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First post, by cloverskull

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Hey friends, I have a new mini PC that I was hoping to use for Windows 7 to run some BBS stuff. It's important to me that it's 32 bit for maximum 16 bit compatibility. However, my BIOS does not allow for any legacy boot options and I'm forced to use UEFI.

I know there are some guides out there for linux to do secure UEFI boot via a shim and then bootstrap some other OS. Has anyone done this to boot a version of Windows that is incompatible with UEFI?

Reply 3 of 26, by Azarien

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cloverskull wrote on 2022-06-13, 15:10:

I know there are some guides out there for linux to do secure UEFI boot via a shim and then bootstrap some other OS. Has anyone done this to boot a version of Windows that is incompatible with UEFI?

Windows 7 x86 should be compatible with UEFI, unless it is a 64-bit only UEFI…

Reply 4 of 26, by cloverskull

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Yeah, it's a 64 bit only UEFI. 😒

OTVDM and NTVDM still have problems with a lot of BBS doors unfortunately. I get errors all the time with them, so would very much like to use win7 32 bit as that's given me the best compatibility in the past.

Reply 6 of 26, by BEEN_Nath_58

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lafoxxx wrote on 2022-06-13, 18:18:

How about running a 32-bit OS in a Hyper-V VM?

I never used Hyper V. Maybe someone better can comment on it. vmware and virtualbox should be fine as well imo

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Reply 7 of 26, by cyclone3d

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Hyper-V sucks really bad. It puts the host OS on top of the hypervisor and makes the whole system run like crap. It also has major issues with hosting XP... Video resolution issues, sharing drives between the host and VM issues and RDP issues. I'm guessing there are more major issues but I'm not enough of a masochist to bother with that steaming pile of crap anymore.

Virtualbox is even slower.

Just use VMWare Workstation Player.
It is free for personal use and will give you very close to native machine speed and will not slow down the machine it is running on.

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Reply 8 of 26, by cloverskull

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My specific bind with this hardware is that I bought it intentionally for a 32 bit OS, and as such, it's only got four gigs (non-upgradeable) of RAM, so basically any type of virtualized appliance is out of the question. Ugh.

I may see if I can get rEFInd to work, and just use it to bootstrap Windows 7. Wish me luck 😜

Reply 9 of 26, by crazyc

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cloverskull wrote on 2022-06-13, 18:07:

OTVDM and NTVDM still have problems with a lot of BBS doors unfortunately. I get errors all the time with them, so would very much like to use win7 32 bit as that's given me the best compatibility in the past.

What software and what errors?

Reply 10 of 26, by cloverskull

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I no longer have a proper Windows environment to test this, but whereas some doors would work, some would not, and I had to update OTVDM/NTVDM every single time my computer updated.

Regardless, NTVDM/OTVDM aren't really options for me at this point since Windows10 runs like such garbage on this machine. 😒

Reply 11 of 26, by Jo22

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Azarien wrote on 2022-06-13, 16:01:
cloverskull wrote on 2022-06-13, 15:10:

I know there are some guides out there for linux to do secure UEFI boot via a shim and then bootstrap some other OS. Has anyone done this to boot a version of Windows that is incompatible with UEFI?

Windows 7 x86 should be compatible with UEFI, unless it is a 64-bit only UEFI…

32-Bit UEFI was rarely supported, afaik.

In 2011-2014, I've seen many Nettop systems with a 32-Bit processor and a 32-Bit UEFI.

And even if the processor was technically 64-Bit capable,
the chipset drivers were available as 32-Bit binaries only.

In essence, that UEFI software was thus reduced to a shiny CMOS Setup Utility with CSM enabled (BIOS payload).

Because, Windows x86 didn't support 32-Bit UEFI and using the old BIOS/CSM was the only way to boot.

That being said, this was 10 years ago.
Not sure if Windows 7 finally gained the ability to run on 32-Bit UEFI.

But back then, MS just didn't bother to support it.
The setup DVD didn't support it, at least.

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Reply 12 of 26, by jakethompson1

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-06-14, 00:56:

Because, Windows x86 didn't support 32-Bit UEFI and using the old BIOS/CSM was the only way to boot.

I'm curious whether a Compatibility Support Module is inherently custom to each BIOS or each chipset, or if there is a way to write a generic one that could be loaded from disk rather than being an integral part of the UEFI BIOS. I suppose the CSM needs to customize what appears in F000:xxxx even when in real mode which sounds pretty custom. I haven't looked into the details.

Reply 13 of 26, by Jo22

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jakethompson1 wrote on 2022-06-14, 01:37:
Jo22 wrote on 2022-06-14, 00:56:

Because, Windows x86 didn't support 32-Bit UEFI and using the old BIOS/CSM was the only way to boot.

I'm curious whether a Compatibility Support Module is inherently custom to each BIOS or each chipset, or if there is a way to write a generic one that could be loaded from disk rather than being an integral part of the UEFI BIOS. I suppose the CSM needs to customize what appears in F000:xxxx even when in real mode which sounds pretty custom. I haven't looked into the details.

I wonder the same, yes. I just wished, I'd know more about how UEFI works.
Maybe it's even possible port over some projects, system files or boot loaders.
I mean, there are fascinating projects like Open Firmware, CoreBoot and SeaBIOS. And ReactOS, too.
So it wouldn't be necessary to start from zero.

Btw, just recently, DOOM was ported to UEFI. 😁
https://hackaday.com/2022/06/12/doom-in-your- … than-you-think/

Also, Windows NT only needs a very basic BIOS to boot, it seems.
Someone at YouTube managed to boot XP years ago from a hacked mainboard with SeaBIOS.

I can't remember the name of the video, though. Here's a similar video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2VXoI3XTq4

"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 14 of 26, by LSS10999

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cloverskull wrote on 2022-06-14, 00:55:

I no longer have a proper Windows environment to test this, but whereas some doors would work, some would not, and I had to update OTVDM/NTVDM every single time my computer updated.

Regardless, NTVDM/OTVDM aren't really options for me at this point since Windows10 runs like such garbage on this machine. 😒

OTVDM should work fine on Win7 x64.

cloverskull wrote on 2022-06-13, 18:07:

Yeah, it's a 64 bit only UEFI. 😒

OTVDM and NTVDM still have problems with a lot of BBS doors unfortunately. I get errors all the time with them, so would very much like to use win7 32 bit as that's given me the best compatibility in the past.

Which OTVDM version are you using? I recommend using the unstable version (AppVeyor artifact) as the stable build is quite old. Some issues might have already been fixed in recent commits so you may consider updating it from time to time.

However, if you have issues that OTVDM is not to blame (that it also affected NTVDM or even Win9x) then it might not be trivial to fix. In that case you may consider setting up a Win3.x environment using DOSBox-X.

Reply 15 of 26, by cloverskull

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The issues I was running into were pretty specific to my use case - old BBS software. Basically, I want to be able to run old BBS doors which are 16 bit, but launching them and redirecting the socket info with the virtual fossil just failed miserably. Plus, I did have a handful of flat out compatibility issues.

I think what I’ll end up doing is one of two things:
1 - Figure out some sort of “shim” solution, which I _think_ could be possible with the clever use of rEFInd
2 - Just install linux on this cheap computer and use it for something else; get an older NUC for Windows 7

I’m strongly in favor of 2 at this point.

Reply 17 of 26, by LSS10999

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Azarien wrote on 2022-06-14, 13:40:
Jo22 wrote on 2022-06-14, 03:21:

Btw, just recently, DOOM was ported to UEFI. 😁

I wonder, how does graphics work in UEFI? Is it still good old VGA/VESA, or something UEFI-specific?

If CSM is on, it'll still use the old VGA/VESA modes. If CSM is off, it seems to use something called UEFI GOP. In my case it feels similar to VESA but it can utilize some larger resolution and 32-bit color depth.

However, that needs some complicated support that it can be very difficult to actually achieve under certain circumstances. It seems to require everything, like the video adapter (onboard/discrete), cable and monitor, to be UEFI GOP compatible for it to properly function.

UEFI GOP is mandatory if you turned CSM off. The system will refuse to boot without CSM if UEFI GOP fails (beeps), and will try to turn CSM back on by itself in that case.

EDIT: I read in another post that recent Intel IGP broke legacy VGA/VESA video modes completely that you cannot turn on CSM without a discrete video card.

Reply 18 of 26, by crazyc

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cloverskull wrote on 2022-06-14, 00:55:

I no longer have a proper Windows environment to test this, but whereas some doors would work, some would not, and I had to update OTVDM/NTVDM every single time my computer updated.

Regardless, NTVDM/OTVDM aren't really options for me at this point since Windows10 runs like such garbage on this machine. 😒

I'd still like to know what program it is so if other similar bug reports appear I can try it too. Unless you are trying to use a DOS 16bit program rather than win16 in which case winevdm isn't going to help anyway.