Windows without VM or WINE


Jarret W. Buse

Windows without VM or WINE

This article is a work in progress with the help of the readers. Maybe everyone can help make this more stable. So here we go...

What you need...

  1. bximage from repositories (Synaptic)
  2. DosBox from repositories (Synaptic)
  3. 622c.img found at
  4. Windows 95 (4.00.950) at
  5. Windows 95 SVGA drivers from

Start DosBox

First, we need to initialize DosBox by starting it. If DosBox has not been started before, the configuration files will not exist until it is run for the first time.

After DosBox is started, you can close it. Go to your personal home folder: ~/.dosbox/. In this directory you need to create a folder called 'drive_c'.

Edit the DosBox configuration file 'dosbox-0.74.conf'. The filename may vary depending on the DosBox version. At the end of the file, add the following line:

mount c ~/.dosbox/drive_c

When DosBox starts, you can access the files in the 'drive_c' folder as if they were on Drive C of the DosBox emulator.

Copy the 622c.img, Windows 95.iso and the SVGA files to the drive_c folder.It would be best to place the SVGA files in a directory called SVGA.

Create a hard drive image

From a terminal, type 'bximage'. Once started, the first question is: 'Do you want to create a floppy disk image or a hard disk image? Please type hd or fd. [hd]'. At the prompt, enter hd since we require a hard disk image. Next, you will be asked: 'What kind of image should I create? Please type flat, sparse or growing. [flat]'. Enter 'flat'. The next prompt is: 'Enter the hard disk size in megabytes, between 1 and 129023'. Here we need to create a 512 MB drive image, so enter 512.

NOTE: The initial drive must be 512 MB or less. It will be possible to later add a second drive which can be larger than 512 MB.

The following information should then appear:

I will create a 'flat' hard disk image with
sectors per track=63
total sectors=1048320
total size=511.88 megabytes
What should I name the image? [c.img]

Now you need to enter the path to the 'drive_c' folder which was previously created. It should be '/home/username/.dosbox/drive_c/c.img'.

NOTE: The username is your current user name as you are logged into the OS.

Prepare the hard drive image for use

Open DosBox and enter the following command:

imgmount 2 c.img -size 512,63,32,520 -t hdd -fs none

NOTE: The size parameters are Bytes, Sectors, Heads and Cylinders. The values used depend on the drive image size specified and four main ones are listed:

  1. 256 MB – 512,63,16,520
  2. 512 MB – 512,63,32,520
  3. 1 GB – 512,63,64,520
  4. 2 GB – 512,63,64,1023

If you use a drive size other than 512 MB, you can use the values from the list. Be aware that you cannot boot from an image larger than 512 MB. For this reason, our future Drive C for Windows 95, called c.img, is only 512 MB.

The value of 2 after imgmount causes the image to be loaded as the first hard disk. It must be loaded this way until it is partitioned.

NOTE: If you add a file into the 'drive_c' folder while DosBox is running, it will not see the file. To get DosBox to see the file, type 'rescan' at a DOS prompt.

Partition and format the image file

To partition the image file you need to be in a full working version of DOS. At a DosBox DOS prompt, type 'boot 622c.img'.

NOTE: Make sure the 622c.img file is located in the 'drive_c' folder.

Once started, DOS 6.22 should boot up and you are at a DOS prompt: 'A:\>'.

Type FDISK and press enter and then press enter three more times to complete the partition procedure. Press any key to continue which will cause DosBox to close. Open DosBox and the go to Drive C which should show a prompt of 'C:\>'. Since the partitioning is completed, you can now mount the image file with the following command:

imgmount d c.img -size 512,63,32,520

The command is mounting the c.img file as Drive D. This is a temporary assignment since once an image is booted, Drive C for DosBox is dropped and the image mounted at Drive D will move to Drive C. Also, if an image is mounted at Drive E, it will move to Drive D.

NOTE: Only two images can be mounted after 622c.img is booted. Remember that only IMG files are still mounted after the boot.

Once c.img is mounted, 622c.img needs to be booted again. At the DOS prompt, type:

format c: /u

When prompted, press 'Y' to verify and continue the formatting process. When prompted for a volume label, enter a name of eleven characters or less. Close DosBox.

Copy necessary files to c.img

The first task is to make two directories. The DOS command to make a directory is 'md'. Switch to Drive C by typing 'C:'. Mount the c.img as Drive D ('imgmount d c.img -size 512,63,32,520'). Switch to Drive D by typing 'D:' Then, type both of the following commands at the DOS prompt:

md svga
md win95

These two directories should now exist on Drive D. Copy the SVGA files from Drive C to Drive D by using the following command:

copy c:\svga\*.* d:\svga\

Now the Win95.iso file needs to be mounted to gain access to its contents. To mount an ISO file, perform the following command (it assumes the Windows 95 ISO file is named win95.iso and you are presently on Drive C):

mount e win95.iso -t iso -fs iso

Drive E should now show the contents of the Windows 95 ISO file.

Switch to Drive E by typing 'E:' and then change directory into the win95 folder by typing 'cd win95'. The next step is to copy the contents of the win95 folder to that on the c.img. Enter the following command:

copy e:\win95\*,* d:\win95\

Installing Windows 95

The next step is to boot into DOS 6.22 by using the following command:

boot 622c.img

Once the boot process is completed, switch to Drive C by typing 'C:'. Then, switch to the win95 folder 'cd win95'. Type the following command to start the Windows 95 setup:

setup /is /in

The install should proceed as normal. When prompted, you do not need to create a recovery disk.

NOTE: You will be asked to provide a serial number for Windows 95. You can use the following number:

After the installation is completed, DosBox should close.

Starting Windows 95

NOTE: Read this section carefully.

Some configurations need to be made for DosBox before you start it again. Open the file '~/.dosbox/dosbox-0.74.conf' in an editor.

Find the line: 'memsize=' and change the number after the equal sign to 32.

The line with 'core=' should be set to 'normal'.

The 'cputype=' should be set to 'pentium_slow'.

The 'cycles=' line should be equal to 'fixed 127000'.

NOTE: The 'fixed 127000' line makes DosBox operate at 127000 cycles. By doing this, the mouse movement will seem a little jerky. If you do not like the mouse movement then change the option back to 'auto'. If problems occur, change it back to 'fixed 127000'. The 127000 cycles make it appear to operate as a 486 processor. When you go into Windows 95 System information, it will show that the processor is a 486. If the cputype is set to pentium_slow, then the system will show the processor is a Pentium. Whichever setting is made when Windows 95 is installed or started for the first time is how the setting remains. The memsize is also shown on this screen as it is set in the DosBox configuration file.

Now to start Windows 95, you need to type: 'boot c.img'. When it starts, you will see a quick line which says 'Starting Windows 95...'. At this point press the F8 key quickly. If you see the Windows 95 logo screen and not a screen similar to Figure 1, then close DosBox. Do not let Windows start.

NOTE: To boot a hard disk image you need to mount it first with imgmount.



Once you get an options screen, select '3. Safe Mode'. Windows should start in Safe Mode. If you had not gone into Safe Mode, Windows would have failed during the initial configuration because of the video drivers.

Once Windows starts, right-click on the desktop and select Properties. Go to the Settings tab and select Change Display Type. For the Adapter Type, select the Change button. When the list of video cards appears, select 'Have Disk'. In the location box, enter 'c:\svga'. When the new list of video adapters appears, select 'S3 Inc. Trio 32/64 PCI'. Select OK, Close and then Apply. Select Yes to restart Windows 95. Dosbox should close and you can restart it and type in 'boot c.img' from the C Drive.

Windows 95 should start normally. If a lot of problems persist, you can change more settings.

NOTE: If Windows locks up and you cannot get the keyboard and mouse control back, press CTRL+F10.

Settings are found by right-clicking on My Computer and selecting Properties as shown in Figure 2. Select the Performance tab and select File System... Set the Read Ahead Optimization to None. On the CD-ROM tab, change the cache size to small and 'Optimize patter for' to No read-ahead.


Figure 2

On the Troubleshooting tab, check all options but the second one (Disable long name preservation for old programs). Select OK.

Select the Graphics button and change the hardware acceleration to None.

To shutdown Windows 95, select 'Start', 'Shut down', and 'Restart the computer?' and then select 'Yes'. Windows will close and DosBox will also close by itself.

Sixteen bit programs work fine and some other applications work. My belief is that DosBox does not handle the 32-bit System Calls and only the 16-bit ones. Applications which do not use the 16-bit System Calls will cause errors. Maybe this is something that DosBox can add later for 32-bit System Call support. A DosBox-32 would be nice.


Last edited:
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