Installing Windows NT 3.1 on Qemu

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Windows NT 3.1 will install, however it does not have PCI support so you'll be restricted to the ISA machine. Also NT 3.1 cannot drive IDE CD-ROM's. So you would have to follow the network installation guide.

CPU TYPE

When NT 3.1 was released pentium CPU's were still beta, and the cpuid thing had not been finalized enough in the install script. You will either have to have a version of Qemu that can fake being a 486 cpu, or fix the setup.inf script to always install the 486 path.

MS-DOS prepare

You'll have no choice but to have a MS-DOS Qemu VM installed & operational to start a Windows NT 3.1 installation. Start with the Installing MS-DOS on Qemu tutorial, then come back here.

With MS-DOS installed and able to access a CD-ROM, you will need a blank floppy image, in addition to either an ISO image with NT 3.1 or a 3.1 CD-ROM.

I'll be using my physical NT 3.1 CD with WIN32 SDK, and Qemu 0.10.5 which will allow me to set my cpu to an Intel i486 cpu so I won't have to worry about the inf files.

qemu -L . -cpu 486 -hda windowsnt31.disk -cdrom \\.\d: -fda nt31boot.vfd

The first thing in MS-DOS I'm going to do is format the floppy to make sure it's blank to appease the installer.

format a:

Then change to the cdrom & run winnt.exe...

d:
cd i386
winnt /F /C

I'm going to skip the verifies for disk space & floppy writes.. When setup has completed it's job exit Qemu and run it like this:

qemu -L . -cpu 486 -hda windowsnt31.disk -M isapc -fda nt31boot.vfd -boot a

Install options

Windows NT