Microsoft OSs (was: Install Floppies)

Richard Cini rich.cini at
Sat Jul 24 12:33:40 CDT 2021

The “administrative” install is often called a “flat” installation. That’s how I usually install Windows 3.1 when I need it. On a machine with no CD, I install Procomm and ZModem it over and unzip it into a temporary directory.

I also have a one-floppy Windows 3.1 setup (I can get 386Enh running) that I use for random things.
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From: cctalk <cctalk-bounces at> on behalf of Warner Losh via cctalk <cctalk at>
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2021 1:21:34 PM
To: Grant Taylor <cctalk at>; General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts <cctalk at>
Subject: Re: Microsoft OSs (was: Install Floppies)

On Sat, Jul 24, 2021, 10:41 AM Grant Taylor via cctalk <
cctalk at> wrote:

> On 7/23/21 6:43 PM, Fred Cisin via cctalk wrote:
> > Well, maybe similarly to how you did with AIX, by the total size divided
> > by number of images.  Although what I was referring to was people's
> > memories of the size of the box that they kept the install disks in :-)
> Maybe someone who is more versed in the possible disk sizes and more
> accurate (non-rounded) count.  I'm extremely foggy when it comes to
> 5-1/4 inch disk capacities.  720 kB and 1.44 MB disks I can deal with.
> But the minutia between 320 kB and 360 kB, combined with rounded
> measurements, things get foggy for me.

320k - 8 sectors per track, 40 tracks, 2 sides. 640 512 byte sectors.
360k same, but 9 sectors per track. 720 512 byte sectors.
There are also single sided versions as well with 1/2 the capacity.


> > The "Tools" CD-ROM was a third party commercial product containing a
> > large collection of CD-ROM drivers.
> Talk about a chicken and egg / priming problem.  How do you get the
> CD-ROM drivers off of the CD-ROM that you need a driver to access.  ;-)
> The quintessential answer is to have (access to) another system (or
> driver) assist.
> > In August 1991, I attended a Microsoft Developer conference in Seattle.
> > Bill Gates didn't show up, because he was in NYC on TV about the
> > birthday of 5150 (August 11, 1981).  They gave us copies of Windows 3.10
> > (which couldn't load on the 286 laptop that I had brought along, because
> > it didn't have A20 support, and gave those of us who asked that
> > international distribution Windows 3.0 CD-ROM.  Never saw it before or
> > since. It had Windows 3.0 installation with at least half a dozen
> > different languages.
> Windows 3.x was relatively easy to streamline the installation by doing
> -- what I think is called -- an "administrative" install such that it
> copies all files off of the floppies into a single directory, presumably
> on a network share, in a way that means that you can subsequently run
> setup therefrom.  I don't remember if simply copying all the files into
> a single directory also sufficed.
> > Actually, you can, and easily.
> > MS-DOS 6 had an "INSTALL" program, which was demented.  It INSISTED on
> > installing on drive C:.  But, some of my machines had four floppies, and
> > I didn't want it to install on the 8" drive, or 3.25" drive, . . . Once
> > you install it on SOME/ANY OTHER machine, then, with that OTHER machine
> > booted up to DOS 6, just do a FORMAT A: /S of a boot floppy, and copy
> > files onto that, specifically including FORMAT.
> Ya.  I know that I can manually install MS-DOS by sysing boot media
> (floppy or hard disk) and copying the contents of the DOS directory.
> But that seems like more of a hack than should be necessary.  Though it
> can be made less annoying.
> > FORGET ABOUT THE "INSTALLATION" files.  with extreme prejudice.
> > Boot your target machine with the DOS 6 boot floppy;  it has FORMAT.COM
> > on it (which IIRC was actually a .EXE file renamed .COM), and then use
> > that to FORMAT C: /S .
> I feel like there /should/ be a way to streamline the MS-DOS 6.22
> installation using methods from Microsoft.  But, maybe I'm asking for
> too much.  Or more likely, I've simply not found it yet.
> I do sort of like the installer from the 3rd party MS-DOS 7.10 CD-ROM
> that's floating around the Internet.  That's the general idea of what
> I'd like.
> > Once that system format is done, and CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT are up,
> > then all of the rest is just copying files, which can be COPY *.*.
> > For learning any language, it helps a LOT to have a copy of something
> > that you are familiar with in that language.  When she started to learn
> > Spanish, I gave her a copy of McCracken FORTRAN in Spanish (she was
> > familiar with, and had a copy of, the English edition), and loaned her
> > the international Win3.0 disc.  She then setup one machine with Win3 in
> > English, one in Chinese, and one in Spansish.
> > Win3.0 could run on an 8088, which were then a dime a dozen.
> >
> > I don't know whether you could put more than one copy on a machine.  I
> > think that you could - we had a copy of Win3.1 on a Win95 machine!
> I think you definitely could put more than one copy of Windows 3.x on a
> single machine.  The biggest point of contention I see would be parts of
> CONFIG.SYS that reference drivers inside of the Windows directory.
> However there are plenty of ways to deal with that.  Beyond that, it's
> just another directory that consumes disk space.
> Aside:  I've got a virtual machine with the following installed and
> bootable using Microsoft boot options:
>   - MS-DOS 6.22
>   - Windows 3.11 (on top of MS-DOS 6.22)
>   - Windows 95
>   - Windows 98*
>   - Windows NT
>   - Windows 2000
>   - Windows XP
> *I'm just shy of 100% certain that both 95 and 98 were on there.
> I did it as an exercise to see if it would work, and it does.  I think I
> did the install in that order.  MS-DOS 6.22 vs Windows 3.11 was simply a
> matter of starting Windows (WIN) at the command prompt.  Windows 95
> brought in it's MSDOS.SYS based boot menu and allowed booting "MS-DOS"
> (or something like that).  I think Windows 98 had an option to augment
> 95's boot menu to allow both 95 and 98.  Windows NT / 2000 / XP brought
> in BOOT.INI and another "Older Windows" (nomenclature?) menu option as
> well as NT / 2k / XP.
> > But, the Windows 3.10 BETA program sent us tons of floppies.
> I bet.
> > It had an even more demented problem: it installed Smartdrv first.
> > Then, if it hit any error, the installation would fail, without the
> > usual option to IGNORE and manually copy the failed file later.
> > Instead, SMARTDRV cut out the options, and you could only R(etry)!  If
> > the error wasn't transient, then you could only power down the machine!
> > But SMARTDRV had told DOS that stuff was ALREADY written that it hadn't
> > done yet, so powering down wiped the whole installation.  I had one
> > machine that had an error that neither SpinRite nor SpeedStor could
> > find, but the Windoze installation consistently found it!  The work
> > around was to put a lot of extraneous files on the disk, so that the
> > sector with the error was used by something else.  I reported the
> > problem to the BETA support; their response was "That's a HARDWARE
> > problem, NOT OUR PROBLEM."  My comment that 1) any program should exit
> > gracefully even from a hardware problem, not lock up the machine and 2)
> > that SMARTDRV's actions would end up costing them substantially.  (It
> > DID; DOS 6.20 was written primarily to deal with SMARTDRV causing
> > problems!)  'course my comment also meant that I wasn't invited back for
> > any other BETA programs; they only wanted cheerleaders, not critics nor
> > actual testers.
> Ya.  Thankfully (?) I started with computers after that and avoided
> things like that.
> > It eliminated another LARGE box of floppies.
> ;-)
> --
> Grant. . . .
> unix || die

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