Computing: Computer Administration

Unresolved "mysteries" concerning Windows 3.x setup.

Mysteries and computer science are not really compatible, so you may not await to find any logic in what is written on this page. On the other hand, this text might be more than helpful, if you try to setup Windows 3.x, in particular if you try to install the 1024×768 256 colors SVGA driver. In fact, this seems not to work by itself, but only if given applications are present when you do the installation. I have no idea what is the impact of these factors, that make setup succeed, on the installation process, or how these factors interact (that's why I talk about "unresolved mysteries"). All I can say is that my 3 Windows 3 are actually running fine, Windows 3.1 and 3.11 with the SVGA driver. So, if you encounter any issues during setup of Windows 3.x, having a look at this document and installing the software that I did install and in the same order, will probably solve your problems.

The text mostly concerns Windows 3.1/3.11. There is no SVGA driver for Windows 3.0, so the related problems are not accurate for this OS. The major problem, that I encountered with Windows 3.0, is that the installation of a whole bunch of applications destroy the program groups of the installed applications in Program Manager, when creating its own program group. I don't think that this is related to the fact that I use Dashboard as shell, even though this is not to exclude. Why this happens – no idea. What to do - not thought about it yet. As I work in a VMware Workstation environment, I simply reset the VM snapshot (forgetting about the application). It is possible that what seems to be a serious issue isn't a big deal in practice: Backing up the program groups before installing the new application and restoring them when done could be a simple work-around...

The installation of the OS itself normally works without any problems. I have installed the 3 Windows 3 systems on the same machine, on the top of a common MS-DOS 6.22. As it seems, this is not the DOS that Windows 3.0 expects ("wrong DOS version" message when I boot with the configuration for Windows 3.0), but this does not affect the well functioning of the system. So, for Windows 3.1 and 3.11, you should use MS-DOS 6.22, maybe some earlier version for Windows 3.0.

The first problems occurred when I installed OAKCDROM.SYS as CD-driver. No problems on my Windows 3.0, but Windows 3.1 did hang during startup and Windows 3.11 aborted with the message Error loading USER.EXE. A CD-driver that works fine with all 3 systems (at least on VMware) is HXCD-ROM Drive (High-Speed CDROM Drive), available at Zamba's VMware page. The driver is part of a floppy diskette that contains all you need to install the driver using the included setup program; just note that the installation has to be done on DOS (quit Windows before doing it).

The "mysteries" concerning the SVGA driver setup.

In my tutorial Installing a 1024×768 SVGA driver on Windows 3.1 and 3.11, I describe how to install this driver, that is rather essential for comfortable work (unfortunately, the driver can't be used on Windows 3.0). However, at least on Windows 3.11, this installation procedure seems only to be successful if some requirements are met, some given features installed when setting up the driver. I noticed this when I entirely reinstalled my Windows 3 triple boot virtual machine and, as a difference with the first time that I installed the driver, the installation of the driver on Windows 3.11 resulted, after reboot of the system to the error message Program group file F:\WINDOWS\MAIN.GRP is invalid or damaged. Recreate the group.

Dammaged program group after installation of the SVGA driver on Windows 3.11

It is not totally to exclude that this issue is in relationship with my triple boot, but I think that it might also occur on a machine with just Windows 3.11 installed. Anyway, as the error message mentioned the program groups, I suspected that the installation of Dashboard might help, this because the first time, when I (successfully) installed the driver, Dashboard actually was installed. And yet another disappointment (and "mystery"): Dashboard setup ended with an Out of memory! error...

Out of memory error when installing Dashboard on Windows 3.11

As I said at the beginning of this document, I have absolutely no idea, how the different components interact and why the installation of some programs work in one case, but not in another. Comparing my actual system with the one, where the installation of Dashboard was successful, I noticed that on my former system I did install Microsoft Visual C++ 1.50 Pro and Microsoft FORTRAN Powerstation 1.0. As both of these applications include extenders, one of them, or both could perhaps explain why the first time setup of Dashboard succeeded and this time it failed. It seems to be the installation of FORTRAN Powerstation 1.0 that solved my memory problem. In fact, I first installed Visual C++ 1.50 Pro, succeeded to install Dashboard, but at a certain moment got the "out of memory" problem again. On the other hand, after installation of FORTRAN Powerstation, the installation of Dashboard succeeded, no more "out of memory" messages and the installation of the SVGA driver was successful, too!

Successful installation of the SVGA driver on Windows 3.11 after installing some other applications

Remains to remember that the SVGA driver is not bug-free and that in particular passing from a GUI application to Command Prompt will "kill" the system. This issue makes both Visual C++ 1.50 Pro and FORTRAN Powerstation 1.0 more or less unusable with the SVGA driver installed (the display is corrupted when trying to build a program within the IDE). Other development software, as for example, Microsoft Visual Basic 3.0 Professional and Borland Delphi 1.0 work all correctly.

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