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First post, by Alt-F4

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First post here, so hello and apologies if I'm posting this in the wrong place. This is my first foray into a retro build, so I'm looking to get some general advice before I head down a wrong path. I'm currently waiting for a new PSU to arrive before I get started. Here are the parts I have on hand...

  • Intel D865PERL motherboard
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz (Northwood) 533MHz FSB 512K cache
  • 2x 1GB DDR400 RAM
  • BFG NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT OC (AGP)
  • Creative Sound Blaster Live! CT4760
  • 3.5" Floppy Drive
  • IDE CD-RW Drive
  • Intel 80 GB SATA SSD
  • 80GB SATA HDD / 60GB IDE HDD (if necessary, see below)
  • 1280x1024 75hz LCD monitor
  • Windows 98 Retail CD-ROM
  • Windows XP Home Upgrade (with SP1) CD-ROM

A few quesitons:

1. Is it okay to install from the retail discs for 98 and XP, and then update them to 98 SE and XP SP3 after the fact? Or should I skip that and download up-to-date installers instead?

2. Will I have issues installing Windows 98 with just one stick of 1GB RAM? That is the lowest I can go at the moment by removing one of the sticks. I've read conflicting information about 512MB or 1GB being the max RAM supported out of the box for Windows 98. I know there are hacks you can do down the line to make it work with more RAM installed which I plan to explore for the sake of consistency when switching back and forth with XP, but otherwise I guess I'd have to buy a 256MB/512MB stick just for the install.

3. This motherboard has two SATA ports in addition to IDE but the BIOS has a "legacy" ATA/IDE mode (which I believe is required to run Windows 98). From what I've read, this allows for SATA drives to be seen as IDE drives by the OS, but limits you to four drives total (a limitation of IDE) - primary master & slave, secondary master & slave. The manual lists the following configurations in legacy mode:

  • PATA Pri only
  • PATA Sec only
  • PATA Pri and Sec
  • SATA P0/P1 only
  • SATA P0/P1, PATA Sec
  • SATA P0/P1, PATA Pri

The optical drive needs an IDE interface, so I think that leaves me with either using just IDE, or setting it to one of the latter two options for SATA + IDE. Although, if I'm reading this correctly, I think that strictly limits me to two SATA drives and two IDE drives, each with one master and one slave. I'm thinking the simplest option would be to set the IDE optical drive as the secondary master, and the 80GB SATA SSD as primary master split into three partitions, something like ~20GB FAT32 for win98, ~50GB NTFS for winXP, and then the rest (~10GB) as FAT32 for misc storage and for transferring files between the two. I'm not sure how this legacy mode will handle multiple drives but it seems like I can add an extra SATA and/or IDE HDD to these two, so let me know if it is easier to just put the OSes on two separate drives. I just like to avoid spinning disks whenever possible.

If there is anything else I should know that I haven't thought of yet, please let me know! I'd appreciate any advice or general tips before I get started on this. Thanks!

Reply 1 of 11, by Ringding

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Windows XP plain -> SP3 is not a problem. I’m not so sure about 98 -> 98 SE. This one, I personally would install from the 98SE installer.

Put everything onto one disk. Splitting it up onto multiple disks just makes it messier.

I have a Pentium 4 board with the normal two IDE and two additional SATA ports as well that I dug out recently (ASUS P4P800), and I can use all six drives there. I have the boot drive on IDE, though. If you want to boot from SATA, which sounds like the most preferable option for you, you will need to set it to legacy mode, and you are right that this will likely limit the amount of available drive ports, but who needs so many drives in such an old system anyway?

Reply 2 of 11, by leileilol

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There's no path to upgrade 98 to 98SE. It's not a service pack.

There is a neccessity to install Intel's motherboard chipset drivers for those P4 boards on Win98SE however. Neglecting to do so will either have hardlocks or really slow AGP performance when games are played.

You can at least try to limit the memory Win9x has access to with msconfig for more stability (assuming you can boot to 98 at all).

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Reply 4 of 11, by RandomStranger

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stef80 wrote on 2022-04-22, 06:51:

There was 98SE OEM Eng iso on archive.org. Can't seem find it now. OEM versions were bootable!

You can still find it on LINK REMOVED
It's been up for a while and not hidden so I guess it's not illegal.
LINK REMOVED

Last edited by DosFreak on 2022-04-22, 13:02. Edited 2 times in total.

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Reply 5 of 11, by Joseph_Joestar

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Ringding wrote on 2022-04-22, 06:04:

Put everything onto one disk. Splitting it up onto multiple disks just makes it messier.

I disagree. If you have two operating systems on the same disk and need to reinstall Win98, it will overwrite the boot loader of WinXP.

Using two separate disks and selecting which one I want to boot from using the BIOS startup key (F11 in my case) is much easier. And this way, you can reinstall Win98 as much as you like since it cannot read the NTFS partition that WinXP resides on, and therefore can't mess up the boot loader.

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PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
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Reply 6 of 11, by stef80

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bootloader (MBR) is usually not on OS partition, but on first sector of partitioned disk. And you usually want XP bootloader to handle Windows98.
On 512-byte sector disks, first 446 bytes is actual bootstrap.
To be precise:
446 bytes – Bootstrap
64 bytes – Partition table
2 bytes – Signature

Reply 7 of 11, by Joseph_Joestar

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stef80 wrote on 2022-04-22, 08:07:

bootloader (MBR) is usually not on OS partition, but on first sector of partitioned disk.

You're right about that. From my experience, if you install Win98, then WinXP after that, everything works fine and the XP loader picks up Win98 correctly and allows you to boot that OS.

However, if you then re-install Win98, it will overwrite the XP boot loader and you will only get Win98. This is why I prefer two separate disks.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 9 of 11, by dr_st

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-04-22, 08:12:

You're right about that. From my experience, if you install Win98, then WinXP after that, everything works fine and the XP loader picks up Win98 correctly and allows you to boot that OS.

However, if you then re-install Win98, it will overwrite the XP boot loader and you will only get Win98. This is why I prefer two separate disks.

You are correct. I once had to fix the NT bootloader after installing 9x and documented the process here. It is doable and not rocket science. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches (single disk vs two disks). I think I agree with you that two disks are usually simpler and safer, unless you simply have no room for another disk (like on a laptop).

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Reply 10 of 11, by Alt-F4

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Thanks all! A lot of helpful information in here. I got it to POST so that's good news, had to replace the CMOS battery on the motherboard though. I found another IDE drive, a Maxtor 18.2GB. Since I'm not a pro at this yet, I'm going to start by trying to install Windows 98 on that and keep them on separate disks in case I screw something up and need to re-install. Once I figure out how to get everything dialed in maybe I'll look into starting over with a single disk dual boot on the SSD, or at least look into replacing this gigantic hunk of loud spinning metal for something flash-based like an IDE CF adapter.

Reply 11 of 11, by chinny22

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I think focusing on Win98 now and worrying about XP later is a smart idea. Your going to have to do a few re installs as you get the hang of it anyway.
For partitions I'd keep c:\ at 4GB or below, typically for Win98 I set it as 2GB. This ensures Win98, scandisk and XP's boot loader will all work as larger drives can cause problems. Every other partiton can be whatever size you wish