
  "?" (NOT: command /?). As most of these commands also exist in Windows
it is not a wasted time to know the most important ones of them.
  "dir" with its options is one of them. Other important commands inside
command.com are:
  "cls", "cd", "copy", "del", "echo", "md","path", "rd" "ren", "set",
  "ver" and much more.
You will find them on the FreeDOS help list. It makes really sense to keep
at least the mentioned commands in mind as Windows command line also uses
them and Linux also uses commands with other names that do in about the
same job. This was step 02. You got it? Great!

OK, let's go on.
  "cls" + ENTER
and you will see that it clears the screen.
  "md TESTDIR" + ENTER and then
  "dir" + ENTER
and you will see that a new "dir"ectory (folder) "TESTDIR" has been
created. You will see that a directory shows a sharp click
as attachment or the name in square brackets like
  "[TESTDIR]" depending on which option you used.
Files show an extension with max 3 characters and - depending on the
option you have chosen at "dir" - the size and the creation date of the
file. You created your first folder!!!

and you suddenly are in the folder
  "C:\TESTDIR". Typing
  "dir" shows you two symbols:
  "." and "..".
  "." means "current directory" whereas
  ".." means "there exist directories closer to C:\". Means: with
  "cd foldername" you come into the folder. With:
  "cd .." you come back one folder closer to C:\.
Within a folder you can create another folder, e.g. "SUBDIR1" by
  "md SUBDIR1" when you are inside "C:\TESTDIR". With the
  "cd SUBDIR1" you get in, with
  "cd .." you get out. If you want to move back to "C:\" directly you
can enter:
  "cd \" or "cd C:\".
This works with all existing directories and you can crossjump to
other folders.
This was step 03. Wow! You move through the hard disk with a few
simple commands!

Interesting? Well, such were the times before graphical user interfaces!
Well, now we have created a folder:
  "TESTDIR" and a subfolder:
inside. Nobody wants to give folders such a name. After one week nobody
remembers what it was good for. Please keep in mind that DOS only
supports 8.3 which means that the maximum file length is 8 characters
for file name and 3 characters for ending, e.g. "filename.txt". Folders
must not be longer than 8 characters. As the folder names are nonsense
we want to delete the EMPTY folders again. Very simple: You go to the
subfolder that is most far away from:
  "C:\" in this case:
  "C:\TESTDIR\SUBDIR1", check if it is empty, (Which command? - correct:
  "dir", more later), go back to:
  "C:\TESTDIR" (Which command? - correct: "cd ..") and then
  "rd SUBDIR1". Check if "TESTDIR" is empty and then go back to:
  "C:\" and enter:
  "rd TESTDIR". Your test directories have gone to NIRVANA!
In case that there were files inside one of the folders you have to
delete them first. Depending on if you want to delete ALL files
(dangerous!) or only a special file you can enter:
 "del *.*" (*.* = wildcard = ALL!) or:
 "del filename.ext".
You can also use:
  "*.txt" for ALL text files or "blahbla*.*"
for all files starting with "blahbla". For deleting directories you have
to move out of the EMPTY folder first, otherwise you would cut the tree
you are sitting on. So "del" is used for deleting one or more files and
"rd" for removing EMPTY directories.
  "del" and "md" is done too! Don't delete FreeDOS OS! This was step 04.

You really fell asleep? Uff, switch on the coffee machine!
You want to keep the folders "TESTDIR" and "SUBDIR1" because important
files are inside but don't like the folder name? No problem, rename the
folders so that you can keep them in mind.
As you have deleted these folders at the end of step 04, you can now
check if you kept in mind how you created them. Eeehhmmm? You got it?
If yes, goto:
  "C:\" (Which command? - correct: cd \) and enter:
  "ren TESTDIR URGENT" then go to "C:\URGENT" (I am sure you now know
the command) and enter:
  "ren SUBDIR1 CONTRACT". Now you should have the folders
  "C:\URGENT\CONTRACT" instead of "C:\TESTDIR\SUBDIR". Is coffee ready?
Let's create a file now. You can use the external command:
  "edit" or another editor to do so.
Edit works in about the same way as modern editors e.g. Windows Notepad
work, so a Newbie as you should not have big problems to do so. But this
can be done by everyone. Are we everyone? NO!
We test echo! What will it do? I am sure you already heard what happens
if you enter:
  "echo Hello World!" If not, check. Simply type it.
Now we do not send the result to the monitor but into a file.
 "echo Hello World! > C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world.txt".
You can put a second sentence inside by typing:
  "echo I am fine! How are you? >> C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world.txt."
  ">>" adds the text in a new line.
You created your first simple text file, guess, where you can find it?
And how to open it with the "edit" command? Of course, very simple. In
Windows you can open it by searching the file in a folder and double-
clicking on the filename. The corresponding program opens automatically.
In FreeDOS you do nothing else, but vice-versa:
  "edit C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world.txt"
Means: You say: use program "edit" and open the file "world.txt" in this
or that folder.
If this should not work, type:
  "C:\FREEDOS\BIN\edit C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world.txt"
More about this theme later. Great! Step 05 is done!

With the command:
  "copy" you can do exactly what the name says. Basic rule:
You copy a file from source to target, remember where world.txt is now.
  "copy C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world.txt C:\URGENT" and you have the document
twice. Instead of "world.txt" you can also use wildcards, e.g.:
  "*.txt" or "world*.*" or "*.*".
Instead of copying you can move files from one position to another one
with the EXTERNAL (not in command.com) command:
  "move". Also, basic rule:
Move the file from source to target, e.g.:
  "move C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world.txt C:\URGENT\CONTRACT\world2.txt
I hope you got the coffee in the meantime.
Now you can navigate through all folders, copy or move files, rename
both! What else do you want?
Fantastic! Step 06 is done! Do you want to know more about this great OS?
Then do not miss the second part of Newbie! You are welcome!

See also:

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  Copyright © 2022 W. Spiegl.

  This file is derived from the FreeDOS Spec Command HOWTO.
  See the file H2Cpying for copying conditions.