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Wunderbar98

Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020...

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I think I have found the best way of browsing the modern web on old web browsers. Enter, Browservice. It is a web proxy server that uses a chromium interface to render web pages as images using the client's browser's javascript. The proxy server is run from a Raspberry Pi.

For more information, check out the following links:

https://github.com/ttalvitie/browservice

https://lunduke.com/posts/2020-06-30/

I have attached a couple of screenshots from my computer (Dell Dimension t500 Windows 98 SE 512 MB RAM) showing the proxy server in action. I was running the proxy from a Raspberry Pi 3 running Raspbian 32-bit.

There are some limitations though. For one thing, file transfer and upload is not supported. Also, when watching videos, the audio is only streamed on the Raspberry Pi.

browservice1.jpg

browservice2.jpg

browservice4.jpg

browservice3.jpg

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Thank-you for the information @Deomsh and @jaclaz. This should help anyone wanting to use a packet driver for DOS applications within Windows. It's amazing how much software there is out there. Personal preference is to boot DOS for DOS browsers and use RetroZilla and K-Meleon in Windows.

Having said that lots of time was spent attempting to get the packet driver running in Windows without success. Different WINPKT.COM files were trialed, downloaded from multiple sources including the @jaclaz link and Winsock. This ethernet adapter's packet driver even comes with a Windows switch (-w) 'to let the packet drivers run under Windows'. Also trialed the adapter's NDIS driver. Unfortunately nothing worked and i've given up. Probably rebooted more than two dozen times and tried every imaginable boot scenario, using config files and manually loading before Windows starts. It appears it should be as easy as something like below, oh well. I'm aware different WINPKT.COM releases have different configuration options, nothing worked. Interestingly, both mTCP's PKTTOOL.EXE and Arachne were able to detect a loaded packet driver in the Windows environment though no network connection could be established. Probably just something i'm doing wrong, no further assistance requested, need to let it go and move on.

LNE100TX.COM 0x60
WINPKT.COM 0x60
WIN


Thank-you for the information and screenshots @Bracamonte, this may help others looking for solutions. Using another local system as a gateway was brought up here before, glad it's working for you. My understanding is the web pages are actually usable/clickable, not just rendered images, cool. Running through a low consumptive device like a Raspberry Pi is pretty efficient. Your method provides insight into how good Windows 98 could still be if development wasn't dropped. Personal preferences only: enjoy the challenges of limited native Windows 98 browsing, do not want to run two systems concurrently just to browse, do not use Chrome/Chromium, prefer multiboot for newer browsers.

Recently discovered using a CONFIG.SYS [MENU] for different boot environments has a limit of nine entries. In reality not much of a limitation as there are many ways to load the desired environment, usually custom after boot *.BAT files for applications with special needs.

Stumbled on an informative tutorial titled 'Understanding the Boot Process for MS-DOS and Windows 9x'. The link below is Chapter 9, the entire chapter collection is enlightening. Good comparisons between different Windows releases, including DOS, Windows 3.1 up to the NTs.
https://sourcedaddy.com/aplus/understanding-boot-process-ms-dos-and-windows-9x.html

Quick reviewed the Windows 9x Members Project threads on this forum. Forty seven pages, although many topics are just help requests. Interesting to go through the history. Lots of energy was spent over the years including a flurry of activity after official support ended in 2006. Funny how something important at the time doesn't matter much a few years later. Also interesting that most of the die hards have moved on, happens with all forums anyway.

Installed Microsoft OpenType Font Properties Extension (ttfext.exe, 478 KB). Not much of a graphics guy so can't comment if it made a big difference.
http://erpman1.tripod.com/w9xmeupd.html

Had a new to me hard drive issue this week. Most of my equipment is ~20 years old but the new stuff is probably worse thanks to planned obsolescence. It appears the drive's MBR got wiped or corrupt, not bootable. Used a GNU/Linux live-CD to fix things. Personal fan of Plop Boot Manager, Parted Magic and GParted. In addition to the MBR issue an entire partition disappeared. Was going to discard the drive as it failed SMART years ago but decided to salvage. Was able to reclaim the dead space with a new partition, restore data from backup and re-install Grub2 to the drive's MBR. No critical data was lost, fun experience and the system's running like new again. This was actually easier to fix than getting a packet driver working in Windows :)

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The font properties extension just gives you info about the font, it doesn't do anything else.
 

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Thanks for the information loblo, now understand why no visible difference. For others like me who avoided the font rabbit hole for 20 years, Windows 98 already has built-in font smoothing. Outlined in the link, 'Windows 9x, Windows 2000 and Windows XP - Font smoothing can be activated via the 'Effects' tab on the 'Display Properties' control panel'. Windows 95 users can download and try font smoothing from the link if they wish. For me font appearance is good enough for this more than 20 year old OS.
http://web.archive.org/web/20051222193857/http://www.microsoft.com/typography/grayscal/smoother.aspx

The Font Properties Extension ignorantly installed here provides all this too-detail-oriented-for-me font information when right-clicking and selecting properties on an installed font in C:\WINDOWS\FONTS.
http://web.archive.org/web/20060306101444/http://www.microsoft.com/typography/PropertiesExtensionFAQ.mspx

For anyone who wants to dig further, typography FAQ from Microsoft during the era of Windows 98 support.
http://web.archive.org/web/20060207192850/http://www.microsoft.com/typography/TrueTypeFAQ.mspx

Of course MDGx provides lots of information and downloads too.
http://www.mdgx.com/add.htm#FOS

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On 7/19/2020 at 12:07 AM, Wunderbar98 said:

Windows 98 SE was installed long time ago on this daily use hardware (800 MHz, 384 MB RAM, 32 MB GeForce 2 graphics). Don't recall doing anything special for the Pioneer CD/DVD hardware install, it's reportedly using a Microsoft driver from 1999.

Since only using Windows 98 for 22 years, to my knowledge the first time DVD media was ever inserted, only remember using CDs with Windows 98 before. To great surprise it reads the DVD no problem, what a champ. Although Device Manager lists the drive under 'CDROM', it correctly identifies the DVD hardware.

Just dug out Neverwinter Nights Diamond, which includes Neverwinter Knights, Shadows of Undrentide expansion, Hordes of the Underdark expansion, Kingmaker expansion with three modules (Kingmaker, Shadow Guard, Witch's Wake). This is a beast of a game, intentionally left aside for years. Bought it used for $10 because he never had time to play. No wonder, it will probably take me years to finish. This hardware barely meets minimum system requirements, will eventually give it a go.

I played these games a few years back LAN-party style (four players) on Win98 machines with minimum Athlon 64 2200MHz, 512MB RAM, and GeForce 6600.  Game ran OK on these platforms, but I think you will have a lot of trouble with magic battles with slower machines.  The end of HoU is buggy, not sure they ever fixed it--the game got so messed up at the end that I don't think we were ever able to fight the final battle.

The Baldur's Gate series with lots of new community created mods is still fun to re-play on Win98!  But even then my top end Win98 machines with P4-3400MHz, 1GB, GeForce 6800 can get an annoying amount of lag in big magic battles and/or with improved AI scripts running.  That's why I'm trying to upgrade my Win98 boxes with Pentium Dual-Core E6800, PC2-5300 RAM, SATA SSDs, and GeForce 7800 cards.  So far all is helping a little bit except I can't get any more performance out of the new GeForce cards than I did the old ones.

Best regards,

DJ

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All the best with your hardware upgrades @Feamane, thank-you for your input. Will try to remember your Hordes of the Underdark feedback. Since my gaming to do list is loosely organized from oldest (DOS) to newest it will be a while before i get to Neverwinter Nights. By then will likely be using newer hardware, either my faster Windows 98 backup machine or better. The Baldur's Gate series always interested me but never purchased it. BioWare originated from my home province!

Just finished two DOS games been meaning to play for 20 years (original Quake and Tomb Raider). Delayed gratificaton, pretty good though anti-climactic like most things, just games afterall. Recall the Tomb Raider demo years ago riding a snowmobile, query third release but don't want to go there, finishing the first game was good enough for me. Played too much Quake II back in the day, was never that good plus slow network connection. IMHO the world would be better without First Person Shooters but their development from creative minds was inevitable.

Still tackling old DOS games, will finish U.S. Navy Fighters (USNF, half done) and MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. Re-started MechWarrior 2 so many times over the years but never completely finished, what a great game.

Temporarily breaking out of DOS and just re-installed Return To Castle Wolfenstein (supports Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP). Only played through partially years ago due to a drive crash. Even the installer music and images freak me out. Almost too immersive, can't imagine what the kids are now playing. Thank goodness for an internet full of gaming forums, hints/tips and walkthroughs. Still lots of DOS and Windows 9x information out there. Sometimes the most obscure information is needed just to get a game running. Never would have thought disabling Castle Woftenstein's openglv3.dll and openglv5.dll files would fix the game's failure to launch on this system. Works well now and looks very good for an older game.

Aside from games recently stumbled on a blog post from a Microsoft developer, entitled 'Why does Windows 95 have functions called BEAR, BUNNY and PIGLET?', fun.
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20030818-00/?p=42873

DOS ain't dead is apt, there's still so much software out there. My only quip is lack of multi-tasking, generally okay as reboots are fast and many applications require a custom runtime environment anyway. Wish it had something like 'screen', a terminal multiplexer useful in a GNU/Linux TTY environment, or at least the ability to suspend and/or background tasks. Some DOS applications, such as web browsers, do have something similar built-in, whereby a user can exit the web browser to the DOS prompt, do DOS stuff, then exit the DOS prompt back to the web browser, so maybe it's sorta covered.

Remember posting about the DOS 'date' command and being able to run it just to check the date, then just press empty Enter key when finished to avoid updating the date. Well this also works well with the 'time' command, very useful.

My favourite PDF viewier, MUPDF was ported to DOS. It works well and requires loading CWSDPMI.EXE (DOS Protected Mode Interface) beforehand. Don't remember where it was downloaded from (mupdf10.apm, 3463 KB, extracted with 7-Zip). Don't think it was from FreeDOS, regardless they have lots of good stuff.

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== Netscape Navigator 9 ==

According to Wikipedia this browser is based on Firefox 2. It's last release, v9.0.0.6, was from February 20, 2008. Thank-you forum member @ZortMcGort11 for notifying about this browser.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netscape_9

Download Netscape Navigator v9.0.0.6 (netscape-navigator-9.0.0.6.exe, 5.8 MB, no JavaScript needed).
http://ftp.vim.org/netscape/netscape9/en-US/9.0/windows/win32/

Download Netscape Navigator 9 NSS update (ns9-nss-update.7z, 923 KB, no JavaScript needed).
http://www.geocities.ws/gcd/wn/ns9-nss-update.7z

Install netscape-navigator-9.0.0.6.exe, default path C:\Program Files\Netscape\Navigator 9.

First run creates a profile in C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Netscape\Navigator\Profiles.

Disable JavaScript and Java via Tools dropdown -> Options -> Content tab.

Close browser and extract the contents of ns9-nss-update.7z into the Netscape Navigator installation directory, overwrite existing files when prompted.

Restart Netscape Navigator and load the link below to confirm TLS v1.2 support.
https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/viewMyClient.html

Recommend disabling ciphers flagged as INSECURE by toggling them to 'false' via about:config, filter string rc4_128:
security.ssl3.ecdh_ecdsa_rc4_128_sha
security.ssl3.ecdh_rsa_rc4_128_sha
security.ssl3.ecdhe_ecdsa_rc4_128_sha
security.ssl3.ecdhe_rsa_rc4_128_sha
security.ssl3.rsa_rc4_128_md5
security.ssl3.rsa_rc4_128_sha

Notes:

7-Zip v9.20 was utilized for extracting the ns9-nss-update.7z file, direct downloaded link below.
http://netcologne.dl.sourceforge.net/project/sevenzip/7-Zip/9.20/7z920.exe

All downloads above are HTTP only so a fresh vanilla Windows 98 installation can use even Internet Explorer v5 to fetch all required items to get a TLS v1.2 compliant web browser.

Netscape Navigator was tested on a vanilla Windows 98 system that is no longer virgin Firefox 2, although the above should work fine notify of any issues.

In the Flock/Firefox upgrade pop-up nagware click 'Don't show again' or select Tools dropdown -> Add-ons -> Disable or Uninstall 'Netscape 9 Migrator 1.2'.

View -> Page Style -> No Style often needs to be toggled to display web page content.

Blast from the past, the built-in AOL and Yahoo search engines appear to work well!

Edited by Wunderbar98

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=== Vanilla Windows 98 Web Browsing Summary ===

== Web Browsers ==

Windows 98 had many cool web browsers though most are now non-functional due to lack of support for HTTPS website connectivity. Fortunately several browsers have been updated with TLS 1.2 support (Transport Layer Security) allowing them to connect to almost all HTTPS sites - for now :)

Note these old browsers do not display most web pages as intended, use work arounds outlined in the threads, and will not process JavaScript correctly even causing crashes, recommend disabling JavaScript. The list is sorted alphabetically, they are all quite functional. Links is the only browser listed that works in DOS.

K-Meleon
Forum member @roytam1's K-Meleon v1.5.4 fork. A nice, lean and configurable browser. Note not tested on a virgin vanilla Windows 98 install, should be okay though.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181726-k-meleon-tls-12-in-vanilla-windows-98-se

Links for DOS
A very functional graphic or text only web browser for DOS, configure as desired. Has been receiving periodic updates. Recently logged in to an HTML only Gmail account and successfully sent an email attachment - long live DOS.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181853-links-web-browser-community-edition-for-dos-with-tls-12

Netscape Navigator
Netscape Navigator v9.0.0.6, based on Firefox 2.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020/page/33/?tab=comments#comment-1189098

RetroZilla based on Firefox
Forum member @roytam1's RetroZilla browser based on Firefox 2, labelled 'Firefox Community Edition'. Note not tested on a virgin vanilla Windows 98 install, should be okay though. Forum member @siria provides the download link two posts up in the thread linked below.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181912-whos-still-using-win9x-on-the-web-besides-me/page/3/?tab=comments#comment-1188389

RetroZilla based on SeaMonkey
The 'RetroZilla Community Edition' member project, which includes both @rn10950's and @roytam1's RetroZilla build information, based on old SeaMonkey v1.1.19.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181416-retrozilla-community-edition

== Bonus ==

Windows 9x Web Helper (9xweb)
A Bash script that runs from a COMMAND.COM window. Designed to improve internet accessibility, such as easy cache page access, custom Wayback Machine date search for old URLs, search and fetch YouTube video, etc.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181417-windows-9x-web-helper-9xweb

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Netscape Navigator update
Upon end of support in early 2008, Netscape blogged:

Mozilla, Flock and AOL are working together to provide tools to ease the migration of existing Netscape browser users to our recommended Flock and Firefox alternatives. Both Flock and Firefox are built on the same Mozilla Firefox codebase.



This included default install of an add-on promoting a Flock or Firefox download, pop-up nagware that opens when the browser has been running. It can be remedied by clicking 'Don't show again' on the pop-up or selecting Tools dropdown -> Add-ons -> Disable or Uninstall 'Netscape 9 Migrator 1.2'. A quick note was placed on the Netscape 9 post above.
https://web.archive.org/web/20131014131031/http://blog.netscape.com/2008/01/28/netscape-browser-support-extended-to-march-1st/

The Book of Mozilla

The Book of Mozilla is a computer Easter egg found in the Netscape and Mozilla series of web browsers. It is viewed by directing the browser to about:mozilla.


There is no real book titled The Book of Mozilla. However, apparent quotations hidden in Netscape and Mozilla give this impression by revealing passages in the style of apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Revelation in the Bible. When about:mozilla is typed into the location bar, various versions of these browsers display a cryptic message in white text on a maroon background in the browser window.

There are eight official verses of The Book of Mozilla which have been included in shipping releases, although various unofficial verses can be found on the Internet. All eight official verses have scriptural chapter and verse references, although these are actually references to important dates in the history of Netscape and Mozilla.

The eight verses all refer to the activities of a fearsome-sounding "beast". In its early days, Netscape Communications had a green fire-breathing dragon-like lizard mascot, known as Mozilla (after the code name for Netscape Navigator 1.0). From this, it can be conjectured that the "beast" referred to in The Book of Mozilla is a type of fire-breathing lizard, which can be viewed as a metaphor for, or personification of Netscape.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mozilla

The RetroZilla startup splash screen depicts a green lizard-like creature standing on it's hind legs and breathing fire.

In Windows 98 SE entering about:mozilla in to Internet Explorer 5 does indeed provide a blue screen (actually looks more purple to me).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mozilla#Internet_Explorer
Edited by Wunderbar98

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