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[InetBib] Dioscuri: the emulator for digital preservation

Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,

ich moechte Sie auf Dioscuri, einen Emulator der speziell fuer die digitale Langzeitarchivierung entwickelt wurde, hinweisen. Doppelempfang bitte ich zu entschuldigen.

Viele Gruesse

Olaf Brandt


Dioscuri: the emulator for digital preservation

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek - national library of the Netherlands - and the Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands are proud to present the world’s first modular emulator designed for digital preservation: Dioscuri.

Dioscuri is capable of emulating an Intel 8086-based computer platform with support for VGA-graphics, screen, keyboard, and storage devices like a virtual floppy drive and hard drive. With these components Dioscuri successfully runs 16-bit operating systems like MS-DOS and applications such as WordPerfect 5.1, DrawPerfect 1.1 and Norton Commander. Furthermore, it is capable of running many nostalgic DOS-games and a simple Linux kernel. And when you finally open your long-forgotten WP5.1-files you can extract the text from the emulated environment into your current working environment using a simple clipboard-feature.

Designed for digital preservation

The design of Dioscuri is based on two key features: portability and flexibility.

Dioscuri is portable because it is built on top of a virtual layer, called a virtual machine (VM). By using a VM in between the real computer and the emulated one, Dioscuri becomes less dependent on the actual hardware and software it runs on. This approach offers better portability to other platforms, which ensures longevity when a platform fails to survive over time. Dioscuri has shown to run reliably on PC, Apple and Sun computers without the need to alter anything of the application.

Flexibility is gained by a component-based architecture. Each component, called module, imitates the functionality of a particular hardware component (i.e. processor, memory, hard disk, etc.). In concept, combining these modules any computer emulation can be created. Configuring Dioscuri is done by a user-friendly graphical interface which stores the settings in an XML-file.

Both its portability and flexibility make Dioscuri different from any other emulator that exist today and ensure that it is prepared for the future.

Developing Dioscuri

Development of the emulator started in January 2006 and was lead by Tessella Support Services plc. Together with emulation proponent Jeff Rothenberg the PC-architecture was examined and translated into a software representation, resulting in a modular emulator. Although developing an emulator is not an easy task, the project made it clear that with a limited resources it is possible to build one. With a total effort of roughly two man-years, Dioscuri has been designed, developed and tested.

Next steps are already in progress. Since July 2007 development of Dioscuri is continued under the umbrella of the European project Planets. Future work will consist of extending Dioscuri with more components to emulate newer x86 computers (286, 386, 486 and Pentium) which will make Dioscuri capable of running operating systems like MS Windows 95/98/2000/XP and Linux Ubuntu.

Download now!

Dioscuri version 0.2.0 is now available as open source software for any institution or individual that would like to experience their old digital documents again. Download Dioscuri from:


Mailinglist and contact

If you would like to be kept up to date about new developments of Dioscuri, please register for the Dioscuri news mailinglist:


To get in touch with the project team, please contact:

Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands

Remco Verdegem, project manager Dioscuri:


Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Jeffrey van der Hoeven, co-developer and tester:


Tessella Support Service plc

Bill Roberts, coordinator Development Team bill.roberts@xxxxxxxxxxxx


Olaf Brandt

Koninklijke Bibliotheek - National Library of the Netherlands

Tel: +31 70 3140 670

E-mail: olaf.brandt@xxxxx


Listeninformationen unter http://www.inetbib.de.