DOS for Workgroups

add microcrosoft network connectivity to a DOS computer


Installing Wondows for Workgroups in a PC is fairly easy. Configuring a network too. But Windows is not mych more than a user-friendly graphical user interface to a DOS computer. It should tus be possible to strip away all the Windows stuff that has nothing to do with networking, and what's left should be a DOS computer with Windows for Workgroups network functionality on it. This actually works. This is how ...

You'll need a computer with Windows for Workgroupsds (Windows 3.11) and a working network configuration on it. (here's a How To).

Strip

In stead od deleting Windows one file at the time, we'll just copy the files we want to keep to an other directory, then delete all of windows at once.
First, make a new directory, and maybe call it 'wfw', preferably in your root directory (that would make it c:\wfw).
Then, copy the following files from the windows directory to this directory :

That's the software Windows for Workgroups uses for networking. You need to add the device driver for your network card as well.Some drivers exist in different versions for DOS and Windo Often, programs 'remember' their configuration, defauly parameters, etc, by writing it down in files, and reading from those files as needed. These are the data and configuration files for the network sftware - you'll have to copy those as well.

Apart from those, Windows Setup will have modified your config.sys and autoexec.bat. They'll need to be checked again - unless you made a backup copy before installing Windows. :-)

At this point, you can delete the Windows directory. You might want to backup shares.pwl if it exists on the computer. It contains pasword lists, but can be deleted - a new one is created when necessary. Still, you never know ...

Modify the configuration files

System.ini

system.ini contains Windows' system configuration, including network configuration. In fact we're only interested in the network portion. So everything in the system.ini file can be deleted, exept the sections [Network], [Network drivers]. and maybe [Password lists].

As we've moved files from the windows directory (c:\windows, most likely) to c:\wfw, all references to c:\windows in system.ini need to be replaced by c:\wfw.
And by the way, as we have deleted the windows directory, you can no longer use notepad to edit text files. Under dos, text files (such as system.ini) can be edited with ... edit.

config.sys

You'll have to edit your config.sys to delete all 'windows' like settings. If you know DOS a bit, that shouldn't be too difficult. Most likely you just need to replace all c:\windows\ by c:\dos, and delete referenses to fyles that no longer exist. You will be notified of those the next time you start : DOS will complain about 'error in config.sys on line 15 ore so.

You do need the following entrys in the config.sys :

LASTDRIVE=Z indicates that you can have drive letters down to Z: Maybe you don't need all of them, but you'll need some, because every directory you want to access on a remote computer, will have a drive letter assigned to it to make it accessible from your DOS computer.
The LOADHIGH c:\WFW\ifshlp.sys statement loads the File Sustem Driver.
All other drivers (and protocols) are loaded in system.ini, in the Network and Network drivers section.

Autoexec.bat

Again, edit all referencens to c:\windows to either c:\dos (for ordinary DOS commands and execitables, or c:\wfw for references to the network software that you've copied to c:\wfw.
The PATH statement should include the c:\wfw directory, so that DOS can locate the executables there. PATH C:\;C:\DOS; C:\WFW.
You may have to remove some statements that refer to deleted software from the windows directory (SmartDrive ?).

Windows Setup will have added the statement NET START or NET START FULL to the autoexec.bat. This automatically starts the network workstation service and re-establishes the connections ("map network drive") stored in connect.dat. You may wish not to connect every time you start your computer. In that case, delete this statement (or put REM in front of it). The NET START command can be given at the command prompt or in any bat file, so you can start the network service when needed.

Connect

As we've got rid of Windows, you'll now use the network functiond at the dos prompt. This is done with the NET command (net.exe). Typ NET [enter] for a list of subcommands to NET. Other ways to get help : NET HELP, NET HELP /?, NET USE /? and any combination of NET -subcommand- /?

Frequently used commands are

in NetBEUI protocol, adresses of network resouurces are written in UNC format (Universal Naming Convention) : \\server_Name\directory\subdirectory. To have access to a network resource, the need to be mapped to a local device, such as a drive letter, printer port. This is done with the NET USE statement. Some exemples

A complete overview of NET commands can be found at Computer Hope

If you'll be using the same connections every time you log on, it is possible to write a .bat file that lists all commands (Net start, net logon, net use ....) so that the're executed in batch. This method is still used, even to log on to NT servers etc, ('login script').