A program can only run on the operating system it is compiled for. It is because the program could rely on specific libraries or function calls.

Some ways to circumvent the issue are by using virtualization or emulation.

DOSBox is an emulation program for DOS in Linux. DOSBox is available in most Linux distributions, and you can install it using the distribution's default package manager from the terminal.

Steps to run DOS program in Linux:

  1. Download old DOS programs if you don't already have a copy.

    Related: Abandonware DOS

  2. Launch the terminal application.
  3. Extract downloaded application.
    $ cd ~/Downloads/
    ~/Downloads$ unzip Golden\ Axe.zip 
    Archive:  Golden Axe.zip
      inflating: _DOSGAME.TXT            
      inflating: A                       
      inflating: AMAZON.SPR
      ##### snipped
  4. Install DOSBox.
    $ sudo apt update && sudo apt install --assume-yes dosbox #Ubuntu and Debian
  5. Launch the DOS program's executable via DOSBox.
    $ dosbox GOLD.EXE 
    DOSBox version 0.74-2
    Copyright 2002-2018 DOSBox Team, published under GNU GPL.
    CONFIG: Generating default configuration.
    Writing it to /home/user/.dosbox/dosbox-0.74-2.conf
    ##### snipped

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