VOGONS

Common searches


First post, by fleskboi

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Hi guys,

Last week, I laid my hands on a little P4-era notebook. As the computer lacks optical drives, a USB stick had to be used for installing Win98. The problem is that prior to installation, the USB stick acquires the letter C:, so that vital Windows system files end up on the USB stick rather than on the HDD. Without the stick plugged in, the computer is unable to boot.

I've tried the following:
* ASSIGN and SUBST commands on both FreeDOS and MS-DOS startup disks. Both throw back "bad command or file name".
* SYS.COM along with three different startup disks. They all give the hopeful "System transferred" message, yet none of them make the drive bootable.
* Installing Win98, removing the stick and rebooting to DOS. "Cannot read from drive C:"
* Installing WinME, which in difference to Win98 correctly localizes the USB stick as E:, but doesn't happen to have any DOS-only mode for formatting.

So, what I want to do is;
- either make the D: drive bootable, so I can move the entire Windows installation dir to the HDD
- or change the USB drive letter from C: to E: and install from there.

Is any of this possible?
Thanks! 😀

Reply 1 of 9, by kixs

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

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.

My Amibay: SALE | BUY - Updated on 2020-05-25

Reply 2 of 9, by darry

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
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 ^^

Reply 3 of 9, by cyclone3d

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

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.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 4 of 9, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

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.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 5 of 9, by kixs

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

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.

My Amibay: SALE | BUY - Updated on 2020-05-25

Reply 6 of 9, by fleskboi

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

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 😀

Reply 7 of 9, by darry

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

It does not matter that the USB stick is C .

Just fdisk, format the hard disk etc as whatever letter it is and copy Windows install files .

When you boot from the hard disk, it will become C and you can install Windows .

Drive letter allocation is dynamic .

Reply 8 of 9, by fleskboi

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
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.

The unbelievable has happened. Thank you so much! I never actually noticed which partition was active or not. Hiren's Boot CD did the trick, then it was just to copy the stuff like darry said above.

Finally time to enjoy this little $9 beater! 😁

Vmi1QaX.jpg

Reply 9 of 9, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Cool, glad you got it working! 😎
The active partition thing was important, sorry for not mentioning that.
I guess we simply assumed that FDISK took care of that. 😅

Ps: If you're interested, you can also install KernelEx which somewhat adds W2k/XP application
compatibility to Win98/Me.
Also, Lcars24 (functional star trek interface) should run fine on this laptop (DOS/Win version available).
That way you can impress your guests. 😎

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//