VOGONS


First post, by Bumrusher89

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Hello Vogons users.

I have been looking at my Window 3.1 Hard disk image on PCem. And it has like 6095 Cylinders and 2999 megabytes. And I am questioning if using the 32 Bit disk access will work on my Windows 3.1 VM on PCem...

According to this source I found here
https://www.rigacci.org/docs/biblio/online/fi … re/win32bda.htm

What is saying that "The 32BitDiskAccess driver that is supplied with Windows 3.1x, WDCTRL, is limited to hard drives with 1024 cylinders or less (504MB or less). If a larger hard drive is installed and 32BitDiskAccess is enabled, Windows may lock up or freeze when started or it may return an error message such as "Insufficient memory to start Windows..." or "WDCTRL validation failed at phase XX,XX"."

Would using a program driver like 32 Bit Disk Access will work on a 2 GB DOS/Windows 3.1 hard disk, have you tried using 32BitDiskAccess on a Windows 3.1 2GB hard disk and ran into some problems like mentioned on the source I found? And is 2GB large for a Windows 3.1 hard disk?

Please leave me some answers. Thank you.

Reply 1 of 9, by Jo22

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Hello again! ^^

I'm using the MicroHouse FastDisk driver here on a Surfstation JNT.
The OS is MS-DOS 6.22/WfW 3.11 and the CF card is 8GB in size.
I'm using 4 partitions, 2GB in size each (FAT16B).

The original FastDisk driver (WDCTRL) of Windows 3.1x is very limited.
It's program code dates back to the days of MFM/RLL fixed-disk drives, before IDE was around. When ESDI was still new.

WDCTRL will only work with IDE drives that stick to the early specifications of IDE, I believe. Say, early Conner or Miniscribe HDDs in the range of ca. 20 to 80MB.

More information can be found here:
https://www.os2museum.com/wp/how-to-please-wdctrl/

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"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 2 of 9, by Jo22

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The reason why I often recommended that MicroHouse driver.. :
It does work. And it does with HDDs of different brands.
I'm using it for many years now on different systems (real 386 PC, 486 laptops, Virtual PC 2007, PCem).. It can handle disks up to 8GB maximum.

Note that I say "disks". I really mean that.
Disks with larger capacity can cause trouble.
Like an address-wraparound that may causes data corruption if the systems tries to addresses beyond 8GB (didn't Win95 have similar issues, but with secondary partitions ?).
This could happen even though you'd may try limiting the drive's capacity artificially by using custom values in CMOS Setup..

A good workaround would be to limit a modern HDD to 8GB via firmware modifications.
Phil of Phil's Computerlab did this with a Samsung HDD, I believe.

I think the issue exists because either that's a limit of the drivers LBA implementation, the limit of E-CHS (aka "Large") or something else (BIOS registers etc) .

MS-DOS 4/5/6 has a similar 8GB limit, by the way, though it doesn't recognize LBA (not LBA aware, DOS 7+ starts being LBA aware) unlike the 3rd party FastDisk drivers. Thus it will happily accept any values the BIOS reports.
The supplied disk utilities (FDISK, FORMAT) may have their own limitations here, but's that not so important.

Drivers like the newer WDCTRL driver, distributed by Western Digital, do check for the manufacturer ID and refuse to work if you use a HDD by the the competition.
Similarly, a FastDisk driver made by Maxtor will only work with Maxtor HDDs.

The MicroHouse driver is thus a bit special.
If you're looking for an alternative, have a look for a Dynamic Drive Overlay software.
Some DDOs do include FastDisk drivers, too. And they are not "dongled" to a specific HDD series.

"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 3 of 9, by Bumrusher89

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Jo22 wrote on 2021-03-19, 13:38:
The reason why I often recommended that MicroHouse driver.. : It does work. And it does with HDDs of different brands. I'm using […]
Show full quote

The reason why I often recommended that MicroHouse driver.. :
It does work. And it does with HDDs of different brands.
I'm using it for many years now on different systems (real 386 PC, 486 laptops, Virtual PC 2007, PCem).. It can handle disks up to 8GB maximum.

Note that I say "disks". I really mean that.
Disks with larger capacity can cause trouble.
Like an address-wraparound that may causes data corruption if the systems tries to addresses beyond 8GB (didn't Win95 have similar issues, but with secondary partitions ?).
This could happen even though you'd may try limiting the drive's capacity artificially by using custom values in CMOS Setup..

A good workaround would be to limit a modern HDD to 8GB via firmware modifications.
Phil of Phil's Computerlab did this with a Samsung HDD, I believe.

I think the issue exists because either that's a limit of the drivers LBA implementation, the limit of E-CHS (aka "Large") or something else (BIOS registers etc) .

MS-DOS 4/5/6 has a similar 8GB limit, by the way, though it doesn't recognize LBA (not LBA aware, DOS 7+ starts being LBA aware) unlike the 3rd party FastDisk drivers. Thus it will happily accept any values the BIOS reports.
The supplied disk utilities (FDISK, FORMAT) may have their own limitations here, but's that not so important.

Drivers like the newer WDCTRL driver, distributed by Western Digital, do check for the manufacturer ID and refuse to work if you use a HDD by the the competition.
Similarly, a FastDisk driver made by Maxtor will only work with Maxtor HDDs.

The MicroHouse driver is thus a bit special.
If you're looking for an alternative, have a look for a Dynamic Drive Overlay software.
Some DDOs do include FastDisk drivers, too. And they are not "dongled" to a specific HDD series.

I have another thing to ask. How does this software affect Windows 3.1's 386 enhanced mode?

Reply 4 of 9, by Jo22

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Bumrusher89 wrote on 2021-03-19, 16:38:

I have another thing to ask. How does this software affect Windows 3.1's 386 enhanced mode?

I don't know how to explain, but..
FastDisk is a native HDD driver for Windows 3.1x.
If it is loaded, Windows 3.1x can access the HDD directly, without the help of DOS or BIOS.

Windows 3.1x can thus stay completely in Protected-Mode, there's no need to call HDD routines of these two Real-Mode programs.

Because if this, Windows 3.1x can handle DOS VMs much better.
Windows 3.1x and FastDisk do "filter" calls coming from DOS programs.

These calls that DOS applications are usually issuing are for int13h (HDD sub routines of the BIOS) and int21h (the MS-DOS API or ABI).

But there's more - The 386 Enhanced Mode of Windows 3.1x does also emulate Keyboard/Mouse ports (PS/2 ports).
It does so because of multitasking. Due to that emulation or virtualizations, multiple DOS programs can think they have full control of mouse/keyboard.
Only Windows itself communicates with the real ports.

Edit : So the bottom line is:
- 32Bit Disk Access is the Windows 3.1x HDD driver that runs in Protected-Mode.
- 32Bit File Access is the WfW 3.11 HDD cache. Like SmartDrive, though simpler (no CD, floppy caching). But it runs fully in Protected-Mode like FastDisk.

I'm sorry, that's all that comes to mind right now.
Maby another Vogon can help here.
I'm not very good at explaining things, I'm afraid. 😅

More information can be found here:

https://www.os2museum.com/wp/jumpy-ps2-mouse- … de-windows-3-x/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/32-bit_disk_access

Other drivers can be found here: http://www.mdgx.com/w31toy.htm

There's also a patch for the Onteack driver:
https://github.com/Tony814/OntrackWMod

"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 Jorpho

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os2museum also has this nifty bit on exactly how WDCTRL decides a disk is worthy:
http://www.os2museum.com/wp/how-to-please-wdctrl/

Bumrusher89 wrote on 2021-03-19, 03:28:

And is 2GB large for a Windows 3.1 hard disk?

2 GB was unthinkably huge in the Win 3.x era.

Reply 6 of 9, by Bumrusher89

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Jo22 wrote on 2021-03-19, 19:58:
I don't know how to explain, but.. FastDisk is a native HDD driver for Windows 3.1x. If it is loaded, Windows 3.1x can access t […]
Show full quote
Bumrusher89 wrote on 2021-03-19, 16:38:

I have another thing to ask. How does this software affect Windows 3.1's 386 enhanced mode?

I don't know how to explain, but..
FastDisk is a native HDD driver for Windows 3.1x.
If it is loaded, Windows 3.1x can access the HDD directly, without the help of DOS or BIOS.

Windows 3.1x can thus stay completely in Protected-Mode, there's no need to call HDD routines of these two Real-Mode programs.

Because if this, Windows 3.1x can handle DOS VMs much better.
Windows 3.1x and FastDisk do "filter" calls coming from DOS programs.

These calls that DOS applications are usually issuing are for int13h (HDD sub routines of the BIOS) and int21h (the MS-DOS API or ABI).

But there's more - The 386 Enhanced Mode of Windows 3.1x does also emulate Keyboard/Mouse ports (PS/2 ports).
It does so because of multitasking. Due to that emulation or virtualizations, multiple DOS programs can think they have full control of mouse/keyboard.
Only Windows itself communicates with the real ports.

Edit : So the bottom line is:
- 32Bit Disk Access is the Windows 3.1x HDD driver that runs in Protected-Mode.
- 32Bit File Access is the WfW 3.11 HDD cache. Like SmartDrive, though simpler (no CD, floppy caching). But it runs fully in Protected-Mode like FastDisk.

I'm sorry, that's all that comes to mind right now.
Maby another Vogon can help here.
I'm not very good at explaining things, I'm afraid. 😅

More information can be found here:

https://www.os2museum.com/wp/jumpy-ps2-mouse- … de-windows-3-x/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/32-bit_disk_access

Other drivers can be found here: http://www.mdgx.com/w31toy.htm

There's also a patch for the Onteack driver:
https://github.com/Tony814/OntrackWMod

As for the Windows 3.1 386 enhanced mode Mouse emulation, how is my mouse not working when in a DOS VM and if Windows 3.1 handles DOS VMs better then why is one of my DOS get these system integrity errors? There is no other Vogon I know of that knows about this 32-bit disk access thing if it affects 386 enhanced mode.

Reply 7 of 9, by weedeewee

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-03-19, 20:24:
os2museum also has this nifty bit on exactly how WDCTRL decides a disk is worthy: http://www.os2museum.com/wp/how-to-please-wdct […]
Show full quote

os2museum also has this nifty bit on exactly how WDCTRL decides a disk is worthy:
http://www.os2museum.com/wp/how-to-please-wdctrl/

Bumrusher89 wrote on 2021-03-19, 03:28:

And is 2GB large for a Windows 3.1 hard disk?

2 GB was unthinkably huge in the Win 3.x era.

2GB = 1422 HD 3"1/2 Floppy disks !!!!! 😁

Reply 8 of 9, by Bumrusher89

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-03-19, 20:24:
os2museum also has this nifty bit on exactly how WDCTRL decides a disk is worthy: http://www.os2museum.com/wp/how-to-please-wdct […]
Show full quote

os2museum also has this nifty bit on exactly how WDCTRL decides a disk is worthy:
http://www.os2museum.com/wp/how-to-please-wdctrl/

Bumrusher89 wrote on 2021-03-19, 03:28:

And is 2GB large for a Windows 3.1 hard disk?

2 GB was unthinkably huge in the Win 3.x era.

This kinds of questions me if WDCTRL will work on my 2GB HDD?

Edit: Oh wait it sucked... Never Mind.

Reply 9 of 9, by Jo22

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Hi, may I ask what kind of DOS you are using? 😀

"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//