Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Getting old software/games running on older hardware.

Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby xjas » 2018-4-15 @ 22:01

As the title says... I'm upgrading my Thinkpad to a 4GB SSD (yes, four gigabytes) and wouldn't mind turning off the swap. Mostly to save a bit of space, but also to prevent wear on the drive, even though I doubt that'd be an issue over the kind of light use it gets.

I don't do any reeeeeally memory-intensive stuff on there, although I do have Yamaha's S-YXG100 softsynth, a couple of MIDI sequencers (XG Works 3 & an ancient version of Ableton Live (4.something), but I don't use them for audio on that machine - just MIDI) and an old copy of Photoshop.

It has 384MB in it right now which already seems like overkill for 98. I can probably find 512 if I dig through my stash of RAM, but I'm not overly motivated to.

What do you guys do? Swap or no swap?
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby Jo22 » 2018-4-15 @ 23:54

To be honest, I'm not sure either. These are my thoughts:
Disabling in Win98 is easier than in 3.x (win32s demands it), but some applications require it.
For example, Photoshop Elements doesn't work properly without one.

IMHO, there's no general rule for this. Just configure it according your usage.
If you have plenty of RAM, but none of your applications complain, disable it.

On the other hand, I don't know about the internals of Win98SE enough to make any recommendation.
For example, Windows 98(SE) had the ability to run program code straight from cache,+
if it was properly aligned to 4KB boundaries (DOSBox devs, do you hear me ? :D).
Not sure how performance would suffer from a missing cache/swap file..

On the other hand, again, some flash media (esp. CF/SD cards) do "stutter" if they have
to do a lot of things simultanously. Disabling the caches (and using DMA) lowers the stress on them.


Alternatively, you could try to use a physical RAM drive for the swap file.
Years ago, they were mentioned as PCI/PCie cards and had RAM slots.

Yeah, I know, it sounds absurd (performance wise) - but it would make most applications happy.
Maybe something like this (non-bootable) could be designed by us hobbyists ?

Like for example, an SD/CF-card "emulator" that works a bit like those old EPROM simulators from the 70s/80s ?
It would attach to IDE and simulate a small IDE drive of a few megabytes using a little µC and some serial RAM chips or old SIMMs?

Okay, I'm officially silly now! *^_^*
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby RogueTrip2012 » 2018-4-16 @ 13:59

Leave it enabled. You can set 0 min and 128 or more max if you want.

In system.ini file under the 386enh add
ConservativeSwapFileUsage=1

The tweak will make windows use as much ram as it can before using the swapfile.
Last edited by RogueTrip2012 on 2018-4-16 @ 23:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby Zup » 2018-4-16 @ 17:03

Yes, you need it. Windows 9x is highly unstable without swap file, so you need it. Put it at the minimum allowable, but don't disable it.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby chinny22 » 2018-4-19 @ 14:09

I say go for it. If you run into trouble you can always enable it again.
I've disabled it in the past on my retro PC's with crazy amount of ram for win9x (512MB) and just because I could.
Games I was running never had any problems, and that's all they were doing. playing a game.

In saying that, These days I set a small swap file as I have plenty of HDD space as well just to be on the safe side.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2018-4-19 @ 15:11

ramdisk, throw swap on it...
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby AlaricD » 2018-4-19 @ 15:20

BloodyCactus wrote:ramdisk, throw swap on it...

You could cut off the bottom of the blanket and sew it to the top of your blanket to make your blanket longer, too.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby Zup » 2018-4-19 @ 16:02

AlaricD wrote:
BloodyCactus wrote:ramdisk, throw swap on it...

You could cut off the bottom of the blanket and sew it to the top of your blanket to make your blanket longer, too.


It's not so dumb as it seems.

In my experience, any Windows 9x without swap is very unstable so you need at least a minimal swap file. That's not a problem if you've got a traditional hard disk, but if you've got a SSD you don't want any unwanted write.

So, if you've got enough RAM you may reserve some as a RAM disk and try to put your swap file on it. You'll have a swap file but your SSD will be safe.

Also, I've hard that some people uses RAM disks to put the amount of free RAM below 768 megs (because Windows 98 won't be happy running with too much RAM).
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby chinny22 » 2018-4-19 @ 16:08

yeh its actually windows that's dumb. It sees a swap file and is happy but doesn't realise/care its actually IN ram.
I still found the analogy funny though
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby AlaricD » 2018-4-19 @ 18:08

It's been ages since I've tried it, but it seems to me the RAM disks that launched in CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT ran in "MS-DOS compatibility mode", severely slowing them down despite them being in RAM. (And by ages, I mean 2000 at the very latest. I was trying to do something with a 430FX chipset system and loading a RAM disk in the last 16MB of RAM so that Windows would use the first 64MB of RAM and therefore be within the 64MB cacheable area of that chipset.)

For a 32-bit RAM disk (installed as a .VXD or similarly), it needed to exist before Windows started; trying to launch the RAM disk before Windows started the swapfile seemed to prove an impossibility, making that RAM disk an unsuitable swapfile target.

I'll have to try this again soon and see what happens.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2018-4-19 @ 19:35

xmsdsk. call it from autoexec bat and not config sys, to bypass compatability mode and warnings and stuff.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby AlaricD » 2018-4-19 @ 20:05

The readme does say "Win95 does use the 16-Bit (=compatibility) mode to access this drive but leaves all other drives unaffected and 32-Bit access functional." I'll definitely try it out, but knowing what the Readme says and just the my experience with other RAM drives, it may still be the case here.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby Jo22 » 2018-4-20 @ 14:19

AlaricD wrote:
BloodyCactus wrote:ramdisk, throw swap on it...

You could cut off the bottom of the blanket and sew it to the top of your blanket to make your blanket longer, too.

Oh well, I should never have had raised the RAM disk subject at all. :depressed:

Edit: What I mean - I see parallels between this and the old Windows XP+PAE+RAM disk thing.
Back in time, people tried to take advantage of Gaotte RAM Disk's ability to use PAE
to utilize the memory beyong 4GiB. To accomplish this, they too placed the paging file into this RAM drive..
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby .legaCy » 2018-4-22 @ 17:26

Tried Windows 98 without swap and ooooh boy, it was hell, seriously, even simple application sometimes misbehaved because the lack of swap.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby xjas » 2018-4-23 @ 01:00

I ended up fixing it at 100MB (i.e. 100 min, 100 max.) Ableton 4 is none too happy with that, but it's more just on there for laughs anyway. Everything else seems fine. I might bump it up to 256MB and see how that goes.

Not gonna mess with a RAM drive on this machine because I want programs to see as much physical RAM as it has.

Out of curiosity, my old 9x-XP "rule of thumb", which I'm disobeying here, was always ~2.5x the RAM capacity (e.g. 256MB RAM, 640MB swap), although I think that was more to keep me comfortable than the OS or software. Is that completely overkill? On modern machines with current RAM capacity that's not even remotely needed anymore.

RogueTrip2012 wrote:Leave it enabled. You can set 0 min and 128 or more max if you want.

In system.ini file under the 386enh add
ConservativeSwapFileUsage=1

The tweak will make windows use as much ram as it can before using the swapfile.


Ooh, didn't know about that switch. Sounds useful.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2018-4-23 @ 02:18

ConservativeSwapFileUsage does not do what you think it does; It disables async writes to the page file and will queue them up sequentially instead

NFO: The Windows 98 PageFile_Call_Async_Manager Service

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The information in this article applies to:

Microsoft Windows 98
Microsoft Windows 98 Driver Development Kit (DDK)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


SUMMARY
Windows 98 added a new feature, PageFile_Call_Async_Manager, that allows the Memory Manager to asynchronously write out page file (swap file) buffers during periods of time when VFAT file system activity is not busy.

This feature can affect the behavior of VxDs that monitor and/or otherwise intercept PageFile VxD functions. This article is applicable to you if your VxD hooks PageFile_Read_Or_Write, and you discover that you are not seeing all the page file traffic when using Windows 98.



MORE INFORMATION
You can disable this feature, causing the system to behave as Windows 95 does, at some cost in overall system performance. Add the following entry to the System.ini file, in its [386Enh] section:

[386Enh]
ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1
When the above Boolean is set to TRUE as shown, PageFile_Call_Async_Manager is never called. If this entry is absent from System.ini, the default setting for ConservativeSwapfileUsage is 1 for Windows 95, and 0 (zero) for Windows 98.

When Windows 98 performs asynchronous writes to the swapfile, this activity is not captured by hooking PageFile_Read_Or_Write(). The PageFile_Set_Async_Manager service is called by VFAT to notify PageFile that VFAT is the manager of Async swap file activity; in fact, this makes the PageFile_Call_Async_Manager service become handled by a routine inside VFAT.

Memory Manager calls PageFile_Call_Async_Manager, supplying the service with a pointer to a Filesystem Idle routine mmFsIdle (in the Memory Manager). VFAT later calls this function when VFAT is completely idle (all pending VFAT writes have been written), so Memory Manager can execute asynchronous writes:
ULONG INTERNAL mmFsIdle(void);
In return, PageFile_Call_Async_Manager returns a pointer to a function that Memory Manager uses to perform the (async) writes to the pagefile:

extern int (CDECL *pfnAsyncPageOut)(PVOID pvBuffer, ULONG bFileOffset);
This function is actually inside VFAT (WriteAsyncSwapPage), which copies one page into its cache buffer and writes it. mmFsIdle uses an algorithm that generates pfnAsyncPageOut calls (that are actually calls to the internal VFAT routine).
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby Azarien » 2018-4-23 @ 15:39

xjas wrote:Out of curiosity, my old 9x-XP "rule of thumb", which I'm disobeying here, was always ~2.5x the RAM capacity (e.g. 256MB RAM, 640MB swap), although I think that was more to keep me comfortable than the OS or software.


I think the "rule of thumb" should be: just leave it alone at default settings.
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Re: Do you *need* a swap file with Win98 & 384/512MB RAM?

Postby DataPro » 2018-6-01 @ 11:51

I have a Pentium 166Mhz with 112Mb RAM 2 x 4Gb CFlash HDD and I disabled pagefiles under WIn98SE.
I only use MIDI software and game and it's just fine & fast; no crash, slowdown or freeze
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