VOGONS


First post, by zerodiagonal

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Hi all! First post here, been reading about but decided to register so I could get advise from you. I'm a long time member of a wellknown retro gaming tracker, whose members pointed me out to your forums.

This is what brought me to you: I have an old pc tower which I found near the dumpster. Despiste it's age, it's in a great condition with almost no dust at all on it's insides. From the HDD scavenging, I found out the pc's purpose was only to serve a small xls fileand a few htmls in an intranet. Well, cut this story short, I immediately though on making a retro gaming box out of it.

[SKIP THIS IF IT'S TL;DR TO YOU]

These are the specs as of now:

  • Motherboard: AOPEN AX6BC (updated to the latest bios firmware)
    CPU: PENTIUM II 350 Mhz (overclocked stably to 466,59; I can push it a bit more but I started to get freezes after a given time or no boot at all. The bios reads it's manufacturer speed at 233 Mhz but cpu box inscription points me to this component part).
    RAM: 160 MB (32 MB originally + 128 MB I had laying around. I don't have the details right now but I think the 32 MB module works at 133 while the 128 mem sticks at 100 Mhz. Need to confirm it.)
    LAN: NETGEAR FA310TX C6.1
    Power Supply: AOPEN something-something (iirc, it outputs ~600w; again, needs confirmation but for now I suppose it's irrelevant)
    HDD: 6GB IDE noisy little monster, which sucks a pretty voltage (had to power it using the power cable from the PSU; it's in a mint state as far as bad sectors and r/w access times goes (accordingly to the official specs)

After formating, re-sitting all the cables and stuff, I installed Win98SE and also a couple of unofficial updates, because I was having trouble with USB flash/hdd disc and also with the 16:10 widescreen monitor. Couldn't fix the stretching but at least gave it some higher resolution which was confortable to use with). It felt very fast, even without oc'ing the cpu. But the outdated OS gave me some troubles and soon I tried Win XP and some flavoured linuxes, which worked pretty well. XP is kinda slow and needs a bit of oc'd cpu to be reasonably fast.

[OK, RESUME READING HERE, PLEASE! :P]

As of now, my main concern is to choose which Operating System to go with.

What I want of it: mainly, be able to play all the DOS/Windows games it supports. I presume I wouldn't go further than 2001-03 if that much (I know it really depends on the game, it's just so I/you have an idea). Also, it'd be cool if I could emulate some basic systems, maybe up to the 8bit consoles, maybe pushing it a bit to some 16bit ones. In the long run, I intend to have this just as a pc retro gaming box, moving all the emulation to another yet-to-come system connected to a tv.

What I've tried:

  • Windows 98 SE: works great, except I couldn't find support for the videocard nor for the usb ports. Some unnoficial patches and a compatibility layer for XP applications rendered the system unstable and buggy.
    Windows XP Home: Not that fast but had no major issues finding drivers and updated software. I'm afraid it'd consume many resources, leaving few for gaming.
    CrungBang Linux & a couple of other small distros for old computers: great support and speed right out of the box but I'm afraid it'd be only viable for some emulators and compatibility with Dos/Windows games

What've considered:

  • A stripped down [hacked] version of Windows XP Pro, for hw & drivers support while also not eating much sysresources as possible. I have no experience with this kind of mods, I've seen them around for years, even versions that claimed to be gaming specialized. I'm not sure what's the offer nowadays.
    An embedded operating system: maybe based on Win2000 or even XP. The same reason as above: low footprint and higher hw support. I've considered this option more than the rest but I feel like it can't be that simple, othewise I'd probably have seen more of these copies floating aroung and maybe pre-configured. Anyways, another advantage was to keep the system "closed". I imagine that with a proper frontend I'd only need to access the HDD to add/remove games and for minimum configurations. This very idea excites me but I'm totally clueless, since I haven't seen a setup like this before (you may argue I haven't bothered searching. And you are right!)
    A proper linux flavour: compatibility with DOS/Win would be the major issue. As for emulation, there's linux ports of it. Or at least the source code. Dosbox could be an alternative, but honestly I prefer to play the games as they were meant to be (not that Dosbox changes them significantly, but still. Also, I'm not sure how much more resources would it require for that extra layer on top of the OS.)

And this is where I'm at. I'm a great supporter of preservation & collecting, so most of my stuff would require Daemon Tools or so (GOG releases I presume, would require way more resources than the game originally asked for (taking in account the sys specs on their webpage!). I haven't a sound card yet (feeling altruist? :P) but intend to add one later (maybe a A3D as I've been reading some bits about it and it's technology).

Reply 2 of 11, by keropi

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

What video card does it have? For that machine you should use 98SE...

I would just disable usb from bios (it's usb1.1 anyways so meh), use ps2 mouse/kb and get a vga to replace the incompatible one. For file transfers just use a PCI 100mbps nic (or the one already in the system if it's 100mbps)
This is a retro pc, don't expect to use gaming usb kb/mice or usb sticks for example... it can be done but it affects performance/stability in win9x
Generally for sound if you stick to windows you can use a good PCI card but if you want to boot to DOS then you need an ISA one for compatibility reasons...

anyways, that's just my 2 cents on the matter , it's all personal taste at the end 😊

Last edited by keropi on 2013-01-25, 00:01. Edited 1 time in total.

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard , MK8330 and 🎶GoldLib soundcard website

Reply 3 of 11, by leileilol

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

You can forget about running a modern Linux distro on that thing. Even 'lite' distros from 2004 aren't so kind to 6th generation computers.

For speed I would install 98lite with Windows 95's shell. I wouldn't even think about XP - 2000 dualboot, maybe. A normal Windows 2000 installation should work snappy.

apsosig.png
long live PCem

Reply 4 of 11, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

To get the motherboard and USB working properly and you’ll need to download the chipset drivers, most easy is direct from Intel, quick search
I found this. There may be a later one. It is called the “inf update utility” if you want to have more of a look

http://developer.intel.com/design/software/dr … lic_infinst.htm

May fix your video card as AGP will be properly supported after

Reply 5 of 11, by mr_bigmouth_502

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Even though 98SE is your best bet compatibility-wise, I would go with Win2k. Why? It's more stable, it doesn't require much more in terms of system resources, and it can run 99% of the Win9x games out there. That all being said, I would still keep a small partition set aside for an install of 98SE, just for running DOS stuff and games that don't play well with NT-based OSs.

Reply 6 of 11, by luckybob

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

+1 for windows 2000. Personally i'd cram as much ram into the box as possible and run 2k on it. The differences between 98se and 2000 are the same as vista and win7, imho.

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

Reply 7 of 11, by zerodiagonal

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Hi, again!
Sorry I missed some things while trying to keep it a short reading.

The video card is a PINE RIVA TNT2 M64 32M SDRAM AGP.
I've considered Windows 2000 before, mainly for newer (or at least not so old) software support but since I wasn't going to use it for daily work (ie. no Office, no web browsing nor email) I didn't really need updated sw. So I kinda disconsidered W2K.
I must keep the usb ports since they're the only way to get stuff in in a practical and simple way. The ethernet card works nicely but it won't be near the router (wireless dongle and cable wiring are not options I'm considering).

Just out of curiosity, an embedded SO would be a ridiculous alternative? :s I don't have any experience with that and never saw it being used for what I intend (a retrogaming box -- though I can partially explain that by people preferring to keep the whole experience as close as possible to what it was back in the days and not simply "run teh gamez" like I'm trying to do 😜)

I must give it a go and invest a bit more time on it, really. Thank you all for your responses!

Reply 8 of 11, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

With only 160 MB of RAM, XP is not likely to do anything useful, even if you try to strip it down. There is something out there called "Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs" (aka WinFLP), but I wouldn't bother with it. (While it most definitely is an official Microsoft release, I don't think there's any way to easily get it legally, if that bothers you.) Even Windows 2000 wouldn't be too great.

Of course, it all depends on what, exactly, you want to do.

zerodiagonal wrote:

The video card is a PINE RIVA TNT2 M64 32M SDRAM AGP.

I would be very surprised if there are no Win9x drivers for that out there somewhere. If you weren't able to find them, I might question how you were searching for them.

Just out of curiosity, an embedded SO would be a ridiculous alternative? :

I have to assume you mean "embedded OS" rather than "embedded SO", but even then I hardly know what you are referring to. Normally any such thing is highly specialized and not likely to run on general hardware.

Windows 98 SE: works great, except I couldn't find support for the videocard nor for the usb ports. Some unnoficial patches and a compatibility layer for XP applications rendered the system unstable and buggy.

What exactly did you install? If you have no need to run XP applications then there is no need to bother with the compatibility layer, which indeed may well cause problems. I hope you tried returning the CPU to its proper clock rate before deciding the OS was buggy.

Reply 10 of 11, by sliderider

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Riva TNT2 M64 definitely has Windows 98 drivers. nVidia has Windows 98 drivers from Riva 128 all the way up to GeForce 6.

Here's the latest legacy driver for TNT and TNT2. I assumed you wanted the English drivers.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/win9x_71.84.html

If the latest driver doesn't work then you may have to move backwards through older drivers until you find one that does work.

Reply 11 of 11, by hifidelitygaming

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Do a search for DriverPacks... I can't be more specific than this, because it's just from my notes about putting together an ultimate install disc that I haven't gotten around to yet... but both win98 and XP have had people put together large multi hundred meg sets of drivers that practically make every piece of hardware on the planet work (allegedly) right out of the box. Normally set up to install with the OS at install time if slipstreamed in. But since I never got around to creating the install discs myself I can't be more specific yet. 😜

MSFN.org should have someone that knows something i'd guess since theyve got the win98 fans.