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Hobbyist reinstalling Win95 on old Dell Lattitude laptop


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Reinstalling win95 on Dell Latitude 133Mhz

Here is my unique problem:
this ol' laptop has a 3.5" diskette OR CD. The design is such that both
cannot be used at the same time. Each are slide-in modules and the laptop
has space for one or the other.

No USB. There is the old Card Bus slots that are used for a 10/100
ethernet. And the BIOS boot is either Floppy or Hard Disk.

I had to replace a bum hard drive. The "new" drive works fine and is a
4.3 Gb. I'm using Fat32 and can utilize the whole drive.

I've got a new Windows 95b CD, which is not bootable. It did come with a
Win 95 Setup Diskette (fat 32 no less) and that's great, but I need the
diskette for access to the Windows 95 CD and can't with the floppy
installed - it's one or the other. I don't have the restore floppy - that
was lost years ago. The last time this operated was sometime in early

I've tried all manners of trying to "copy" the Setup Diskette onto the C:
drive, but have failed. Seemed pretty straight forward, copy the Setup
Diskette onto the root and boot from the hard drive, then get the CD
driver installed and go with the usual "setup" off the CD. Fat32 is one
obstacle and desired to make use of large hard drive.

If I could get the Setup Diskette copied onto the root C: drive and
bootable, I could utilize the CD. It seemed simple enough, but I'm

I've considered Win95 on 3.5" diskettes, but that is usually Win95a and
is Fat16.

This is just a hobby. This was actually my very first laptop, purchased
back 1997. It cost a bazillion dollars at that time. I have my very first
PC with Windows 3.11 and a whopping 40Mb hard drive with tape backp and
5.5" floppy. But for now, I'd like to resurrect the Win95 laptop.

And yeah, I heard that and know about the eye rolling.

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Yes and no.

The setup diskette is (obviously) FAT12 (not 32).

What are the EXACT contents of the boot floppy you have?

As a rule of thumb it is (was) always better to install from a hard disk repository, see here:


I've tried all manners of trying to "copy" the Setup Diskette onto the C:

drive, but have failed. Seemed pretty straight forward, copy the Setup

Diskette onto the root and boot from the hard drive, then get the CD

driver installed and go with the usual "setup" off the CD. Fat32 is one

obstacle and desired to make use of large hard drive.

If I could get the Setup Diskette copied onto the root C: drive and

bootable, I could utilize the CD. It seemed simple enough, but I'm


You don't actually want to "copy" the floppy to C:.

You want to "install" a (minimal) DOS from floppy to C:, then copy to it a few needed files so that you have access to the CD device, then you want to copy the contents of the CD to the hard disk (advised) and finally you want to install the Windows 95.

Essentially you want to:

boot from floppy


COPY /b a:\*.* C:\

Then boot from Hard disk.

Now the point might be how exactly you partitioned/formatted the hard disk, you should be sure that the partitioning and formatting was done "properly" in the sense of being compatible with the DOS/Win95 you are going to install.

So, before SYSsing and COPYing you may want while booted from the floppy to use FDISK and FORMAT to start again from scratch, easier would be to try doing the above and if for any reason the PC does not boot from the internal hard disk redo from start repartitioning and formatting.

If you have doubts/questions on the above, please ASK them BEFORE doing something you are not sure about.


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Files on Win95 Setup Diskette

CHDSK            CHOICE
EDIT            FDISK
SYS            Taisatap.sys
ZZ            ZZTOP

The hard drive is formated as a single partition and
is FAT 32. For giggles, I had DOS 6.22 and installed
that just to see what FAT version it would have. It
was FAT 16 and would only format 2.1Gb of the HD.

With the Win95b Setup Diskette, I invoked the "large
drive option" and formated with /s. I verified that
the HD is FAT 32 and a single partition.

I copied many of the files to the C: drive and most of
the typical programs (like format, CHKDSK, FDISK) work
fine directly from the C: HD.

I obvisouly do not have a bootable OS. I wonder if
some sort of image copy is needed. I understand the
intent of having the minimal DOS OS files on the root
of C: and then set BIOS to boot from the hard drive. I
haven't been successful at accomplishing this.

The CD drive I have is a Torisan CDR-U200-Z.
It looks I have three CD drivers on the Setup
Diskette: HIT-DVD.SYS, NEC_IDE.SYS and Taisatap.sys.

I'm not sure which driver will work, but that's a
simple matter of trying each with the MSCDEX command
once I get a bootable OS. I might have to do some
searching for a suitable driver if those do not work.

Thanks for your interest in helping me with this

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Well, it's strange. :unsure:


Make sure you have the SYS.com file on the diskette, so if you boot from diskette and run it as:


you should get :

System transferred


or an error message *like*:

No room for system on target disk

Incompatible system size



You cannot have a CHS limit (the first one at around 512 mb in the BIOS and the next one is around 8 Gb).


What happens when you try to boot from the internal hard disk (without the diskette and the CD inserted), which error do you get?



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I did the sys C: and it did the system transfer to C:
I copied the Setup floppy to the hard drive including
config.sys and it is booting from the C:/ hard drive.

At boot the OS now goes to a menu to select which
CDROM you have:

1. NEC IDE CDROM driver
4. SCSI CDROM driver (Adaptec)
5. No CDROM support

I tried each with no luck. #1 comes closest to looking
like it will work.

I get errors like the driver missing or corrupted on
the others except for the NEC.

The CDROM drive I have is a Torison (SANYO) CDR-U200-Z

I've searched on-line all day for a driver and never
found one. Tons of scam "driver update" sites.

Apparently, this CD isn't a generic CD ROM.
I will re-copy the Setup diskette onto the  C:/

There is no autoexec.bat
There is a config.sys and is responsible for the CDROM
setup prompt at boot.

I can at least boot from C:/ and get to a C: prompt.

Still don't have a CDROM drive, so I can't
copy/install the WIN95 OS.

Getting closer.

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When re-copying the Setup Diskette to the C:/ there was an autoexec.bat along
with config.sys.

Config.sys has the four CDROM names, listed 1 - 4. Each line is given a
variable name MSCD001.

Autoexec.bat uses the MSCD001 name for the MSCDEX command.

Here is the config.sys file

menuitem=NEC_IDE, Load NEC IDE CDROM driver
menuitem=TOSH_IDE, Load TOSHIBA IDE CDROM driver
menuitem=HIT_DVD, Load HITACHI DVD CDROM driver
menuitem=ADAPTEC, Load SCSI CDROM driver (Adaptec)
menuitem=NOCD, No CDROM support
rem Do not really want a default selection
rem menudefault=NEC_IDE,30

device=himem.sys /testmem:off
device=NEC_IDE.SYS /D:MSCD001

device=himem.sys /testmem:off

device=himem.sys /testmem:off
device:HIT-DVD.SYS /D:MSCD001

device=himem.sys /testmem:off
rem device=ASPIDISK.SYS
device=ASPICD.SYS /D:MSCD001

device=himem.sys /testmem:off


Here is the Autoexec.bat

set temp=c:\
set tmp=c:\
path=c:\ {NOTE: this parameter was orignally a:\, but I changed it to c:\}

IF "%config%"=="NOCD" GOTO QUIT
LH C:\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001

rem clean up environment variables

The CD does spin-up with the CD in it. None of the drivers access the drive

or even turn the ID led on.

I'm Beginning to wonder if the drive is bad???

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Post the EXACT model of the DELL Latitude, likely the CD-ROM is the "original" one and drivers can be found on some obscure DELL repository of drivers.

You can try the "CD-ROM God":


or see if you can find a suitable driver here:



But do you have the hardware to actually write a new floppy? :unsure:



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Two steps forward with one step back

The boot diskette I got from bootdisk.com (version b) had four CD drivers available. One of the drivers was for the TORiSAN CD drive! I had to manually modify config.sys for each driver attempt, but on the third try, the CD came alive! I copied the driver over to the Setup Diskette and got the laptop to boot from the C: drive with the CD operational! I had to use the “DOS” off the Setup Diskette, because it had the parameters better set for installing WIN95 off the CD.

The step back is the CD drive is flaky. I used Xcopy and the CD was struggling to copy the CD. I have a replacement coming in.

So, I’ve replaced the floppy drive, got a USB floppy drive for my Win7 laptop, some diskettes, replaced the hard drive and now the CD.

All of this for a Win95 laptop with a whopping 24MB of memory and Office 97 installed (Office actually worked just fine as did the laptop). I hope to complete this trip down DOS/WIN95 memory lane in the next week.

Not done yet but many thanks to jaclaz. The big trick was the system c: command to move the system over to c: That got me going. Relearning lots of DOS syntax is always an adventure.

I’ll post the results later when I get the replacement CD installed.

Edited by dencorso
Removed all unneeded formatting.
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Ouch! MY EYES!!! Not cool!


Xcopy may/may-not have worked. Did you try just -

1 - MD C:\WIN95

2 - COPY x:\Win95\*.* C:\WIN95

(x is your CD Drive Letter)

For that matter, you could have -

1 - CD x:\WIN95 <-change to CD-Drive WIN95 Folder

2 - x: <-makes your Propmpt move to x:\Win95

3 - SETUP.EXE <-runs Setup from your CD Drive, no need to copy to HDD, but would need available for Add/Remove

Of course your CD-Drive could still have the same failure. :unsure:

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Generally speaking the CD drives are "tough" in the sense that unless the laser has burned, i.e. if they do not read at all *anything*, the issues - particularly with a device that has not been used for some time - tend to be mechanical, simply the sliding surfaces/rods have dried up over the years and dust/dirt piled up and all is needed is a careful disassembly, cleaning thoroughfully and a little (very little) bit of lubricant where needed.

Maybe that is the case of your drive.



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  • 2 weeks later...

It has been a couple weeks.. No, a decade... but my memory is that the windows 95 CD had a duplicate file name some where that caused xcopy to barf.

 For that reason, I remember copying subdirectories one at a time under a WIN95_CD or simiilar directory on the C: disk.

 I do remember you could specify the setup directory in the 'setup' command to install windows, along with the TMP / TEMP directory for file storage or expansion of the CAB files.  As I said, it's been a while.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I got Win95 installed! I had to abandon copying the CD to C: drive and just install directly from the CD. I tried to xcopy, but just couldn’t get to work. Anyway, I install Win95 directly from the CD after making a DOS diskette with the proper CD driver.

I don’t have the best drivers and need to do some searching for legacy drivers for audio and video. The laptop boots to DOS then to Win95???

The poor lil laptop only has 24MB and it’s so slow, but I think some of that is due to the drivers. I think the last time this laptop operated was in ’99. I sure thought it ran faster than it is.

I had Office 97 installed originally and might put it back on just for giggles.

I found a source for the CD on good ol’ Ebay. I went through several before getting one installed without breaking it. They’re cheap and plentiful. I had to reuse the OEM bezel and that was such a pain, but I got it and the only thing is the CD ejection panel doesn’t match the OEM, which I broke trying to remove it.

I’m at a point where I can fiddle with the drivers and such to see if I can get it working better. I do have a PCMIA Ethernet 10/100 card I’ll install. It has IE 4.0 and I’d like to get it online just for the shortest time. Back then, I did use IE (the worst browser EVER).

So now I have the following setup and running, Win95, Win XP, Win 7 and Win 8.1. I did go through the Win 98 ME disaster and skipped Vista all together. I’ll set them up side-by-side to take a picture and wince at the money it all cost.

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