I'm trying to transfer the contents of some VERY old laptops which have Windows 3.1 on them. The only way I can manage this is via a serial cable (no network on the laptops).

I've got Kermit on the W3.1 end but it is playing up and won't run nicely, apart from being a pig of a UI which I can't get my head around.

So I'm after some alternatives for transferring the contents of a 2gb directory from the laptop over a serial link to the Vista PC.

Ideally, something open source would be great. I've looked at ripping out the HD from the laptops but they are so ancient that they are non-standard and won't fit in a PC any more.

Thanks in advance



You mention that you want something open source. I'm guessing that you're probably looking for "no cost" more than "I want to look at the source code".

If you're willing to spend a little bit of money you can get LapLink V for DOS, which is still a shipping product (at $49.95). With a parallel cable (they'll sell you one of those, too, if you don't have one) you can move roughly 5MB / hour. That's better than you'll be able to do with serial (maxing out there, assuming the UARTs on the laptops can handle 115.2Kbps, at roughly 675KB / hour), though LapLink can use serial connections if you so choose. I've used LapLink in these kinds of situations before and it's worked well. 2GB is a lot of data to move over a serial or parallel cable. Yeeouch... 17 days at full parallel speed.

There's a cheaper competitor to LapLink out there, FileVan, but I've never used it personally and can't say anything about it.

If these machines have PCMCIA card slots you might do better to get a PCMCIA Ethernet card with DOS NDIS2 drivers and use the Microsoft DOS networking client to transfer the files. You'll have protocol issues if you try to access a newer server OS with the DOS client. If I were you, I'd probably put Windows NT 4.0 up in a virtual machine on a PC, get it talking to my local Ethernet network alright and pullng DHCP, get the DOS client setup to pull DHCP, then connect the DOS client to the VM. You'll need NetBIOS name resolution for the DOS client to work right, and NT 4.0 will happily broadcast its name. NT 4.0 also won't do SMB signing and will be happy to talk to a DOS client. The only money you'd spend for this solution would be for the PCMCIA Ethernet card (which you might already have) and your time to setup whatever server the client will talk to.


Just following on from Evan's suggestion, if you can use a PCMCIA network card, you might have better success putting a lightweight linux distro (Puppy Linux) on the machine and the just transfer via FTP or SFTP. Dos drivers might be hard to come by these days.


A lightweight file transfer tool is available with Zip. It provides a command line tool that is run on the server end to wait for a connection and on the client to send and receive files. There are many options available and the software supports both serial and parallel cables (pinouts included).

As a bonus, the application includes a tool and instructions to copy itself to another machine with just an OS. Great tool to bootstrap communication to a factory controller with no slot for a network card, and routine floppy drive access is not practical.

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