Software Spotlight: Getting Windows 3.0 on the Internet - NetManage Chameleon

edited September 2023 in Software Spotlights
I just finished piecing together a damaged copy of NetManage Chamelion 3.10 that had been posted to Vetusware.

NetManage Chameleon 3.10 is a small and efficient LAN TCP/IP networking stack and utility suite for Microsoft Windows 3.0 and 3.1. It includes an FTP client, Telnet client, E-mail client, and an NFS system for interoperation with Unix networks. Other GUI utilities include Bind, Finger, Ping, TFTP, a TN3270 terminal emulator, Whois, and SNMP. The FTP client can also act as an FTP server.

What is special about this program is that the utility suite is a set of native Microsoft Windows applications, that run on Windows 3.0.

Now, there are plenty of networking suites for DOS. Most of those will allow DOS and any DOS based version of Windows to access file shares and printers over a network. But they do not usually provide any native Windows support or utilities.

The key thing that NetManage Chameleon provides is an API layer for third party programs. Specifically it includes an implementation of the Windows Sockets library (winsock.dll).

I'm not aware of any web browsers for Windows 3.0, but if one existed, it could use this networking stack.

When run under Windows 3.1, as seen above, the same Chameleon 3.10 Winsock implementation is sufficient to operate internet web browsers, such as Netscape Communicator 4.08.

The NFS software included with Chameleon 3.10 requires Windows 3.1, but the rest of the software is compatible with Windows 3.0.

The first version of Microsoft Windows (ignoring NT) that had TCP/IP LAN support was Windows for Workgroups 3.11 - and technically TCP/IP was a separate add-on. Most early Windows 3.1 users got on the Internet with a free TCP/IP dial-up stack called Trumpet Winsock. Later on, Microsoft Internet Explorer bundled a dial-up only TCP/IP stack for Windows 3.1.

Chameleon 3.10 does not include dial-up. It is intended for use with network cards on a local area network.

Of course, being DOS based, it was challenging to set up.

3.10 does not do DHCP - if you are using an emulator, don't forget the emulator is probably using Network Address Translation, and uses its own range of IP addresses.

You can specify an NE2000 I/O address other than what is in the dropdown by editing the protocol.ini. A full 16-bit (C100) address worked.

If are using an emulator that simulates an AMD PCNet, like VirtualBox, be aware that the driver name in the PROTOCOL.INI file must be in upper case. (I'd YELL at idiots that make things case sensitive, but they NEVER SEEM TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING! :P ) The version of VirtualBox I used was very crashy with this software.

It should be possible to use almost any DOS based network card NDIS driver with this software, but its driver setup tool is very primitive.

After installing, make sure that NETBIND runs BEFORE Windows starts in the AUTOEXEC.BAT. The 3.10 setup program usually seems to put it AFTER That won't work.

The core networking is DOS based, and loads before Windows. This enables Chameleon to work in both 286 standard and 386 enhanced modes (not real mode Windows), as no virtual mode .386/.VXD drivers are used. However, this part of the software is not usable by DOS without Windows.

Once loaded, other networking software such as Microsoft Lan Manger or Digital Pathworks, that was implemented entirely as DOS programs, often left insufficient memory to launch DOS programs or even Windows. By keeping the DOS portion minimal in Chameleon, DOS and Windows run with fewer memory restrictions.

Unlike most network suites, Chameleon has no DOS file system redirector. There is no drive mapping or print sharing.

By the way, it looks like the old ASCII StarWars movie is gone, but it is currently still available at

Woooho! Downloading warez directly to Windows 3.0!

The FTP program does not support passive mode, so it may not work in emulators that use Network Address Translation.

In reality, though, back during the Windows 3.0 days, most people used DOS based terminal programs to dial in to Bulletin Board Systems. Internet access was a novelty, limited mostly to large educational institutions, a few big tech companies, and government agencies.

During my research, I discovered that around 1995 NetManage had made a free demo version available at: "" but, as usual all copies have disappeared from the Internet.

The original Chameleon 3.10 archive on Vetusware looked sort of like it had been read in on a PC with some bad RAM. There were a few scrambled bits at the same byte location within a number of sectors. Fortunately, they had at least included two different dumps that had these errors at different locations. So it was a matter of figuring out which bits were right or wrong. There could still be a couple of errors, but they do not seem to affect anything. Officially, I'm marking this as needing a re-dump.

I have also archived NetManage 4.01 and 4.6. These versions run on Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.


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