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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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The 'Vanilla Windows 98 Web Browsing Summary' post was updated, several links added to bonus section. All major links from this post re-tested for browser downloads, etc.
- Custom userContent.css
- Quick and Dirty YouTube
- Quick and Dirty MSN Video

https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020-and-beyond/page/33/?tab=comments#comment-1189203

If setting up or restarting a DOS or vanilla Windows 9x system, this post contains valuable information to get started with 'modern' browsing. For anyone new, this vanilla Windows 9x thread contains additional scattered information on other network related topics such as firewall, streaming music, online video fetch and playback, FTP and Gopher protocols, etc.
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11 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

The 'Vanilla Windows 98 Web Browsing Summary' post was updated, several links added to bonus section. All major links from this post re-tested for browser downloads, etc.
- Custom userContent.css
- Quick and Dirty YouTube
- Quick and Dirty MSN Video

https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020-and-beyond/page/33/?tab=comments#comment-1189203

If setting up or restarting a DOS or vanilla Windows 9x system, this post contains valuable information to get started with 'modern' browsing. For anyone new, this vanilla Windows 9x thread contains additional scattered information on other network related topics such as firewall, streaming music, online video fetch and playback, FTP and Gopher protocols, etc.

you should add that link to first post too. That way finding links would be easier to newcomers

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seems WTTR.IN now forces HTTPS for website since someone whined we need HTTPS only. For now it works on roytam1 ff2, but for future need look alternative since some point TLS 1.2 support will be dropped and TLS 1.3 (for now) wont work on Windows 9X

 

I mean really? Site is literally just weather using ASCII symbols. Why do you need strong encryption in order to do it? Script injection excuse is stupid. If you are too stupid to block JS on untrusted site it is your own problem. User should be responsible on own security and should not be treated like babies.

And HTTPS does not mean site cannot harm your machine or someone cannot inject code. That site for example uses adobe assets and twatter and if one of those is compromised site can do nasty stuff.

 

That site was perfect until now. I was able check weather using my 486 with netscape navigator 3, check in older PDA and even check weather on Nokia phone with 128x128 display, but now  all are broken to "protect" me :realmad:.

 

Time to look for alternative online weather service that  force stuff like that.

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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Hi @Mr.Scienceman2000, the 'Vanilla Windows 98 Web Browsing Summary' post was pasted as a new member project, probably most visible there. Took enough time to research, test and document the information, guess it qualifies as a project. I think most digging out these old systems will want to know if they are still (somewhat) capable online.

Don't worry about your weather site, this stuff doesn't make sense to me either, Windows 98 still connects to most sites. The cURL executable from FreeDOS supports TLS 1.3,so there's hope. It may make a great web scraping batch script for collecting daily news, just load a packet driver and have some fun. Ironically, DOS networking presently gets more developer love than Windows 9x.
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8 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Don't worry about your weather site, this stuff doesn't make sense to me either, Windows 98 still connects to most sites. The cURL executable from FreeDOS supports TLS 1.3,so there's hope. It may make a great web scraping batch script for collecting daily news, just load a packet driver and have some fun. Ironically, DOS networking presently gets more developer love than Windows 9x.

it is since most see more potential on dos than Windows 9x. For most Windows 9x is obsolete and vurneable and insecure. What is funny pure DOS is even more insecure than Windows 9X on some ways. For example I can use internal tools to wipe boot hdd clean inside dos while windows 9x does not permit it that easily. Sure you can ruin windows 98 many ways but dos is not magically more secure. Also win9x is running top of DOS

Benefit of dos is that it allows tap directly to hardware without using API. That is why many programs are faster on dos than Windows 9X, but downside is you can indeed tap directly to hardware and do all type of not so fun stuff

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Hi @Mr.Scienceman2000. I'm beginning to realize nothing is all that secure anyway. What's the point of security conscious OpenBSD users running Intel ME (IME) hardware or someone feeling secure while using a Chromebook, direct assimilation interface. Most modern software is so complex, more potential for bugs and security holes.

Maybe the most secure is compiling and configuring a custom OS offline (eg. Tiny Core Linux build) and then running it as a non-writeable CD boot with no persistent OS changes during an internet session. But really, how crazy, can't bookmark sites or easily save files or updated information. Everything still gets tracked anyway via Internet Service Provider and whoever else may want to intercept or listen. Texts and emails get scanned for keywords, etc.

The simplicity of DOS (single user, direct interface, no registry) to me is elegant and magic.

In the Beginning... Was the Command Line
- Neal Stephenson

Watched an interesting video, someone installed Windows 98 onto a 2019 laptop. He needed to use SETUP.EXE switches, HimemX and other tricks. Technically the system installed but performance was abysmal as the hardware was restricted without proper Windows 98 drivers for ethernet and graphics, etc. Still an interesting experiment.
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This faster Windows 98 SE install had sluggish performance and excess hard drive thrashing. First, drive DMA was not enabled by default. Enabled and rebooted with improvement.

More important 3rd party VoptXP (recommended earlier) and Diskeeper Lite confirmed significant drive fragmentation. This was a hacked install, my first using > 512 MB RAM, various configurations and experiments, create/delete swapfile, etc. The install was also restored from backup at least once (cut/paste from Windows XP).

Both Windows 98 and ME DEFRAG.EXEs organized the files one way. Then 3rd party software like VoptXP and Diskeeper Lite confirmed significant fragmentation and re-organize the filesystem, fixing the drive thrash. Unfortunately rerunning Windows DEFRAG.EXE then disorganized the files again.

In Windows DEFRAG.EXE selecting 'Rearrange program files so my programs start faster' was the culprit and according to VoptXP caused fragmentation, confirmed with thrashy performance. This is silly, as my older Windows 98 system has this checked off and everything is fine. It would be nice to figure this out but for now everything is defragged and the thrashing is fixed. An old thread seemed to suggest a manual fix by moving all files off the partition then back, unfortunately this didn't work.

So for me if Windows 98 is thrashy-trashy, even after leaning out configuration and ruling out other issues, use a defrag program that provides a summary of fragmentation to help diagnose the issue.

Though recommended here in an old thread, Diskeeper Lite v7.0.418.0L was removed. It's nagware for full version upgrade is tolerable. It's intrusive, however, and without notification creates an AUTOEXEC.BAT entry, system startup entry, runs as a background service and hijacks Windows DEFRAG.EXE from C: Properties -> Tools tab -> Defragmentation Status -> Defragment Now. I've never seen a single application create so many registry entries. Recommend a registry backing up before trialing this monster.

'SCANREG /RESTORE' was used to avoid Diskeeper Lite entries. Despite increasing MaxBackupCopies to 10 in C:/WINDOWS/SCANREG.INI, 'SCANREG /RESTORE' only provides a selection of the most recent five. To go back further manual manipulation of C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP\RB00*.CAB files may be needed.

Selecting Pause and Exit during the DEFRAG.EXE process may not be as safe as once thought. Several programs needed re-install due to breakage. In all fairness probably more likely from restoring an old registry during a period of much system configuration. All good now, Windows 9x is so fixable. In Windows XP i feel lost and in GNU/Linux i'm digging through forum posts and manual pages for solutions.
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34 minutes ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Hi @Mr.Scienceman2000. I'm beginning to realize nothing is all that secure anyway. What's the point of security conscious OpenBSD users running Intel ME (IME) hardware or someone feeling secure while using a Chromebook, direct assimilation interface. Most modern software is so complex, more potential for bugs and security holes.

Security is illusion many times and used by marketing teams to sell products. Words like secure and private are common

Lets take three examples of persons

Person 1. Uses Windoze 11/MacOS with some "super secure" (read super bloated) antivirus, Microsoft Edgy, or Google chrome and think is unhackable since memory protections and got all updates installed. And lets ignore fact companies have likely backdoored those protections to whoever asks it.

 

Person 2. Uses fully libre thinkpad with FreeBSD or QubesOS  and uses hardened firefox thinking they are unbreakable and safe from hackers because that is what everyone said from them. Well that is harder to break but FreeBSD got vurneabilities too and Qubes OS uses hypervisors that got vurneabilities. Also what if someone just break into your house while laptop is on and prevents you from locking it while copying all of your data out or do other physical intrusion?

 

Person 3. Uses whatever his personal preference is. Does not run after latest "security" trends. Takes time to research and patch any holes can on system, but despite that does not trust to be hacker or virus proof and is careful and uses common sense.

 

Which of those persons is least likely get hacked or get attacked by virus? I would say person 3 because that he/she is not too arrogant to think to think he/she is safe from hackers. Point of this is not say all safety is useless and you will get hacked rather is never trust to software or hardware blindly and not fall into every single marketing word. Person 1 fell totally fell  into marketing lies without doing any research at all, Person 2 sure did good steps like removing backdoored bios and disabling hardware backdoor, but fell into arrogance that can ruin all effort.

1 hour ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Watched an interesting video, someone installed Windows 98 onto a 2019 laptop. He needed to use SETUP.EXE switches, HimemX and other tricks. Technically the system installed but performance was abysmal as the hardware was restricted without proper Windows 98 drivers for ethernet and graphics, etc. Still an interesting experiment.

I actually needed /p i flag on my main Pentium 3 Windows 98 pc because ACPI issues. ACPI seemed to make whole thing unstable and when forced to apm and then disabled APM was stable. Windows 98SE sucks on power management even it is good other ways.

52 minutes ago, Wunderbar98 said:

This faster Windows 98 SE install had sluggish performance and excess hard drive thrashing. First, drive DMA was not enabled by default. Enabled and rebooted with improvement.

More important 3rd party VoptXP (recommended earlier) and Diskeeper Lite confirmed significant drive fragmentation. This was a hacked install, my first using > 512 MB RAM, various configurations and experiments, create/delete swapfile, etc. The install was also restored from backup at least once (cut/paste from Windows XP).

Both Windows 98 and ME DEFRAG.EXEs organized the files one way. Then 3rd party software like VoptXP and Diskeeper Lite confirmed significant fragmentation and re-organize the filesystem, fixing the drive thrash. Unfortunately rerunning Windows DEFRAG.EXE then disorganized the files again.

In Windows DEFRAG.EXE selecting 'Rearrange program files so my programs start faster' was the culprit and according to VoptXP caused fragmentation, confirmed with thrashy performance. This is silly, as my older Windows 98 system has this checked off and everything is fine. It would be nice to figure this out but for now everything is defragged and the thrashing is fixed. An old thread seemed to suggest a manual fix by moving all files off the partition then back, unfortunately this didn't work.

So for me if Windows 98 is thrashy-trashy, even after leaning out configuration and ruling out other issues, use a defrag program that provides a summary of fragmentation to help diagnose the issue.

Though recommended here in an old thread, Diskeeper Lite v7.0.418.0L was removed. It's nagware for full version upgrade is tolerable. It's intrusive, however, and without notification creates an AUTOEXEC.BAT entry, system startup entry, runs as a background service and hijacks Windows DEFRAG.EXE from C: Properties -> Tools tab -> Defragmentation Status -> Defragment Now. I've never seen a single application create so many registry entries. Recommend a registry backing up before trialing this monster.

'SCANREG /RESTORE' was used to avoid Diskeeper Lite entries. Despite increasing MaxBackupCopies to 10 in C:/WINDOWS/SCANREG.INI, 'SCANREG /RESTORE' only provides a selection of the most recent five. To go back further manual manipulation of C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP\RB00*.CAB files may be needed.

on machines I got HDD installed I like to use Norton Speeddisk for defrag. For 98SE/ME non lite, 2k and XP i use 2003 version. It seems do better than Windows defrag. Fun fact Windows defrag and scandisk are crippled Norton Speedisk and Norton Disk doctor. MS licenced their limited versions from Symantec. What I am not sure if Symantec reduced their performance on purpose to sell their own product but feels like it.

 

59 minutes ago, Wunderbar98 said:

All good now, Windows 9x is so fixable. In Windows XP i feel lost and in GNU/Linux i'm digging through forum posts and manual pages for solutions.

Windows 9X dirty fixes like copying files from working install fixed things many times. It was way more simple and mostly cared from registry. Also if 98SE hoses up, I can still access dos mode and use scanreg and others without needing emergency boot floppy unless boot partition is broken

 

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On 11/4/2021 at 6:19 AM, Mr.Scienceman2000 said:

Also win9x is running top of DOS

What was the role of MS-DOS in Windows 95?

On 11/5/2021 at 9:15 AM, Wunderbar98 said:

An old thread seemed to suggest a manual fix by moving all files off the partition then back, unfortunately this didn't work.

How exactly did you do it? I'd do this sort of thing offline with Robocopy and enabling unbuffered copying. This program first appeared in some extras Resource Kit for XP/Server 2003 I think.

Granted, my disks haven't needed defragging in years, but I had to "defrag" a Linux ISO in order for it to boot since YUMI or one of its extra utilities didn't write it to USB flash drive in contagious chunk and got an error otherwise. Robocopy was the easiest solution.

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Thank you @Wunderbar98 for sharing your experiences about using Windows 98 as main operating system since 2019, I really enjoyed reading it from the start. I also thank to all other people who have contributed to this topic. I'm personally into XP, as it was the OS I've used since I was a kid, now using Win 7 on my main machine but I still have it on my older machine with Pentium 4 524 (LGA775).

I also have few virtual machines such as Windows ME, 2000, NT4 and XP to see if it's possible to make them semi decent OS (in terms of browsing, multimedia and gaming), my intention was create a version of Windows 2000 more targeted to home users (like Windows XP Professional) including Windows Media Player, Movie Maker and more games from ME/XP. Ah, it would make sense if it was done in 1999. So let's move on to ME -but now we know what can be done on a 98/ME system, thanks to you :D- So I moved onto NT4, an OS between Windows 95 and 98, but NT based. All I could do is:

Installing Windows Desktop Update to have closer Explorer feel to 98

Installing Windows Media Player 7

Updating Paint to Windows 98 version

Retrozilla already works on it, better than Opera 10 which came with the VM (downloaded from WinWorldPC :roll1:)

As I searched on the Internet, the DirectX support is poor and the latest version it could run was 5 (unofficially). So I don't think it will be useful as 98 (which supports DirectX 9.0c)

So my attempt to run NT4 on 2021 wasn't that good. By the way, I'm against having to login to download something, it would cause one time only accounts that would never be used again (register for download it, then forget it). I hope MSFN staff would be aware of it. Better find a file hosting service that supports RetroZilla browser (I can be a volunteer I think :P)

 

P.S. does anyone listen Modern Talking? Have a visit :) 

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Thanks for responses. Security is definitely a marketing tool, usually claiming to be more convenient and secure, at the same time. Quick, cheap and good - typically only two options can be provided, exclusive of the third. I strive to be Person #3 @Mr.Scienceman2000 but fall short, at least that's realized. Norton Speedisk isn't licensed free, correct? If it is i will download and trial.

Hi again @UCyborg. This multi-boot system restored the Windows 98 files from a Windows XP boot, cut/paste. IIRC this didn't result in fragmented files, it was Windows 98's DEFRAG.EXE option that shuffled things up. During DEFRAG output there are numerous blocks labelled 'shouldn't be moved' (or whatever) and i don't use swapfile, not sure if it's normal. Guess i could defrag the FAT partition from Windows XP or 2000, though as mentioned it seems something to do with Windows 98's DEFRAG.EXE. Maybe running 'surface scan' from Windows 98's ScanDisk will clear this up.

Hi @DragonSC7601, thanks for your kind words. Like your avatar, never heard of Modern Talking, listening now, good stuff. Favourites for me of somewhat similar nature are Erasure, Crowded House, ABBA (new album out!), Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk. Poor Windows NT, probably didn't get much support as NT development was rapid during those years. This multi-boot has Windows 2000, don't own Windows NT, just liked using it at work years ago. I enjoy 2000's stability, elegance and the nostalgia but realize why i didn't use it long - doesn't do DOS, not as good for gaming, received less love and support than Windows XP.

Yes lots of people contributed here, the tips and software have helped me run the best Windows 98 installs yet. I don't know of a better way to host files, other than this forum. The TinyUpload site seems gone, now those links are broken. If anyone knows an alternative that doesn't need JavaScript for Windows 9x users let me know. FYI RetroZilla can login and use this forum without JavaScript, think file downloads too.

Right-click on my 20 year old PS2 rollerball mouse started failing. Previously the left click button was fixed with scotch tape, inner workings, to compensate for plastic wear against the micro-switch. Now the right-click mechanism has two pieces of tape. The left-click fix lasted many months before tape re-application. Nothing's forever but this mouse has limped along for years and functions perfect again, even for gaming. Sometimes people mention replacing their mice every 6-12 months, give me a break. By the time a couple Modern Talking tracks have played the mouse is fixed.

Got some soldering practice, good prep for a future Pentium 4 motherboard owner. The AV cable connector on my Sega Genesis main board had a cracked solder, fixed. Now Formula 1 skies are always blue, no longer fluctuate green, just like real life, right?
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3 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Norton Speedisk isn't licensed free, correct?

Correct, Norton speedisk is paid software. I got it since had few cd of norton systemworks that had it. Most of utils were useless to me but windoctor and speeddisk were very useful. I am not sure if norton bundled it seperately. That suite got Norton antivirus and I hate norton antivirus. Luckily can opt out. Norton 2003 internet security was decent but 2006 was nightmare. Well so was avast 4.7 before bloatvast 5.0 came out,

3 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Yes lots of people contributed here, the tips and software have helped me run the best Windows 98 installs yet. I don't know of a better way to host files, other than this forum. The TinyUpload site seems gone, now those links are broken. If anyone knows an alternative that doesn't need JavaScript for Windows 9x users let me know. FYI RetroZilla can login and use this forum without JavaScript, think file downloads too.

best could be maybe set up own fileserver. I have been thinking do so some point on future. Then could ftp files there. Biggest things is find good vps, good domain provider and hope wont get DDOS:ed.

3 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

The AV cable connector on my Sega Genesis main board had a cracked solder, fixed. Now Formula 1 skies are always blue, no longer fluctuate green, just like real life, right?

that brought back memory from last year. I was working on modchipping my original xbox when found mentions from fire hazard on Foxlink psu (foxconn owned company). Later found it was due cold joint on power plug that caused short circuit. MS way fix it was not replace faulty psu rather send you cord with circuit breaker. Mine was close to hazard so was good I applied some fresh (leaded) solder to it and been good so far. Also fun fact is that xbox was comparable to desktop computer on parts for the era. It had Pentium 3 with half of cache, 64mb ram and Geforce 2 based gpu and Windows 2000 kernel. It was popular in modding for that reason.

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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I have a mouse story for you. You can repair broken parts with psychology, trust me! Well, at least sometimes.
It happens to me since a decade or so. The allmighty reliable horse, the Windows 98 computer of my parents, being the main computer in their house from 1999 to 2011. With the original keyboard and mouse. Nowadays, this specific computer is switched on like every quater year. I as a user of different keyboards and mouses have to adapt to my former keyboard, the very same keyboard, on which I taught myself typing through writing down Formula One racing results from books, using the same keys which my 5-year old hands touched many, many years ago. The mouse was heavily used too, and the right button doesn't click perfectly anymore. Right-click... doesn't work. Click harder... doesn't work either. Click softer... ah! Menu opens up! We have a result! So oneself adapts to the "clicking" point of the mouse, being able to use it again. Also, the very specific location, where the finger hits the mouse button, is important. This procedure repeats itself since 10 years now, but the mouse just doesn't want to give up! And after try-and-error, it's useable again... repaired with psychology.

Question: Why did the right mouse button wear out quicker? The left one was used more often I think! Maybe the mouse got dropped badly.

Fun-facts: The keyboard is not performant enough for my stakkatos of keystrokes in games like Grand Prix 2 or Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. The old keyboard actually feels very poor and used, compared to other keyboards. But every time I get back to it, give me a day and I'm back in the rhythm.
And finding out how to "repair" a ball-mouse through scratching the dirt and dust off the inner wheels was quite a rewarding feeling I recall as a kid. Might have been my start to get deeper into computers.

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8 hours ago, Gansangriff said:

Question: Why did the right mouse button wear out quicker? The left one was used more often I think! Maybe the mouse got dropped badly.

Maybe at one time the mouse was in a humid environment (kitchen with boiling food, storage, etc.) and moisture got inside the switches. Regular use somewhat cleaned up the left button switch, while the rarely used right switch deteriorated more...

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