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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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5 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Two more successful solders, hard wired DC power supply to a Palm Tungsten C to compensate for a fading battery. This old hardware is fun so i limp it along. I have one Palm-Pilot Pro from 3Com and another Palm-Pilot Pro from USRobotics. They are about 1997 era, sync with system via serial port and use replaceable AAA batteries. The other is the Palm Tungsten C, about 2003, syncs via USB and has a built-in specialty battery. Got them for free over the years before they became retro-valuable, probably junk drawer clean-up.

These Palms were never used here for legitimate business, just tinker toys, adult gameboys. Since they were received after switching to GNU/Linux, J-Pilot was always used here to add software, sync and backup the devices. Palms were peak popular during the Windows 9x and earlier Windows NT heyday, there are probably lots of sync clients available, haven't checked.

My Palm applications were hoarded years ago when it seemed most sites were shutting down. Fortunately somewhat of a revival. The PalmDB site works well with RetroZilla using View -> Use Style -> None.

PalmDB about:
PalmDB is a community effort to preserve the work and history of Palm OS and its developers. From 1996-2007, Palm dominated the pocket computer marketplace and ushered in the modern smartphone era years before it became mainstream. Originally marketed as business devices dubbed "personal digital assistants" (or PDAs), Palm found unexpected popularity in the home as well, with a vast library of apps and games arising for use both in and out of the office. Future models would go on to be some of the first smartphones ever made.
https://palmdb.net/

I was more into symbian PDA devices since well Nokia and never had PalmOS or Windows CE PDA. My current toys are https://nokiamuseuminfo.wordpress.com/2007/02/12/nokia-e90/ that I hacked to support SHA-2 certs and loaded Nokia Maps offline. I know it is phone but I use that as my PDA since it is battery hungry compared 6110. Second from that lineup I got is https://nokiamuseuminfo.wordpress.com/2004/09/08/nokia-9300/. Those are more like Palmtop instead of tradiotional PDA and combined with offline Nokia maps, frogfind and SHA2 hack I can get lot out of them.

Why did consept of palmtops and deciated PDA overall die away? I prefer have phone and PDA as seperate devices since in my opinion device you may need to use in emergency to call should not serve in things like web browsing or email or maps or calendar since they will drain your battery.

Also flipping one of those open will turn people heads since rarely see any device with that design

Well even if those handsets would be 100% unusable online they will provide lot of fun in offline use.

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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5 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

These Palms were never used here for legitimate business, just tinker toys, adult gameboys. Since they were received after switching to GNU/Linux, J-Pilot was always used here to add software, sync and backup the devices. Palms were peak popular during the Windows 9x and earlier Windows NT heyday, there are probably lots of sync clients available, haven't checked.

Atleast netscape  4.5 included Palmsync addon for contacts and same was availabe as plugin to seamonkey/thunderbird

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Those Nokias are cool @Mr.Scienceman2000, the E90 still seems modern, more capable than my older Palms. In RetroZilla, View -> Use Style -> None was needed to read the good Nokia specs.

DEFRAG.EXE was, in fact, fragmenting the first portion of the partition. Apparently this is by design when selecting 'Rearrange program files so my programs start faster'. As DEFRAG.EXE doesn't provide a visual overview of fragmentation, tools like VoptXP v7.22 (recommended), Diskeeper Lite v7.0.418.0L (not recommended) and multi-boot Windows XP defrag confirm the fragmentation, immediately after running DEFRAG.EXE in Windows 98. My defrag woes were previously mentioned on Page 53 and 54 (November 5, 8, 9, 23).

---
ASK DAN THE COMPUTER MAN quote:
In Windows 98 there is a change in the way the defragmenter works. Each time Win98 starts, a small program called TaskMon runs. It keeps track of which files are opened and read each time you launch a program. Log files are recorded and placed in the hidden folder, C:\WINDOWS\APPLOG. The log files usually have an LGC extension to indicate that they are a log file on the C drive, LGD extension for files on the D drive. The name of the log file is the name of the program that TaskMon is tracking. Another file, APPLOG.IND, track how many times an application program has run.

The defragmenter program will examine the files that TaskMon created in order to determine which programs should be optimized. This is based on how many time the program has been run; those run most are placed optimally on the hard drive. The optimal placement of the programs on the hard drive is governed by Disk Defragmenter and sometimes it may actually fragment a file for better performance. Don't worry, it knows what its doing.
http://www.user.shentel.net/danh/may99.htm
---

Longer, roundabout explanation that also discusses Walign and Winalign.
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/speed-up-windows-98-applications-with-winalign/

On this system it often, actually, fragments a file with no perceivable performance benefit. Interestingly i don't think Windows XP continued to utilize such a system, the extra complication and overhead probably wasn't worth the effort. In Windows 98, Process Explorer v8.52 can be used to identify when C:\WINDOWS\TASKMON.EXE is running, it doesn't show via Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Delete).

My older, seasoned Windows 98 install has a gutted C:\Windows\Applog directory. In my zeal to keep the system lean i must have done something previously to disable this 'feature', hence no fragmentation issue. Probably i thought they were just log files, though really a database. Emptying C:\Windows\Applog then running programs and using DEFRAG.EXE, it is interesting to see the database slowly rebuild.

To me this 'feature' isn't useful: extra background process, extra drive access to maintain the database, intentionally fragmenting the front of a partition. I will stick with the old Windows 95 behaviour. If unselecting 'Rearrange program files so my programs start faster' doesn't stop the database process, i will find another method or sledgehammer TASKMON.EXE.

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The MDGx site is almost overwhelming, so many tips and tricks. The CLEAN DEFRAG section was helpful, particularly tips #1 (defrag at startup) and #4 (disable TASKMON.EXE).
https://www.mdgx.com/98-3.htm#CLNDEF

1. Run DEFRAG.EXE at startup. The DEFRAG.INF file can be found in \Tools\Mtsutil directory of the Windows 98 setup CD-ROM. It creates a one-time RunServicesOnce entry in the registry to run DEFRAG.EXE early during next boot, before login when most startup applications have not yet loaded. Note automatic logon via TweakUI or similar needs to be disabled, otherwise DEFRAG.EXE will attempt to run as the system boots to desktop and loads all startup items.

4. Disable TASKMON.EXE. Disable TASKMON.EXE via registry and manually gut C:\WINDOWS\APPLOG. Future defrags will fully defrag all files, defrag process will be quicker and less system resources used for application indexing during runtime.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
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Since I am virtualizing Win 98SE under QEMU, I might be better by disabling this. So, step #4 will disable this 4 ever?

And while we're at it, does anyone have some more tips to speed up things? Not that my 98 SE is slow, but if there are tweaks to improve performance, I'm all for it. Runs just fine under QEMU on my M1 Mac.

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Hm... how were the standard graphical settings for Windows 98... showing the window, while it's being pushed or pulled seems to somewhat affect the performance, if the system is already busy with some other stuff. I found this under right-click Desktop, Properties, then the fourth category is called "Effects". Then there is a list of some visual effects. Or is that because I have TweakUI installed? TweakUI is a useful program anyways, where a lot of hidden things can be set.

I actually have no real evidence for this, but I believe, that using a pattern or a single-coloured plain as the desktop background makes the system quicker. Also the "Active desktop" feature, making your desktop so incredibly interactive that it hurts, is a waste of CPU power in my opinion. (to find that, open some folder, the third category called "View", last option "options of the folders"). HTML in the folders... tssss, is my file manager a web browser or what?

Also check the Autostart, if there is some nonsense ticked on (Run: msconfig, last category is "Autostart"). For example if  Microsoft Word is installed, then some programs called something like "Office Start" and "Microsoft Indexing" are loaded too.

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16 hours ago, Bruninho said:

And while we're at it, does anyone have some more tips to speed up things? Not that my 98 SE is slow, but if there are tweaks to improve performance, I'm all for it. Runs just fine under QEMU on my M1 Mac.

start by installing 98LITE free version from litepc.net it will allow all expect micro config. Then choose shell swap and pick either sleek (windows 95 shell) or chubby (win98 shell with IE bloat disables). You can do it on a fly and revert back to default is regret without reinstall. That will already make it more snappy

I am running 98lite pro with Micro shell on my 800mhz Pentium 3 and it flies.

10 hours ago, Gansangriff said:

I actually have no real evidence for this, but I believe, that using a pattern or a single-coloured plain as the desktop background makes the system quicker. Also the "Active desktop" feature, making your desktop so incredibly interactive that it hurts, is a waste of CPU power in my opinion. (to find that, open some folder, the third category called "View", last option "options of the folders"). HTML in the folders... tssss, is my file manager a web browser or what?

that is not issue until wallpaper needs to be redrawn. Lets imagine you have window filling whole screen and you minimise it. Windows 95/98 redraws desktop wallpaper. I mostly see it on pentium class machines.

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Good to see you @Bruninho. Well i think forever, haven't noticed any issues. You could rename (disable) the executable but i haven't found a need for this yet. Fortunately there are still lots of tweaking sites around. Tuning Windows 98 still makes me happy over 20 years later.

Thanks for the tips @Gansangriff and @Mr.Scienceman2000. My systems are configured similarly, anything to keep things lean and functional, though i haven't done a 'lite' install for a while. It's amazing how few SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI settings (and C:\WINDOWS files) are actually necessary. In addition to the MSCONFIG.EXE -> Startup tip, a search for 'runonce' in REGEDIT.EXE may also be useful. Review everything in the associated Run, RunOnce, RunOnceEx and RunServices entries (backup registry before hacking).

Maybe controversial i use various registry cleaners and maintenance software. From DOS, periodically running 'SCANREG /FIX' and 'SCANREG /OPT' doesn't hurt, though Windows Registry Checker apparently optimizes the registry once it contains more than 500 KB of empty data blocks. TCP Optimizer v3.0.8 tweaks my ethernet connection.

To monitor performance during runtime, here Process Explorer v8.52 minimized to tray (CPU usage), TinyResMeter v0.95a on desktop (RAM and page file use, uptime) and Tihiy's indicator (network activity monitor).

In Add/Remove Programs -> Windows Setup tab there isn't much installed here aside from 8 useful utilities (calculator, games, imaging, paint, WordPad, CD player, volume control, system monitor).

To me Windows 98 can run heavy or snappy-happy depending on what's utilized and configured. For fun and nostalgia all Windows 98 wallpapers, mouse pointers, screen savers and themes were installed a couple weeks ago. Played around and enjoyed them for an hour, then promptly removed.
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== DMA Tuning ==

= Overview =
DMA tuning to increase disk performance.

= Background =
Slow disk access bottlenecks performance. In general if the hardware supports DMA then System Properties -> Device Manager -> Disk Drives -> Properties -> Settings tab should provide a DMA checkbox. This is not always the case and can be forced (out of scope).

Warning, even though DMA appears available checking this option may result in a non-booting system (consider backup, can be remedied, out of scope). IIRC all hardware used here for Windows 98, manufactured 1999 and newer, supported DMA. Checking DMA alone may not provide optimal performance.

= DOS Check =
Most users (me too) check the DMA box and reboot, variation of 'plug and pray'. Fortunately DOS debug mode can check for DMA support, good article below.
http://www.helpwithwindows.com/windows98/tune-35.html

= Test Hardware =
Bare metal Windows 98 SE, Athlon 1.8 GHz, 1.5 GB RAM, PATCHMEM, Maxtor 10 GB IDE drive (6 GB FAT32 Win98, 4 GB EXT2 data, query 5400 RPM, old and noisy).

= BIOS Settings =
On this test hardware the relevant Phoenix AwardBIOS settings are Integrated Peripherals -> IDE Function Setup -> PIO (auto or mode 0, 1, 2, 3, 4) and UDMA (auto, disable).

- Multiboot Considerations =
Modifying IDE settings in the BIOS may adversely affect other operating systems. This test hardware uses two hard drives with Windows 98 SE being the only operating system on the drive. In this test BIOS, IDE settings are nicely separated for IDE0 (master, slave) and IDE1 (master, slave).

= Benchmarking =
Numerous benchmark tools are available, here AIDA32 is already installed (Plugin -> AIDA32 Disk Benchmark). The primary test was 'Quick Linear Read' (full test, Average MB/s, higher is better), designed to measure the linear (sequential) reading performance in a shorter duration than the Linear Read test.
https://aida32.en.uptodown.com/windows/download

= Results =
DMA=off PIO=Auto UDMA=Auto 5.9 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Auto UDMA=Auto 9.3 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Auto UDMA=disable 11.4 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Mode0 UDMA=disable 3.1 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Mode1 UDMA=disable 4.7 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Mode2 UDMA=disable 7.5 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Mode3 UDMA=disable 9.4 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Mode4 UDMA=disable 11.4 MB/s

On this test system DOS debug mode confirmed DMA was available and Windows 98 provided a DMA checkbox. The 'intuitive settings' (DMA enabled, PIO Auto, UDMA Auto) were a 22% reduction over peak performance (9.3 vs 11.4 MB/s). Maybe disabling UDMA for Windows 98 is common knowlege, new learning for me.

Ignoring lower PIO modes, comparing probably a common initial install configuration (DMA off, PIO Auto, UDMA Auto) to the best result (5.9 vs 11.4 MB/s), there is a 93% performance improvement.

Optimal settings on this test system are DMA enabled, PIO Mode4 or PIO Auto, and UDMA disable. During testing it was quickly apparent that enabling DMA improved performance while allowing UDMA hindered performance. Then it was just a matter of finding an optimal PIO setting. Since 'PIO Auto' and 'PIO Mode4' results are the same, the system was set to PIO Auto.
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I supposed post some of my latest testing earlier, but it has been delayed since I had bit of accident with my trusty old headphones. I stepped into wire while moved up from seat and well guess what happened. I have been looking spare for while and finally did find good one with 40mm audio elements. I need larger headphone cups for comfort since got big head. Seems finding non wireless headphones today is hard and most of them are studio or TV headphones that are wired. Also got spare headphone until new one arrives so could finish my testing.

Ok now to test results.

I was experimenting with codecs on older windows versions. Two test systems were my custom Pomi-pc 800 with Pentium 3 EB 800mhz, Nvidia TNT2 M64 32mb, 512mb ram, Windows 98 Second Edition with Micro shell as OS and Compaq Presario 5000 with Intel Celeron 850mhz, TNT Riva 16mb, 256mb ram and Windows Millennium edition (it is close enough to windows 98SE with few minor tweaks and drivers and programs under the hood so mention it here).

I installed following codecs for both Combined-Community-Codec-Pack-2007-02-22.exe and ffdshow_rev2322_20081114_clsid.exe I wont link files here since codecs are sorta grey zone in legality and not sure if violation of board rules but if someone from moderators confirms it is ok I will link them here. Personally I say if I download free codec packs from internet and it will result for someone to run out of business it is their fault for not having proper business plan and relying all into that stupid codec. Codec packs been around since forever and they wont go anywhere in future.

I tested codecs with MP4 files under Media player 6.4 on Windows 98SE with 98micro shell and under Media player 7.1 on Windows Millennium edition. On both platforms playback was smooth and only issue occured on some 1 hour MP4 file but shorter ones played just fine. I need re-encode that file for more efficient settings and try again. Here screenshots from players. I could not include video since windows does not support capturing video to screenshot but you can see MP4 playing on them.

vapaastyyleri.gif.6701e649f0d9ee6a5eae313e21a262ec.gif

Pomi with Windows 98 and Media player 6.4 and since early 2000 pc must play early 2000 music video.

media.gif.a438e172fce295eab8ef290b4e432a20.gif

compaq with slightly faster cpu (800 vs 850mhz) and media player 7.1. This is vanilla non lited Windows ME install that can see from Evie the Evil "e" logo on quick launch. Video runs smoothly too.

Also for last thing protip to make 16:9 videos play forcefully on 4:3 aspect ratio (not always good idea) since most likely uses CRT or other 4:3 monitor with Windows 98. Go to ffdshow video decoder configuration on start menu, then go to Resize&aspect and toggle resize checkbox and click specify aspect ratio and set it 4:3. After that select no aspect ratio correction on aspect ratio menu below it and click apply. I attach picture from what it should be since it is easier tell from picture. That seems work decently on videos and solves black border on top and bottom. Be aware that also will make some things look strange so your  mileage may ware

codec.gif.e19eb77f25b8eb3132b84363278e544c.gif

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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Enjoy your project @Mr.Scienceman2000, thanks for reporting. No image or image links visible, not in source either, just a bunch of new line breaks. Will try to check later from a newer system. Reported before, here MPlayer standalone is used (from SMPlayer v0.6.7) for lightweight MP4 playback.

Thanks for the feedback @RainyShadow. An 80-wire IDE cable is already installed. The drive is a Maxtor DiamondMax, 11 GB (not 10), manufactured April 1999, 5400 RPM. Not sure if it applies, Maxtor released a firmware update long time ago named UDMAUPDT (66to100.exe) to open the data pipe. Regardless, no firmware will be applied. This drive is limping along nicely and i no longer have an unlimited supply of IDE drives (spread across many systems).

The tweaked performance noted above is adequate, noticeable improvement. Trialed two more combinations, unfortunately sub-optimal performance, UDMA hangup.

DMA=on PIO=Mode0 UDMA=Auto 10.8 MB/s
DMA=on PIO=Mode4 UDMA=Auto 10.8 MB/s

Some site is selling this old/small drive for $87.76, presumably USD, crazy.
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3 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Enjoy your project @Mr.Scienceman2000, thanks for reporting. No image or image links visible, not in source either, just a bunch of new line breaks. Will try to check later from a newer system.

I did not include links since codecs may or may not be allowed here since some of them are in grey zone since "they are stealing" at least in DMCA law that wont apply here. Codecs are hosted in Finnish sites and none of them has not been taken down. You can search those with duckduckgo and will find multiple clean download links for them. Feels stupid that I would have to pay to be able play some type of video or DVD I got. I can understand paying for player device but not for software.

3 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

The drive is a Maxtor DiamondMax, 11 GB (not 10), manufactured April 1999, 5400 RPM. Not sure if it applies, Maxtor released a firmware update long time ago named UDMAUPDT (66to100.exe) to open the data pipe. Regardless, no firmware will be applied. This drive is limping along nicely and i no longer have an unlimited supply of IDE drives (spread across many systems).

I used to call Maxtor drives Maxturds for reliability issues. I had one 40gb Maxtor that had only half usable even after wiping drive. Older ones were fine I guess. Second horrible was Quantum drives especially LCT series. I have 15gb one and it had plenty of bad blocks and know one of those drives that had controller glowing red. Both of companies were sold to Seagate later I think.

Older Seagates before they bought Maxtor and Quantum were pretty good. I got bunch of 20gb drives from them as spares. Those were everywhere here. Compaq, HP, Pohjanmaan mikro and most custom computers from era had one.

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Hi @Mr.Scienceman2000. Sorry i meant no links to the images, not codecs. I was rushed and didn't have time to closely search the HTML source of your post. On a newer OS with newer browser i'm able to see your images. Direct image links for anyone else running old OS/browsers:

https://msfn.org/board/uploads/monthly_2021_12/vapaastyyleri.gif.6701e649f0d9ee6a5eae313e21a262ec.gif

https://msfn.org/board/uploads/monthly_2021_12/media.gif.a438e172fce295eab8ef290b4e432a20.gif

https://msfn.org/board/uploads/monthly_2021_12/codec.gif.e19eb77f25b8eb3132b84363278e544c.gif

Yes i heard some drives, like Maxtor, don't have the best reputation. Almost all this hardware was free so i'm happy, they rarely fail. Haven't researched, Maxtor drives seem to run noisy, maybe just age (my knees don't sound the same either).

Was watching Seinfeld (TV series, 1989-1998). The desktop computer in his apartment is never turned on. Wonder what he's running, prop i guess. Re-watched GoldenEye (Bond series, 1995), lots of IBM advertising and good old CRT monitors. In one scene a protagonist enters an IBM corporate store to pretend bulk order systems, a ploy so she could access a private computer test room for spy communication. She specified the systems must have 500 MB drives, CD-ROM drives and 14.4 Kbps modems. No operating system was specified. Fun stuff.
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On 12/6/2021 at 2:03 PM, Wunderbar98 said:

Was watching Seinfeld (TV series, 1989-1998). The desktop computer in his apartment is never turned on. Wonder what he's running, prop i guess. Re-watched GoldenEye (Bond series, 1995), lots of IBM advertising and good old CRT monitors. In one scene a protagonist enters an IBM corporate store to pretend bulk order systems, a ploy so she could access a private computer test room for spy communication. She specified the systems must have 500 MB drives, CD-ROM drives and 14.4 Kbps modems. No operating system was specified. Fun stuff.

Seinfeld's computer was always a Macintosh, in some seasons they show a different Macintosh model. I did spot a Macintosh 512k once and some newer Macintosh models. So it's safe to say it at least ran System 7.

In "The Net" (1995) Sandra Bullock's main character (Angela Benett) is seen using different computers, but essentially she used a Macintosh Quadra 650 at home, and a PowerBook 520 in another scene on the beach. I also presume she was using System 7.

Also, "Friends" (1994-2004) Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) is seen bragging about his new laptop performance, a Compaq Contura 4/25cx

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