My 386 page
By Tails92 a.k.a. nextvolume
Last Updated: May 11th, 2008
Adapted for Unhaut on October 16th, 2013
Lately, I've been trying to get some operating system working decently on a 386sx-40 with 4 mb of ram that I was given some months ago by a fellow of mine.
The motherboard is a FORCOM  M396F V2.7.
It doesn't have a case, it's only the motherboard, but works.
Click here to see the photos of the machine.

Operating systems tried on it:
NetBSD 1.5
Works if you put the hard disk somewhere else, install there and then you put it in the 386 again.
Make sure you use the TINY kernel and that you've set it to swap somewhere, otherwise it won't boot at all.
Unluckily it's too slow to be usable in multi user mode, single user mode works quite good.

Windows for Workgroups 3.11
Works fine. Installs out of the box and doesn't give any problems.
But its multitasking sucks, and when you run something a bit more CPU intensive, you can't use
other applications. If you try to use others, it could even lead to a crash.
This problem happens everywhere with wfw3.11 so don't worry.
Unluckily the applications that run on it are seriously outdated, it's hard to find
something made after 1996.

Windows 95 A (the version on floppies)
Works but very slow to boot, not much later.
It doesn't crash as much as Wfw 3.11, and you can also run light web browsers (OffByOne) and
7zip at the same moment, with no problems except for heavy swapping.
The good fact is that you can run new applications on it!
So if you have the patience to wait, go for this.

Linux-Lite v1.09 (points to local mirror)
A two floppies linux system made in 1996 that has a modified kernel that can even boot in 2megs of ram.
It doesn't feel slow at all, and once installed, the boot time seems to be even less than 20 seconds.
It ships with very few programs, so be sure to get stuff from Bogus Linux, a very old (1994!)
Linux distribution, not mantained since then.
The choice of programs that you've got is quite wide, but they're all very old, for example
gcc 2.5.8, gas 2.2, Binutils 1.9l.4 and gdb 4.12.
Compiling on the machine is very slow, a configure shell script can even take an half of hour (!)
to complete, but very possible.
Contrary to popular belief, this very old gcc can compile some new programs, I've compiled
Zip (from 2006) and Mtools 2.3.11 (from 2007) myself and they work fine.
You can get them below if you want.
If you are a guy that likes to hack around a linux command line, I'd recommend you this.

mtools-2.3.11 and zip 2.32 for Linux-lite

A pretty much obscure and unknown unix-like operating system written by Tudor Hulubei, not
mantained actively since 1996.
The author hasn't forgotten about it, though, and you can still find all of it at his site.
I've only tried the demo floppy, as the installation process is very complex and time-consuming.
The demo floppy went OK, the speed was good, and everything seemed to work fine.
Once installed, it even has compilers and such as packages, so this could be a wise choice.
Tell me if someone manages to get it working on his/her 386.

Bogus Linux at histroric-linux at

This wasn't in the original page, but here is a Linux dmesg log for the machine.
I had uploaded it, but I never linked to it from this page.