VOGONS


First post, by Dochartaigh

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So after failing to get a fully running install of Windows 98 SE working properly (literally after 20+ installs), and from the advice you all gave me last week, I'm now on plan #21 and wanted your feedback. I think this covers nearly everything anybody mentioned that might be the root cause of my issues. Here's the new hardware and the plan I would like advice on:

NEW(ish) HARDWARE:

Switched to yet another Dell Dimension XPS 440bx motherboard
Switched in the other stock Dell power supply (have new 400w w/ cable adapter - but need to post some questions about that before I use)
On delivery truck for today is: 3x sticks of Toshiba 128mb/each RAM
120gbIDE mechanical 7200rpm HDD (also somehow found a 40GB I didn't know I had too)
TNT2 Video cards these XPS's originally (I think) came with
Installing ONLY the ESS EF1869F sound card **I WAS USING BEFORE**

I'm trying to eliminate ANY of the old hardware I had before (GeForce 4 ti 4600, 1x then 2x Voodoo2's in SLI, Audigy 2 ZS, multiple SSD's and SATA to IDE adapters, the old MB and power supply, old RAM). Then get that up and running before I try anything else.

The ONLY thing I'm reusing (besides things like the 3.5" floppy and CD/DVD burner --which I switched out to a new burner last week fyi--, even using new 40-pin IDE cables!) is the ESS ES1869F sound card with Dreamblaster X2 on it - do you think that's OK to reuse for this troubleshooting process? Win98SE automatically installs the WDM drivers for that during the Windows install process. Other choice is a Turtle Beach Montego II these came with and I've never used - don't even know if it plays nice with DOS and the Dreamblaster X2 I have (and I'll have to lookup drivers for it of course).

I also wanted to keep a 2nd non-bootable SSD in the computer with a StarTech SATA to IDE adapter so I can easily copy over drivers and games - is that OK? I was going to only plug it in after Win98SE is done installing and just quickly copy over my test games and drivers folders (USB is WAY too slow - I can't handle it taking 20-30 minutes to copy over a single CD's worth of data...SO slow).

Am I OK with installing the entire 384mb of RAM? No problems with DOS games? I have 3x slots (which is weird...most have 2 or 4 I thought...?) so I thought I'd use all three. I initially went with 256 (2x128) because my buddy said Crusader No Remorse won't run with more....but I can't get that game to run anyway so is it a moot point? I'll be fine in DOS and Win98 with 384mb?



WINDOWS 98 SE SOFTWARE / CD
Just in case the ~5+ versions of Win98SE I've downloaded are all bad, I bought an official (perfect condition) Win98SE CD off eBay. It says "For distribution with a new PC only. For product support, contact the manufacturer of your PC". Is this version OK to use? Is it bootable or do I need a 3.5" boot disk? I made a Win98SE boot disk during previous installs, but it doesn't even have the format program on it so I'll have to figure out something to format this drive beforehand (easy enough)

HOWEVER, I then was doing some reading and came across this post here on how to install Win98, and he suggests to copy the entire Win98 folder off the CD onto the HDD into a "Win98CD" folder. I want to try this to limit any read errors from the CD drive. I figure if I don't get any copy errors when I copy it to the HDD it should be good (plus original disc) + I'll never get the "insert Windows 98 CD" prompt ever again, right? I'm then going to run "setup.exe /p i" to install Win98SE without ACPI per that topic.

BIOS:
I reset the BIOS to factory and did some slight changes: that topic above says to turn off ACPI so I changed Power Management to "Disabled". Also turned off Plug n Play. Turned off Serial and Parallel ports to free-up resources (this is correct to do, right? - I've never ever plugged anything into those). Everything else in the BIOS was reset to factory.

Random note: in the BIOS under Video COnfiguration is has AGP Aperture Size. Says "Sets the aperture size for the AGP Video controller". This has ALWAYS been set to 64mb. My GeForce4 has 128mb RAM but when I googled weeks ago it says to leave this at 64mb. Is that correct? (just making sure for when I finally give it a go with that video card)

UTILITY SOFTWARE / DRIVERS
Like I mentioned on my last topic I've switched up the software I use just in case those are causing any issues/conflicts.

--7Zip to WinRAR
--NUBS 36E to NUBS 33 - any possibility the NUSB USB drivers are causing issues? These are 'unofficial drivers' ...although the computer does have 2x USB ports so I don't know how people used them in 1999...
--Any alternative to Daemon Tools for CD/ISO mounting? Using 3.47 off Phil's site. I've redownloaded just in case corrupt... Set to be the first optical drive so programs can find it. Digital CD Audio turned on (which still doesn't work for Quake CD Audio for example...have to revisit this).

--For the new Nvidia TNT2 M64 32mb 64-bit video card I switched over to, I found these drivers randomly (SO many dead links, including from Nvidia itself, so these are hard to find...) "nVidia TNT2-M64 v. 1.0 A01 - M64W98". Any worse or better drivers to use?
BUT what confuses me is I saw on Phil's site that the TNT2 from 1999 uses the same drivers (and there's like 30 different versions...) as my GeForce 4 card from 2002? Does that make sense? I guess it included 'legacy' hard ware drivers too? From research on this forum people recommended the "45.23_win9x_international.exe" drivers for my GeForce 4, so I should stick with those? The GeForce4 file is 19mb vs. the 818kb from the TNT2 drivers above for example...so this just seems weird to me and I wanted to ask.

--ESS EF1869F ISA sound card. Windows setup automatically installs WMA drivers for this, and I get system sounds and such in Windows, BUT, a fresh install of windows has nothing in Autoexec.bat, and DOS games need those lines added (even if they're being played inside of Win98). So Phil has two sets of drivers, Windows and DOS, 185xw98 and 185xdos. I've been using the DOS one since it has an install program which will add the SET BLASTER line to your Autoexec.bat (I set it to the same IRQ and such as Windows gives it), and it also loads up ESSCFG.EXE (with similar IRQ D etc values) upon boot-up. Does that mess up Windows at all? That it's loading DOS drivers for the sound card before Windows is fully booted up? ...just checking.

VIRTUAL MEMORY?
Does anything need to be done with this? I've been reading articles that say things like set it to 2.5 times your RAM. Others say use half that but put the same number in for min AND max.... I've never messed with this before - is that a good thing? or a step I've been missing which made my last setups not work so well?



So that's all I can think of. In a nutshell once that HDD comes in I'm going to format the HDD. Copy Win98 disc to the HDD. Then run setup off the HDD... then slowly see how things run with the bare minimum of hardware and report back.

Reply 1 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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So it's been ~8 hours since I posted, and 4x installs of Windows 98 later...and I continue to have fail after fail after fail after fail. I actually picked up a Windows 98 non-SE CD by mistake (wrong description, seller refunded). That install actually went fine...and TBH I don't know if non-SE will be fine for gaming but everybody ALWAYS talks about 98SE (and not about 98-non-SE, and never Win95) so I assume there's some very good reasons to go with the Special Edition, so I decided to try Windows 98 SE install yet again.

We can all agree that this can't be hardware, right? We're on computer #3 now. New MB, RAM, mechanical HDD, cables, different video card... Only thing that's the same is the 700mb Slot 1 Pentium III, and I was trying to still use the ESS sound card (which I've tried others before and still had issues) .... so all I can think of is the copies of Windows 98 SE I'm getting (from all the same places you all get them, and even verified with MD5 hashes when possible) HAVE to be the issue, right? I mean, I even tried taking the CD drive out of the equation by hooking the HDD up to my new/regular computer and copying over the installation files to the HDD then running Windows Setup.exe from the HDD instead of the CD-ROM and I STILL get errors (several of the below blue screens are just from copying over Win98SE install files from one HDD to another)... Which makes no sense because I know the majority of the people into this retro stuff are doing it the same exact way I'm doing it... (still ordered yet another real CD off eBay - confirmed to be Win98SE.

Could copying files over on my Mac, and storing them on my Mac be the problem? I tried from a virtual/bootcamp on my Mac too so it doesn't even touch Mac OS - but the ISO I would be burning for example would live on a Mac formatted HDD for a while (I always copy it over to Bootcamp's desktop before burning). I do copy over driver files natively on the Mac as well if that happens (just thinking of ANYTHING that could be causing these issues...

Just in case I'm running scandisk on that 40gb mechanical drive which probably has another ~2 hours left (400k out of 1.2 million clusters - no errors so far).

SO right now I'm TOTALLY open to any other advice. This is absolutely insane...we're at easily 100, 150ish hours of time (granted most spend waiting for things to install and copy over 😉 and you don't even want to know how much money (these are NOT things you can find locally anywhere around me, and certainly not for non-eBay prices, and I have three sets of them now 🤣). I'm baffled (and on a positive note I'm Hooked on getting these games to run! it's fun and brings me back to my childhood!).

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Finished with no HDD errors, so most likely it's not the HDD:

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Reply 2 of 17, by brt02

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I think you are trying to change too much at once - much harder to track faults to one specific thing when you approach diagnostics like this

A slow and methodical approach might serve you better. I'm also trying to setup a pentium 3 based system for playing older w95-98 era games and am having crashes here and there, so I know your pain - I think I'm on install #6 now.

Safe to say we can rule out any specific hardware item being at fault, but there might be incompatibilities between components

Remove any hardware you do not need
In the bios, disable every component you do not need
Install w98 from the CD as normal (you can copy install files after install has finished if you want, but I would not bother to begin with - I think it's waste of time when you are likely going to reinstall w98 several times).
install drivers one by one. Keep driver settings set to their defaults (applies to GPU mostly) - make a cd with the drivers you need.
Install and test games/software one by one.
Keep a note of when crashes occur and whether they are repeatable.
After that i would then try updates (IE, DX, SP3, USB etc...) - again install one and then test.

You may need to experiment with different driver versions. You noted that the same GeForce drivers work across different generations - which is true, but keep in mind that later driver releases are tailored towards supporting newer cards than the one that you have - so you may need to try out different drivers than the ones you have for your geForce 4.

Are you using an oem windows 98 cd at the moment?

2x Pentium 3 @ 800MHz - Intel OR840 - 1GB RDRAM - ATI Radeon 9800 Pro -Audigy 2ZS - W98/WXP

Reply 3 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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~12 hours since my initial post and another 3 or 4 Windows 98 and Win98SE installs later and still having issues (so at least 7 or 8 tried tonight, again).

Things I did different:

• Yet another new CD drive (going off the premise some files have to be corrupt...no move drives left to try fyi...that's 2x new and 2 or 3x old I've tried...)
• Downloaded a new Win98SE OEM from WinWorld, and this time from the German mirror just in case the US file is bad
• Did the above on my Win10 machine so my Mac never touches any PC files
• Also burned it on the modern USB burner on that Win10 PC (never tried before), slowest burn speed is 10x
• Disk verified 100% correct.
FINALLY GAVE UP AND REMOVED THE 700 MHZ P3, installed a super slow 450mh
• No more sound, who needs sound, running without a sound card...

STILL WILL NOT INSTALL. Has to be that ISO (and the other 5+ I've tried I assume *rolls eyes* will have to wait until 2nd official CD arrives from eBay, this time with SE on it...

Quick rundown: after 1 or 2 failed CD installs again, I tried to copy install files from CD\Win98 to C:\Win98 and got the VFAT error. Rebooted to DOS and used xcopy, then ran setup from HDD (always using deltree to kill off all previous Windows files + removing hidden files), and the next install had a whole barrage of missing .DLL's once you're after the 3rd? reboot and you get the teal desktop background (but still never having booted into Windows proper with Start and taskbar and all). I'm talking about like 50 of them...and I even tried pointing them to the .CAB's which those files are in and it wasn't having it. Then finally booted to a black screen and couldn't do anything....another bad install.

So now we're truly at 100% new hardware (for the 3rd? time...I'm forgetting TBH). Finally gave up on having sound and a faster processor.

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I took several videos as well...but I'm sure nobody wants to sit through those bores.



On the bright side, this last install (finished 5:15am this morning...and no, I don't work nights during the week or anything 😉 let me boot up into Windows for the first time in a while. I'm scared to install the Nvidia Riva TNT2 drivers, let alone plug in a sound card (especially after how the last time, on Fri, when I switched from the GeForce 4 to the TNT2 and rebooted I wasn't even able to get drivers loaded for the new car - they failed during the teal screen 'found new hardward' prompt/install, then after rebooting Windows just freezes immediately after booting up. Safe mode works but that's it... and there's no drivers to uninstall to try it again since they never finished to begin with ).

Tips on what to install next, and how to go about it? I have that ESS with Dreamblaster I've been trying to use. I'm also kinda ready to just buy a new sound card (Yamaha or something?) just because the ESS ISA sound card is the last bit of hardware I don't have a backup device to use (except for that Turtle Beach Montego II PCI card I know nothing about).

Reply 4 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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brt02 wrote on 2020-02-23, 10:32:
I think you are trying to change too much at once - much harder to track faults to one specific thing when you approach diagnost […]
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I think you are trying to change too much at once - much harder to track faults to one specific thing when you approach diagnostics like this

A slow and methodical approach might serve you better. I'm also trying to setup a pentium 3 based system for playing older w95-98 era games and am having crashes here and there, so I know your pain - I think I'm on install #6 now.

Safe to say we can rule out any specific hardware item being at fault, but there might be incompatibilities between components

Remove any hardware you do not need
In the bios, disable every component you do not need
Install w98 from the CD as normal (you can copy install files after install has finished if you want, but I would not bother to begin with - I think it's waste of time when you are likely going to reinstall w98 several times).
install drivers one by one. Keep driver settings set to their defaults (applies to GPU mostly) - make a cd with the drivers you need.
Install and test games/software one by one.
Keep a note of when crashes occur and whether they are repeatable.
After that i would then try updates (IE, DX, SP3, USB etc...) - again install one and then test.

You may need to experiment with different driver versions. You noted that the same GeForce drivers work across different generations - which is true, but keep in mind that later driver releases are tailored towards supporting newer cards than the one that you have - so you may need to try out different drivers than the ones you have for your geForce 4.

Are you using an oem windows 98 cd at the moment?

Thanks for all the advice, but if you take a look at my multiple other topics I've tried all this. I'm literally running a (new) Motherboard (with new RAM, cables, and processor) , (new) CD Drive, (new) 40gb HDD (scandisk'd with 0 bad sectors), and a (new) video card now. Nothing else. No drivers to load because 90% of the time I don't even get Windows to even boot for the very first time... (just got that 10% with my first working Win98SE install in ~8 times...but I'm going to bed now 🤣).

For which Windows CD's: ~half of the last installs tonight were on an official non-scratched Win98 non-SE CD. Other half were on a couple different fresh downloads/verified-burns of Win98SE (including burning on a different machine/different burner). Tried both installing from CD and by copying the CD to the HDD.

Looks like we were typing at the same time, you can see some more info about what I've tried lately above.

Reply 5 of 17, by brt02

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Try running with just one stick of RAM (128MB?).

For what's its worth I also got my 98 ISO from WInWorld and that has worked fine for me.

2x Pentium 3 @ 800MHz - Intel OR840 - 1GB RDRAM - ATI Radeon 9800 Pro -Audigy 2ZS - W98/WXP

Reply 6 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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brt02 wrote on 2020-02-23, 10:46:

Try running with just one stick of RAM (128MB?).

For what's its worth I also got my 98 ISO from WInWorld and that has worked fine for me.

I will try that - just got 3x new (used) sticks from eBay yesterday - I'll see if only 1 gives me a better experience (already dropped from 700 to 450mhz so I probably won't miss it).

I'm also going to research AntiVirus. That's the only other logical thing I can think of with how many things I've tried. Biggest question is I don't know if I can use a legacy A.V., with profiles from the day, or if there's new viruses which can also effect older computers (which I would need modern software with modern profiles). I can pull the HDD's and scan them on my Win10 machine with modern AV, but would still need a boot disk of some sort for the Pentium III machine to check the BIOS? or wherever viruses can hide that's not on the actual HDD's.

Reply 7 of 17, by brt02

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The AV I think is a waste of time. Some of the errors above would lead me to believe that the ISO you are using is an oem version?

link to the iso you are using?

Windows 98 Second Edition (Retail Full) at WinWorldPC (that's the one i'm using and works, will need a floppy bootdisk too)
SHA1: F56E6FBC58C24F140B9E3A09930A0643A2BEF4DC

Last edited by Stiletto on 2020-03-02, 07:38. Edited 1 time in total.

2x Pentium 3 @ 800MHz - Intel OR840 - 1GB RDRAM - ATI Radeon 9800 Pro -Audigy 2ZS - W98/WXP

Reply 8 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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brt02 wrote on 2020-02-23, 18:28:

The AV I think is a waste of time. Some of the errors above would lead me to believe that the ISO you are using is an oem version?

'OEM Full' from that same site (was using that because it's bootable). I've tried nearly a half dozen of them though, including my own ISO from my original CD circa 20+ years ago which did give me successful builds back then on other computers.

Also, about half of yesterday's errors were from an official (and clean/non-scratched) Win98 non-SE version I bought off eBay - that's the version which on the disk says ""For distribution with a new PC only. For product support, contact the manufacturer of your PC". That disk also let me copy everything to the HDD without errors so I assume it's a pretty clean disk.

I have a new Windows 98 SE disk being mailed to me. I'll try that later in the week and see if it helps. I just still don't get this and what it could be... it's a mystery for sure.

Reply 9 of 17, by CoffeeOne

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Dochartaigh wrote on 2020-02-23, 10:35:

..... I tried to copy install files from CD\Win98 to C:\Win98 and got the VFAT error. .....

Sorry, but I don't understand what you are doing.
Of course if you are not even able to copy files from the CD to your installation harddisk, Windows 98 won't run in stable way.
So you have still a problem with your storage subsystem.

Please start over.
Boot from a Windows 98 startup disk, and then start fdisk.
Clean all existing partitions and create a single new one. Of course then format the new partition.

Then again try to copy the files from the Windows 98 CD to the harddisk. Your windows 98 startup disk should give you CD support.
No need to install Windows 98, if you have already failures in that step.

Reply 10 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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CoffeeOne wrote on 2020-03-05, 20:16:

Sorry, but I don't understand what you are doing.
Of course if you are not even able to copy files from the CD to your installation harddisk, Windows 98 won't run in stable way.

I usually copy over using xcopy in pure DOS and have no errors (use the /v 'verify' option too...although I really don't know if that's double checking every file I copy or not). That vfat error/blue screen was just one example of one error out of the hundreds I've gotten (and that happened to be when I copied the Windows CD in Win98 itself, instead of DOS - it did not like it that time around).




Anyway, just wanted to update (probably update the other posts with this same info), but I have Windows 98 SE working now - at least for most of last weekend and Mon or Tues night (which is WAY better than I usually do). All the DOS games (around 50) are running proper, and I started on the 35 or so CD (mostly Windows games) games.

I started with ONLY the TNT2 and ESS sound card, but this time I used an actual Win98SE install disk, on my slowest CD burner (24x vs 40+x before). Used 450mhz Slot 1 and only installed 64mb RAM. Also used another keyboard and mouse just in case (one person mentioned that bricking his system). Once Win98SE was installed I used the Intel Chipset drivers off Phil's site instead of another version I was previously using. After installing 30 or 40 games I:

Then in stages while installing, testing, and making shortcuts for those games, I installed the Voodoo2's in SLI and those seem stable as well. After that installed some more games then put the 384mb RAM in, then finally switched to the original 700mhz processor.... So I have ZERO clue what actually did it this time. I honestly think it was the actual/real Windows CD (I remember in the 00's, and 2010's that I had bad luck when using burns of Windows and resorted to borrowing a friends disc at one point even...), but regardless right now it seems stable.

Issues: accidentally installed Alcohol 120% which Phil erroneously keeps on his site as working in win98 - it is NOT compatible with Win98. I had to manually remove it (it installs but you can't run it OR run the installer), then stripped any reference to it in the registry (which I'm worried I didn't do correctly...). Had to roll back the normal Nvidia 45.23 driver I was using with the GeForce4 (compatible with TNT2 as well), to an older version - I was getting black screens on some games - think I used the one of Dell's website for my XPS. Couldn't get my Ethernet adapter to connect to any network drive - but I think that's user error (not knowing how to connect ancient computer to my new network with Win10 and Mojave computers).




NEXT STEPS:

I would like advice on three things for my next (and hopefully final) steps:

1.) Before I go and possibly screw things up, what hard drive imaging/backup software can I use that actually works? I read a ton of topics and decided on Norton Ghost 2003 as it was recommended and said to be easy to use. I tried two backups of two different (working at the time) systems, and once restored neither would run quite right afterwards. Can I just literally just use something simple like Xcopy and copy over C:\Windows and Program Files directories and call it a day? (I can do the root of C:\ with the hidden files too). Then if I screw up anything delete those folders and copy back over with Xcopy /E /V /H /K (don't know if all those switches will work in DOS 7.1 -googled the command- but that seems to be correct for keeping all the file attributes and directory structure in place)?

2.) Next up is upgrading the TNT2. I don't think I've never had a 100% reliable build with the GeForce 4, and since then I decided I wanted to build this computer period correct as of 1999, so I picked up a GeForce 256 64mb DDR. Any suggestions on what exact version of drivers I should use? I have like 5x flavors for the GeForce 4 and TNT2's I've tried before... Any tips on the process of rolling back/uninstalling drivers properly when switching video cards? Like the proper sequence to do it? (the TNT2 drivers are installed currently, but some versions of those work for all Nvidia cards up to that point).

3.) I've been happy with the ESS ES1869F ISA sound card with Dreamblaster X2. BUT, when I was researching everybody said the Audigy 2 ZS is the best card for Windows so that's why I bought one of those to use as well. ...but like the above example I haven't had a solid build with the Audigy installed either... Is it even worth it to install this card alongside the ESS? Like what am I really getting sound-wise if I don't have the greatest hearing and aren't using the best speakers? (i.e. am not an audiophile, and certainly not for 90's era and earlier games...).

Reply 11 of 17, by SirNickity

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WinWorld's images have always been fine for me. I have downloaded a ton of them, because my copies of Windows are all still in their sealed boxes, and it's my plan to save that 1990s air in case of a virus outbreak in my town.

My Pentium II runs Windows 98 First Edition because I felt like trolling fate. To my surprise, amusement, and frankly, alarm -- it has been rock solid. If I can get FE to run, you should have zero trouble getting Second Edition to run.

Do you have a copy of memtest? If you don't, go get one. NOW. Let that puppy run for two or three passes so we can at least conclude that your PC is reasonably stable. If you have underlying hardware issues, proceeding to the OS is pointless.

OEM Windows is fine. It just means that it was licensed more cheaply than retail, with the expectation that the vendor would provide product support instead of Microsoft. It's also supposed to be licensed with hardware, and isn't technically licensed to be used on any other hardware, but literally nobody has ever paid any attention to that. On the plus side, as you've found, you often get a bootable disc and possibly a later release with some additional fixes and drivers and maybe even features. (But nothing of note, AFAIK, with Win98.) My 98FE build is also from an OEM disc, BTW, because I happened to have one in my collection. I don't recall where it came from. Maybe the PC I built in a hardware class at college? I was actually curious if it was really FE, because it didn't say SE anywhere on the disc but I didn't remember ever owning FE. But whattaya know, it was, so I guess I do.

I always start by booting from a same-OS boot floppy (so 98 boot floppy for 98 install), then: fdisk, format, mkdir c:\windows, mkdir c:\windows\cabs, copy d:\win98\*.* c:\windows\cabs, cd\windows\cabs, setup. It will complain that you "already have a Windows directory", but force it to install there anyway. If you computer crashes during this process, we're back to hardware faults.

I'm going to disagree with a little of the advice above. Go to your BIOS and load defaults. Set only what you absolutely must to get a functional system. (Time/date, disks, boot order.) Leave everything else alone. Don't tweak anything. Install only a video card, no audio or networking or SCSI or anything else.

DON'T install any software or patches or drivers. If you can't boot into a vanilla desktop, there's no sense going any further. Once you've been able to use the PC for a half hour without it murdering your pets, then install the chipset drivers. *REBOOT.* Give that a try for a while. Video drivers, reboot, try it for a while. Install your sound card.... Do not install multiple things between reboots. Some drivers will rip the rug out from under the OS when activated by the next installer. It takes some convincing to put the pieces back together when that happens. If you reboot and it detects hardware and wants to reboot, do it. You're going to see the Windows 98 boot screen a lot. Learn to make that cloudy background your zen.

Oh, and nobody has ever needed more than 256MB on Windows 98, except one guy that we don't talk about anymore, and he was into some shady stuff. A perfectly sane amount is 192MB. Even 128MB is fine.

Reply 12 of 17, by texterted

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We need a "like post"button on here!

Cheers

Ted

98se:- Gigabyte GA-6BXE, PIII 700, 256 mb sd ram, Rage 128 Pro. Ensoniq PCI Audio.
98se:- Asus A8v Dlx. A-64 3800+, 1024 mb ddr, Nvidia 6600GT 128 MB. SB Live.
XP Pro:- Asus P5 Q SE Plus, C2D E8400, 4 Gig DDR2, Radeon HD4870, SB Audigy 2ZS.

Reply 13 of 17, by maxtherabbit

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1) I swear by acronis true image 2011 - it's a bootable CD so it doesn't matter what OS you are running - it does require >64MB RAM to work though (how much greater I don't know for certain - it works on 128 I know for sure.)

2)GeForce 256 64mb DDR - great card! I can get you the exact driver version I use for my TNT2 in Windows 98SE with no issue - it's a fairly late model driver pack so I'm sure it includes a driver for your GF1

3) the Audigy 2 ZS is a very nice card for pure windows stuff but getting it working in DOS software is a bit of a hassle. I'd stick with the ESS. Also ESFM >>> creative CQM disregard that I see you are talking about running both of them together. Might be worth it if you are going to use a 5.1 system or something. If you're just using 2 speakers I wouldn't bother

Reply 14 of 17, by Jorpho

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Dochartaigh wrote on 2020-03-06, 00:29:

I honestly think it was the actual/real Windows CD (I remember in the 00's, and 2010's that I had bad luck when using burns of Windows and resorted to borrowing a friends disc at one point even...), but regardless right now it seems stable.

I suppose anything's possible, but I have a hard time believing that could be it. If something on the CD is flagrantly unreadable, Setup would throw an error.

There are plenty of ways you can verify the integrity of a CD. You could use a tool like WinMD5sum to generate a checksum for each file on a disc, and then use those checksums to verify that a different disc is byte-for-byte identical.

Reply 15 of 17, by Joseph_Joestar

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Dochartaigh wrote on 2020-03-06, 00:29:

1.) Before I go and possibly screw things up, what hard drive imaging/backup software can I use that actually works? I read a ton of topics and decided on Norton Ghost 2003 as it was recommended and said to be easy to use. I tried two backups of two different (working at the time) systems, and once restored neither would run quite right afterwards.

Acronis True Image never failed me. I'm using version 8 from a bootable CD since that's what I own from back in the day. I've backed up and restored Win98, Win2000 and DOS 6.22 countless times and never had any issues.

BUT, when I was researching everybody said the Audigy 2 ZS is the best card for Windows so that's why I bought one of those to use as well. ...but like the above example I haven't had a solid build with the Audigy installed either... Is it even worth it to install this card alongside the ESS? Like what am I really getting sound-wise if I don't have the greatest hearing and aren't using the best speakers? (i.e. am not an audiophile, and certainly not for 90's era and earlier games...).

Not much, in my experience. It's possible that the Audigy2 ZS + SC55 soundfont gives General Midi that is slightly closer to a real SC-55 compared to the Dreamblaster, but it's a very minor difference. I compare the Audigy to the SC-55 in this thread if you're curious. You also get SB16 compatibility in games where the ESS isn't natively supported, though the Audigy itself is far from perfect in terms of being fully SB16 compatible.

The one thing that the Audigy and Live cards do have going for them is digital audio output (i.e. SPDIF or optical). However, this only matters if you intend to record gameplay audio and need to completely eliminate any background noise. During normal gameplay, you probably won't notice any difference.

Your next line is...

Reply 16 of 17, by Dochartaigh

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Jorpho wrote on 2020-03-06, 03:56:
Dochartaigh wrote on 2020-03-06, 00:29:

I honestly think it was the actual/real Windows CD (I remember in the 00's, and 2010's that I had bad luck when using burns of Windows and resorted to borrowing a friends disc at one point even...), but regardless right now it seems stable.

I suppose anything's possible, but I have a hard time believing that could be it.  If something on the CD is flagrantly unreadable, Setup would throw an error.

There are plenty of ways you can verify the integrity of a CD.  You could use a tool like WinMD5sum to generate a checksum for each file on a disc, and then use those checksums to verify that a different disc is byte-for-byte identical.

But the thing is none of this makes sense, right? I mean SO many different sets of everything (MB, RAM, HDD's and SSD's and CF's, CD drives, video cards, sound cards, keyboards, mice, monitors, etc. etc. etc.) – I mean it's absolutely astounding how much I've tried (especially since around ~2 months ago I only had 1 old PC... I now have 7x...if you include the extra alone MB 🤣).

For CD Images, where applicable they're MD5's or whatever method is listed. I'm even cross-referencing hashes when they're not available (like winworld hashes are messed-up and nonsensical) that other members post and mine are the same. Using different burning media, different burners, different computers to burn on, different programs to burn with...verified, burned 4x, 8x, 10x, 16x, etc. etc. etc. Absolutely no rhyme or reason to any of this, right?

...so it could TOTALLY be something I have no clue about (have no clue what as I've gone through everything super logical to eliminate any variables), but I do remember years and years ago having similar issues unless I used an official disk so that's all that logically pops into my head (and I agree it's far-fetched... and who really knows). 

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-03-06, 05:25:

Acronis True Image never failed me. I'm using version 8 from a bootable CD since that's what I own from back in the day. I've backed up and restored Win98, Win2000 and DOS 6.22 countless times and never had any issues.

You're the second person who has mentioned this so I will definitely give it a go.

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-03-06, 05:25:

Not much, in my experience. It's possible that the Audigy2 ZS + SC55 soundfont gives General Midi that is slightly closer to a real SC-55 compared to the Dreamblaster, but it's a very minor difference. I compare the Audigy to the SC-55 in this thread if you're curious. You also get SB16 compatibility in games where the ESS isn't natively supported, though the Audigy itself is far from perfect in terms of being fully SB16 compatible.

The one thing that the Audigy and Live cards do have going for them is digital audio output (i.e. SPDIF or optical). However, this only matters if you intend to record gameplay audio and need to completely eliminate any background noise. During normal gameplay, you probably won't notice any difference.

No optical - I'm using old Roland studio monitors. The Audigy isn't much help with me for a lot of DOS games with MIDI - many need to be launched in pure DOS (i.e. not inside of windows), and the Audigy (even with those special hacked DOS drivers) won't do proper MIDI emulation in DOS (only in Windows).

I'm now leaning towards not worrying about installing the Audigy but I will look into it some more and listen to those examples - thanks.

Reply 17 of 17, by Jo22

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I also was a happy user of Acronis True Image! Used version 7 to 10, if memory serves. And some of the 20xx releases.
They never failed for me. If modern hardware caused issues with compatibility, I simply used the most modern emercency boot medium to restore the older backups.

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