NOTE: I'm not looking for a way to transfer files from Linux to DOS over Serial cable

Is there any MS-DOS driver to enable a new hard-disk drive (let's say D:), using a disk image on another computer served by serial null-modem?

Something like NBD on Linux systems, but simpler.

I found this but it's a complete BIOS replacement. http://www.xtideuniversalbios.org/

Support for virtual drives via serial port, [SerialDrives more information]


I'm looking for a driver to emulate a real disk drive on MS-DOS running on an 8088 from an image hosted on other computer, served by serial port, because I have an USB to Serial converter and a null-modem cable.

Similar software in GNU/Linux distributions are:

  • nbd: Server can share an image (/home/user/image) or a whole drive (/dev/sdb) if you have enough permissions. Client maps the share to a virtual device file (/dev/nbdXX) and acts as a real disk. You can use gparted or whatever in the new device. All changes are performed on the image or disk in the remote machine.
  • MEMDISK from SYSLINUX bootloader: memdisk is loaded as kernel and hard disk image is loaded as initrd. Image can contain whatever OS that fits on RAM and behaves like a real disk. You can have DOS and run cfdisk or defrag.

This computer has only a floppy disk drive. Hard disk doesn't work. I can't spend money on hardware so I'm looking for a software solution.

  • Server computer can be a modern computer. Let's say a laptop running Linux/Windows. If DOS is needed on server I can use DOSBox, I guess.
    – R. F. Luis
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 17:04
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Transfer files to DOS over serial cable from Linux?
    – Brian H
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 17:34
  • 3
    The usual top speed for serial ports was 115200 bits per second. That is about half of floppy speed (30 kb/s). I would look for an 8-bit ethernet card instead. Commented May 10, 2020 at 19:27

3 Answers 3

  1. Interlink

    It’s part of MS-DOS and was easy to use simply by adding a line into config.sys:


    and then running interlnk.exe or intersvr.exe. However, RS-232 is slow: just ~115200/11 ≈ 10.2 KiB/s, which is slower than floppy.

  2. LapLink

    This was Interlink's LPT counterpart (can use either COM or LPT).

  3. FX

    This one is an app for copying (over COM or LPT), not HDD emulation. However, together with RAMDISC, it is this also an option. For more info (also on interlink and download link to FX included), see related:


    In the old days when I built my first PC (a 80x386 DX40) and after successful build it I had no budget left for HDD too I used RAMDISC (had only 4 MBytes of RAM at that time) and loaded the stuff (like turbo pascal and C++, games etc) I wanted to use from floppies. The configuration to do this can be found in the first link above.

  5. Obtaining (PATA) IDE HDD (obsolete as on XT the HDD would be most likely MFM which are pretty rare these days)

    Why not acquire used IDE HDD? Today many of us have pile of them unused just covering with dust. I am sure in your neighbourhood there are some even for free (like in old storage of schools, repair & shops, factories etc.). Usually all that is needed is just asking for it.

    There are even alternatives like SSD disc made from old CF (compact flash) memory cards (which you might even have at home without realizing it).


    They are sometimes used in devices like old game consoles, TV/satellite receivers or whatever. It’s just 1:1 connector interface with old memory cards (no electronics needed whatsoever).

  • 4
    The OP has an 8088 XT, so PATA isn't likely an option. Also, they don't want to spend money on hardware
    – scruss
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 13:37
  • Replacement part is an MFM disk. ST225 or compatible. I have CF to IDE and IDE controllers , but they are in Extended ISA.
    – R. F. Luis
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 14:33
  • @R.F.Luis ow I overlooked the 8088 ... hmm had 2 such drives myself in past but both have been disassembled already for spare parts as both where failing one due corrupted surface and the other due to IC fail (That was the first time I saw IC generating blinding white light sadly before I turned if off it bursted in flames afterwards ...) I think there where also 8bit ISA IDE and MFM controllers but not sure if for XT... How much RAM you got ? there where 2MByte ISA cards that would be ideal for a RAMDISC
    – Spektre
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 14:54
  • 8088 has 640kB of usable memory. 8086 and 8088 can address only 1 MB of RAM. It can have some extended memory, but software must support this feature.
    – R. F. Luis
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 15:31
  • @R.F.Luis I am aware those boards I mentioned was for XT ... they where quite big we used them as alternative source of SRAM chips back in the days when they turn out to be obsolete once x286 and higher PC enter our market.... we had many of them from scrap
    – Spektre
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 20:23

This is not for a serial port - it uses an ethernet connection. If you have one, it will be a lot quicker than a serial port.

In addition the the methods described by @Spektre, you could also use mswgcn if you can find it on the internet. It stands for MS Workgroup Connect - basically drivers for a wired ethernet link in DOS. The last time I tried this was from DOS to XP. I haven't tried it on W7 or the later offerings from MS.

It worked on the network card I was using at that time. It can handle 10T and 100T but not gigabit.


You could use some sort of networking disk share. This is not the same, but you could use Trumpet winsock or ipx/spx networking shares, or some other similar tech.

Unfortunately, it uses much more resources of machine, but is much more universal and flexible solution.

For example with networking solutions even was possible to boot from server, don't have any disk drives.

I even have used internet with package named arachne.

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