Adding CD-Rom Support to a VMWare Virtual DOS Machine

The irony of this information is that it’s not new, just forgotten. There was a time when many of us ran DOS as our primary operating system, used CD-Rom drives, and thought nothing of it. Most CD-Rom drives came with an installation disk that copied over the specific drivers needed and added the appropriate lines to your config.sys and autoexec.bat files. Unfortunately when building a DOS virtual machine, those drivers and configuration tweaks are not included by default. Here’s how to quickly add CD-Rom support to a DOS VMWare machine.

01. Start DOS virtual machine.
02/ After machine has booted, connect “cd-install.flp” to the floppy drive.
(Note: to release the mouse from the DOS window, press CTRL and ALT)
03. Type A:INSTALL.BAT and press ENTER.
04. Reboot the DOS virtual machine.

You can download the floppy disk image I created (cd-install.flp) HERE (unzip).

If you would like to manually install the drivers, do the following:

01. Mount the CD-Install.flp floppy disk image.
02. Copy OAKCDROM.SYS from a: to c:dos
03. Add the following line to AUTOEXEC.BAT:

LH C:DOSMSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001 /L:D

04. Add the following lines to CONFIG.SYS:

DEVICE=C:DOSHIMEM.SYS
DEVICEHIGH=C:DOSOAKCDROM.SYS /D:MSCD001

[Note that some examples also add LASTDRIVE=Z. This is not necessary until you are connecting to a network, and actually uses more RAM. If you are not connecting your DOS VM to a network don’t bother with this line. DOS by default allocates 5 drives (A-E).[

Once you reboot the machine you should see the CD-Rom drivers successfully load. You can now attach to the physical CD-Rom in your host machine to read physical CDs, or mount virtual CD-Rom ISO files and use those. I used Free WinISO Maker 5.3 (which is totally free; registration information is included in the download) to create an ISO file of a directory which the DOS machine was able to read.

This configuration appears to be stable and works well for running business applications. I tried running two games on this VM (Prince of Persia and Pinball Fantasies) both ran slowly and eventually crashed the system. DosBOX is still must more compatible and stable for gaming IMHO.

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