First post, by antillies
This is the second thread that I've started on this site, apart from this. I'm pleased to report that - thanks to the help of members here and elsewhere - my efforts were successful insofar as the objective above. I wanted to make a post chronicling my journey, not only to give thanks to those who helped me, but also to serve as another potential source of guidance to those who might ever look to do the same.
I want to first thank the site as a whole and its maintainers. When the idea of creating a dual-boot gaming setup first entered my mind, Vogons was mentioned multiple times in the first few Reddit posts I happened upon. It's wonderful that such a resource of knowledge exists and continues to cultivate such enthusiasm. I would also like to thank user the_ultra_code, whose Socket 478 & Pentium 4 build first served as my example that doing this would be possible.
Allow me to move quickly to the build itself for those who are primarily interested in the specs. I'll save my narrative and further appreciation-heaping for later.
My Pentium 4/Socket 478 Dual-Boot Windows 98 & Windows XP Gaming Setup
Motherboard: ASUS P4P800 Deluxe with Socket 478
Chipset: Intel 82865PE
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz
CPU Cooler: Intel Heatsink with Cooling Fan, A80856-002, for Socket 478
Memory: 4x 512 MB Kingston HyperX PC3200
GPU: EVGA e-GeForce 6200 DDR 256 MB AGP 8x
Sound Card: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (Dell variant) PCI Card
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 320 GB 3.5" 7200RPM OEM
Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST DVD/CD Writer
Power Supply: Corsair CX450M 450W 80 Plus Bronze
Case: Antec VSK4000E U3 Black SGCC steel Micro ATX Mid Tower
For more images, please see the full Imgur album.
I grew up with computers, starting with Windows 98 (perhaps even W95, though I may have been too young at the time to remember) through XP and onward. The consciousness of my nostalgia was informed in many ways by the games I played across those two operating systems. Recently, a desire to be able to play those games in a more native environment came upon me. But - you may say - you can get many of these to run on modern OS's, and from GOG and even Steam! And while that may be true, I felt irreversibly drawn to replicating my earlier experience as much as possible. Furthermore, I thought the journey itself would be fun and help me learn more about computing in general.
Although I am not new to computer building, this was my first foray into assembling a more antiquated setup. Cursory searches (which drew me to Vogons) made it seem like a dual-boot system was possible, but I had little idea where to begin. I had no knowledge or familiarity with older hardware - I did not know where the benchmarks fell or what parts went best with others. I tailored my initial investigation after the XP system I had growing up, which I am fairly certain had an AMD Athlon CPU. I thought it would be appropriate to pair it with an AMD GPU, which is what I proposed in my initial request for help.
I received many helpful suggestions, and the general consensus for what I was trying to do was to pair, contrary to my original direction, a Pentium 4 with a Socket 478 motherboard. I agreed with this for the following reasons:
1. As users noted, the associated chipset (865) with Socket 478 motherboards had a longer range of support when it came to both Windows 98 and XP. This meant greater (and still existing) driver support. As I knew finding drivers might be tough given the older parts, I leaned toward limiting difficulty in that way.
2. Socket 478 motherboards more commonly have AGP ports (which would ease use of an AGP graphics card between both operating systems), as well as more "modern" connectors (e.g. SATA)
3. I had been under the impression from a little bit of former research that during the era I was targeting AMD processors beat out those of Intel; this turned out to not be the case.
4. If I selected an AMD Athlon CPU, I would need to ensure the power supply had a 5v rail. Given my lack of familiarity with what this meant, I was more comfortable using a modern PSU, so opted not to pursue the AMD processor route (and thus also avoid Socket A motherboards).
Once I had decided on the CPU and motherboard combo, the rest fell into place fairly easily. I knew the latest game I wanted the build to be able to play on the XP-side of things was Star Wars: Battlefront, which required a graphics card compatible with DirectX 9 and with 256 MB of VRAM.
I should mention now that two principles guided my part selection: 1) authenticity was not a huge concern of mine; if I could substitute a modern part (ideally, less expensive), I was fine with that and 2) a lot of the advice I got was to go the cheaper route when it came to selecting era parts; since I was not trying to "max out" my build, this also made sense to me.
User mothergoose729 suggested a GPU in the GeForce 6 Series and user chinny22 shared a build of his that featured a GeForce 6800 Ultra (256MB, AGP). I used the Vogons' wiki to understand the range of selection better and to narrow my choices down. Combined with the above advice, I opted for a GeForce 6200, as I found a good deal and it ended up being less expensive than the higher-range GeForce 6 Series cards.
For the audio card, the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS appealed itself to me so I settled on that fairly quickly. The motherboard, CPU, CPU cooler, and RAM I secured in a single lot, which made those decisions rather easy. For the rest of the build I targeted inexpensive modern parts, which you can find in the list at the beginning. Altogether, I spent somewhere between $250-300 on the build in its entirety.
Putting everything together went fairly quickly and easily with two minor exceptions. The case I chose ended up being pretty tight to fit the motherboard inside. I had to mess around with the angle of entry before I succeeded. The other issue I encountered had to do with the power supply. Originally, I had purchased a Corsair CV450 450W. In my excitement to have all the parts picked out, I neglected to consider that the physical layout of my motherboard might necessitate a different power connection than the 24-pin ATX main power connector that my primary rig worked with. Upon installing the CV450, this ended up being the case. The P4P800 needs a 20-pin ATX main power connector plus a 4-pin 12V connector. The non-separable 24-pin connector physically would not fit in the 20-pin slot because the edge of the slot prevented entry. This gave me a moment to consider the issue and find a PSU that would work. I opted for the one listed in the specifications. When it arrived, the main connector worked just fine but I did confuse myself a bit by thinking that the 4-pin connector (the one separated from the 20- plus 4-pin main connector) was the 4-pin 12V connector I needed on the opposite side of the board. I was soon disabused of this notion because the shape of the 4-pin 12V slots were opposite that of the 4-pin connector. This puzzled me for a bit and I thought I had messed up again, a mistake I'm sure you would have all made clear to me. Researching it a bit, I discovered, to my relief, that one of the 4-pin connectors with the CPU power cable was actually what I needed. I took it out of the box and amazingly it fit the shape of the slots.
My plan for creating the dual-boot environment was as follows:
1. Following the advice in this thread, I was going to partition my drive in the following way:
a. Install Windows 98 on a C: FAT32 partition of 5GB
b. Install XP on a separate NTFS partition of 10GB
c. Allocate the remaining space to a third FAT32 partition to be accessible to both operating systems
2. Install Windows 98
3. Use the HimemX workaround to "hide" the additional memory from Windows 98
4. Install XP
5. Create the remaining FAT32 partition
The actual installation of Windows 98 went seamlessly but it was after the fact that I struggled with installing both the memory fix and drivers.
When I first powered up, I was not getting a video signal to my monitor. I made sure the graphics card was slotted correctly but still no signal. I worried the card itself might be the issue but on a hunch I removed three of the four memory sticks (leaving the system with only 512MB of RAM) and it booted right up. A second problem I ran into was that the motherboard was not picking up my optical drive. I remembered reading somewhere (either on Vogons or in the manual) about needing to change the IDE mode for legacy systems. I navigated through the BIOS setup until I found what I thought was the appropriate option. I changed it from "Enhanced" to "Compatibility," and that did the trick.
The first time I ran the Windows 98 install I allowed the installer to partition the drive but ultimately, after running through it many times, I settled on creating the partition myself before beginning the installation process. I did this by following these steps:
1. With the Windows 98 install CD inserted, power on, and choose "Boot from CD-ROM"
2. Then, at the next menu, choose "Continue without CD-ROM support"
[This will bring up a command line prompt]
3. Type "fdisk"
4. Create a new primary partition (size it as you will; I chose 5000MB)
5. Exit fdisk and proceed with install, choosing "Continue with CD-ROM support" when the option is again presented to you, and allowing the installer to format the partition to FAT32.
When the installation finished and I booted to the desktop for the first time I ran into two issues:
1. I noticed the colors were off and it seemed like certain features (such as the 3d screen savers) had artifacts or were pixilated. Eventually I figured out that this was due to the lack of installed drivers for the GPU. I put in the driver CD that accompanied the graphics card and ran a setup file on the CD to install the drivers. Like that, the problem disappeared (and now I had access to more resolutions and more color schemes other than only 2- or 16-colors). Another problem cropped up though - when I tried to verify that the issue with the 3d screensaver had been resolved, I got an error saying that an "illegal program" was running and that Windows would have to stop it. The detailed error message referenced the kernel and included memory addresses. I was puzzled. I thought maybe it had to do something with the graphics acceleration so I turned it off, which solved the problem and I was able to bask in the wonderful nostalgia of 3d pipes.
2. The second issue had to do with the sound card. Initially, the sound card was not recognized. Though I did not realize it immediately, it presented as an unknown PCI Multimedia Audio Device. Investigating why sound wasn't playing led me to notice a) the Volume Control would not open and b) the "play" buttons in Sounds were grayed out. I suspected the drivers for the card were likewise not installed (duh) so I inserted the install CD. When I attempted to install the drivers from the auto-run interface, the installation failed, saying that no Audigy 2 was installed. I did some research online and happened upon this post. I followed the steps, opening the CD in Explorer, navigating to Audio/Drivers/VxD and extracting the files there to a folder on the Desktop. I then went into the Device Manager, chose the unknown PCI audio device, and chose to reinstall the drivers, pointing it to the driver folder on the Desktop when prompted. Windows found the proper drivers, and the sound card was then recognized as a Creative Audigy Audio Processor.
Once I had the drivers installed, I turned my attention to getting the additional memory working. Initially, I followed the steps listed here, which involved editing both system.ini and config.sys. Note: this did not work for me. In fact, it ended up causing far more problems than it solved. I did get the setup working once with these changes but I had to start over due to something unrelated. The primary issue I ran into with this approach - owing primarily, I have to imagine, to the changes made to system.ini - was that after inserting the additional memory, I would get a screen with green and green-blue vertical lines at the point where Windows would boot to the Desktop. This happened time and time again. Each time I thought I had screwed up the install or not seated the RAM properly.
After redoing everything for probably the fifteenth time I was frustrated and sad that it wasn't working and decided to re-approach. I looked back over my sources and discovered this post by the_ultra_code , which suggested only one edit to make to config.sys. The "/MAX=524288" part of the line was new to me, as well as the suggestion of getting the HimemX file off of Sourceforge. I think when I originally downloaded HimemX I got it off of what I thought was the original site but I think now my copy of it may have been bad. Regardless, I was open to trying anything at this point to get a working install so I downloaded the copy of HimemX off Sourceforge (here), burned it to a disk, and, at the first boot to desktop, made the one line change to config.sys (no changes to system.ini this time) and dragged HimemX.exe from the CD to C:\Windows. I powered off, inserted the additional sticks of RAM, and powered back up. For the first time, I saw the HimemX screen, with white text on black, and Windows booted perfectly fine. I was shocked but relieved, and so very happy to have it all working.
Then came installing XP. No issues here. Chose to install it in the unallocated space, creating a separate NTFS partition of 10GB when prompted to by the installer. After the installation finished, got the video and audio drivers working. Easy enough.
The last difficulty I ran into was creating my third and final partition on the drive. I originally tried to use FDISK on the Windows 98 install CD to create a FAT32 partition that would take up the remaining space. However, as Windows 98 can only see up to about 40GB on a drive, I didn't feel comfortable leaving almost 240GB unallocated (not that I needed it for games, but I'd rather have it used than not). I tried to use DISKPART and Disk Manager on my Windows 7 machine but they could only format NTFS partitions of that size. After some trial and error (and, as a result, additional install passes), I turned to the MiniTool Partition Wizard to do the work. It succeeded in creating a FAT32 partition of about 290GB on the drive but it consequently broke the boot config file. When I reinserted the drive and booted back up, it could not find the install of Windows XP. I followed the steps listed here under "Fix #2: Manually attempt reubild of boot.ini" to repair the boot config. The solution worked as prescribed and I was able to boot back into XP.
Conclusion and Thank You
Building a dual-boot system of Windows 98 and XP from scratch proved much more challenging than I had originally anticipated, and was certainly more difficult than if I had bought a used XP system already assembled. However, although frustrating at points, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. It taught me quite a lot, and it's incredibly rewarding to have built my own setup. I apologize for being long-winded but I wanted to share my exact process on the off-chance it might help someone else who finds themselves in a similar situation. Should anyone be curious of one part or another, or have specific questions, please do not hesitate to reply or to contact me by PM. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
My one regret for the process was not taking enough time to look for a slightly better case. The Antec was about as inexpensive as they come and compact. However, it was far from ideal when it came to cable management and the number of fan mountings. I think if I were to do this over I would instead go with a model in the Corsair Carbide series, perhaps either the 100R or 110R. They're slightly larger than the Antec I went with but offer better cable management options, more fan mounting points, and a tempered glass side panel.
I would like to take these final words to thank those more appropriately who have helped advise me and give me guidance, either through direct solicitation or through example:
mothergoose729, foil_fresh, and chiny22 for their invaluable suggestions and insight that put me on the right path. I could not have found my own way without their help. Also, thank you to chinny22 for his P4P800 build and suggestion about how to partition drives for a dual-boot 98/XP environment.
the_ultra_code, for inspiring me with his Pentium 4 Socket 478 98/XP setup and showing me that what began as only an idea in my mind was in fact possible. And for his helpful clarification on the proper way to implement the HimemX fix.
aha2940 for his input and clarifications.
Reddit user BadManiac, for his helpful post and for being the first to respond to my inquiries regarding guidance.
Reddit user cdoublejj, who was the original referral to this wonderful site.
Thank you again, to all of you. And thank you to this great site. You've helped me realize something that has always been a dream of mine. Thank you thank you.