VOGONS


First post, by MaximRecoil

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Whenever I've installed Windows 98 SE, I always get an hourglass beside the mouse pointer for 10 or 15 seconds after the desktop loads. It does that from the very first boot on a fresh install, and I've never been able to fix it, not even by disabling every startup item in msconfig. Windows 98 FE doesn't do that; as soon as the desktop loads it's ready to go.

The other day I decided to try a 32 GB CompactFlash card instead of the old Maxtor 80 GB HDD I was using. Since the CF card should be a lot faster than the HDD, I thought that might eliminate SE's hourglassing. The results were terrible. Not only did it not eliminate the hourglassing, but SE ran like garbage on it. Copying a somewhat large file like the IE6 installation took about 2 minutes (whereas it only took several seconds on the old HDD) and while it was copying, the mouse pointer would intermittently freeze/lag. The pointer would freeze/lag every time there was any significant disk activity, and it did it both before and after I'd installed the drivers (video card, sound, etc.)

Before giving up on the CF card I decided to try Windows 98 FE, not that I really expected it to make a difference, but amazingly, it ran beautifully. The file copy that took several seconds on the HDD and 2 minutes on the CF card with 98 SE, was instantaneous with 98 FE, and there was no mouse pointer freezing/lagging no matter how much disk activity was going on. I did a benchmark to see how it compared with the HDD and here are the results (HDD on the left, CF card on the right, 98 FE in both cases):

AkJKIjE.png

I wish I'd done a benchmark with 98 SE on the CF card but I didn't think of it before wiping it to install FE instead.

Does anyone know what it is about 98 SE that made it run so poorly on the CF card while 98 FE runs so great on the same CF card and same computer hardware?

The computer consists of:

Asus A7A266 motherboard
AMD Athlon XP 2600+ CPU
1 GB DDR RAM
SanDisk Extreme Pro 32 GB CF card plus IDE adapter with DMA support

Reply 2 of 12, by Jorpho

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Win9x is well-known to have problems on systems with more than 512 MB of RAM, though some systems cope with it better than others. That might well be the problem here.

MaximRecoil wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:17:

not even by disabling every startup item in msconfig.

There are lots of clever places to hide startup items that are not covered by msconfig. I think Sysinternals had a version of "Autoruns" that worked in Windows 98; you should give that a try.

Reply 3 of 12, by mothergoose729

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:23:

Win9x is well-known to have problems on systems with more than 512 MB of RAM, though some systems cope with it better than others. That might well be the problem here.

MaximRecoil wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:17:

not even by disabling every startup item in msconfig.

There are lots of clever places to hide startup items that are not covered by msconfig. I think Sysinternals had a version of "Autoruns" that worked in Windows 98; you should give that a try.

That's a good point. Having 1gb of RAM shouldn't effect how the CF card benchmarks, but it can't hurt to try it again with 512mbs of RAM instead.

Reply 4 of 12, by MaximRecoil

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:20:

Did you enable DMA? What about write alignment? You want to partition flash storage on a modern computer first to get the best performance.

Enable DMA where? It's enabled by default in the BIOS; it enables it when it detects an 80-wire IDE cable rather than a 40-wire.

I partitioned the CF card in Windows XP using the built-in utility Diskpart.

Jorpho wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:23:

Win9x is well-known to have problems on systems with more than 512 MB of RAM, though some systems cope with it better than others. That might well be the problem here.

The only problem I've encountered is that it won't open a command window (it says it doesn't have enough memory to do so, ironically), which is solved by limiting the VCache to 512 MB in the system.ini file, which is a solution that's posted on one of Microsoft's old web pages:

[VCache]
MaxFileCache=524288

Keep in mind that the gist of all of this is that 98 SE runs like garbage while 98 FE runs beautifully, on the same CF card, same hardware, same everything. When I wiped SE to install FE, all I did was format C: and install FE. I didn't repartition, I didn't change any BIOS settings; I didn't change anything.

Reply 5 of 12, by Jorpho

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I dimly recall that 98 SE does handle optimization differently from 98 FE, though I cannot recall the details.

MaximRecoil wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:48:

Enable DMA where? It's enabled by default in the BIOS; it enables it when it detects an 80-wire IDE cable rather than a 40-wire.

DMA will not necessarily be enabled in the OS merely because it is enabled in the BIOS. One way to check would be in Device Manager.

The only problem I've encountered is that it won't open a command window (it says it doesn't have enough memory to do so, ironically), which is solved by limiting the VCache to 512 MB in the system.ini file, which is a solution that's posted on one of Microsoft's old web pages:

[VCache]
MaxFileCache=524288

Yes, that is one of the primary symptoms, but editing system.ini is only a partial remedy. Like I said, the precise details are murky. More complete solutions include using HIMEMX as a replacement for HIMEM in config.sys, or using rloew's patch.

Reply 6 of 12, by MaximRecoil

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-02-21, 19:05:

DMA will not necessarily be enabled in the OS merely because it is enabled in the BIOS. One way to check would be in Device Manager.

I can't check right now because SE is gone, but it's enabled by default in FE:

lFe2qa2.png

Does it get enabled by default in SE? By the time Windows 98 SE came out, all new or fairly new PCs had at least some level of DMA, which came along in 1994 and supplanted the PIO standard.

Yes, that is one of the primary symptoms, but editing system.ini is only a partial remedy. Like I said, the precise details are murky. More complete solutions include using HIMEMX as a replacement for HIMEM in config.sys, or using rloew's patch.

Are there problems with 1 GB of RAM in SE that FE doesn't have? FE is running perfectly with it. If SE doesn't enable DMA by default despite it being enabled in the BIOS and has problems with more than 512 MB of RAM that FE doesn't have, then those aspects of SE would be downgrades rather than upgrades.

There are lots of clever places to hide startup items that are not covered by msconfig. I think Sysinternals had a version of "Autoruns" that worked in Windows 98; you should give that a try.

Do you know which startup process or processes cause the 10 or 15 seconds of hourglassing after the desktop loads?

Reply 8 of 12, by MaximRecoil

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-02-21, 21:26:

We know that you know lots of things about computers.

?

Try some of the suggestions.

MaximRecoil wrote on 2021-02-21, 19:43:

I can't check right now because SE is gone

Before I install SE again to try anything, I want an image of the CF card with FE on it, but the first tool I tried (HDD Raw Copy Tool) isn't working ("write error 5 can not write to target"). I don't know why; the partition I'm trying to write the compressed image file to has 34 GB of free space and the CF card is 30 GB.

Reply 9 of 12, by Jorpho

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MaximRecoil wrote on 2021-02-21, 19:43:

Does it get enabled by default in SE? By the time Windows 98 SE came out, all new or fairly new PCs had at least some level of DMA, which came along in 1994 and supplanted the PIO standard.

There are surely systems where it is enabled by default and systems where it is not. The Intel Application Accelerator used to be required to enable UDMA on some systems, for instance.

Are there problems with 1 GB of RAM in SE that FE doesn't have? FE is running perfectly with it.

If you are looking for hard and fast answers that will unfailingly apply to all situations, I doubt you will find them.

MaximRecoil wrote on 2021-02-21, 22:40:

I don't know why; the partition I'm trying to write the compressed image file to has 34 GB of free space and the CF card is 30 GB.

If you are trying to write a file larger than 4 GB to a FAT32 partition, then that would do it.

Reply 10 of 12, by MaximRecoil

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-02-21, 23:14:

If you are trying to write a file larger than 4 GB to a FAT32 partition, then that would do it.

It's an NTFS partition in XP. I have XP and 98 FE, dual boot, on the old Maxtor HDD (I've left it disconnected since putting the CF card in there), so I put the CF card on the secondary IDE channel and the HDD on the primary channel and booted to XP. In HDD Raw Copy Tool I selected the CF card as the source and a compressed image file on an NTFS partion with 34 GB of free space as the destination. Later, I also tried it with a USB flash drive, NTFS, with 70-someodd GB free, and it did the same thing. I ended up installing an old copy of Norton Ghost that I've had for about 18 years, and that worked fine. I'll install 98 SE again on the CF card later, and check the DMA setting.

Reply 11 of 12, by MaximRecoil

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I got Windows 98 SE installed again, and DMA for the CF drive was not enabled by default like it was in FE, and enabling it solved the issue with the slow drive and freezing/lagging mouse pointer during disk activity, so thanks for that suggestion. In fact, the benchmark is actually higher now than it was in FE (overall score of 59985.9 vs. 51461.9:

DiFQxrd.png

As a side note, I also ran that benchmark before adding the "MaxFileCache=524288" line to the system.ini file, and the results were about the same up until the last few blocks, where it dropped off drastically in speed, down to about 25 MB/s, so that line in the system.ini file does improve performance for systems with more than 512 MB of RAM, in more areas than just allowing you to open a command window.

The unrelated 15-second hourglass after the desktop loads issue is still there though, which doesn't happen in FE. Sysinternals Autoruns, under the logon tab, shows the same items as msconfig does, and I already know that disabling all of those doesn't fix the problem. There is also an Explorer and Internet Explorer tab with tons of items in each one, and I have no idea what ones, if any, may be causing the hourglassing at logon.

Reply 12 of 12, by MaximRecoil

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I just noticed a new problem with SE: when I select "shutdown" it restarts instead. "Disable Fast Shutdown" in msconfig is selected by default, though I tried deselecting it but it didn't make a difference. I also removed the 1 GB of RAM and put in 512 MB, but that didn't change anything either. I tried Microsoft's "Windows 98 Second Edition Shutdown Supplement" patch too; no change.

I did install NUSB v3.3e, which made Windows work with my USB flash drive (that was the reason I wanted to use SE instead of FE, because NUSB can't be installed on FE), so I don't know if that's what's causing the problem or not. I don't know if it was doing it before I installed NUSB because this is a fresh install of Windows and I've only been intentionally rebooting while getting things configured, until about a half hour ago when I was done for the night and tried to shut down.

Edit: It's starting to do it intermittently now. For my last 4 attempts to shutdown it rebooted, shutdown, rebooted, shutdown.

Edit 2: It seems to be fixed now. I have a PCI card with two USB 2.0 ports that I normally have to install drivers for. However, on this Windows installation after I installed NUSB, the PCI USB card showed up in Device Manager without any issues indicated, and it worked, so I didn't install the VIA VT6202 drivers for it. Plus I didn't know if installing the drivers would interfere with NUSB or not. However, I just installed the VIA drivers and that fixed the shutdown problem immediately, plus it still works with my USB flash drive, so everything is working fine now except it still has the 15-second hourglass at logon. 98 SE has always done that in my experience, no matter what hardware I've installed it on over the past ~20 years, and it even does it when installed in a virtualization program like Virtual PC.