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Installing Win98 SE from USB Hard Drive

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12 hours ago, ruthan said:

I have tried Zalman HDD-CD emulator, in setup in some real CD driver detection.. and its not working with this device.. I boot into command line, where i should start setup.exe but there is only A: device.. maybe exist modified msdex for usb cdrom support, i dont know, but it means other research..

Are you talking of the iodd (or similar)?

But that would imply USB support at DOS level (besides and before any CD-ROM support).

Most probably (but needs to be checked) you can still use a USB connected *something* as long as you make a "monolithic" .iso (such as a hard disk emulation image), but then you might have issues with drive letter assignments (and need Letter Assigner or similar).

Otherwise you will need to go down the (actually a tad bit adventurous) path of the Panasonic (and similar) USB drivers for DOS, which might (or might not) work depending on chipset, BIOS, *whatever* of the specific machine.

Usual resources:





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Thanks, but its not probably worth of my time, i just wanted to test it, i wanted also test IDE to memory card adapter with it. 

  Usually its working out of box.. 

 I did it last time 15 years ago, but like better way looks, use HP USB formater and Windows 98 floppy boot files and just copy Windows install files right on the USB and run it. 
 If remember correctly its possible to boot from floppy and run setup from files copied to HDD from CD, i only forgot which files i have to copy from CD to HDD..

  I would to use Easy2Boot, but when i tried it on my Core 2 duo, just start installation,  because copy files form USB to ramdisk, took more that hour.. I thing that is because of Asrock or Intel USB implementation, or bug in used linux kernels. Its not first USB boot flash, but worked really slow on this machine, i would say that is USB 1.1 speed, but it looks even slower.

Edited by ruthan
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The point is that IF (as nowadays all do) the BIOS has an option to boot from USB, then it provides some support for one (and one only) device.

The iodd (or similar) normally work because they emulate a single device (the .iso as a CD-ROM device).

BUT an El-Torito "floppy emulation" CD/.iso actually creates two devices, the floppy disc which is emulated AND the CD, so direct BIOS support for it is not possible.

On some hardware (it has to be seen specifically) a newish grub4dos may be able to use its own internal USB stack to access the CD-ROM.

Of course it is perfectly possible to install from files copied to internal hard disk, actually this is what everyone with some experience did, basically because it is much faster than CD-ROM (or of USB 1.1 or 2.0) AND because if you need some component that was not installed first time you already have it on hard disk without needing to dig up the installation CD.

In the case of Windows 98 you just copy the \WIN98 folder on the hard disk and then you run setup from there.


If you boot from a USB stick, then you will have the drive letter C: given to the booted volume on the USB stick and a D: (or higher) letter assigned to the active partition on the internal hard disk.

Make sure to be able to run smartdrive, as it will shorten the copy time noticeably, see also:


I.e.adapt to Windows 98 this method (USB stick specific):





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First part too lowlevel for me, its not gaming stuff and or too much about performance so i dont care, sorry.  I just want to clarify i speaking about this HW device: http://www.zalman.com/contents/products/view.html?no=20 you copy *.iso folder and start device and select right cd image, its like gotek for floppies.. I happy that all my machines are able somehow boot from USB flash and USB CD ROM, but if not there slow utility - PLoP (its cumbersome but i should work) or something like that, which could be run to floppy and start CD/ USB boot..

 USB 2 is fast enough is 40-50 MB/s its fast from point of view of  1 CD OS.

Problem is simply how windows setup is written and dont thing that it even could with USB CD ROM.. so its trying to access on physical IDE DVD drive, it probably means that even real USB CD ROM will not work.. I just tried it, i invested 3 minutes and reported result and was a bit disappointed.

 Thanks for how to install Win98 from HDD i will try it with HP formater made flash and report result.

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Actually it is not that difficult.

CD's were originally NOT designed to be bootable :w00t::ph34r:

At a given point many, many years ago a way to make them bootable was devised, called "El-Torito" because seemingly a sketch of the specs were written on a napkin in a El Torito resataurant:


Basically it is an extension to the already existing CDFS (and to BIOS code) that allows three "modes":

1) floppy emulation mode

2) no emulation mode

3) hard disk emulation mode

The first one is nothing but an image of a floppy disk  "added" (hidden) to an otherwise "normal" CDFS filesystem.

The second implies that a special bootloader is present that allows to chainload files on the otherwise "normal" CDFS filesystem.

The third is more similar to #1 but exposing a hard disk like device instead of a floppy (and usually but not necessarily) there is not a "normal" CDFS filesystem as all the space on the media is filled by the hard disk image.

Since the whole extension to the original ISO 9660 standard happened (1994/1995) while MS DOS (and similar) was the most common OS and DOS could boot from a floppy just fine, initially many BIOSes only managed the floppy emulation mode properly.

The Windows NT 4.0 install CD, to give you an idea of the times, was NOT bootable and was accompanied by bootable floppy disks, the Windows 95 and Windows 98 CD's were bootable (using the floppy emulation method) and Windows 2000 was the first install CD bootable with "no emulation mode", while maintaining (for compatibility with BIOSes that couldn't yet boot properly from CD-ROM in no emulation mode the possibility of creating a set of bootable floppy disks.

When you boot a floppy emulation mode TWO devices are available, one is a "viirtual" (emulated) floppy disk (that gets drive letter A:) and the actual CD-ROM (for which in DOS MSCDEX or SHSUCDX are needed).

When you boot a no emulation mode ONE device is available (the CD-ROM).

When you boot a hard disk emulation mode (normally) ONE device is available (the emulated hard disk).

USB support in BIOS is related to only ONE "boot" device, and that is the reason why a floppy emulation CD is a problem, as the access to the "other" device (the CD-ROM) needs an OS driver being not supported by BIOS.





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Ok, maybe my dirty way, but i did it. Its quicker and transparent..

I simply use this:
http://www.howtonetworking.com/Windows/bootableusb.htm  // tutorial  - which probably format usb as system bootable device and and 3 copy basic files, needed to be msdos bootable drive
after that i copied Win98 directory from install cd to root + all Win98 files from zip from tutorial (it can formater will copy whole folder, but it didnt) + and replaced io.sys patched io.sys for 512 more ram - is everywhere on internet even on this forum. 
  Bios optimal, if you have such possibility have can see USB flash as USB FDD Forced - to boot into dos as A: driver, otherwise you will boot as C: and other devices would be D,E, and yeah
you could install Windows right on flash from which was installation started..

   Optimal step is add smartdrive file from WIn98 cd to usb..  // Regarding of local gurus - install would be quicker
boot from flash
in commandline write this:
cd win98
setup /is /im /ie    -- parameters are probably not neceserry, im only lazy pig, so im skipping what i can, when i see old Scandisk its ripping my dignity..
  -You are in gui, you could install Windows 98, install is complete.

 After first reboot, if you met >512 MB insufficient problem, you have to patch io.sys and install himemx.exe (free from internet - yoy could add it on install flashdisk, for files editation use edit.com text editor is better than today Linux free nano text editor..) and add himex line to config sys:
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.EXE /MAX=1048576 /NUMHANDLES=64 /METHOD:FAST /VERBOSE   // ITs for 1 GB, parameters could be tuned, but for first boot its enough..

Other recommanded change for 1st boot is C:\Windows\system.ini new line:

Install took 2,3 minutes.

 Advantage from EasyToBoot solution, that you dont need ramdisk, so you dont need have to 1 GB (650 MB CD) of Mem or ripp original CD image, and second advantage is time, for EasyToBoot you need to do lots of their specific magical waste of time. (as i said on Core Duo machine i copied files to Ramdisk maybe hour - full 650 MB CD)

Could could disable cores, powermanagment, disable device etc.. but i never needed it for my installation.

I have installed Windows 98 with this hardware:
- Z97 + core Core i5 quad + AMD970/SB + FX 8 core + X99 + 16 GB DDR4, i didnt border to disable any Hardware at all, all was enabled, LAN, NIC, Sata, 3 GPU (integrated + 2 PCI-E GPUs)  i didnt care
- IDE to Compact flash adapter - is target of install was in PCI IDE controller some old SIL Medley 0680 something..
- PS2 keyboard i dont understand how, but it somehow detected even USB mouse in USB 2 hub, but cursor moving detection and resolution mapping was strange i disconnected it
- GPU PCI-E Geforce 8400 GS in first slot with DVI LCD 24 HP.. Yes GagaBite(GIgabyte) bios can force slot for primary GPU, i just tested this card for installation, it doesnt matters, picture was slighly broken (later i checked that was probably because of some that video card memory, Radeon X1300 worked fine).. Im not at main lair so no proper PCI GPU, PS2 mouse and other old fashion here..

Edited by ruthan
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