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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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I found NVIDIA NDIS2 driver here that works with my onboard Ethernet card on ASUS M3N78 motherboard with nForce 730a (I think) chipset, manual simply mentions it as GeForce 8200. Who would've thought networking would work on that hardware on DOS. The motherboard is from 2008 while that driver was updated in 2010.

It's pretty quiet in DOS land on bare hardware. Mpxplay is an audio player that's supposed to support Intel HD Audio cards and Q2DOS, a Quake II engine ported to DOS, uses its code. Neither of them produce any sound. Q2DOS should be run with -sndpci argument, it mentions in the console that it picked up on VIA sound card, but eventually just crashes.

USB mouse is functional with an older CuteMouse 1.9.1 driver (some BIOS trickery that makes it look like a PS/2 mouse). Latest CuteMouse 2.1 beta4 eventually stops working, it works again if the driver is reloaded. I use a PS/2 keyboard, so nothing to do here.

Supposedly you can access disks and optical drives on SATA controller if it can be put in legacy SATA mode rather than AHCI mode, which is an option here, but I think I'd rather prefer that it doesn't see them so can't break anything.

FreeDOS 1.3 was used for all of the above, ran from very old no-name 1 GB USB flash drive with insanely slow write speed.

Edited by UCyborg
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Thanks for reporting your adventure @UCyborg. Pretty new hardwae for DOS indeed. No sound at all, sucks. Here Sound Blaster, sound quality isn't great in DOS, adequate for old games. For me sound is the most finicky item in DOS, then networking, the rest seems good.

FreeDOS, that labour of love, has a package manager if your install wasn't fully loaded. Not sure how FreeDOS and USB storage works, in MS-DOS loading SMARTDRV.EXE may help (SMARTDrive disk-caching utility). CuteMouse is used here too with both a PS/2 rollerball and laser mouse.

Pause was added to my preferred default DIR config in AUTOEXEC.BAT, only pauses if off screen scrolling is triggered, good for large directories like C:\WINDOWS\.

SET DIRCMD=/W/ON/P

The Good Times video from Edie Brickell mentioned earlier, from the Windows 95 install CD, is a 39 MB AVI file. The largest file on the entire CD, larger than any *.CAB file or game demo. By comparison the same ~ 3 minute video was fetched (YouTube, format 18), much better quality MP4 only 14 MB. Technology marches on..

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I had nothing but problems with FreeDOS, even on older more appropriate hardware, even with the latest version. Stuff just doesn't work!

I never had problems with MPXPLAY running on motherboards/laptops with HD Audio chips, or with the latest version of CuteMouse running under DOS 7.1 (Win98SE).

Running utilities from FreeDOS on DOS 6.22/7.1 is a much better idea than using FreeDOS itself.

 

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5 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

FreeDOS, that labour of love, has a package manager if your install wasn't fully loaded.

Yup, FDIMPLES. And there's a Bonus CD with the rest of the packages.

There's an option to use VirtualBox on modern OS to configure raw access to the "disk", in my case the flash drive and use it as the virtual machine's disk, then virtual CD drive is used easily. FreeDOS 1.3 is configured out-of-the-box to be able to use VirtualBox's SoundBlaster 16, CD drive and network card.

For networking with NVIDIA Ethernet card, MSClient 3.0's installation dsk3-1.exe must be somewhere, eg https://ftp.psu.ac.th/pub/microsoft/msclient/. If you're modifying FreeDOS installation from Windows, you can easily cheat with 7-Zip to open the file, no need for EXPAND to extract the two needed packed files inside either then:

  • NETBIND.COM is extracted as is.
  • PROTMAN.DO_ -> open and extract PROTMAN.DOS
  • PROTMAN.EX_ -> open and extract PROTMAN.EXE

Then there's Packet Driver to NDIS Converter - I used version 11 - dis_pkt.zip - extract dis_pkt.dos file. I renamed it to upper case letters for consistency. From NVIDIA driver ZIP's NDIS folder, NDIS.DOS, NVDIS2.DOS and PROTOCOL.INI are needed.

All files were put on FreeDOS install root C:\NET. PROTOCOL.INI as provided by NVIDIA is already setup for a working networking.

Main part of FDCONFIG.SYS after boot menu entries was modified like so:

12?DOS=HIGH
12?DOS=UMB
12?DOSDATA=UMB
12?DEVICE=C:\NET\NVNDIS2.DOS
123?DEVICE=C:\FreeDOS\BIN\HIMEMX.EXE
1?DEVICE=C:\FreeDOS\BIN\JEMM386.EXE NOEMS X=TEST I=TEST I=B000-B7FF NOVME NOINVLPG
2?DEVICE=C:\FreeDOS\BIN\JEMM386.EXE X=TEST I=TEST I=B000-B7FF NOVME NOINVLPG
12?DEVICEHIGH=C:\NET\PROTMAN.DOS /I:C:\NET
12?DEVICEHIGH=C:\NET\NDIS.DOS
12?DEVICEHIGH=C:\NET\DIS_PKT.DOS
34?SHELL=C:\FreeDOS\BIN\COMMAND.COM C:\FreeDOS\BIN /E:1024 /P=C:\FDAUTO.BAT
12?SHELLHIGH=C:\FreeDOS\BIN\COMMAND.COM C:\FreeDOS\BIN /E:1024 /P=C:\FDAUTO.BAT

Finally, rename file C:\NET\FDNET\FDNETPD.BA~ to FDNETPD.BAT and add the following line to it:

C:\NET\NETBIND.COM

That's it as far as networking is concerned. Presence of FDNETPD.BAT will skip detection / loading drivers for network adapters that are supported out-of-the-box, that's why I find it a convenient place to put the final command related to networking.

I noticed there's a small problem in supplied FDAUTO.BAT. It's coded to skip loading additional drivers and the part for setting codepage / keyboard settings (if you uncomment it) if you have very basic CPU. Problem is, VINFO.COM may detect CPU as much less featured than it is and I'm not sure BAT handles cases where it is...if errorlevel 3 -> means if errorlevel equals 3? Yeah, then it definitely doesn't. It can return values above 3, according to documentation.

I just did it like this:

goto Support386
rem if not exist %dosdir%\bin\vinfo.com goto Only8086
rem vinfo /m
rem if errorlevel 3 goto Support386
rem if errorlevel 2 goto Support286

Commented out the entire routine and put goto on top to go to correct place. Lacking SoundBlaster sound card, BLASTER env varibale line is probably best commented out as well.

Also uncommented part with codepage / keyboard settings:

rem codepage settings
NLSFUNC %dosdir%\BIN\COUNTRY.SYS
DISPLAY CON=(EGA,852,1)
MODE CON CP PREP=((852) %dosdir%\CPI\EGA.CPX)
KEYB SI,852,%dosdir%\bin\keyboard.sys
CHCP 852
MKEYB SL
rem keyboard settings

That's more lines I've seen with Win95/Win98 underlying DOS! It gets me the ability to use some of our "special" letters (Hello čšž!). In the old MS-DOS, keyb yu ... was used (Yugoslavia). There's also COUNTRY line to uncomment in FDCONFIG.SYS:

COUNTRY=386,852,C:\FreeDOS\BIN\COUNTRY.SYS

Anyway, I posted this as a quick reference. We should probably have a dedicated FreeDOS thread. I noticed FreeDOS came up in this thread in the past. There is obviously some overlap.

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Thanks for all responses and input. Thanks for posting your notes @UCyborg. I got an NDIS driver working earlier too with help from @deomsh, brain hurt, crazy how much configuring. Doesn't matter to me where you post, just keep specifying FreeDOS.

FreeDOS was briefly reviewed earlier in this thread. I liked it but never tested 3rd party applications for compatability, like MS-DOS games. Never enough time for this good stuff.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020-and-beyond/page/36/#comment-1192261

My old NDIS and packet driver notes in this thread if they help anyone.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181853-links-web-browser-community-edition-for-dos-with-tls-12

Thanks Windows 98, job well done, all the way to Mars - woo-woo !

https://scitechdaily.com/from-windows-98-to-mars-2022-major-upgrade-for-19-year-old-martian-water-spotter/

https://www.10news.com/news/fact-or-fiction/fact-or-fiction-mars-spacecraft-running-on-windows-98

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We act as though comfort and luxury were chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.

- Charles Kingsley (c. 1819 - 1875)
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Windows 98 Mars news is misinterpreted - Win98 is used as a development environment.

In order to update spacecraft's software, unique software is required that only works on Win98, they used a virtual machine to do it. It doesn't mean Win98 is running on the spacecraft itself.

Though still quite interesting, and once again proves that older operating systems don't die, they just don't get connected to the ever-evolving Internet, and they do their tasks just fine :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks @MrMateczko for clarifying Windows 98's role, still pretty cool.

Any C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP\RBBAD.CAB entry was always curious when backing up the Windows registry's RB*.CAB files to other media. This MS MVP, Ron Badour, is a name encountered dozens of times in the Windows 9x heyday. He surely helped a lot of users, thank-you Ron.

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Once the registry restore screen appears, select the date of the registry that you wish to restore by highlighting it and then click enter. If you see a registry named: Rbbad.cab, that is a copy of the registry that has already been restored.
Regards
Ron Badour, MS MVP W95/98 Systems
https://microsoft.public.win98.gen-discussion.narkive.com/fumseQ5X/vkd-windows-protection-error-win98
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DOS Fun

Retrieving and watching YouTube in DOS is possible. Links web browser, ported to DOS, loads an Invidious instance without JavaScript, including video search, dropdown MP4 quality select and video download.

MPlayer was also ported, the release from FreeDOS was used to watch an MP4. Video playback was good but sound didn't work. Tried another MPlayer port too, despite this SoundBlaster working fine for DOS games. Tried all switches, ran 'mplayer -ao help' for help, tested against two known working videos. YMMV.

QuickView Pro v2.61 was tested but i couldn't get it to play an MP4. DivX codecs are apparently needed, i couldn't readily find these using a DOS or vanilla Windows 9x browser, didn't search hard. The media player reportedly supports MP4 and even the system speaker (system beep) with a special driver and configuration (SPEAKER.SDR). Note QuickView Pro is Shareware, max 3 week trial, pay to register.

No assistance requested. DOS is fun but clunky, sometimes frustrating (carefully worded in polite company), never get tired of playing with it.
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MS-DOS Text Editors

MS-DOS EDIT.COM's inability to word wrap still bugs me, today a simple and common feature. It can be launched with the 'load binary file' switch, specifying number of characters wide but is not true word wrap, breaks up words, displays carriage returns and extra characters, doesn't word wrap newly created files.

Many text editors were tested and despite limitations MS-DOS' EDIT.COM is still my favourite. I was going to review individually but nobody wants my opinions. To me they all had shortcomings. Most don't word wrap, many don't support mouse, many are cumbersome to open existing files, may need to learn too many keyboard shortcuts, poor interface, quirky, etc.

Some of the editors reviewed and/or tested are listed below. The only one i'm keeping for now is Elvis, personal preference for 'vi' in text only environments, but the self-contained binary is huge (ELVIS.EXE 419 Kb vs EDIT.COM 69 Kb). Elvis word wraps but doesn't support mouse and only handles one file at a time.

The other noteworthy editor to me is EDIT.EXE from the FreeDOS base repisitory. Although it seems good and word wrap is apparently supported, selecting the option did not word wrap an existing or newly opened file on this test system running MS-DOS v7.

- Breeze Word Processor
- EDIT.EXE (FreeDOS official)
- Elvis
- MSEDIT (Mateusz's Saucy Editor)
- SLED
- TDE (Thomson-Davis Editor)
- VIM (Vi Improved, not tested, huge 12 MB download)
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Thanks for the information @jaclaz. QEdit Advanced v2.15 for DOS (evaluation purposes) was downloaded and briefly tested. Nice, does word wrap, lots of features with a small footprint. In 1991 the software could be purchased for $54.95 USD plus $3.00 shipping to Canada plus $6.00 billing fee for orders under $100.00.
https://texteditors.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?QEDIT

There is apparently a non-free MS-DOS editor named EDIT! (exclamation mark) that's similar to EDIT.COM with word wrap. Since not free i will leave it be.

Second attempt success to get Dillo web browser running in DOS, from FreeDOS repository. The DILLO.BAT file was significanlty hacked (why so complicated) and a very basic WATTCP.CFG file was setup (crazy, long default config). Other components were manually loaded before testing (mouse, packet driver).

The browser runs okay but, unless i'm missing something, wouldn't connect to secure sites. Shame as it displays images and graphics nicely and provides a tabbed browsing experience with mouse support. Hopefully this DOS port will get some love and attention.

For now goto DOS web browsers i believe are still Lynx (text only) or Links (graphics).

Good old DELTREE.EXE was used to purge Arachne web browser from this system, as it can only connect using TLS v1.2 and v1.3 with hacking, explained in the Arachne member project page. This method is too quirky and cumbersome to be functional. There's was some chatter on the DOS Ain't Dead forum, doubtful but maybe a developer will pick it up for updates.

Removing sofware in DOS is simply satisfying, gone is gone. Well, there is UNDELETE.EXE :)

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Hi Guys

 

I really enjoy the trip on memory lane with your forum. I was just wondering if you guys ever tried Web Rendering Proxy to resolve to browsing issues ?

 

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Thanks for your comments @Nandor. Web proxies and rendering proxies were brought up before. To each their own, personally i don't see the point in running two computers just so the old(est) connected system can browse the interweb.

Having said that i'm a hypocrite, as my old single core 800 MHz Windows 98 box gets connected via quad core cellphone and dual core router. I can see why most young people are good with just a cellphone and laptop, so efficient and mobile.

If this old hardware gets wiped out in a disaster, heaven forbid, it will be missed but not replaced. It's probably safe to say the hardware and OS is high mileage, BIOS date July 1999. Happy 23rd birthday, and mannny mooore, a pinch to grow an inch.

Still booting Windows 98 SE (Serendipity Edition) daily for news, weather and general computing, plus DOS boots for browsing and games. Don't mean to sidetrack this thread, no response required, just finished reading 'Choose your browser carefully'. Good stuff, though most of the browsers used in this household aren't even mentioned. Thankfully these old operating systems can utilize numerous browsers that still respect the user.

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Choose your browser carefully - Conclusions

In my humble opinion it is absolutely mind-boggling how poor the current state of the Internet is regarding privacy issues. Almost no matter what website you visit you cannot avoid getting a microscope shoved up your a** (yes, I said it!) by some web developer who insists on running Google Analytics on the website (some even though they are not even running any Google Ads) instead of using something as simple as the build-in web server statistics, or at least one of the much better Open Source and privacy-respecting alternatives.

It is not that ads are bad in themselves. It is a fact that ads drive a huge part of the economics behind the Internet and many websites and YouTube content creators depend upon the income of ads. However, it is the way the ad business is conducted that is very problematic - in some cases even borderline immoral and highly controversial. The companies that run ad businesses need to understand that many users will actually allow ads, what users will not allow is to be spied upon and tracked without consent. These companies need to ask for permission and they need to run a completely open door policy such that all user data is transparent and available to the user. They also need to stop manipulating prices based upon tracking information, which in real life is called cheating, not business!

The Mozilla foundation is no longer the trusted organization they once were. Today it has become a "business" that depend upon revenue from big corporations like Google, which is why we're witnessing a slow but steady move away from proper conduct. If the foundation wants to gain the trust of the users once more, they need to stop the double standard and live up to their promises.

With all that said it is important to understand that the real problem lies with us - the Internet users. We seriously need to stop using the bad browsers and we need to either stop visiting all the bad websites or at least disable JavaScript on these websites! We need to educate ourselves and others better in the technology we're using. This is much easier said than done, because website developers have gone crazy, but once you eliminate JavaScript from running in the browser you no longer need a complex browser like Firefox or Chromium and once you don't need a complex browser you no longer have to worry as much about privacy issues - at least not from the browser point of view.

Split your browsing up in between a complex browser and a simple browser. Only use the complex browser when you really need it, and use the simple browser (perhaps a console based one) when you don't require any JavaScript or other complex features.

As I said, I know that this is easier said than done, and I also know that companies will still collect as much data as possible about you (such as your IP address), but without a bad browser or JavaScript enabled the fingerprinting tactics becomes much more difficult to implement. I firmly believe that the power lies in the hands of the users and we need to make a choice every time we use technology. This is no different from boycotting harmful products because you care about yourself and your family health, or because you care about how animals are treated. We - the consumers - have the final say. When we boycott all the bad stuff, the producers have no choice but to stop the production because there are no more customers.
https://unixsheikh.com/articles/choose-your-browser-carefully.html
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Came across a software mention that sounded interesting, Crap Cleaner. Duh, me a little slow, i've been using CCleaner (v 2.29.1111) for over 20 years and never bothered investigating it's name. Sunday night, don't forget to ScanDisk and Defrag your Windows 9x systems before the start of another busy work week.
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