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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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The Quick and Dirty YouTube post 4 up was edited to incorporate using DuckDuckGo-Lite as a good search engine for YouTube (search_term site:youtube.com), as YouTube is no longer directly accessible to vanilla Windows 98 browsers.

The Quick and Dirty MSN post above was edited, including a modified script. CNBC and Reuters now work. A Bumper2Bumper workaround now works for MP4 videos, some use m3u8 that won't work. Warning most Bumper2Bumper are high quality, hard on older hardware. CNN tested successfully. The long affiliate list of working videos is summarized in the post. Each visit to MSN Video provides different affiliate video links, making it hard to test them all. Let me know if you experience issues, with the script not with life :)

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Both Quick and Dirty posts on previous page now have working direct links to Enhanced Cygwin-Lite setup (dependency software). These dependency dowloads (Cygwin-Lite and Win-Bash) still work. Total footprint of an Enhanced Cygwin-Lite install in Windows 98 is about 9 MB.

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= Quick and Dirty Dailymotion =

Vanilla Windows 98 can't access Dailymotion directly. Search like below using RetroZilla and DuckDuckGo-Lite search engine.

search_term site:dailymotion.com

Open desired search result in new browser tab to get the video URL. Copy and paste the URL into keepvid.works site for download, no JavaScript required. Keepvid also supports YouTube, not sure what else.

https://keepvid.works/

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The Open Video Project's 'shared digital video collection' seems ambitious and has some interesting archived video you would never see on YouTube. The site is accessible in RetroZilla without JavaScript and downloads work okay.
https://open-video.org/results.php

The Windows 98 hoodie linked on the top of page 41 is, in fact, a valid Windows 98 logo. I keep my systems lean and didn't even have a Windows 98 screensaver for comparison. But finding the logo online again attributed to Windows 98 got me more curious. Question answered, in Windows 98 just open System Properties -> General tab and the exact same Windows logo is displayed in a large computer screen image, although the colours are a lot more vivid compared to the sweatshirt. It can also be seen by runnng EXPLORER.EXE or WINFILE.EXE -> Help -> About or even just looking closely at the (small) Start menu icon. Probably lots of other places too, funny how this stuff hides in plain sight.

Both my Windows 95 and Windows 98 SE product manuals have this logo in greyscale on the front cover, right above the very official looking 'Certificate of Authenticity' which contains the 'Product ID' (Windows 95) and 'Product Key' (Windows 98 SE). My Windows 95 manual still has a mint condition 'Where do you want to go today?' Microsoft Registration Card with Microsoft mailing addresses from around the world. Not including the index the Windows 95 manual is 84 pages compared to 117 for Windows 98 SE - oh the bloat.

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@Wunderbar98: I also have too many computers. Windows XP is just another working option on this odd Pentium 3. SHA-1 certificates didn't kill it!

Keepvid was once highly recommended on Windows 98, and it could download as tiny 3gp video. But probably 3 years ago, there was an unfortuneate re-design of the site and it stopped working on Windows 98. Good to see them back, with a new web domain too.

But here is something groundbreaking for users of old computers, even much older than Windows 98! The Frogfind search engine! Unbelievable! This has the efficency of Lynx but in a graphical browser!

Frogfind Developer Video: https://yewtu.be/watch?v=c_v2_vTogS8

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Thanks again @Gansangriff for your input. This house has four Windows installs, two Windows 98 and two Windows XP. Although not my favourite Windows XP is admittedly the more capable of the two and doesn't use too many resources. Personally i prefer to multi-boot Windows 98 and GNU/Linux.

Tried 3 times on two different systems and finally downloaded the linked video. These YouTube mirrors, for lack of a better understanding, are great but always seem transient. Enjoyed the entire 27 minute Frog Find video titled 'I Rebuilt the Entire Internet for Vintage Computers'. Very useful for old systems, demonstrated nicely in the video on some truly ancient and limited hardware. Here's the YouTube address if anyone else has difficulty connecting to yewtu.be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_v2_vTogS8

Frog Find is a gem for anyone who does not have HTTPS connectivity due to outdated hardware/OS/browser combination. Seems to work much better than web based proxy pages trialed earlier, especially since the pages are formatted well for old browsers. A truly good find, a gem.
http://frogfind.com

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= Recycle Bin Corruption =

Corruption in C:\RECYCLED has probably been experienced by most long term Windows 9x users. For me this happens most when the Recycle Bin contains dot files (start with a period) or folders that start with a tilde (~). Usually i delete these files immediately, bypassing the Recycle Bin, by holding shift then select Delete. The Recycle Bin can be disabled outright via right click properties but i like trash during a session.

If the bin fails to empty properly Scandisk can still show no errors but the files can become hidden and precious hard drive space will not be reclaimed. Other signs of corruption include a Recycle Bin icon that still appears full or if emptying attempts fail outright. There are lots of tutorials online, i use one of the methods below to reset the Recycle Bin.

1. A bin that fails to empty properly due to 'busy' files may be fixed with a simple reboot, then try emptying the Recycle Bin again.

2. This system dual boots so for me the easiest way is to mount the Windows partition and delete everything within C:\RECYCLED, it gets rebuilt the next time Explorer starts.

3. Alternatively use DOS or a DOS prompt. If desired run DIR to check for content, including for example attribute hidden files (DIR /AH C:\RECYCLED, see DIR/?). At the very least the Recycle Bin has a hidden DESKTOP.INI file, may have a hidden INFO2 file and depending on the corruption some DC* files. Manually delete everything using a DELTREE command like below:
DELTREE C:\RECYCLED\*

Edited by Wunderbar98
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I have tested your approach, but DELTREE seems to ignore attributes.

Afterwards Windows recreated Recycle Bin as expected, but was NOT 'seen' as empty by Windows on my system, although it was empty actually. After 'emptying' everything was fine.

So there must be some administration outside the Recycle Bin.

Can't find it!

See my screenshots: http://imgur.com/gallery/ATh81qo

BTW the two deleted files had both attributes RAH, One started with a dot, one with '~'. Can not be seen on the screenshots.

After my experiment I took a look in the Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2 Technical Reference (1993). On page 177 I found: 'The deltree command deletes all files contained in a directory or subdirectory, regardless of attributes.' 

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Thanks as always for your input @Deomsh. I should have done more research and testing and was working from (poor) memory. Still learning, DELTREE does, in fact, delete both files and directories, hidden and visible. What my poor memory may have confused is DOSKEY does not autocomplete for hidden files, just visible.

Then i would think the DOS method to effectively delete everything from C:\RECYCLED is just to issue a single DELTREE C:\RECYCLED\* to clear the directory. Maybe even better just DELTREE /Y C:\RECYCLED\* to suppress prompts. No need to toggle attributes or issue multiple commands.

In regards to your reference 'there must be some administration outside the Recycle Bin', not sure. To my recollection deleting everything in C:\RECYCLED does the trick, maybe just a reboot or very least restarting EXPLORER.EXE ?

Edited by Wunderbar98
Added DELTREE /Y switch example.
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I'ts impossible to remember all those properties and switches of command-line utilities, so don't feel bad. I have been using DIR a very long time, but I had no idea what's DIR /b until @jaclaz mentioned it.

I repeated your approach two times without emptying Recycle Bin in between in Windows. This time I got a message to delete FOUR non-existent files. No difference between Normal Mode and Safe Mode! 

Nor starting Explorer, or Ending Explorerer with Taskmanager. But all harmless in my opinion, after 'emtpying the empty' everything is fine.

A personal statement about 'DELTREE /Y': it's excellent to supress prompts if sub-directories are present, or in batch-files. Not for use with a single directory from the command-line. DELTREE is 'somehow' a dangerous command. For instance DELTREE \ gives strange results, even if given from inside an almost empty directory! The prompt is the last 'wall' against destruction. Even giving n after prompt will not stop this DELTREE-process: the next prompt will be there immediately. But luckily has MS-DOS CTRL+C...

Screenshot_20210523-224431.thumb.png.e9f2304baa254bc6af39205844648272.png

BTW Don't try this at home. :no:

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Thanks again for feedback and warnings @Deomsh, the DOS section of the Recycle Bin Corruption post was modified. To me if DELTREE is used in conjunction with the full proper pathway to RECYCLED then the wildcard is acceptable. The prompt is good anyway, lets the user know what's being deleted. Agree Ctrl-c is sometimes a lifesaver.

Your 'DELTREE \' image reminds me of 'rm -rf /' in GNU/Linux, which was eventually addressed with a warning IIRC. The warning was apparently added after mean forum users provided the command as advice to 'fix' a broken system! Obviously this will never get addressed in old DOS versions used here. Wonder if FreeDOS addressed it, no longer have my install, don't matter. Regardless operating systems that allow users to screw up are preferred to me, it means the end-user actually has control over the system.

***

I've never used Windows Me and just learned it's 'Me' not 'ME'. Anywho, since it doesn't get much love or discussion today a 2008 article with lots of user comments is linked below. Maybe this helps with decision making for anyone seeking an old Windows OS.

Always too little time to test and run everything. As mentioned before this Windows 98 system uses Windows Me's 'Defrag.exe' and 'Scandskw.exe', very good. Apologies for posting a Windows Me link on my vanilla Windows 98 thread :)

Why Windows Me deserves more respect
https://www.istartedsomething.com/20080318/windows-me-deserve-more-respect/

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On 4/29/2021 at 6:43 AM, Gansangriff said:

The B215 looks like the Samsung Xpress M2885FW with a modern touchscreen. Xerox recently bought the small Samsung printer patents as there was a cooperation with HP in sight (HP supports Samsung printers now). I except the web interface of the Xerox B215 to differ from that though, because it looks very Xerox-ish, like their 10 year old A3 printers, Workcentre 72xx, 75xx and 78xx. These should work driverless on Windows 98, too, through the web interface.

Sadly not the first time I looked at a Samsung and mistook it for a Brother printer. The design of the front and of the paper tray are very similar.

I once had a Xerox scanner, it was really a Visioneer. Does Xerox make anything themselves anymore?

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On 5/25/2021 at 5:27 AM, blackwire said:

Does Xerox make anything themselves anymore?

They certainly do, but not every part used in their machines is self-developed. I've read a report on the German printer website druckerchannel.de that the internal components of the small Xerox B215 are different from the Samsung printer. Maybe they've just bought the case. It was also noted in the article, that this is the exception. Xerox is more behind the bigger laser printers, therefore it was cheaper to cooperate with another company on the field of small laser printers.

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Thanks for all responses. I know nothing about Xerox other than they're a mature company that's still around. Don't recall seeing their printers in my region but i don't shop much.

***

In Windows Explorer having to press Shift before right-clicking a file to enable the 'Open with..' option was always a mystery. Maybe Microsoft's way to encourage use of their default software as much as possible, don't know. To me it's useful and shouldn't be a hidden feature.

***

There's a thread on a sub-forum somewhere related to re-installs, got me thinking. The only two times i ever re-installed Windows 98 (on the same system) was many years ago. Once following a hard drive failure, before i started doing image backups. Another time when a faulty CD-ROM drive resulted in corrupt file copying during the install. So in both cases hardware failure - it happens.

Other than that to me Windows 98, and any other operating system, is almost always fixable without re-install. Don't really know where the idea that a re-install is necessary came from. Users cite decreased system performance and stability issues. My experience has been the opposite, system performance and stability usually improve over time as things get tweaked and sorted.

Maybe there was a time when Microsoft techs recommended this to customers since they couldn't remotely fix the system, don't know. To me if a system is unstable or something breaks it's usually just a driver, configuration or maintenance issue. Anyway, never understood the concept. Re-installing and re-configuring an OS can take a lot of time, just fix the issue and rock on if at all possible.

One thing i've noticed on this forum, however, is when users unfortunately need to install an OS on unsupported hardware. I've been lucky with appropriate hardware but i can see how this would be a nightmare, requiring numerous re-install attempts and experimentation just to get basic hardware function (or not). Hats off to all those attempting and documenting this, in essence extending the potential for these old operating systems :)

***

I used to upgrade major Debian GNU/Linux releases and had one system that went through four generations (each release ~3 year support). Now i prefer a new install for each major release, just personal preference to keep things fresh, BUT i never need to reinstall the same release on the same system. There are some pretty cool articles and videos about Windows upgrades. For example, YouTube 'Upgrading from Windows 1.0 to Windows 10'. IIRC correctly this video included DOS 5 and Windows 1, 3.1, 95, 98, 98 SE, 2000, XP, Vista and 7. Don't recall Windows 8 in the video and for whatever reason final upgrade attempts to Windows 10 failed. Of course through virtual machine as it's probably impossible to find hardware that would bridge these releases. My Windows 98 era hardware is good from DOS through Windows 9x, 2000 and XP. The jump to Vista is too much of a hardware requirement. Also unsure if this hardware (800 MHz single core AMD) could run the very earliest DOS releases - never tried. Anyways i think these multi-OS upgrade exercises are neato mosquito.

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Finding the date Windows 98 SE was installed on the system is cryptic. Searching the registry reveals an entry for 'FirstInstallDateTime'. On this system it provides what appears to be a hex number '01 a9 82 4e' under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion.

An old Microsoft developer blog entry is pasted below:

Public Service Announcement: Daylight Saving Time ends in most parts of the United States this weekend. Windows 98/98/Me recorded the date and time at which Setup was run in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion as a binary value named FirstInstallDateTime. What is the format of this data? Take the binary value and treat it as a 32-bit little-endian value. The format of the value is basically DOS date/time format, except that the seconds are always 0 or 1 (usually 1), due to a programming error. Exercise: What error would result in the seconds always being 0 or 1 (usually 1)?


https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20091030-00/?p=16203

This isn't helpful as i'm not knowledgeable about this stuff. Going through other searches, to my knowledge Windows 98 does not provide the 'systeminfo' command nor does it support PowerShell or Windows Management Instrumentation. Other tips also don't help, for example the date of the 'Windows' folder is not accurate nor does the SYSTEM.INI file contain an install date. The installation date is also not present in System Tools -> Microsoft System Information.

File and folder dates on this system vary depending on updates and tinkering. Seems maybe the easiest way is to look for the oldest file(s) on the system. Not the files dated 1999 but newer stuff that would coincide with the estimated install date. Came across this interesting page:
https://pcrepairclass.tripod.com/cgi-bin/datarec0/root.html

Based on the article C:\MSDOS.--- appears to be an unmodified backup of the Windows 9x MSDOS.SYS file that existed in the root of the C: drive prior to the installation. And C:\SYSTEM.1ST is the first backup of the SYSTEM.DAT Registry file, created before the first boot of Windows. On this system these two files have a similar 'Modified' date. Note these are the 'Modified' dates, both files interestingly have a 'Created' date of January 01, 1980.

MSDOS.--- Tuesday, April 02, 2019 9:05:20 PM
SYSTEM.1ST Tuesday, April 02, 2019 9:12:04 PM

This 'April 02, 2019' date also coincides with the oldest folder dates in C:\WINDOWS, including: CATROOT, COMMAND, CURSORS, HELP, INF and SYSTEM32.

This Windows 98 installation, therefore, appears to be April 02, 2019. Not sure if that makes sense based on the 'FirstInstallDateTime' registry entry. Me thought this install was older than 2019, maybe again poor memory.

If someone is a math whiz for the registry entry or knows an easier way to figure this out, such as a freeware utility for Windows 98, please let me know, thanks.

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