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"486" (5x86 160) box - Win 95 or 98?

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First post, by blakespot

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As I've mentioned in several other posts here, I am rebuilding (exactly) a system I had in the mid '90s based around an AMD 5x86 @ 160MHz. The system has 32MB RAM and ISA-based SCSI.

This system ran Windows 95 just fine long ago. Did not feel slow.

Now that I am rebuilding, I am wondering if I should use Windows 95b or Windows 98SE on the unit. This will primarily be a DOS box for demos and games, but I want Windows for easy FTP and occasional web download.

My plan was to partition and format with DOS 6.22 first, then install one of the Windows versions.

Thoughts? Thanks.

bp

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Reply 1 of 27, by vetz

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I have Windows98SE on my two 486 systems. It works good enough for the usage I'm doing, which is similar to yours. I'm mainly using Windows98SE as a file transfer system from my Windows 7 rig. It is also easier to sort files, move files, create new folders than in DOS with the GUI. I find it easier to install the network stuff in Windows than in pure DOS which can be a pain.

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Reply 2 of 27, by Jolaes76

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As the OP wants to get online as well, the vote goes for Win98SE (+unofficial SP 2.1 +win98se2me)
Better beef up the RAM to 64 mb at least, get used to Firefox 2.x again (or that awful Opera) and still must tolerate the frequent lockups.
And yes, it will feel damn slow, whatever you do. Todays web is not meant for such setups.

[ I have an AMD Opteron system with an nv 7900GS that still has working win9x drivers and though it feels almost as fast as win 8.1 on a high-end i7,
stable web browsing -even with KernelEx and all possible browser patches- is non-existent. ]

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Reply 3 of 27, by blakespot

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Thanks for the suggestions. I will prob go with 98SE (have CD here). Can I just as easily boot into DOS, not into Windows? Remind me how this works on 98. I will be using DOS far more frequently than Windows.

Also, should I install 6.22 first then 98SE on top? Or do the initial install from 98? Do I want to use FAT16 or FAT32? I have a SCSI controller (that I used with similar config and 95 long ago) and have not yet chosen a drive(s).

Thanks.

bp

:: Visit the Byte Cellar, my vintage computer blog (since 2004).
:: See a panorama of my own Byte Cellar (a.k.a. basement computer room)...
:: twitter: @blakespot

Reply 4 of 27, by Mau1wurf1977

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Wow you must be patient 😀

I'm voting MS-DOS only 🤣

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Reply 5 of 27, by kixs

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blakespot wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions. I will prob go with 98SE (have CD here). Can I just as easily boot into DOS, not into Windows? Remin […]
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Thanks for the suggestions. I will prob go with 98SE (have CD here). Can I just as easily boot into DOS, not into Windows? Remind me how this works on 98. I will be using DOS far more frequently than Windows.

Also, should I install 6.22 first then 98SE on top? Or do the initial install from 98? Do I want to use FAT16 or FAT32? I have a SCSI controller (that I used with similar config and 95 long ago) and have not yet chosen a drive(s).

Thanks.

bp

Win9X has its own DOS. So if you just need the "command line" option (Press F8 at boot for options in Win9X), then you don't need the 6.22. Otherwise you should install older OS first.

FAT16 or FAT32? Depends on the partition size. If you use larger than 2GB partition then use FAT32. Some older software don't go nicely with FAT32 though (mainly system utilities).

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Reply 6 of 27, by Jolaes76

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In my experience, DOS 7.1 is just as good for retro gaming as 6.22 but with added benefits of FAT32 support and long file names (DOSLFN or similar util is necessary in DOS but still it is there)
After installing the Win9x, you can simply add the line
BootGUI=0
to MSDOS.SYS. This way win9x starts only by typing "win" at the command prompt.
FAT32, with the correct cluster size, saves way more space than FAT16.

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Reply 7 of 27, by leileilol

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Installing DOS 6.22 first might be handy for some pickier games that expect certain DOS utilities out there such as the Software Toolworks CD Challenge Pack. Other than that, I can't think of any use of sandwiching DOS 6.22 before Windows 9X - and you can always tap F8 when you start Windows to get to DOS.

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Reply 8 of 27, by Old Thrashbarg

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I'd personally go with Win95 OSR2. 98SE is much better suited to P6-class machines... yeah, it'll work on a 486, but 95 works better. I suppose 98 'Gold' is an option too, but it really doesn't have any major advantages over 95b/c.

As the OP wants to get online as well, the vote goes for Win98SE (+unofficial SP 2.1 +win98se2me)
Better beef up the RAM to 64 mb at least, get used to Firefox 2.x again (or that awful Opera) and still must tolerate the frequent lockups.
And yes, it will feel damn slow, whatever you do. Todays web is not meant for such setups.

Even for going online, Win95 OSR2 is adequate... Opera 9 works natively, and it's about equally as functional as Firefox 2.x. There's no Flash newer than version 7, but nothing with Flash will really work on a 486 anyhow. Having 64MB RAM is still preferable, but you can get by with 32MB since Opera isn't quite as much of a memory hog as Firefox.

Reply 9 of 27, by blakespot

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Nice. I think I will go with Win95 OSR2.5. Is this easy to source?

Thanks.

bp

:: Visit the Byte Cellar, my vintage computer blog (since 2004).
:: See a panorama of my own Byte Cellar (a.k.a. basement computer room)...
:: twitter: @blakespot

Reply 10 of 27, by chinny22

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Well its VERY easy to find on the net but if you want your own legit copy keep an eye out wherever you can find 2nd hand software it turns up time to time, it should be cheap no one want's at anymore. Asking around friends, etc may be your best bet. It's the kind of thing people don't throw out but happy to give away.
If you have a Win98 disk you can always try Win98lite http://www.litepc.com/preview.html and try out the "sleek" option. This basically turns WIn98 into WIn95 but I haven't used it myself.

I also would say don't worry about duel booting to Dos, you loose fat32 support and gain nothing but a more complicated setup.
You can always have a play getting Win 3.x networking going, its a challenge!

Reply 11 of 27, by chinny22

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Well its VERY easy to find on the net but if you want your own legit copy keep an eye out wherever you can find 2nd hand software it turns up time to time, it should be cheap no one want's at anymore. Asking around friends, etc may be your best bet. It's the kind of thing people don't throw out but happy to give away.
If you have a Win98 disk you can always try Win98lite http://www.litepc.com/preview.html and try out the "sleek" option. This basically turns WIn98 into WIn95 but I haven't used it myself.

I also would say don't worry about duel booting to Dos, you loose fat32 support and gain nothing but a more complicated setup.
You can always have a play getting Win 3.x networking going, its a challenge!

Reply 12 of 27, by Artex

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vetz wrote:

I find it easier to install the network stuff in Windows than in pure DOS which can be a pain.

mTCP FTW!! I've started using the mTCP FTP Server in conjunction with FileZilla for quick FTP transfers from my Windows 8.1 box to my Time Machine. For the small stuff it sure beats swapping the CF card between the two machines. mTCP is really easy to set up in DOS and works great using the 3COM PCI packet driver.

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Reply 13 of 27, by Artex

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I've also installed this on my Windows 98SE boxes with much success:

Unofficial Windows 98 Second Edition Service Pack 3.29
http://www.htasoft.com/u98sesp/

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Reply 14 of 27, by Robin4

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Artex wrote:

I've also installed this on my Windows 98SE boxes with much success:

Unofficial Windows 98 Second Edition Service Pack 3.29
http://www.htasoft.com/u98sesp/

Did you unchecked the install of the first version of internet explorer (4) when installing windows 98se?
I guess it isnt worth to install IE4, because its very buggy, and if you install it you would get problems on the core of the unofficial SP3..

So the unoffical SP1 isnt also installed? You only installed that unoficial SP3 over the raw installation of windows 98SE?

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Reply 15 of 27, by Artex

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Robin4 wrote:
Did you unchecked the install of the first version of internet explorer (4) when installing windows 98se? I guess it isnt worth […]
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Artex wrote:

I've also installed this on my Windows 98SE boxes with much success:

Unofficial Windows 98 Second Edition Service Pack 3.29
http://www.htasoft.com/u98sesp/

Did you unchecked the install of the first version of internet explorer (4) when installing windows 98se?
I guess it isnt worth to install IE4, because its very buggy, and if you install it you would get problems on the core of the unofficial SP3..

So the unoffical SP1 isnt also installed? You only installed that unoficial SP3 over the raw installation of windows 98SE?

My systems aren't internet-connected so IE4 didn't matter to me. Yes, I applied that SP3 over the vanilla 98SE.

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Reply 16 of 27, by Mau1wurf1977

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Artex wrote:

mTCP FTW!! I've started using the mTCP FTP Server in conjunction with FileZilla for quick FTP transfers from my Windows 8.1 box to my Time Machine. For the small stuff it sure beats swapping the CF card between the two machines. mTCP is really easy to set up in DOS and works great using the 3COM PCI packet driver.

I really got to look into this...

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Reply 17 of 27, by vetz

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Artex wrote:
vetz wrote:

I find it easier to install the network stuff in Windows than in pure DOS which can be a pain.

mTCP FTW!! I've started using the mTCP FTP Server in conjunction with FileZilla for quick FTP transfers from my Windows 8.1 box to my Time Machine. For the small stuff it sure beats swapping the CF card between the two machines. mTCP is really easy to set up in DOS and works great using the 3COM PCI packet driver.

Still doesnt beat the speed and how easy it is to use Windows as a file organizer both remotely and on the computer itself. Also I like having not to worry about going through an FTP client (means I can extract .rar files directly over the network through WinRAR, etc).

Just add the line BootGUI=0 as mentioned earlier and you don't have to worry about Windows loading each time.

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Reply 18 of 27, by Artex

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vetz wrote:

Still doesnt beat the speed and how easy it is to use Windows as a file organizer both remotely and on the computer itself. Also I like having not to worry about going through an FTP client (means I can extract .rar files directly over the network through WinRAR, etc).

Just add the line BootGUI=0 as mentioned earlier and you don't have to worry about Windows loading each time.

Windows networking is of course preferred...if you have Windows. In a PURE DOS machine (sans Windows), you have few options. For small things, FTP works out great and the speed is just fine. mTCP has several options for tweaking file transfer speed as well for using the built-in FTP server. Of course, you really can't multitask while it's running, but it's easy enough to modify your boot menu, or just bring up the FTP server as needed.

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Reply 19 of 27, by Artex

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:

Fancy doing a video guide 🤣 ? I don't like reading much 😒

I'll leave that task up to the pro (wink wink). It's pretty straightforward.. Just need a packet driver for your NIC, the mTCP zip (which contains all kinds of stuff including DHCP client, FTP client & server, etc.) From there it's just modifying a few files with a text editor and you're off to the races.

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