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First post, by dj_daafje

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Hi All!

I'm having a bit of a tough challenge here. I wanna use my old laptop (Thinkpad T42) as RetroPC with either Windows 95OSR2 or Windows 98 SE.

The thing is, the laptop doesn't have a floppy drive, the optical drive isn't working anymore and all of the USB ports are broken (flexproblem with South Bridge, pretty much unrepairable).

So the only thing that's still bootable, is the internal 60gb IDE harddrive. It's also fairly easy to take the HDD out and hook it up to my W10 pc as an external drive, so formatting, partitioning and placing files on the HDD is no problem.

Is it possible to install Windows 95/98 with only the HDD? If so, what would be the best approach?

Thanks all for helping me solving this puzzle!

Reply 1 of 5, by auron

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there's a tool named rufus that you can use to make the drive bootable with freedos, copy over the windows CD contents and just run setup from DOS, easy.

it's a bit questionable to run 95 on something that new so you're probably rather looking at 98se.

Reply 2 of 5, by konc

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dj_daafje wrote on 2021-04-17, 22:07:
Hi All! […]
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Hi All!

I'm having a bit of a tough challenge here. I wanna use my old laptop (Thinkpad T42) as RetroPC with either Windows 95OSR2 or Windows 98 SE.

The thing is, the laptop doesn't have a floppy drive, the optical drive isn't working anymore and all of the USB ports are broken (flexproblem with South Bridge, pretty much unrepairable).

So the only thing that's still bootable, is the internal 60gb IDE harddrive. It's also fairly easy to take the HDD out and hook it up to my W10 pc as an external drive, so formatting, partitioning and placing files on the HDD is no problem.

Is it possible to install Windows 95/98 with only the HDD? If so, what would be the best approach?

Thanks all for helping me solving this puzzle!

Yes that's a pretty common scenario. The general idea goes likes this: You partition/format and make the HDD bootable on another computer. Then you copy the win95/98 installation folder to it. When you put it back in the laptop it'll boot from it and you'll just do a "cd win95/98", "setup" to start the installation.
Now contrary to your statement, I believe that the tricky part is to partition, format and make it bootable on the win10 pc. I'd suggest some VM mounting the whole drive and booting from the windows cd image if you haven't got a better alternative, I've done it in the past using virtualbox. Also rufus that auron suggested should work beautifully, but it's always safer to partition and sys the drive using the OS you're going to install on it, that's why I went the VM way and booted from the windows cd.

Reply 4 of 5, by kdr

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When I'm installing Windows 95/98, I always copy the setup files to the HDD first and then run SETUP from there. I feel like the installation goes faster this way. As a bonus, in the future Windows usually won't bother to ask you to insert the Windows CD-ROM every time it finds new hardware to install, because it already remembers where to find all the files.

Reply 5 of 5, by Jo22

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Goo luck! Windows 95 is quite finicky sometimes. 😥
In practice, it's either too old or too new

I'd only use it for two cases nowadays - nostalgia and exreme low-end hardware (386, 4-8MiB RAM: Win95 RTM).

Windows 98SE is not just an update, it's so much better:
Vastly improved memory managment, can run aligned programs directly from VCache, better ACPI support,
supports both VXD/WDM type drivers, can use KernelEx etc.

It also includes support for newer Dynamic Drive Overlays, if memory serves.

That being said, I can understand the idea of using Win95.
Though in practice, it's just what it is: An ugly, unstable mess.
I'd use 98lite or something, which uses the Win95 shell on Win98.

Edit: Please don't get me wrong, I kinda grew up with Win31/95 RTM, and have got some fond memories of both of them,
but especially Win95
stressed my nerves on anything beyond 386/486 (AT class) machines.
PCI/APIC and and ACPI support was not very mature, I think.
So yes, for just for fun/experiments it's fine, I guess.
But using it over longer time might be frustrating.. That's why posted this.

Performance wise, Win95 is a bit quicker, yes unless bigger programs are used.
Because, Win95 has a terrible memory management.
The swapfile gets bigger and bigger, too.
Win98/SE is much more friendly here.
So 98Lite might be best compromise. The Win95 shell/explorer is better performing than 98's.

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