Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Little FreeDOS buttons

I recently shared a brief history of the FreeDOS logo, and a look back at some FreeDOS banner ads. I'd like to continue that with a few of our FreeDOS web buttons. I don't have the original dates for all of these, but I will do the best I can to put them in order.

On many free and open source software project websites, you might see a "hosted by" web button, linking back to the hosting service that provided the free or discounted website hosting. The FreeDOS Project website is independently hosted, but we have some components hosted on SourceForge, so we have a small "SourceForge" button in our website's footer.

But once upon a time, it was also a popular idea to put a project "button" on a website, to show support for your favorite open source software project. And we used to have quite a few of these for FreeDOS.

As you might guess, our first "FreeDOS buttons" were fairly simple. Contributed by different members of the FreeDOS community, you could put these web buttons on your website so people could more easily discover FreeDOS. They differed in design and size. There really wasn't a standard size for web buttons, so people used whatever seemed reasonable:





I liked the "Powered by FreeDOS" button, even though the website wasn't really run on a DOS web server. (Although, did you know there really is a web server that runs on FreeDOS? There's SIOUX, but before that was FISH - the FreeDOS Internet Services Host.) At the time, it was common to see "Powered by" buttons on websites, such as "Powered by Linux" or "Powered by RedHat." Devoted fans of the Emacs and Vi editors also used "Powered by Emacs" and "Powered by Vi" web buttons.

So I liked "Powered by FreeDOS" because it showed equal fandom for FreeDOS. I've since lost the name of the person who contributed that web button—so if you're reading this, know that your "Powered by FreeDOS" button was probably my favorite!

Inspired by the above, I created a new FreeDOS web button that people could use to link to the latest FreeDOS release. We also used these on the FreeDOS website to link to the current FreeDOS distribution. I released this in two sizes:



The idea of web buttons sort of caught on, although slowly. People sent in a few other web buttons, including one inspired by MacOSX. My best estimate is these images were contributed around 2001:




In August or September 2001, Ben Rouner created a new "blue stamped logo" for the FreeDOS Project. At the same time, Ben contributed two FreeDOS web button images:



In late 2003 and early 2004, we discussed the idea of adopting a mascot for the FreeDOS Project. The fish mascot became popular, probably because it would pair well with Linux's penguin mascot. In February or March 2004, we adopted the new FreeDOS fish mascot, later dubbed "Blinky" because of his googly eye. People responded with new web buttons that used the new mascot:




Around this time, I decided to update the FreeDOS website to use the new mascot, complete with a new logo. I also updated our button images that linked to our online store, where you could buy t-shirts, mugs, and other cool stuff with the FreeDOS logo. (We've since moved the FreeDOS Store to Zazzle.) The updated buttons used the new mascot:



But that was kind of the end of our web buttons. We eventually updated the website design, and did away with these web buttons. Our new website uses icons to link to social media, our online store, and our blog. Most of these new icons are vector graphics, which are smaller and faster to load. And our links to download FreeDOS have been replaced by an easy-to-find text link on the website, pointing you to Download FreeDOS 1.2.

As a result, the FreeDOS web buttons have fallen into disuse. They remain an interesting part of our FreeDOS history.

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