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FatBeaver

Struggling with Win98SE Installer on Modern System

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I'm currently trying to get windows 98 second edition installed on a modern PC. I've read through multiple guides, mostly here but with a couple of things from vogons, and I think I've completed all steps needed to make win98 work with more RAM. My install procedure is uses two drives, a 1TB HDD and a 240GB SSD, both formatted with single fat32 partitions of 64GiB. The drives are running in IDE mode. The HDD has freedos installed, as well as a folder containing the win98SE install files (which don't seem to be bootable directly, hence the use of freedos). I intend to install win98 on the SSD. I've made all changes to BIOS settings that I think I need to (disabling all but one CPU core, IDE hard drive mode) though I could easily have missed something.

So far I've booted freedos successfully and started the win98 setup.exe (with the /nm switch). Tt starts fine, running scandisk with no errors and then moving on to "Setup is preparing the Windows 98 Setup Wizard, which will guide you through the install process" with a percentage underneath, but when it reaches 100% setup stops with the error "SUWIN caused a Stack Fault in module SUWIN.EXE at 0003:3A66". I've struggled to find much information on this error, but it seems to be a memory issue. As a result I ran a memory test on the system and had no issues, so I'm not really sure what could be causing it. My only idea is possibly an issue with freedos's memory manager, but since I don't have a bootable win98 setup I'm not sure how else to do the install without it. Could anyone put forwards any other ideas for what I could try to fix/get around the issue?

Basic system info of the machine I'm trying to install on:
RAM: 4GiB, 1.333MHz
CPU: i5-2500 @ 3300MHz

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FreeDOS doesn't work well with Windows 98 setup program.

You need to have MS-DOS from either Windows 98SE or ME bootdisk to make setup program work correctly.

Sadly, you can't just replace the files, as FreeDOS MBR you have now expects KERNEL.SYS, not IO.SYS.

Make a bootable USB/CD/floppy of 98SE or ME bootdisk, and use it to FDISK, FORMAT, and copy system files (COMMAND.COM and IO.SYS) to the drive with the installation files.

Make sure to mark the partition as active in FDISK, if you have problems with this, use /ACTOK switch with fdisk.

Also make sure the partition is less than 127GB. Use percentage, instead of fixed size number in FDISK to help with that.

Do note that FDISK shows wrong numbers for large disks, so just ignore them.

You can also try using HIMEMX.EXE with the /MAX=524288 parameter to limit the RAM to 512MB, as 98SE works best with 512MB of RAM or below with NO errors.


Also don't forget to use "/p i" switch so you don't have ACPI errors with modern PCs.

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48 minutes ago, MrMateczko said:

Sadly, you can't just replace the files, as FreeDOS MBR you have now expects KERNEL.SYS, not IO.SYS.

To be picky (as I am BTW) the FreeDOS MBR expects - just like the DOS one - an active partition, whilst the FreeDOS PBR (or bootsector) of the active partition will expect the KERNEL,SYS instead of the IO.SYS BUT you can still use the FreeDOS SYS command with the /OEM:W9x switch,

http://help.fdos.org/en/hhstndrd/base/sys.htm

jaclaz

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Posted (edited)

I've never used FreeDOS version of SYS, if it works, it would be easier for OP.

I never got Win9x setup to work correctly on FreeDOS.

Edited by MrMateczko

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On 7/13/2019 at 9:02 PM, jaclaz said:

you can still use the FreeDOS SYS command with the /OEM:W9x switch

I'm using a full install FreeDOS 1.2, and while its internal help file lists that option for the /OEM switch as being available (as well as several others not listed on that help page you linked), when the sys command is actually used it fails and returns "SYS: unknown OEM qualifier W9x" and shows only three possible options for it: "FD", "EDR", and "DR". I'm not sure if this is a FreeDOS bug or me missing something, but for now it looks like that method won't work. If you're interested I can post the full details from the internal help file, and how they differ from those on that webpage.

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On 7/13/2019 at 8:02 PM, MrMateczko said:

Make a bootable USB/CD/floppy of 98SE or ME bootdisk, and use it to FDISK, FORMAT, and copy system files (COMMAND.COM and IO.SYS) to the drive with the installation files.

I've created a bootable WinME bootdisk on a USB thumbdrive (neither CD or floppy are available to me) and it only gives the options "boot from Hard Disk" and "Boot from CD-ROM", no DOS prompt or any way that I can see to get to one to follow those steps.
I've also attempted to use a Win98SE bootdisk on a thumbdrive, however when booted it endlessly asked me to provide it the location of COMMAND.COM, even when given the correct path (C:\COMMAND.COM). I verified that this was the correct path by connecting the USB drive to a different computer and looking through the files.
Lastly I tried each of them on a harddrive, (thinking that it may be an issue with USB drivers) but both of them gave the same I/O error and refused to boot.

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Try using Rufus and formatting the thumbdrive with the MS-DOS option (this option is not available on Windows 10, so you would need a PC with an older operating system like Windows 8.1 or 7), or you can use a virtual machine like VirtualBox with Windows 8.1/7 to format the flashdrive with the MS-DOS option.

Rufus uses own hex hacks for IO.SYS and COMMAND.COM to make a Windows ME (MS-DOS 8.0) bootable flashdrive, and this option is the most reliable for me, and never caused any problems.

When you've done that, download FDISK and FORMAT.COM from here (use No Ramdrive folder) and copy it to flash drive, you can also download SYS or any other file if that makes it easier for you...or all the files :P (except io.sys and command.com - those have to be from Rufus itself)

https://www.allbootdisks.com/disk_contents/download/me.html

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Posted (edited)

Ok, the easiest is - strangely enough - the most complex one :w00t:

If you have an USB stick available, the best option is making it boot a grub4dos, then add *any* Win9x/ME floppy image and boot to it.

Can you make the USB boot FreeDOS?

Or what OS are you running "normally"?

If *any* Windows NT, use (it is the easiest) RMPREPUSB:

https://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/grub4dos#TOC-Part-1---Making-a-bootable-USB-pen-

Then you can boot the floppy image *like*;

http://diddy.boot-land.net/grub4dos/files/map.htm#image

jaclaz

P.S.: there has been in the past a mess with FreeDOS SYS, maybe you have the "wrong" version, see here:

http://reboot.pro/topic/15123-freedos-bootsectors/

or try getting the actual one here:

http://www.fdos.org/kernel/sys/

 

Edited by jaclaz

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I was able to make the setup run using @MrMateczko's solution (borrowed a windows 7 machine from a friend), I didn't end up needed to use any other files on the drive because I had already formatted the target drive using gparted on a thumbdrive. The only slight issue I encountered was that I had to install the OS on drive d:\ because the bootable flashdrive was c:\. After install everything has gone smoothly, except for some reason the OS won't boot directly from the harddrive, I have to have the USB drive in the machine and choose to boot from that, then it automatically boots windows. I've checked that windows is installed on the right drive, and can verify this when windows is running by looking at the sizes of disks.

P.S. Thank you so much for your quick answers, and sorry for the delay, I've been away from my computer for a while.

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Posted (edited)

Well, you managed to have:

1) a non-bootable partition
2) a "wrong" drive letter assigned to it

IMHO the above would not be an acceptable result.

Issue #1 can be fixed easily by either using SYS from the USB stick or manually via grub4dos or disk editor

Issue #2 not so much COA2 would probably work, still it would be easier to reinstall once having booted from the "right" partition/disk

jaclaz

 

Edited by jaclaz

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Ah yes, I realise now that I kinda missed a step by running the win98 installer from the bootable USB drive instead of using sys from that drive and then running the installer once I had booted from the hard drive, sorry for the trouble. It'll be a little annoying to lose everything, but it shouldn't be too bad since I've not had the opportunity to do much, and I totally agree with you that it's not really an acceptable result. Thanks again!

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Yep :) re-installing a fresh system is not that bad, I mean it is not like it was a machine already used for years, customized, etc.

Only for the record, one of the good things of grub4dos is disk/drive remapping capabilities, even if you boot from the USB stick (and you then run a floppy image) you can re-map drives at BIOS level.

jaclaz

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Sorry for the super dummy question, just theoretical, not in-depth:
What would happen when trying to restore an old 98se backup image from an old notebook (Pentium3, build 2000-2002) on a younger machine, not using any tricks, just from a USB stick somehow with an image tool on it? Provided the first partition is FAT32 and sufficiently small...?
Machine dead if no revival experts around? How are the changes to get the system running "just so"...?

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The issue(s) is/are twofold:

#1 is with "old 98SE backup".

The EXACT way the backup was made might make a difference as it may contain (or fail to contain) some data useful for the restoring to "pristine" hardware.

#2 is with the EXACT new hardware at hand, as a number of drivers and settings may need to be changed (provided that appropriate Win9x drivers for the new hardware are available).

 

All in all I personally would do it in two steps:

1) have the backup restored (and working) in a VM - specifically - in Qemu that can emulate hardware similar to the "original" one
2) make a copy of this latter install and attempt to have it run on the new hardware

jaclaz

 

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I'm struggling to use SYS on the USB thumbdrive to make the main harddrive bootable (to run the win98SE installer from that), it says that it will only work on the C: drive, which is the USB thumbdrive itself. Do I have to find a different version of SYS from somewhere, or am I doing something wrong?

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