VOGONS


First post, by washer

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I just came across this nice little laptop in a vintage shop in a small town. Got a great deal on it. The seller didn't know if it worked or not as he didn't have a cable for it. Turns out it fired up into windows 2000. A few keyboard keys I had to fix but all good otherwise.

My question is how do I downgrade to DOS 6.22 / win 3.11 on this laptop? I only have a CD drive, no floppy. The machine doesn't boot from cd I don't believe, you have to get into DOS first, but I can't because windows 2000 doesn't have DOS. It's kind of confusing. Would I have to take the hard drive out and format it and then install DOS on it somehow?

Any advice and direction would be greatly appreciated, I am not sure how to go about this.

Cheers!

-washer

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-washer

Reply 1 of 9, by progman.exe

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Win2k on 48 meg of RAM and a laptop HDD..... that must run like a pig!

Anyway, someone got win2k onto it so the problem is not insurmountable.

What's the BIOS like? I have a Portege 7200 here and I am sure that has some boot order options. But I do have the portege's docking station, so can network or floppy or CDROM boot. I think to get into the BIOS power it up whilst holding esc or F1, and it will either go into the BIOS or tell you there is a problem, and offer the BIOS.

Other choice? Take the HDD out and back it up.... you will need something with a 2.5" IDE connector, so an adapter for a desktop, or a USB caddy. Then format to FAT16 and make it a system disk from a DOS system (er, the USB suggestion will fail here). Copy the DOS/win3 install media to the HDD, or maybe just \dos to the laptop drive, put it in the laptop and start her up. Run the installers from the HDD.

Whilst having the disk out, might as well copy on any other installers you will need, like the network...if it has it. IIRC that era of machines tended to be PCMCIA cards with horrible delicate adapters.

Reply 2 of 9, by washer

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Thanks for the response. Haha yeah it does run like a pig!!!! Windows 2000 was not meant for this machine haha.
The bios only seems to allow for boot of FDD or HDD priority. No option allows me to put in CD-ROM. I guess I will buy one of those IDE adaptors and go the method you suggested. This might be an opportunity for me to upgrade the hard drive space as well I suppose. 😀

I'll be sure to copy as many drivers as I can while doing this and copy over all my games as well.

I'll keep you updated on progress!

Thanks for the help,

-washer

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-washer

Reply 3 of 9, by jmarsh

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These old Toshiba laptops used "removable" floppy drives that shared the same bay as the CDROM. If you wanted to use both at the same time, there was an external caddy that held the floppy drive and attached to a port. Most likely this unit's floppy drive is still in that caddy tucked away forgotten in someone's storage closet (possibly the madman who forced win2k on it).
If it were me I would ditch the original hard drive completely and replace it with a CF card (easier to copy stuff to/from it), it's probably on its last legs anyway considering its age.

Reply 4 of 9, by washer

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jmarsh wrote on 2023-05-29, 17:06:

These old Toshiba laptops used "removable" floppy drives that shared the same bay as the CDROM. If you wanted to use both at the same time, there was an external caddy that held the floppy drive and attached to a port. Most likely this unit's floppy drive is still in that caddy tucked away forgotten in someone's storage closet (possibly the madman who forced win2k on it).
If it were me I would ditch the original hard drive completely and replace it with a CF card (easier to copy stuff to/from it), it's probably on its last legs anyway considering its age.

Lol the madman who put 2k on it haha! Hey that's a cool idea though! How do you go about doing that? Is there an IDE to CF card adaptor? Will the speeds be the same as the old hard drive on CF card? I wonder if I could rig it so the CF card is accessible from the outside somewhere as well, that'd be killer.

What would be the best way to prep it for DOS install? Or is there any possible way to emulate a computer and install DOS to a partition on say the CF card? So it would be ready to just pop in? Since I don't have the floppy drive?

As progman.exe was saying I could copy the install files over to the HDD? Then when it would run to boot from HDD would it simply run the installer as of it were a disk? Or how does all that work?

I haven't worked with DOS and a computer without a CD boot option in years so I can't really remember how everything works, especially without having the floppies.

-washer

Reply 5 of 9, by progman.exe

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washer wrote on 2023-05-29, 18:34:

What would be the best way to prep it for DOS install? Or is there any possible way to emulate a computer and install DOS to a partition on say the CF card? So it would be ready to just pop in? Since I don't have the floppy drive?

As progman.exe was saying I could copy the install files over to the HDD? Then when it would run to boot from HDD would it simply run the installer as of it were a disk? Or how does all that work?

I haven't worked with DOS and a computer without a CD boot option in years so I can't really remember how everything works, especially without having the floppies.

Once the laptop HDD is DOS system formatted, I think you could copy all the contents of every DOS install floppy into one directory, eg \dosinst . Boot the laptop, cd dosinst, and run probably setup.exe. As long as the DOS installer doesn't force you to format the HDD (a very long time since I have done a DOS install) then I hope just installing from c:\dosinst into c:\dos would just work.

Same kind of process for installing Windows, copy all files into \wininst. Run setup.exe in that dir once DOS is properly installed.

BTW is Win2k in \winnt or \windows? If \windows then the madman may well have done a 9x upgrade to 2k, because I am pretty sure win2k defaulted to \winnt with a fresh install.

How rare are the floppy drives for that gen of Tosh? And how reliable today? From a picture on the web of the laptop's left, in front of the COM port is the port for the floppy. I would go for nearly anything other than actual physical floppies, but I am probably some kind of retro-heathen 😀 .... And from a light Googling it seems the CDROM itself can be swapped out for a floppy drive.

But my USB to IDE gadget has been very useful over the years, one of these but without a SATA port https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/ZfQAAOSwbkJiEnU5/s-l500.jpg

I would maybe image the HDD to a file on my Linux desktop. Loopback mount the image file, partition and format to be cool for DOS, mount the DOS partition and copy in files for installing Windows. Attach the raw disk image file to a VM and do the install of DOS (hopefully dodging a format, else the win install files will need copying again), using a VM's ability to work with floppy disk images. Then put the image back on the HDD. HDD back in laptop, bask in 90s glow.

I know the image work can be done on Windows, but I cannot help with which tools to use, sorry. I have qemu and PCEm right here, and PCEm would probably be better for DOS stuff, because it is more emulator than virtual machine.

Reply 6 of 9, by washer

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So I bought an IDE to SD card adaptor.
Installed DOS and windows and tools on VirtualBox. Converted my virtual image to an image and cloned to my 2GB partition on SD card. I set the partition as active? But it doesn't boot in laptop. Says check system.

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Is there something else I need to do with the partition to make it bootable?

-washer

Reply 7 of 9, by washer

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I have not been successful yet. I have used tools to create a MBR on an SD card but can't seem to get it to recognize it as a drive. I have multiple 2GB partitions on an SD card. All FAT formatted, with primary partition with MBR with DOS installed which I did through Virtual Box. Will this ever work or should I give up and try and get a connector for the original drive to stage that drive? Or should I try and find an external floppy drive to install that way? Any suggestions?

Thanks,

-washer

-washer

Reply 8 of 9, by lolo799

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What is the size of your SD card?

For the record, I have a similar laptop, the 500CDT, here's what I did:
-got the hdd out, connected it to a computer and imaged it.
-used a copy of the image with qemu and the msdos 6.22 floppies image to format and install the later on the image.
-wrote the image back to the hdd, added installers for Win3.11, Win95 and drivers for everything along other stuff
-put the drive back in the laptop and started the install

You could try the Plop boot manager, it's possible to install in the Windows boot menu and it will let you boot from CD or even USB Cardbus cards.
https://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/plpbt4win.html

PCMCIA Sound, Storage & Graphics

Reply 9 of 9, by doshea

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progman.exe wrote on 2023-05-29, 23:37:

Loopback mount the image file, partition and format to be cool for DOS,

I think there's an issue not addressed here which is that to partition and format it to be work for DOS, you probably need to have disk geometry (i.e. cylinders, heads and sectors) matching the target machine.

Linux's fdisk command lets you pass geometry on the command line, I'm not sure if that helps. It is also possible to create a device mapper overlay device with geometry specified (see dmsetup setgeometry), I think I might have had success with using that.

washer wrote on 2023-08-01, 13:21:

I have not been successful yet. I have used tools to create a MBR on an SD card but can't seem to get it to recognize it as a drive. I have multiple 2GB partitions on an SD card. All FAT formatted, with primary partition with MBR with DOS installed which I did through Virtual Box.

I wouldn't like your chances with VirtualBox. If you used an emulator that let you specify the emulated disk geometry to match the target machine, then ran FDISK and FORMAT inside the emulated machine, I think you'd have more chance of it working, but from what I've seen there isn't any way to do that with VirtualBox. I seem to recall I had some success using Bochs for this. I suspect PCem/86Box would work too, and they're more user-friendly.