VOGONS


First post, by Pajeroking

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Hello,

After buying my retro PC, a COMPAQ DeskPro 4000, i ran into several problems, and before addressing those , i would like to better understand how this works.

Here is the main topic : Re: Compaq Deskpro 4000

My System has a BIOS that you need to manually install on the HDD, it does not come with the BIOS already installed on the PC.

I have another system with Win 7 on it. In order to install software/games on the COMPAQ i bought an USB Floppy Disk which works quite fine.

So :

1. Because there is no BIOS on the Compaq, i need to install it;
2. Apparently there is no MS DOS installed on the system, when i type VER i get an error of some sort ( i forgot it exactly);
3. I downloaded MS DOS 6.0 from the Internet, there are 3 IMG files, i burned them on the floppy using WINIMAGE software, aaaand, the floppy is recognized, MS DOS enters the installation wizard, but i immediately receive the error "Unable to install MS DOS. This might be because of a bad HDD/Cables or because you are missing some software/drivers".
4. That makes me think I need to install first the PC BIOS. I found the BIOS setup file on the internet but its .EXE. I tried copying (using Win 7 ) into a floppy , but COMPAQ does not recognize it. I cannot create a bootable floppy using Winimage because it only accepts IMG files.
5. When formatting the floppy on WIN 7 and checking the "Create MS DOS Startup disk", it automatically copies the following files to the floppy. (see attached pic).
6. I cannot choose the Floppy disk on the COMPAQ as bootable because i don t have the BIOS installed therefore i cannot access the menu.
---

Having said all of the above, can i create a bootable floppy using WIN 7 with an .EXE file on it?? (the BIOS driver). Or do i need to do that from an older Windows? (XP, 98 etc.).

If any of you can explain to me what am i doing wrong and how the system works i would be very grateful.

Many thanks,
Andi

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Reply 1 of 12, by debs3759

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I'm surprised it can ever boot without some kind of BIOS to get the PC to a point where it can read the disk. However, that's not your question.

To create a bootable floppy containing the exe file, just take the bootable disk and copy the exe file to it. Then it will contain the basic files it needs to boot to DOS, after which you can run the exe file off the same disk.

Reply 2 of 12, by Pajeroking

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debs3759 wrote on 2020-10-15, 18:50:

I'm surprised it can ever boot without some kind of BIOS to get the PC to a point where it can read the disk. However, that's not your question.

To create a bootable floppy containing the exe file, just take the bootable disk and copy the exe file to it. Then it will contain the basic files it needs to boot to DOS, after which you can run the exe file off the same disk.

Please explain exactly what do you mean by "take the bootable disk". A disk is not bootable by itself right, you need to make it bootable? Is a disk bootable after formatting with "Create MS DOS startup disk" option checked? What are those files that appear on my floppy? (see image in the first post).
I am asking this because i took a floppy, i copied the exe on it and it does not work. If I insert the Floppy and start the PC it says "Please remove any media" or something like this. If i insert a floppy with MS DOS that i created with Winimage, it boots and runs the installation (until getting the error i mentioned in the first post). I suppose the MS DOS floppy is bootable and the other floppy with the .exe copied is not.
Maybe there is another cause for my problem and it's not because of the lack of "Bios". (Nothing happens when i press F10 in the Compaq Welcome Screen).

Let me provide some more info, not sure if it's related or not.
The HDD i had has Win98 installed on it. When i first booted the PC it entered WIndows and worked without any problems. But after connecting the Floppy and/or CD Rom to the Motherboard i get the following error: " Type the name of the command interpreter (e.g.......)". That happens now all the time, even after removing and reinstalling all cables.
If i write fdisk in the command line, i get the "No fixed disk present" error.
I am not even sure if it has any DOS install, again , if i type "ver" i get "invalid command" or something along those lines.

I added everything here in hope that somebody might now what's the root cause of this.

Reply 3 of 12, by debs3759

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Pajeroking wrote on 2020-10-16, 02:43:
debs3759 wrote on 2020-10-15, 18:50:

I'm surprised it can ever boot without some kind of BIOS to get the PC to a point where it can read the disk. However, that's not your question.

To create a bootable floppy containing the exe file, just take the bootable disk and copy the exe file to it. Then it will contain the basic files it needs to boot to DOS, after which you can run the exe file off the same disk.

Please explain exactly what do you mean by "take the bootable disk". A disk is not bootable by itself right, you need to make it bootable? Is a disk bootable after formatting with "Create MS DOS startup disk" option checked? What are those files that appear on my floppy? (see image in the first post).

Sorry, I should have been clearer. A bootable disk is one created by formatting with "Create MS DOS startup disk" option checked, or by typing "foramat A: /s" in DOS. The files on the disk you created are the basic files to set up a DOS environment, and there will also be some hidden files. If you take the disk you formatted with minimal DOS files, you can add the exe file to that disk. When you boot from that, you will be able to run the exe file. If that doesn't work, I am not sure what else to suggest.

Reply 4 of 12, by debs3759

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I am sure there is a BIOS in the system, otherwise nothing at all would happen when you turn the computer on. I don't know much about proprietary systems, so have no idea how they differ from other PCs

Reply 5 of 12, by Jo22

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Old Compaq PCs have a BIOS, but no CMOS Setup Utility in ROM.

They are akin to the original IBM AT Model 5170, which needed a diagnostic/setup diskette..

Newer Compaqs also have their CMOS Setup on a hidden partition on the original HDD.
During bootup, you can press a key to run this DOS-based setup program (often looks like Windows 3.x).

Without the original HDD, you have to get the hands on the setup diskettes.
Socalled "ROMpaqs" contain diskimages with a utility that writes the images to blank floppy disks.

Once booted, they also allow you to install the Setup/Diagnostic programms to a hidden partition,
essentially re-creating the state of the original Compaq HDD.

"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

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Reply 6 of 12, by OSkar000

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Old Compaqs has parts of the bios and utilties on the harddrive.

Most files that you need for that is still available but you need to find the right Softpacs for your computer. The installation is quite easy when you understand how its done. I think the documentation for the Sofpacs contained most of the information needed.

I could be wrong now... but if i remembrr correctly it was the following steps.
1. Download the Softpacs and create the disks needed.
2. Start the computer with these disks and you will be able to set up things correctly. You will see options to copy the programs to the harddrive.
3. Once you have your harddrive up and running, start with a dos boot disk and make a small partition for the bios software.
4. Run the Softpacs again and copy it to the harddrive.
5. Install your OS

Reply 7 of 12, by chinny22

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What you want to do is run sp12877.exe which will create the bootable floppy disk for you.
Catch is the exe doesn't work in modern OS's

It's not all bad news though
The exe does work in XP. If your using Windows 7 Pro its very easy to install a XP virtual PC
https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/deta … ls.aspx?id=8002

You maybe able to create the disk in dosbox as well? never tired that but should work.

Reply 8 of 12, by Pajeroking

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-10-16, 03:47:
Old Compaq PCs have a BIOS, but no CMOS Setup Utility in ROM. […]
Show full quote

Old Compaq PCs have a BIOS, but no CMOS Setup Utility in ROM.

They are akin to the original IBM AT Model 5170, which needed a diagnostic/setup diskette..

Newer Compaqs also have their CMOS Setup on a hidden partition on the original HDD.
During bootup, you can press a key to run this DOS-based setup program (often looks like Windows 3.x).

Without the original HDD, you have to get the hands on the setup diskettes.
Socalled "ROMpaqs" contain diskimages with a utility that writes the images to blank floppy disks.

Once booted, they also allow you to install the Setup/Diagnostic programms to a hidden partition,
essentially re-creating the state of the original Compaq HDD.

Thank you for your answers.

@Jo22, Vielen Dank.

debs3759 wrote on 2020-10-16, 02:57:
Pajeroking wrote on 2020-10-16, 02:43:
debs3759 wrote on 2020-10-15, 18:50:

I'm surprised it can ever boot without some kind of BIOS to get the PC to a point where it can read the disk. However, that's not your question.

To create a bootable floppy containing the exe file, just take the bootable disk and copy the exe file to it. Then it will contain the basic files it needs to boot to DOS, after which you can run the exe file off the same disk.

Please explain exactly what do you mean by "take the bootable disk". A disk is not bootable by itself right, you need to make it bootable? Is a disk bootable after formatting with "Create MS DOS startup disk" option checked? What are those files that appear on my floppy? (see image in the first post).

Sorry, I should have been clearer. A bootable disk is one created by formatting with "Create MS DOS startup disk" option checked, or by typing "foramat A: /s" in DOS. The files on the disk you created are the basic files to set up a DOS environment, and there will also be some hidden files. If you take the disk you formatted with minimal DOS files, you can add the exe file to that disk. When you boot from that, you will be able to run the exe file. If that doesn't work, I am not sure what else to suggest.

So, I made some progress, but i did not fix the problem.
I tried creating a bootable Floppy like Debs told me, and the floppy boots and the install starts. But i understood how this shit works, when you run the "Driver".EXE, it only unzips and install the true driver (ROMPAQ) to another Floppy. So, i cannot install it because i need two floppy disks. the first exe installs the program to another floppy at the same time. I tried a bootable CD so when running the installation I can install it on a blank Floppy, but unfortunately the CD does not boot. It starts spinning, the ~ appears flashing, but then nothing happens and enters a "loading loop".

I also tried installing DOS BOX on my Win 10 PC, i mounted both installation folder and my external USB floppy disk. I am able to start the wizard, and when it prompts me to enter a floppy into A , it just says "Unable to recognize media" when entering a blank floppy.

Now, i have 2 options left. I either Install Win XP on another computer so i can run that exe and burn the Floppy and then use the floppy with ROMPAQ to boot the damn COMPAQ.
Or i can ask somebody in the Bucharest area who has access to an older windows and a floppy disk to run the installer for me so i can write the floppy and boot the darn thing.
Other than that, i am out of ideas.
Hope you understood the problem.

Thanks again,
Andi

Reply 10 of 12, by Jo22

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OSkar000 wrote on 2020-10-17, 15:07:

It would probably be possible to make image files on a virtual computer and then write them to a 3,5" disk on a "real" computer.

That could indeed work. I vaguely remember that I did something like this in Virtual PC 2007 a few times.
You can run that ROMpaq/SoftPaq image software (which was written for DOS) inside the virtual machine and have a disk image file (*.ima) mounted in the emulated floppy drive, even!
Once the the compaq software has done kts work, just unmount the floppy images and open them in WinImage or any other compatible software. From there onwards, you can do anything with the image including writing it to a real diskette inserted in an USB floppy drive.

"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

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Reply 11 of 12, by Jorpho

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Pajeroking wrote on 2020-10-17, 14:13:

I tried a bootable CD so when running the installation I can install it on a blank Floppy, but unfortunately the CD does not boot. It starts spinning, the ~ appears flashing, but then nothing happens and enters a "loading loop".

How did you create the bootable CD? There are several ways of doing so and some of them might work better than others.

I also tried installing DOS BOX on my Win 10 PC, i mounted both installation folder and my external USB floppy disk. I am able to start the wizard, and when it prompts me to enter a floppy into A , it just says "Unable to recognize media" when entering a blank floppy.

It might work if you use imgmount to mount a blank floppy image in DOSBox instead of trying to use the USB floppy drive. Or you can follow the other suggestions above – other virtual machines will probably offer better floppy drive emulation than DOSBox.

Reply 12 of 12, by Shreddoc

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Just wanted to add this link into the thread, direct to specific info about the "sp12877" update.

http://cwcyrix.nsupdate.info/ftp-archives/ftp … 000/sp12877.txt

SOFTPAQ NUMBER: SP12877
PART NUMBER: 270899-401
FILE NAME: N/A
TITLE: ROMPaq for Deskpro 4000 (586V ROM)
VERSION: 586V_080399
LANGUAGE: English

CATEGORY: ROMPaqs

<expand to continue>

DIVISIONS: Desktops

PRODUCTS AFFECTED: Deskpro 4000 models 5166MMX, 5200MMX, and 5233MMX
with a 586V Family ROM
NOTE: Run F10 Setup to determine the ROM Family and ROM date.

OPERATING SYSTEM: N/A

SYSTEM CONFIGURATION: N/A

EFFECTIVE DATE: February 1, 2000

ELECTRONIC DISTRIBUTION ALLOWED: Yes

SOFTPAQ UTILITY VERSION: 2.X

SUPERSEDES: SP8443

DESCRIPTION: This creates a ROMPaq firmware upgrade diskette to
upgrade the System ROM to the 08/03/99 version in the above-mentioned
Deskpro 4000 models with a 586V Family ROM. The ROM Family and ROM
date can be determined by running F10 Setup.

This ROM version is compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000.

<continued in link.....>

HOW TO USE:

1. Obtain a formatted 1.44-MB diskette.

2. Download the SoftPaq to a directory on your hard drive and change
to that directory. The file that is downloaded is an executable with
a filename based on the SoftPaq Number above.

3. From that drive and directory, execute the downloaded file
and follow the on-screen instructions. You will be prompted to
insert the formatted diskette in a drive to create the diskette.

<expand to continue>

4. After the diskette has been created, you may delete the
SoftPaq file downloaded in step 2.

5. Keeping the newly created diskette in the A: drive, cycle
system power to boot from the ROMPaq diskette.

6. Follow the on-screen instructions to select the 08/03/99
Compaq System ROM and upgrade the firmware.

An old DOS trick (*perhaps only DOS 5 or earlier, I'm not sure if it applies to later versions, D.Y.O.R.), which may/may not be useful in this situation, was to refer commands to a non-existent B: drive, which would make DOS use the physical A: drive as 2 separate drives, asking you to swap disks as required.

Alternatively/in tandem with that principle, there may also be some drive-letter trickery you could attempt, to get the extraction to work, by using the likes of ASSIGN or SUBST if you have those available. i.e. making the A: drive softpaq application think it's running from (for example) drive-letter D:, and when it tries extracting to A:, it's redirected by ASSIGN to B: - a convoluted process which might (hopefully!) prompt you to swap disks throughout.

IDEA ONE

One possible TLDR of the above: ASSIGN A D and ASSIGN B A , then change to D: and run sp12877.exe. I'm not at all sure if that would work - just an idea. You may first need to manually copy the DOS file "ASSIGN.COM" to the boot floppy, along with, of course, your "sp12877.exe" file.

IDEA TWO

Get the "Standard CDROM" or (if standard doesn't work) "Legacy CDROM" ISO of FreeDOS from https://www.freedos.org/download/

Edit that ISO, to add your file sp12877.exe, using method similar to this (may be partly outdated, 2017) page: https://www.trishtech.com/2017/07/modifying-f … -updating-bios/

Burn the edited ISO to CDROM, boot from it, and run your sp12877.exe file from the CDROM, which will hopefully write to the now-available floppy.