First post, by truth_deleted
A FAQ describes a method to remove setup components from the Win95 versions, and suggests a final 95 footprint of 18 megabytes (mb). The key is to edit "SETUPPP.INF" and "LAYOUT.INF", and remove lines such as MOS.INF, OHARE.INF, and MSMAIL.INF (Exchange client); next, modify line in LAYOUT.INF: setuppp.inf=0,,xxxx where xxxx is the file size of setuppp.inf (4200 in my case); both modified files are then moved to the Win95 installation directory (c:\win95). Also, DirectX6.1 (Intl. version) is an important addition for 95 gaming. After installation, win95 could be further reduced in size by removing unnecessary files (inf and system backup files), some may require edits to win.ini and system.ini. My attempt at this procedure, before deleting additional files, is ~40mb of files (95 retail version).
With Codeholio's ATAPI emulation, the CDROM drive is available within a patched DOSBox along with CD audio. Also, the Explorer could be replaced with WinFile or even a Console with access to batch files -- this would streamline an installation to one or a few games. Another option is to install one game in this minimalist version of 95, then have the game start automatically via autoexec.bat, whether directly or via a batch file. The user would then have the game fully integrated into DOSBox/95. Safe mode would be available by F8 to make any edits to the game files or solve 95 or game specific problems.
Here is a tentative and brief procedure to installing Win95 in a patched DOSBox:
Obtain "Bootable_1.44M.img" from 95 CD
Copy CD directory /Win95 to DOSBox disk image which includes the 2 modified INF files
Also, copy DirectX6.1 and S3 driver to image; S3 driver is obtained by my thread on S3 emulation
Mount both floppy and disk image in DOSBox configuration file (IDE & ISA-PnP off)
Boot to above floppy image (DOS 7.0); Change to drive c:; cd /win95; setup /nm /is
Choose only necessary components (audio/video compression; volume)
Choose (CDROM and) Sound as devices to find
After 1st reboot, enter safe mode and remove S3 display adapter
On next reboot, select no to reboot after it automatically installs a S3 driver
Instead install the S3 driver previously copied to image
Install DirectX6.1 (do not enable updating of other drivers)
Optional: copy Voodoo1 driver to image and install; same for 95 SP1
Include mscdex and oakcdrom drivers in startup files to enable CDROM via ATAPI emulation
Note: there is a PCI driver replacement (PCIIDE.VXD) on the 95 retail CD. This file replaces the PCI.VXD driver to fix a particular issue with the controller; the README file suggests that it uses a minimal amount of resources to accomplish the fix. It may be worth testing this driver in lieu of the default (only requirement is the file replacement).
Compressing disk image: dd (available for win32) can write zeroes to a file on the disk image where the image is mounted as a drive in the host OS. This allows for maximal compression by 7zip; using normal compression, reduced above 95 image to ~20mb.