Apologies if I was unclear. The problem is that the USB stick takes the letter C, so formatting or activating C: will just affect the USB stick, as it's listed as drive 1 and the HDD as drive 2
(Edit: among all ideas, it just hit me I haven't checked master/slave status of the HDD. If it is that easy! 😮)
If proceeding with Windows installation from there, the USB stick will:
- if formatted, acquire all the boot files again, so the computer becomes unbootable without the USB stick (current scenario; the C: drive always tend to get the boot files, regardless of which drive Windows is installed to... and C: in this case is the USB stick)
- if unformatted, and installation run from HDD, abort installation due to C: read errors (HDD partitions will remain D: and E: as long as the PC is booted from USB)
- if removed, same as above, and ask for a working command.com (which can be linked from the HDD, and the installation started from there, until it starts looking for C: at the initial phase of the installation)
- if rebooted, no bootable device - strike f1 to continue
kixs wrote on 2020-07-12, 03:31:
Make a DOS/Win98 bootable USB stick. Copy also the Windows install files to USB stick.
Boot from USB and prepare the HDD (fdisk, format, sys). Copy the install files to HDD. Boot from HDD and install Windows from HDD.
This is what I've done for a good 30-35 hours now, through headaches and spilled coffee 😜
I wish there was a way to clone the boot sector of the USB stick. The computer won't boot from the HDD, as the sys command is unable to make the HDD bootable. I don't know, could FAT32 be a problem here?
kixs wrote on 2020-07-12, 09:08:
Sometimes boot might fail even with all done correctly. In this case make sure the partition C is active. Check with FDISK and FDISK/MBR will help too.
cyclone3d wrote on 2020-07-12, 04:47:
You can also do a "format c: /s" to skip having to use the SYS command after formatting because the "/s" argument automatically copies the files over after formatting.
Jo22 wrote on 2020-07-12, 08:49:
That's right. Alternatively, someone uses FORMAT C: /B followed by SYS C:
The /B parameter makes sure that the space for bootsector and system files is reserved.
It also works without the parameter sometimes, though.
Thanks for the tips, I'll check all this in the evening. Previously had issues with Scandisk reporting non-existant errors, likely from a mix of different bootdisks (my Swedish Win98 bootdisk ended at oakcdrom.sys, so it had to be completed with missing command files in English, like sys.com and xcopy).
Thank you all for your help 😀