VirtualBox - Chapter 5

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Chapter 1: Prepare a virtual machine for FreeDOS in VirtualBox

Chapter 2: Special settings for FreeDOS

Chapter 3: Connect the FreeDOS install CD

Chapter 4: Install FreeDOS

Chapter 5: Install the network

Chapter 6: Mount the FreeDOS image to transfer files

Chapter 7: FTP between host and guest

Bugs: High CPU usage of FreeDOS machine

Bugs: FreeDOS crashes at boot

Bugs: ICH9 chipset breaks networking

Bugs: Old bugs

Install the network

By default there is no network preinstalled with FreeDOS. But the installer makes it pretty simple to set it up.

  • Insert the install CD to VirtualBox.


Reboot and choose "Boot from system harddisk".


  • Start the package manager FDIMPLES:


  • On the left side choose "Networking", on the right side the programs you wish to install.
  • FDNET is mandatory for networking in VirtualBox. I would also recommend at least MTCP and WGET.
  • Confirm with OK and reboot


The C:\FDOS\BIN\FDNET.BAT batch file was able to identify the system correctly as running in VirtualBox. It loaded the correct packet driver PCNTPK.COM.

DHCP.EXE from mTCP also found the network and was configured automatically.

So that's it. The network is up and running.



The most important networking software in FreeDOS 1.2 is Michael Brutman's mTCP. FTP, ping, telnet, htget, even a FTP server is part of the mTCP software collection.

mTCP comes with an own DHCP client. It receives the necessary IP addresses from the router automatically and writes it into the main configuration file C:\FDOS\MTCP.CFG.

Some mTCP applications (f.i. the FTP server) need additional settings. You find more information in C:\MTCP\SETUP.TXT and in various textfiles in the same directory.


Other DOS networking programs rely on the older WATTCP TCP/IP stack by Erick Engelke. Their configuration is done in C:\FDOS\WATTCP.CFG. In FreeDOS 1.2, WATTCP.CFG tells the programs to get their configuration by DHCP. But, unfortunately, some of the old programs are unable to do so.

So either you put fixed IPs in WATTCP.CFG. Or you use a nice utility written by Canadian programmer Dave Dunfield: It will get the correct network settings via DHCP and write them into C:\FDOS\WATTCP.CFG.

If you want to do the latter,

  • Open C:\FDOS\WATTCP.CFG and delete the line
my_ip = dhcp 
  • Download "DDHCP" from the "Network tools" section.
  • Put it into an directory C:\DDHCP and add these lines to AUTOEXEC.BAT, right after the FDNET.BAT line:
if exist %dosdir%\bin\fdnet.bat call %dosdir%\bin\fdnet.bat start

(The /F parameter will fill in all values that are missing in WATTCP.CFG.)

Now with every reboot, WATTCP.CFG is updated with the correct network settings.

Continue with Chapter 6