Browsing the Internet on a 1993 Windows 3.11 All-In-One PC

Internet Browsing in Windows 3.11 via Raspberry Pi

I found some cool software called Web Rendering Proxy that lets your browse the internet on vintage computers and decided to try it out – here’s how it went.

The result of this was that yes, I could browse the internet, and that yes, it was a completely miserable experience. But it was worth it anyway.

What’s Involved

  • A computer with an ethernet adapter
  • Windows 3.11 For Workgroups
    • Google will help you find a copy if you need one
  • Microsoft TCP/IP-32 3.11b for Windows for Workgroups
    • Again, a quick search will turn up sources for this
  • Netscape Navigator for Windows 3.11
  • Raspberry Pi 4
  • Web Rendering Proxy Software

The Setup

I didn’t want to expose my old Windows 3.11 computer to the internet. It hasn’t seen a security update in the best part of 30 years (probably even before security updates went by that name). It shouldn’t be directly exposed to the internet or other network devices, and it won’t be.

So, instead it’s connected via ethernet to a Raspberry Pi 4, and only the Raspberry Pi 4. The Raspberry Pi 4 in turn is connected to my home WiFi.

The Raspberry Pi will do all of the talking on the network, and simply provide the Web Rendering Proxy to the Windows 3.11 box via the ethernet connection. That way the outdated Windows box stays safely segregated from the rest of the network with no way to talk to anything but the Pi.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi

The configuration on the Pi is dead simple, so I’ll just dotpoint it:

  • Raspberry Pi OS was installed and configured
  • The Pi was connected to WiFi and updated
  • The ethernet interface on the Pi was given a static IP address
  • The default route must be set so that the Pi uses the WiFi interface for internet
    • By default it may try to use the ethernet interface, which of course has no internet access
  • With all of that done, download and install Web Rendering Proxy
    • Instructions are available at the link

Setting Up Windows 3.11

You can see the computer I’ll be using for this in all of it’s glory here.

The steps I followed to get Windows 3.11 networked and talking to the Web Rendering Proxy running on the Pi are documented below.

 

Extract TCP/IP for Windows.

Extract TCP/IP for Windows.

 

... It takes a couple of minutes.

… It takes a couple of minutes.

 

Run Network Setup.

Run Network Setup.

 

Update the network drivers for the installed ethernet adapter.

Update the network drivers for the installed ethernet adapter.

 

Add a new protocol.

Add a new protocol.

 

Add a new or unlisted protocol.

Add a new or unlisted protocol.

 

Browse to the location where TCP/IP was extracted earlier.

Browse to the location where TCP/IP was extracted earlier.

 

Ready to install.

Ready to install.

 

 

A static IP address was set on the same network as the ethernet adapter on the Pi which this machine is connected to.

A static IP address was set on the same network as the ethernet adapter on the Pi which this machine is connected to.

 

Informative!

Informative!

 

A reboot away from Windows 3.11 networking.

A reboot away from Windows 3.11 networking.

 

Blast from the past.

Blast from the past.

 

Test ping to the Pi.

Test ping to the Pi.

 

Time to fire up on of the OG web browsers.

Time to fire up on of the OG web browsers.

 

Point Netscape to the IP of the Raspberry Pi and you should be able to access the Web Rendering Proxy on it's configured port.

Point Netscape to the IP of the Raspberry Pi and you should be able to access the Web Rendering Proxy on it’s configured port.

 

As you can see, linuxscrew.com isn’t really at it’s best at 640×480 with 256 colours.

It’s also slow. Very slow. This computer only has about 20MB of RAM and a 33Mhz CPU so I don’t really know what I expected.

Still had fun putting it all together though.

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Brad Morton

I'm Brad, and I'm nearing 20 years of experience with Linux. I've worked in just about every IT role there is before taking the leap into software development. Currently, I'm building desktop and web-based solutions with NodeJS and PHP hosted on Linux infrastructure. Visit my blog or find me on Twitter to see what I'm up to.

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