My Windows 3.1x tuning page
(based on the German page from May 10,
last update: 2002-04-02)
Since Windows 95 conquered the OS market (and was followed
by Windows 98, of which there already is a second edition), one doesn't
hear about Windows 3.1x too often. However, many computers (mostly
without access to the 'net, which explains the low number of Win 3.1x users
on the 'net) still run with this very GUI on top of MS-DOS,
PC-DOS or DR-DOS. With relatively modern hardware and mostly software such
a system can get new life.
But before we deal with this, there's still a question
Why is the thing called "Windows 3.1x" here?
Answer: There were no less than five different version
of Windows 3.1:
Something else: There are
supposed to be people who get an older computer with DOS 6.x and Windows
3.1x on it and try to iron Windows 95 or even 98 over it. This is not a
good idea at all, unless your motto is "May the hourglass be with you!".
(The only exception would be a really well equipped DX/4 or Pentium
system with 24 MB or better 32 MB of RAM,
a hard disk of at least 1 or 2 GB, and
quite a good VL or
the normal - and, due to the long time it was sold, very
widespread - version is Windows 3.1 (Date: 09/03/1992 or 10/03/1992)
the rare version Windows für Workgroups 3.1 (Date:
the quite widespread version Windows for Workgroups
3.11 (often called "WfW[G] 3.11" as well, date: 01/11/1993)
the quite rare version Windows 3.11 (Date: 31/12/1993),
which is an updated version of Windows 3.1 (bugfixes in core system components
and more drivers), but has nothing to do with Windows for Workgroups
3.11 - quite confusing. To make the whole issue even more confusing, Windows
3.1 was followed by Windows 3.11, but there was no change in packaging
- there you could read "Windows 3.1". BTW: There is an update from Windows
3.1 to 3.11 available for free.
a version of WfW 3.11 with integrated TCP/IP stack, to be
found on the NT 3.51 Server CD
Another side note:
The combination of DOS and WfW 3.11 seems to be quite popular as a second
system with Linux people - no wonder, as DOS doesn't need many resources,
and with WfW 3.11 it's not much different, and there's still lots of software.
Counter: This page has been visited
Resource-saving NUL counter
sponsored by \dev\nul
| hmm ...
a few times.
with friendly support of \dev\humor! :)
A note on the ToC for the fast readers:
If there is a red arrow "<="
next to a chapter auf, that means:
a) There you can get really important programs or
b) One should know these basic things or
c) That helps general enlightenment or
d) That's important in some other way (doesn't that tell
you everything? <g>).
And that's what it's all about (a.k.a. "contents")
0.1 Why "3.1x"?
0.2 What one shouldn't
do if one has bought a used computer
0.3 Side note:
Linux and DOS/WfW
1.1 Correcting errors
Getting File Manager ready for Y2K
Replacing the calculator <=
The Euro (€) currency <=
Other updates <=
Danger: Lack of resources
The right STACKS setting
More stability/speed by system.ini tweaks
Catching crashes <=
Strange crashes? Maybe that helps!
About the message "Not enough memory"
Oops, my TrueType fonts have disappeared!
1.2 Hard disk tuning
32 bit disk access (32BDA) <=
32 bit file access (32BFA) <=
If neither of them works
Faster hard disk and CD-ROM access by tweaks of the BIOS settings
1.3 Extending the system's
Installing Win32s <=
Installing WinG <=
1.4 Multimedia in
Get a new graphics card driver!
Installed the wrong one and Windows won't start? Here's how to correct
Installing Video for Windows
No sound card? What about PC speaker sound then?
Apple Quicktime: Needed now and then
MPEG1 video? No problem!
1.5 Polishing the UI
A new shell program... <=
Small but useful: Misc. <=
Tips for Windows' look
COM ports and their little problems
Accessing the 'net
Access part 1: Hardware issues
Access part 2: Software that is needed
Current browsers #1: Microsoft Internet Explorer
Setup / download
A comparison to Netscape Communicator
Remarks concerning IE4/5 setup
Current browsers #2: Netscape Communicator
My historical background
System requirements / download
From my experience: Qirks / bugs
Tips for Communicator 4.0x
The fast and small shareware browser: Opera
Älteres System - älterer Browser!
Warum heutige Browser so groß und langsam sind
Heute noch brauchbare ältere Browser
Die Problematik mit den verfallenen Zertifikaten
Wichtig: Zeitzoneneinstellung für Mail/News
Which one should I use now? - a little table
Die Tücken der Scanner
- 2D-Vektorgrafik & 3D-Szenen
Haste Töne? - Soundanwendungen
Wie wär's mit einem MOD-Player?
MP3-Player? Auch kein Problem...
Audio-Grabbing & Co.
von allgemeinem Nutzen
Visual Basic 3.0
Batches für Windows - Batsh
1.14 Das Jahr-2000-"Problem"
(soweit es Win 3.1 und entspr. Hardware betrifft)
Rest of ToC left for translation when the next page is due
Multimonitoring: Nicht bloß für Win98
Wie bringt man ältere Festfrequenz-Monitore zum Laufen?
Mögliche Probleme mit PCI-Soundkarten
Mögliche Probleme mit ISA-PnP-Soundkarten
3. Wo gibt's
sonst noch nützliche Infos? <=
1.1 Correcting errors
1.1.1 Getting File Manager ready for Y2K
You should install the Y2K proof File Manager which is available from M$
is done by downloading the file (you must be aware of the fact that there
are two versions, one for Windows 3.1/3.11 and one for Windows for Workgroups
3.11). Then extract the file (it's a self-extracting EXE) and copy winfile.exe
into your Windows directory. Since you can't do this with file manager
itself, you must do this with DOS means:
Windows 3.1/3.11: copy <Download
dir>\winfile.exe <Windows dir>
WfW 3.11: copy <Download dir>\winfile.exe
for example: copy c:\download\winfile.exe c:\wfw311
More details concerning Y2K problems can be found in 1.14.
1.1.2 Replacing the calculator
The normal Windows calculator doesn't always care about exactness too much.
For example: 42,62-42,61=0.009999999991 or 0.01000000000001. You
can download a fixed version here.
1.1.3 Getting Windows ready for the Euro currency (€)
I hope this Euro
update also works with English language systems.
1.1.4 Other updates
Windows 3.1 / 3.11 only: Modem owners will need a replacement COMM driver
WfW 3.11 (partially) only: Here
you can find an update for rmm.d32, a newer version of vshare.386 can be
(it also works on plain Win 3.1 BTW, so you can retire good old share.exe),
there's a new version of serial.386
as well, and a newer vserver.386
can be downloaded too.
1.1.5 Fighting against those nasty crashes
Windows 3.1x doesn't have the reputation of being a very stable system,
but it's more stable than its reputation suggests unless one does things
it's not intended for at all (such as attempting to install Star Office
5.1 for Win9x ;).
If you are being plagued with many crashes anyway, it's time to find
out about the reasons. Perhaps one of the next paragraphs can give you
a hint about what's the matter.
220.127.116.11 The old resource problem
Everyone who has been working with a Windows 3.1x version for some time
certainly knows resource related problems. The system resources are small
blocks of memory that are used to manage things such as display elements
and brushes (GDI resources) or menus, dialogs and such (user resources).
Unfortunately these heaps aren't very big - one block of 64 KB must suffice
for the GDI resources, another two blocks for user resources. So it's no
wonder that they can get scarce very fast if one doesn't pay attention,
especially if one uses resource-intensive programs such as web browsers
(in addition, both IE and Netscape are leaky... ). Running out of resources
mostly results in a system crash, but also in "out of memory" messages.
In Windows 95, much more memory is used for 16-bit resources.
How can one find out about the amount of free resources? In Program
Manager, choose "About" from the "Help" menu. In Calmira,
let the mouse cursor rest on the clock in the icon tray for a moment -
in the appearing pop-up it shows the GDI and user resources separately.
The Advanced Task Manager can display free resources
as well. At last you can also use SAW
for displaying the resources, but IMO it's a bit of overkill.
A few tips concerning the resources:
<= Table of
Have a look at them now and then - that's easiest with Calmira.
At Windows' startup one should have at least 70% free (it can be 80% or
more on systems with less software than mine)
If your system is lacking GDI resources, uninstall unused fonts.
Leave those TrueColor video modes alone (24/32 bits) - the GDI resources
fade quite fast. HiColor modes (15/16 bits) are sufficient in most cases.
If there are only few user resources free, exit programs running in the
background or reduce Calmira's start menu size (mine
is way too big, hence I've only got 60% user free at startup).
Leave "resource eaters" (program that don't release all resources)
running instead of opening and closing them all the time.
18.104.22.168 Are your STACKS the right size?
Here the various Win 3.1x versions differ a bit: In normal Windows 3.1
/ 3.11 mostly the setting
is sufficient in config.sys, even if the standard value is STACKS=9,256.
Windows für Workgroups needs some more stacks; you should prefer STACKS=12,512
22.214.171.124 More stability/speed by system.ini tweaks
I hope you do know Sysedit? If you don't bring up a run dialog and type
"sysedit". This little program will allow you to edit the config files,
including win.ini and system.ini.
One can tweak the system by modifying a few eintries system.ini (italic:
speed, normal: stabiliy):
First the [386Enh] section:
DMABufferSize=64 ; size of the
DMA buffer in KB, should be at least 64 KB, on my system it's even 150
FileSysChange=Off ; Changes
in the file system are reported to programs which understand it (File Manager).
Off is faster.
MaxBPs=768 ; defines the number
of breakpoints, default: 200
WindowUpdateTime=5 ; interval
(in ms), in which the content of DOS windows is redrawn, default: 50
; appears later in the 32 bit file access section
Now some DOS tuning in the same section:
LocalLoadHigh=Off ; Do you really
need UMBs in the DOS box, or would you prefer more low memory instead?
Then disable this option (already the case here).
MinTimeslice=1 ; This can also
be set in Control Panel >> 386 Enhanced, the default value is 20 ms (for
a 386SX-16), on faster computers you can try lower values; as my PIII is
faster than a 386, I've set it to 1 ms.
And now some DOS box tweaking in [NonWindowsApp]:
CommandEnvSize=1536 ; Sets the
size of the environment of command.com; nice for batch freaks with huge
ScreenLines=50 ; Sets the default
number of lines a DOS box will display; values are 25, 43 or 50, I wouldn't
recommend using 43, however, as some programs don't like this mode; 50
is great for large display resolutions/monitors - finally that mem/c
output fits on one page :)
126.96.36.199 Catching crashes
I've found a program which is able to intercept the most frequently encountered
program crashes: Voilà!
I've found it here,
188.8.131.52 A little refresh for Windows
If formerly peaceful apps suddenly start acting strangely, then chances
are that one of the system files win386.exe, krnl386.exe (or dosx.exe
and krnl286.exe in standard mode, respectively), user.exe or gdi.exe is
damaged, which can happen now and then (though normally it shouldn't too
often). It's totally sufficient to decompress the files mentioned above
(except for gdi.exe if the Euro update is installed) from the original
disks (and DO MAKE BACKUPS OF THOSE DISKS!) - in plain DOS, of course:
expand <source file> <destination
Unfortunately wildcards (joker characters such as * or ?) can't be
used. For many file with the same extension I've written the following
batch file, which decompresses all file with the extension <first parameter>
into a subdirectory called expand.fil,
where they get the extension <2nd parameter>:
if "%1"=="" goto info
if "%2"=="" goto info
for %%p in ( *.%1 ) do expand %%p expand.fil\%%p
ren expand.fil\*.%1 *.%2
echo Expanded files can be found in .\expand.fil\*.%2.
echo Usage: exp.bat ext1 ext2,
echo where ext1 is the extension of the compressed files
echo ext2 is the extension of the decompressed files
For example exp.bat sy_ sys results
in all files with the extension .sy_
being expanded into the subdirectory
where they get the extension .sys.
If the Euro update is installed, one shouldn't simply
overwrite the gdi.exe file, but uninstall the update first, then overwrite
gdi.exe, and then reinstall the update.
If the problems still appear when all of the file mentioned above has
been replaced, there must be some other reason.
1.1.6 "Not enough memory" - Really?
I wouldn't be so sure there, as this message appears in three cases:
a) If there is not enough space in the resource heaps (see 184.108.40.206)
b) If the amount of RAM really is too small
c) If there isn't enough memory below 1 MB available.
The background to c) is the following: Windows uses memory below 1
MB for compatibility reasons, to communicate with devices with real mode
drivers (hard disk without FastDisk driver,
CD-ROM, floppy drive... - quite a lot, as you see), for example. In addition,
a bit of conventional memory is needed every time a program is started,
and parts of programs and DLLs are loaded off there as well. If the programmers
were so careless not to keep to Microsoft's recommendation not to do the
latter in a too large extent, low memory may get scarce quite fast. Unfortunately
this is quite often the case, so one has to use a program such as Fix1MB,
which keeps low memory from bring gobbled up by applications.
If you're wondering now how this can be if you have more than 500 KB
free in a DOS box, let me tell you that a DOS box is essentially a copy
of the system state when Windows was started. Windows uses lots of conventional
memory for itself after having "memorized" the system state, however, one
doesn't normally notice that unless it gets scarce (which was where we
started from). If one opens a DOS box, Windows creates a second VM (virtual
machine, virtual 8086) and there it creates an exact copy of the system
state it saved earlier. But as Windows components are already in memory
when this system state is saved, there is always less conventional memory
available in a DOS box, compared to DOS before Windows has been started.
BTW: If you've become curious by the VM stuff, you should read some
good books on the operation modes of Intel microprocessors (µPs)
from the 80386 upwards (hints: Real mode, protected mode and virtual mode
or V86 mode). Interestingly 32 bit hardware isn't as new as everyone thinks,
but already 14 years old (1986: presentation of the first 386 PC by Compaq,
the 386 processor had existed since 1985).
There is a system.drv replacement which - according to the readme file
which has now been replaced by me - is supposed to reduce resources eating,
however the conventional memory is meant. Download it here,
unzip it, copy it into the Windows\SYSTEM directory, and in system.ini
replace the line system.drv=system.drv
with system.drv=syshook.drv. (System.drv
is loaded anyway.) Then add the following line to system.ini's [386Enh]
Syshook.drv isn't as rigid as Fix1MB (no problems with MOD4WIN any
longer), but sufficient in most cases anyway, so I'm using it instead of
1.1.7 Help, my TrueType fonts are gone!
Sometimes all the Truetype fonts disappear in all applications, which forces
the user to use ugly bitmap fonts. That's no reason for panicking, instead
you should check the following things if this happens:
Control Panel >> Fonts >> button "Truetype". In the dialog box that appears
when this button is pressed, the option "Use Truetype fonts" should be
Control Panel >> Printers. Has a non-graphic printer (such as Generic/text)
accidentally become the standard printer? Then the TTFs disappear as well
- a (somewhat strange) problem that also concerns Windows 95.
1.2 Hard disk tuning (see 1.4
There are two ways of turning your hard disk into a rocket:
1.2.1 32 bit disk access (32BDA)
This is the somewhat older (available since Windows 3.1) and more hardware
dependent version, also called FastDisk (which is better than "32 bit...",
as a lot of things are 32 bit today). The gain in speed results from Windows
being able to access the hard disk directly, without having to switch the
system to real mode all the time, as it would be necessary when using BIOS
calls. The problem of FastDisk is that the driver that comes with Windows
(*wdctrl) only supports IDE hard drives that are compatible with the Western
Digital WD1003 controller, that you'll have to download a FastDisk driver
for larger hard drives (but they only work up to 8 GB either) or ESDI or
SCSI drives and that the performance gain doesn't seem to be very large
in most cases - in fact, it can disturb serial communications. In addition,
32BDA doesn't like software like Ontrack Disk Manager. As you can see,
this is a (not only) somewhat difficult issue. So mostly "simply enabling
32 bit disk access in control panel 386 enhanced virtual memory" won't
work, although it worked just fine on my old (first) computer's 52 MB (!!!)
1.2.2 32 bit file access (32BFA)
The so-called 32 bit file access, which is included only in Windows for
Workgroups 3.11 (and above), is an addition to the 32 bit file access mentioned
above, but doesn't necessarily need a Fastdisk driver, as for the case
that there isn't any, Windows comes with a "replacement driver", the so-called
"real mode mapper", which enables using 32BFA on ESDI, SCSI and compressed
32BFA works with the file system VFAT (virtualized FAT), which contains
a very efficient cache (VCache) and a virtual file sharing driver (VShare)
and which was the first installable file system in Windows (in Windows
95 the CDFS was added, for example).
Now the advantages and disadvantages at a glance:
It's fast: The cache algorithm is faster than the one of Smartdrv and allows
the efficient usage of larger caches; copying large amounts of data from
partition to partition is much faster, as the amount of data transported
at once is much larger than with Smartdrv and thus the time consuming head
movements are reduced.
With VShare, share.exe becomes superfluous (at least of you've got a well-behaved
copy of MS Office...). However, the virtual device driver also exists for
You can download an update for the file "rmm.d32", which is an essential
component of the Real Mode Mapper (as the name suggests) here.
BTW: You can enable 32BFA in Control Panel >> 386 Enhanced >> Virtual Memory
>> Change >> "Use 32 bit file access". I had set the "Cache" size to 4
MB and later 3 MB when I had 24 MB of RAM; now it's 30 MB :) (from some
size on, a larger cache slows down the system - namely if the contents
of a huge write cache are being written to disk, which I noticed with 40
MB). There is a 32BFA FAQ
32BFA only works with hard disks and network drives, but not with floppy
drives or CD-ROMs. If you need a cache for one of the latter (and IMO one
does need one), you'll have to use SmartDrive again (probably with 256
KB for floppy only and with about 512 KB for floppy and CD-ROM, depending
on the amount of RAM installed; since I have plenty of RAM, I have 4 MB
In batch files, checks of the type if exist <directory>\nul
don't work any longer. However, Calmira comes
with a file called existdir.exe, which can be used for checking the existance
of directories as well (if the errorlevel is 1, the directory exists, if
it's 0, it doesn't) and which isn't concerned by the problem.
Generally the 32BFA doesn't respect reserved device names too much - for
example, one can create a directory called NUL, but of course deleting
it fails... The crash when attempting to execute c:\con\con, which was
discovered in a discussion in de.comp.os.ms-windows.misc
recently, is even "better". Win9x is even more concerned by the problem:
A click on a link referring to that "file" in a web browser makes a nice
blue screen appear - in WfW 3.11 you only get a "file not found" message,
as one would expect.
Interestingly one can disable the write-behind cache for single drives,
namely in system.ini, [386enh] with ForceLazyOff=<drive
letter(s)>, ForceLazyOff=C, for example
(this is also my setting, which avoids registry corruption). You can make
VCache write the contents of the write-behind cache to the disk by pressing
Ctrl-C or Ctrl-Pause at the DOS prompt.
The size of the file cache can be set either in Control Panel >> 386
Enhanced or directly in system.ini:
MinFileCache=20480 ; size in KB,
here my 20 MB, 2048 would be more typical ;)
1.2.3 What if neither 32BFA nor 32BDA work?
I ran across such a problem after the first hard disk failed and had to
be replaced with a new 8 GB one. After that WfW 3.11 hung on startup. When
I commented out ifshlp.sys in config.sys, it worked again, but without
32 bit file access, of course. After I was able to use DOS 6.22 again (Update
from 6.xx for English language versions), it started working again
What can one do about caching in such a case? One will have to use
Smartdrive, which has both advantages and disadvantages:
Smartdrive isn't as efficient as VCache, which can be seen in a relatively
low transfer rate in cached data - only about two thirds of the one of
VCache. In addition, the algorithm isn't optimized for large amounts of
data or cache sizes.
One can save memory: If Smartdrv caches both hard disk and CD-ROM drive,
a common cache is used, so the extra CD-ROM cache isn't used.
The CD-ROM drive gets faster: As the cache is much larger now (let's say
3 MB as opposed to 512 KB for CD-ROM and floppy), the CD-ROM drive gets
faster, especially when data is read multiple times.
1.2.4 Tweaking the BIOS settings
Normally one would think that all important BIOS related parameters can
be set in the BIOS setup. Well, one can - but many others can't be changed.
Now that wouldn't be bad, but some of them can influence the computer's
Auxiliary programs allow fiddling with the BIOS settings, such as TweakBIOS
1.53, which supports most current mo/bo chipsets. With this program I was
able to increase the data transfer rate of my first hard disk, a Seagate
ST38420A, from 5,5 MB/s to 10 MB/s (on my old mo/bo with a crappy VIA chipset
w/a 586B south bridge). But be careful:
You should have an idea of what you're doing!!! Changing disk related BIOS
settings shouldn't be noticeable when 32BDA is used - it's intended for
bypassing those BIOS toutines, since they never were the fastests ones
and one could save a few CPU mode switches (Protected Mode <->
Real Mode) as well.
CD-ROM drives don't always reach full speed as well - my DVD drive
only reaches 3.5 MB/s with many drivers, whereas it can reach 5 MB/s with
CDs and 6 MB/s with DVDs with the driver usdide.sys from US Drives. If
the computer supports busmaster DMA modes, the driver cdrom.syd from hxcd-rom.zip
(LiteOn?) is even faster (/DMA option).
BTW: I've done my benchmarks with the shareware program
Hardware, the Windows version of which used to be a 16-bit program.
1.3 Extending the system's capabilities
1.3.1 Installing Win32s
Wow... finally some text I needn't translate :), as I already have it on
my "Win32s compatibility list".
Win32s is an extension for 16-bit Windows (3.1x) that allows the
execution of 32-bit programs originally written for 32-bit Windows versions,
such as NT 3.x, 4.0 and Win 9x. But please do not assume that every
32-bit program will actually run on Win32s: originally it was only designed
for compatibility with NT 3.x, and only a subset of the Win32 API is supported
(that's why it's called Win32s)! 16 and 32 bit apps can exchange
data over the clipboard and use OLE functions (which means that you can
put an image that has been created in Paint Shop Pro 3.12 32-bit into your
Winword 6.0 document and edit the image in PSP when necessary; this only
works if PSP is registered as an OLE server though).
Win32s 1.30c can be downloaded here: ftp.microsoft.com/softlib/MSLFILES/PW1118.EXE
It's about 2.5 MB in size and comes with a 32 bit Help program,
which is very useful, as it is a functional equivalent of the Help program
of Windows 95; it can even read Win95 help files. Also included is a little
game called Freecell, mainly for test purposes. And last but not least,
the latest OLE files (v2.03) come with Win32s as well - OLE functionality
must come from somewhere ;).
Much more info and a few rare Win32s compatible DLLs as well as other
related stuff can be found on my "Win32s compatibility
list" mentioned above.
1.3.2 Installing WinG
WinG is an API used for speeding up the graphical output of programs that
use the WinG DLLs (mostly concerns videos on systems without video accelaration
[DCI interface], but Paint Shop Pro 3.12-32 uses it as well, for example).
It has never been very widespread, but interestingly its DIB engine is
an earlier version of the one in Windows 95.
1.4 Multimedia in general
1.4.1 Never a bad idea: Get a new graphics card driver!
On various occasions I've come across computers that ran with the standard
VGA driver although they had more modern cards capable of much higher resolutions,
color depths and refresh rates, so many possibilities were simply wasted.
In addition, the standard drivers are about the slowest ones one can think
New(er) graphics card drivers can be found at the web site of the card's
manufacturer or at least the manufacturer of the chipset used. If a card
supports video acceleration via the DCI interface, the driver should support
it as well. A DOS program for setting the refresh rates is a nice thing
as well, especially when chipset drivers are used, which quite often don't
offer any possibility to change the standard refresh rate in Windows to
something somewhat more healthy for your eyes - 72 Hz should be just fine
on a 14" screen, but on a 19" one, only 85 Hz delivers a clear picture
that doesn't flicker (I have one in front of me right now, so I know what
I'm writing of). For S3 based cards, the utility S3Refresh
can be used. A few new cards have a VESA 3.0 BIOS, which provides refresh
rate setting possibilities as well (see www.uwe-sieber.de
When looking for drivers you'll also have to take account the fact
that a manufacturer may have been taken over (such as SPEA by Diamond).
As a last resort, you can also use one of the popular search engines.
220.127.116.11 Installed the wrong driver and now Windows won't
(Applicable for other similar problems as well.)
You've installed the wrong driver and now Windows won't start? Don't
worry, you can get that ironed out in plain DOS. You only have to
With some problems you can also use one or more of Windows' start parameters.
Let's have a look at the win /? output:
change into the Windows directory with the good old CD command
and to start setup.exe (or winsetup.exe) from there, which will start the
DOS stub of Windows Setup, which will enable you to change the configuration,
including the graphics card driver.
(all versions except for WfW 3.11)
Starts Windows for Workgroups 3.11.
WIN [/3] [/S] [/B] [/D:[F][S][V][X]]
(all versions except for WfW 3.11)
WIN [/B] [/N] [/D:[C][F][S][V][X]]
/3 Starts Windows in 386 enhanced mode.
/S Starts Windows in standard mode.
(both options are superfluous in WfW 3.11, /s is replaced with /d:t)
/B Creates a file, BOOTLOG.TXT, that records system messages generated
during system startup (boot).
/N Causes Windows not to load network drivers.
(WfW 3.11 only)
/D: Used in combination with one or more of the following switches for
troubleshooting when Windows does not start correctly.
C Turns off 32-bit file access.
(Applies to WfW 3.11 only)
F Turns off 32-bit disk access.
Equivalent to SYSTEM.INI file setting: 32BitDiskAccess=FALSE.
S Specifies that Windows should not use ROM address space between
F000:0000 and 1 MB for a break point.
Equivalent to SYSTEM.INI file setting: SystemROMBreakPoint=FALSE.
(T Starts WfW 3.11 in standard mode, COM and LPT drivers don't work then;
this option is not displayed by default)
V Specifies that the ROM routine will handle interrupts from the hard
Equivalent to SYSTEM.INI file setting: VirtualHDIRQ=FALSE.
X Excludes all of the adapter area from the range of memory that Windows
scans to find unused space.
Equivalent to SYSTEM.INI file setting: EMMExclude=A000-FFFF.
: Disables the Windows start logo (it starts a few microseconds faster);
not included in win/? output
<= Table of
1.4.2 Installing Video for Windows
If you'd like to watch videos, you'll need Video
for Windows 1.1e. This freeware add-on for Windows 3.1x comes with
a Media Player replacement with the same functionality as the Media Player
in Windows 95 (even Ctrl-F5 works :) and important audio and video codecs
(except for MPEG ones - the computers back then couldn't handle such stuff).
My graphics card came with a special
version of VfW 1.1e, which supports Offscreen surface video acceleration.
One could also download the Microsoft Media
Player 5.2 beta, but a) it much too large with > 5 MB, and b) because
of a) it doesn't fit into a diskette. In addition, the "Media Player 2"
itself is only used for streaming audio and video, and the additional gain
is limited to VfW 1.1e (otherwise the file would be some 1.4 MB smaller)
and a few codecs (including one for MPEG1-layer-3 encoded WAV files and
for MPEG4 video). Somewhat older MPEG codecs are also included with NetShow
Player 2.0, however, it's also 2.51 MB in size (FTP search: nsplay16.exe).
The MP3 codec only supports data rates up to 56 kbit/s and crashes the
old MPlayer. All in all, it's not that useful that the download would pay
off. The codec is also included in this
file, along with a mmtask.tsk update.
A warning for Netscape users: NetShow Player 2.0 installs a
newer version of the Voxware audio codec, which doesn't like the older
one that comes with Netscape, resulting in a message "Not enough extended
memory" at Windows startup. There are two possibilities of dealing with
One coul comment out the Netscape entry device=rt32vox.vxd in system.ini,
[386enh]. However it's added automatically when Netscape is reinstalled,
which one tends to forget, and then you wonder why Windows doesn't run
anymore (that has already happened to me as well, that's quite scary...).
You can also comment out the entries of the new codec, in this case device=vdk32116.vxd
and device=vdk3211w.vxd, which can be found in system.ini, [386enh] as
1.4.3 No soundcard, but you'd like to have sound anyway?
Unfortunately many older systems aren't equipped with a sound card, but
only have the system speaker. There is a sound driver for the system speaker,
but you can't use it for much more than system sounds, as most program
except for Sound Recorder (Media Player, MOD4WIN...) need an asynchronous
wave driver. That is because of the fact that there isn't any sound hardware,
but the CPU emulates a DAC - and while it does that, it can't do anything
else. You can download the driver here.
The shareware utility SpkQQ (US$10, download)
is supposed to be much better.
Here you can find information about
1.4.4 Apple Quicktime: Needed now and then
QuickTime comes from the Apple Macintosh computer and is used for playing
films coming from the Mac world. It can be downloaded here
(1.94 MB, that's the last 16 bit version 18.104.22.168).
1.4.5 MPEG1 video? Of course that works, too!
Provided you have a reasonably fast computer (let's say, a Pentium 90) you can
play MPEG1 videos through a software decoder like Compcore SoftPEG or XingMPEG
(the latter can be found on www.win31.de
BTW). A graphics card with video acceleration helps here.
PCs with weaker CPUs aren't out of the run, however - they can be upgraded
with MPEG1 decoder cards, like ELSA's ELSAmotion for the PCI bus (requires a
graphics card with overlay support via DCI) or the classic Sigma Reel Magic
for ISA (this card uses a loop-through cable just like the 3Dfx Voodoo 3D
Concerning MPEG2, there is a software decoder (again, on
www.win31.de), but unfortunately MPEG2
video "in the wild" mostly comes on DVDs with CSS (Content Scrambling System),
and lots of processor power is needed, too. But you never know...
1.5 Polishing the UI
Well, the Progman/Winfile combo isn't most people's taste today, the dialog
boxes look anything but modern, and the default color schemes aren't highlights
either. Fortunately this can be changed :) ...
1.5.1 A new shell program...
...is to be recommended, as good old Program Manager isn't the very best
user interface in the world. A really great replacement is Calmira II (current
version is 3.1 beta 2a), which has many Win95-ish elements - a taskbar
of course, icon windows etc. - but is even more customizable than "real"
Win95. The help file would need an update once, but I hope that it's going
to come when 3.1 is released. Calmira II is freeware under the GNU Public
License, which means that the source code (which, BTW, is in Delphi 1)
can be changed and anyone who uses the changed program must also have the
opportunity to modify it. The web site is www.calmira.org.
You should also visit the link page there - quite a few good Windows 3.1
and Calmira sites can be found there.
Shell for Windows" is something for OS/2 fans: It contains part of
the functions of the WPS of OS/2 Warp 3. Very well done, but I wouldn't
recommend it to someone without any knowledge of the "real" WPS - it would
have been very difficult for me if I didn't have a book about Warp 3.
1.5.2 Small but useful: Misc. stuff
There are various small programs that are simply "must-haves":
If you need the full overview over the registry database, then this
registry editor (obviously the 16 bit one from NT 3.51) is the right
one for you if you start it with the parameter /V: Then you'll be able
to see keys that are invisible to normal RegEdit, as it only shows the
subkey .classes! For example I was easily able to add a key Corel DRAW
6.0 wanted to have this way. When this NT Regedit is started without any
parameters, you'll mostly see an almost empty list, as it's one level higher
than the rigistry info of most programs, as I mentioned above.
All3D, which gives that 3D look to almost all apps
the task manager FTaskman (or Advanced Task Manager which can be d/l'd
at www.freewareguide.de, for
for people who'd like to have a somewhat more comfortable DOS box, the
program DosBar (all of the programs I just mentioned can be downloaded
on the download
page of the Calmira Zone).
If you like window animation effects, you won't want to miss kframe.
Win95-ish (and other) window buttons come with PatchDriver.
Looks quite nice, but maybe someone can find some time for making buttons
for Large Fonts...
You can radically change Windows' look with Makeover:
with a few 3D effects on title and menu bar and on window frames and with
a window title with a shadow you can hardly recognize your old Windows
:). In addition, the package contains other useful things, such as a button
editor and a program to change CapsLock behavior. The program used to be
shareware, but is now regarded as "abandonware", since the company that
made the program can't be found anymore (that's no wonder - the program
is from 1992).
The VESA DPMS screen saver VESAsav and other interesting things such as
more font sizes for the DOS box can be found at http://www.Uwe-Sieber.de.
The last versions of the CTL3D DLLs (2.31) can be found in
this Zip file; a slightly modified version of ctl3dv2.dll (for even
more similarity to Windows 95) can be found on
As I've already mentioned earlier, one also
needs a program that keeps apps from using too much low memory. My favorite
used to be Fix1MB,
now I prefer syshook.drv.
Good old WinZip 6.3 SR-1
is a standard utility. It would be nice of Drag'n'Drop worked like in Win95
If you've got Win32s and you often have to deal with images in all kinds
of formats, I'd like to recommend you the freeware viewer/converter XNView
in version 1.17a. This versatile program displays more than 100 partially
exotic bitmap graphics formats. I've helped in fixing a resource leak that
was present in 1.12 by beta-testing the program :).
If you've always wanted to work with long files names in Windows
3.1x, I'd recommend you the (now ex-) shareware program "Instant
File Access". It works with file description files called descript.ion
- they comes from 4DOS and Calmira is able to use them optionally - and
allows the user to use them in almostall of his apps by plugging into the
common dialogs. It automatically assigns descriptions, whereas in 4DOS
and Calmira they have to be assigned separately. The format of the description
files is following:
FILE3 With spaces as well!
ALONGF~1.LON A long file name (Win95).long extension
(Obviously Instant File Access was at work with that
EXAMPLE.6 Also with characters not normally allowed ( + ; /
\ " | ) !
PLS_NOTE Example 6 doesn't work with IFA.
A simple but effective principle, isn't it?
Problems may appear when 8-bit characters (diphtongs, 'ß', accents...)
appear in the description - those in descriptions created in Windows are
displayed incorrectly in DOS and vice versa.
While we're at file names: It's not a problem to create short file and
folder names with the (normally forbidden) spaces in MS-DOS 7 (plain DOS)
(that's no problem with long file names, of course), for example like that:
ren test.txt "not bad.txt". Of
course the programs don't like that very much, but interestingly they don't
complain about spaces in directory names when the open dialog is used -
drag'n'drop fails, however. Calmira gets along with spaces in folder names
quite well - I can even enter a folder name with spaces without quotation
marks in the "Open folder" dialog!
In older DOS versions generating file names with spaces isn't as easy;
however, in MS-DOS 6.xx one can use MOVE for that: move
spaces.txt "space s.txt". The other way round it works
equally well. Such invalid file names can also be generated in Windows,
curiously with the FTP client (!) WS-FTP
1.5.3 Tips for Windows' look and feel
Changing the system font and its size: win.ini, [windows],
size> (normal: 16, higher resolutions: 20 or - less recommendable due to
partially distorted scrollbar buttons and such - 24). MS Sans Serif (sserife.fon
up to 800x600, beyond that sseriff.fon) has the advantage that one can
use the Euro (€) in folder names, for example. On my system I havIch z.B.
habe 1024x768 eingestellt und benutze sseriff.fon in Größe 20.
BTW: You can also use your favorite font as the system font - simply
by converting it with "SysFon".
Adjusting the icon spacing: win.ini, [Desktop], IconVerticalSpacing=<Abstand-V
in pixels>, IconSpacing=<Abstand-H
Setting the font, size, attributes and line wrapping of the icon
titles: win.ini, [Desktop], IconTitleFaceName=<font>
(MS Sans Serif, for example), IconTitleSize=<size
in pt> (8, for example), IconTitleStyle=<binary>
(0=normal, 1=bold), IconTitleWrap=<binary>
(0=no wrapping, 1=wrapping on).
BTW: Minimized program groups are also regarded as icons.
Setting the font and font size of the status bar: win.ini,
(Arial, for example), StatusBarFaceHeight=<size
in pt> (12, for example).
Not normally necessary (against people who like doing
"funny" changes to your config): win.ini, [Desktop], GridGranularity=<number>
("Sets the size of the grid Windows uses to position windows on the screen."
<number>=0...49, in units of 8 pixels; <number>=1 sets a 8x8 pixel
grid, for example, <number>=0 switches the whole nonsense off). This
setting is supposed to increase the speed of graphics modes with less than
And if anyone needs a good color scheme:
What about this one, which can be used from HiColor on? It's based
on the "Windows 95 standard" color scheme that
comes with Calmira, but has brighter title bars and a (matching) highlight
color, a black desktop background, differently bright window frames of
active and inactive windows (interestingly I wasn't the first one with
that idea - look at the Windows 3.0 color scheme) and the workspace color
of Win 3.1x in a display mode with 256 or more colors.
The following thing belongs into control.ini, [color schemes] as
Win 3.1 + Win95=0,F0FBFF,FFFFFF,0,C0C0C0,0,
The you'll only have to start the Control Panel module "Colors" and
select "Win 3.1 + Win95" as the new color scheme and exit the module with
a click on "OK".
Originally I was using the following color schemes, which is a bit different
from the one above:
Stephan's color scheme (old)=0,808080,FFFFFF,
In display modes with only 256 colors my color schemes don't look too
great because of the dithering.
The color scheme "Windows 95 standard" I mentioned earlier can also
be used for 16 or 256 colors:
Windows 95 standard=808000,808080,FFFFFF,
For real nostalgics here's the color scheme of Windows 3.0, which surprisingly
would normally need 256 colors:
Win 3.0 Standard=C0C0C0,E8FFFF,FFFFFF,
On the other side of the big pond the following color scheme can be
admired on a computer:
The "Workplace Shell for Windows" mentioned earlier comes with
the following two schemes:
The following one has been created by me :).
Originally it should look like a color scheme I had seen on a Unix
workstation, but I can't check that now, as I don't get to such computers
very often, as you may imagine ;).
Stephan's experiment #3=400000,804000,
What about a new start logo for Windows? You don't have
to stare at the same boring logo for years. A few months ago I've created
my own logo, which has similarities to the standard logo, but also to the
one of Windows NT (for Windows [normal or for Workgroups] 3.11, VGA and
up, but without Calmira - see below for a special one for Calmira systems).
it is (zipped). And how does one include it now? That's quite simple:
Rename the file vgalogo.rle in the Windows\SYSTEM directory to vgalogo.org
and copy my logo there (its name is already vgalogo.rle). Then grab a DOS
box, change into the Windows\SYSTEM directory and enter:
=> To the next page...<=
copy /b win.cnf+vgalogo.lgo+vgalogo.rle ..\win.com
The question should be answered with Yes.
On the next Windows startup you should be able to admire my logo..
I like the version "Powered
by Calmira" for Calmira users even better, which replaces vgalogo.rle
*) Almost every
page today has one of those unnerving counters. Enough reason to express
my opinion of the "counter-mania" ;)...
Copyright of this page (C) 1999, 2000 by
Diese Seiten, betitelt "Getting Windows 3.1x ready for
the present and (near) future 1/3", "Getting Windows 3.1x ready for the
present and (near) future 2/3" und "Getting Windows 3.1x ready for the
present and (near) future 3/3", dürfen nur in unveränderter Form
weitergegeben werden, dies schließt w31mm_en.htm, w31mm_e1.htm, w31mm_e2.htm
und ggf. das Hintergrundbild verl4.jpg ein. Bei Übernahme von Seiteninhalten
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(möglichst mit URL). Frei weitergegeben werden dürfen Informationen,
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