Set up a Win 3.x VM with browser

Set up a Win 3.x VM with browser

Postby ghr » 13. Jul 2007, 21:09

Set up a Win 3.x VM with browser


Below you find tips on how to..:
- install Windows 3.1
- set up Trumpet Winsock
- install a browser.

Alternatively, with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 you can also use Microsofts TCPIP stack.

My host system is a typical WinXP machine with 1280*1024 display.
I used VirtualBox 1.4.0 (in 1.3.8 I never got the mouse going or it was running around like a madman).

The post builds on to my earlier one describing the setup of a DOS VM including CDROM and NIC drivers:

Contents of this new post were partially inspired by Weiqi Gao's observations.

Hint: once you feel familiar with CDROM images you can collect all your drivers and applications there and significanctly speed up your installation processess.

Installing WIN 3.1

Based on a DOS machine WIN 3.1 can be installed in a few ways:
- use the original floppies
- or use images
- or copy the contents of all disks to a CDROM from where you can setup Win 3.1 (at the cost of having all aplications Windows setup can find, including those on the CDROM, in your Windows Applications group).

For the installation procedure itself; run setup and go with defaults as much as possible. In this way you'll end up with a VGA display; after setup this can be changed into SuperVGA (800*16, 16 colors). Not much for today's standards but the best you can get with the 'native'
MS Win 3.1 drivers and VirtualBox. CDROM and mouse should be detected automatically.

Hint: it may be rewarding to spend some time on (DOS) memory optimisation.

Reducing CPU load

To avoid your modern CPU being loaded fully by this small and old OS use an utility called WQGHLT.386 from Weiqi Gao. It can be found on the web:

His blog also contains many other items you may consider useful.

Setting up Trumpet Winsock

I use Trumpet Winsock 2.11f for setting up TCPIP. Part of the trick is in configuring it.

Follow the instructions from the Trumpet Winsock Help file. Note that WINPKT.COM may not be included in the Trumpet distribution. If that’s the case: check out Crynwr. Put all these files in one subdirectory and be sure to add this subdirectory to the PATH statement in AUTOEXEC.BAT.

Note the following: From VirtualBox setup:
- IP address (or use BOOTP or
- Netmask
- Default gateway
- Name server

and from packetdriver setup:
- Packet vector 60

and from Trumpet manual (suggestions):
- MTU 1500
- TCP RWIN 4096 => for better performance in my case: 2048
- TCPP MSS 1024

Ah - and disable SLIP and PPP boxes !

Installing a browser

For browsing the internet I chose MS IE 3.01; another one like Netscape 4.08 will also do fine if not slightly better. Browsers can be found on the web and their installation tends to be straightforward. Just ignore (or accept defaults on) all questions about mail and dialling... For fastest results MS IE 3.01 is recommended.

Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and Internet

For those lucky enough to have their original WfW 3.11 floppies: there's an alternative in using Microsofts own TCPIP stack. It can still be ftp'd from the MS website, look for TCP32B.EXE (the slightly older MSTCPIP.EXE will also do). It has a readme file with instructions making setting it up not too hard. Performance-wise it doesn't seem to make a big difference whether you use the MS TCPIP stack or Trumpet.

In setting up MS TCPIP it will ask for NIC drivers (NDIS2, NDIS3): all these can still be found at the AMD website. For example, via,,50_2334_2452,00.html
You can stick to the PCI versions.


Sketchy again, but know that the web still contains lots of info on how to do it, together with the necessary files. Once you 've got the packetdriver set up for Windows 3.1 you're almost there !

Revision/070728: moved to where it belongs: Windows Guests forum,
I will delete this one in time...
Addition/080201: this post is NOT maintained; see the Windows Guests forum for additions.
Last edited by ghr on 10. Feb 2008, 14:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby naju » 10. Feb 2008, 00:48

Hello again ghr :) I'm wondering if there is anything special about VirtualBox that would prevent me from installing IE or netscape.

I've been able to set up WFW 3.11 with SVGA + networking (thanks to your guides), but so far I haven't been able to set up a browser. I've tried MSIE 3.01, 4.01, 5.0, 5.1 (got them from different sources), and also netscape 4.07. When I try to run the installers for ie5, one of two things happen:

- cpu load jumps to 100% and it stays like that forever (can still move the hourglass pointer though)
- I get a strange error: "This application has violated system integrity due to execution of an invalid instruction and will be terminated."

for Netscape, I get the error message "The application you are about to run, ns407.exe, was designed for a previous version of Windows. Obtain an updated version of the application that is compatible with Windows version 3.0 or later." If I run it anyways it says there is not enough memory to start the application :|

Can't be a lack of memory, I've allocated like 50mb for this VM. Also, as I understand, WFW always runs in "enhanced mode" so it should have access to all the protected memory, but in case these programs somehow need to use the conventional memory, about 80% of it is free (561K).

Could this be some kind of incompatibility with WFW or with the vga patch (although I've tried run the installer in standard VGA mode)? I'd like to know how you did it. Thanks :)
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Postby ghr » 10. Feb 2008, 14:12

Hi naju - please see the Windows Guests version of this post (link is found above) for my additions !
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Postby hdjam2002 » 25. Feb 2008, 15:28

Hi, I didn't find network card driver for Amd Pcnet , my configuration is XP host and win3.11 guest , and to network win3.11 I need this driver.
Help me please.
Thank you
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Postby postfix » 29. Feb 2008, 06:20

AMD PCNet Ethernet Drivers
- Win9x-XP:,,50_2330_6629_2452^2454^2486,00.html
- Win3.x:
- DOS:,,50_2330_6629_2452^2454^2463,00.html

AMD PCnet Network adapter Software Release 3.1 (DOS, Win3,x, Win95) in 2 Disks
Disk 1:
Disk 2:

... and a last hint:

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Postby saphira » 29. Feb 2008, 09:55

your last hint is great. drivers and nice stuff :D
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Postby naju » 1. Mar 2008, 06:13

ghr: for what it's worth, I finally found the problem. I was transferring the IE setup files via ftp without realizing that the ftp client on win 3.x defaults to ASCII transfer mode, therefore corrupting my files and giving all sorts of fancy errors :) switching to binary fixed the problem.

Oh and also, I've been able to set up IE 5.01 too (not that it's really interesting, since we're obviously trying to look into the older stuff =))

Now on to Windows 1.0 :D

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Postby ghr » 1. Mar 2008, 21:34

hi naju, good to see that you got it going !
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Problems with 3.1 and 3.11 in 386 Enhanced mode

Postby TuxRug » 12. Jun 2008, 07:54

I cannot run Windows 3.1 in Enhanced mode properly (I have to start it with "win /s"), and due to 3.11's lack of standard mode, I cannot get 3.11 to run properly at all.

The problem is, while navigating with the keyboard works properly, as soon as I click my mouse, the guest locks up and needs to be reset.

I'm running Virtualbox 1.6.0 on a Windows XP Pro host, screen resolution is 1280x800

Can anyone help me get Enhanced mode to run correctly?
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Postby ghr » 13. Jun 2008, 20:44

Using VirtualBox 1.6.0, 1.6.2 I have the same problem. Filed a bug ticket #1502. With older versions (say 1.4.0 to latest 1.5.x) no mouse problem...
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Postby The MAZZTer » 17. Sep 2008, 05:38

I have the same problem with 2.0.2
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Postby mpack » 16. Nov 2008, 17:05

Ouch! I was working away trying to get my Win 3.1 working sweetly when my XP host suddenly gave me a message saying I was critically short of disk space - I was aware of the "excessive logging" bug in the v1.6.4 version of VBox I was using, but for some reason a DOS / Win3.1 VM really puts it into overdrive!

Anyway, I bit the bullet and upgraded to VBox 2.0.4 - and now the behaviour of my Win 3.1 VM has changed: I no longer get a hang on the first or second mouse click, I now get what others have reported: VM hangs after a few seconds.

On the bright side I was able to find updated SVGA drivers on the web, plus a patch program to make it fully VESA compatible, with the result that I'm now able to run the VM in 1024x768 with 256 colours.

Oh yes, I can also confirm that I don't get the lockup when running Win 3.1 in "Standard mode" ("win /s" from the DOS prompt).
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Postby bshiers » 11. Jan 2009, 02:01


Thanks for the great writeup. Windows 3.11 was the on the first PC I owned growing up, and I had a dialup modem, no network card. I've followed your instructions and I can't seem to get networking working. When I try to PING from DOS I get "Unable to contact IP driver, error code 0".

When I boot into Windows 3.11 I get the following:
"Networking functionality will not be available. Your network adapter or protocols may not be configured properly. Run Network Setup to check adapter and protocol settings."

I have the Advanced Micro Devices PCNET family (NDIS2/NDIS3) driver installed. For the NIC, I have the IRQ set to 9, the Base I/O port set to 0x0000, the base memory address set to (automatic or unused) and the driver type "Real Mode or Enhanced Mode NDIS Driver"

I only have TCP/IP-32 3.11b bound to the card and set as the default protocol. I have tried both acquiring a DHCP address AND a static per your writeup and still can't get network connectivity.

In the VM setup, I have Network Adapter 1 enabled only. The type is PCnet-PCI II (Am79C970A) attached to NAT. No printer installed, sound card and floppy drive turned off. Only have my CD-ROM connected.

I'm running Virutalbox 2.1.0, and am using the Sun closed version, not OSE.


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Postby ghr » 11. Jan 2009, 15:05

I assume you are using DOS 6.22.... Here's my config.sys and autoexec.bat (note that you can use F8 to step through these):

Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
device=c:\dos\emm386.exe noems

Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
C:\WINDOWS\net start

Check (if needed: use F8) that the net start command ends well.

Windows network setup can look like: Via Network > Network Setup: > Drivers : select TCPIP and click Setup. The following values can be used:
• IP address
• subnet
• gateway
and add DNS:

After starting Windows you can open a DOS window and use ping: e.g.
Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view

this should return something like:
Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Set up a Win 3.x VM with browser

Postby ghr » 7. Apr 2009, 20:05

Old problem recurring. I think it was also in 1.3.x versions, got solved in 1.4.0, and returned with 1.6.0 or so (at the time I added my findings to an existing ticket). Too bad. I only know one workaround: control Win3x via the keyboard (yes it can be done :-( ). Admitted, that was NOT the main idea of Win3x at the time.
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