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Author Topic: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?  (Read 2769 times)

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AtomicSpud

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I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« on: March 06, 2018, 02:55:06 PM »
Several reasons really, nostalgia being the foremost. However, the system I built it on isn't what you'd normally expect to see running Windows 98. Also, this post will serve as my "Hello, here I am!" post. If you don't understand my logic (or lack thereof) by the end of this post, you may never understand it. There is a madness to my method, wait, was it the other way around?  ;D

So I'll back up a little and say, first off, I've got old computers stacked around as spares because my father uses the "MagicJack" phone service, and every few years the system rigged up (Usually something close to 20 years old) decides to die, so I dig out another garbage PC from eons past and force it into service as a new host for the telephone. With all of this hardware laying around, none of it even powerful enough to really open a modern internet browser and check YouTube, I started to wonder "What on earth CAN I run with this stuff?".

So I set to it, my first choice for a Windows 98 system was a Dell Precision 360, 2.8GHz Pentium 4 with hyperthreading, 512MB DDR RAM, 128MB nVidia Quadro FX500, 40GB WD HDD. The install seemed to go well, though slowly. The first boot also went the same, however after that I was plagued with video card errors, pertaining to resource allocation mostly. I quickly learned that Windows 98 SE does not play well with ACPI BIOS', and this motherboard lacked features to disable the ACPI functions. So, I decided to abandon the Dell and began rummaging around, I dug up an old Socket 478 MSI 661FM2-LSR, I robbed the 2.8GHz Pentium 4 from another Dell, I wanted to use an older 1.6 P4 but that CPU is very dead.

To my surprise, and amusement, the BIOS settings in the MSI motherboard allow me to not only disable ACPI functions, but also enable USB legacy mode forcing the USB ports to 1.1 (Which was handy later on because Windows 98 doesn't like the controller operating in 2.0 even though Win98 SE supports USB 2.0), and it also allowed me to disable the usual onboard devices I would not be using, such as LAN, SATA, and the floppy controller (Surprisingly I didn't need a floppy drive, which is good 'cause while I have floppy disks up to my eyeballs still, I don't have a single working drive).

So, backtracking a little again, my first attempt to install Windows 98 SE on the Dell was by way of USB, it however only saw the USB drive and could not see internal drives. So I rummaged around some more and found a blank "Optimum" branded CD-R that I'm pretty sure dates back to the mid 2000's. Considering Windows 98 SE abandonware, I sought out finding a proper ISO, and succeeded. I had no issues burning the ISO as Windows 10 makes this pretty (Stupid) simple compared to Windows of the dark ages, (I'm looking at you, Vista, I know your true name).

Anyhow, now that I had the parts sorted and laying out across a table, and the parts being the aforementioned MSI motherboard, A 2.8GHZ Pentium 4 with HT, 512MB of DDR, a 40GB Western Digital WD400, a 48x Samsung CD-ROM drive (Dell OEM), a nVidia FX500 Quadro (Dell OEM), a Dell power supply, and an old 15 inch view sonic LCD panel I set out to install windows. The install went without too much trouble, except that, unbeknownst to me, it simply updated the failed install from the Dell with many issues. Much to my surprise, windows installed and booted with no issues, the first reboot however hung up. I went into safe mode, accessed the device manager and, uh oh, everything from the Dell was left over. So I painstakingly manually removed every single device from the device manager, even the ones for the system. Upon rebooting, I spent quite a bit of time going through the usual rigamarole of Windows 98 discovering new hardware on startup (A whole computers worth). I could not get the onboard AC'97 audio to work with Windows 98 for the life of me, I'm not sure why, this chipset is pretty common. I instead installed a Diamond audio PCI sound card (5.1 channel, strange for windows 98 yet again!)) (C-media CMI8738). I could not get the gameport working, which is a bummer, but I have no idea where my Microsoft Sidewinder is anyway, so not a huge deal.

After being sure the system was (Fairly) stable, I went about assembling this bizarre rig. I put away the Dell power supply and dug out an Antec 350 watt PSU (With the dual fans and gold fan grills, huzzah, 2003 again!) some mid 2000's HP case with a rear 80mm fan mount, a single 3.5" HDD bay, and dual 5.25" ODD bays. The floppy bay is missing, odd enough. Upon assembling this rig, I installed an old copy of Destruction Derby, and immediately realized I have no CD audio cable laying around, so that's on the "Where am I going to find THAT!?" list. Other games where abandonware and run off the hard drive, they function fine.

Everything seemed to be going great, until the computer froze while I was playing Blood, and would no longer display video after POST. I got several rapid beeps, the computer booted, but no video. The FX 500 had finally had enough and decided to exit stage right, I swapped it out for an entirely overkill (As if 128 megs in win 98 wasn't overkill) nVidia GeForce FX 5500 AGP 8x w/ 256MB of RAM made by BFG. I also, purely for my own amusement, threw in another 512MB of RAM (1GB total now). The fun didn't stop there though, no, not at all. The first attempt to boot with that FX 5500 went fine, except that the fan sounded like a coffee grinder. I robbed the heatsink (and fan) from the dead FX 500, applied some modern thermal compound that came with the Cryorig H7 I am using in my main rig. Same stuff I used on the Pentium 4 when I installed it in the MSI motherboard. The CPU needed a thorough cleaning, I think there where two kinds of thermal crap on it and the heatsink.

 I rebooted into safe mode, removed the old GPU from the device manager, the last thing you want is a ghost device in the pre-NT Windows. Upon rebooting, the drivers installed, as the legacy drives for any FX card are the same, much as most GTX cards now use the same drivers. I'm not going to say all because I know there is some one off oddball out there waiting to make me wrong. So, back to playing Blood, risen from the dead, uh oh, here I go a murderin' again! ... Or... Not... Random hangs, lag, frequent bluescreens stating that the system resource was occupied, the one that goes back to desktop rather than rebooting. Wasn't sure what was going on, sooo... I crawled through the BIOS, that's when I noticed something up to this point unknown. The Pentium 4 I installed supports hyperthreading, I literally facepalmed myself at this point. I disabled HT and APIC, as Windows 98 likes neither of these without some patchwork to the best of my knowledge (Though this is coming from information I learned well over a decade ago and haven't used in at least a decade). After disabling an alphabet soup of BIOS functions meant for NT era windows computers, windows 98 is now stable (And flying toasters across my screen  ;D)

So, now with that sorted, apart from a few software bugs like the version of 7zip I use, this system is rock solid and ready to go. I did a few things to make the system more usable, they are as follows:

First and foremost, I installed a universal USB mass storage controller, it works with most anything I've tried so far, even a USB to IDE adapter, and modern SanDisk Cruzer Glide 16GB Flash Drives.

Second, 7zip, crucial so I don't' have to unzip everything on my main rig before copying it to the win98 rig.

Third, I installed an older version of CCleaner to clean up the bulk of crap and registry issues that would follow if I didn't clean up after all the unzipping and installing.

Fourth, I updated the inbuilt windows installer to 2.0, this helps a lot with later programs and windows components you may need

Fifth, I installed DirectX 9.0C, most people don't' even know this runs on Windows 98,  but it does run quite well, however I recommend installing the runtimes with the game you get, as it may be lacking certain run times for 6, 7, and 8.

I also plan on swapping out the slow 40GB drive for a faster IDE drive later on, I'd like to get my hands on a good late model 80 gig Western Digital or Seagate. The 137GB limit on hard drives in Windows 98 doesn't really bother me, I can't even see how I'd fill up that much space in Windows 98. I'm also going to dig up a genuine Sound Blaster 16 somewhere.

If there is any interest in this post, I will post further on the topic and see if anyone can come up with some creative ways I can use abandonware to use and abuse this thing. I've installed my old copy of Flatout (derby racing game), it runs it quite well and that game is from 2005. I've tried out Doom, Doom 2, they both have sound issues I'd like to sort out, a few DOS games don't like the sound hardware too much actually. Everything else seems to work fine however. Most games from the Windows 95, 98, and games that supported 98 up into the 2000's work fine.

So, I have this system hooked up to a Dell 17" 1708FP LCD monitor, 1280x1024 @ 75Hz, it has a built in USB hub which I use as front USB as the USB ports are missing from this case. I now have two keyboards and two mice on my desk, until I find a cheap USB keyboard / mouse switch later on. So, that's it for now, as I said ,if there is interest in this bizarre experiment of mine I may continue to post on it.

I've learned something from this mess too, and that is, how much I'd forgotten about Windows 98.  ;D

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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 03:37:33 PM »
Quote
Considering Windows 98 SE abandonware
You are mistaken.

AtomicSpud

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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 03:54:36 PM »
You are mistaken.

How's that? No one runs it anymore outside of obscure outdated systems, it's not supported by the manufacturer anymore, there is no noteworthy active development going on for Windows 98 SE either. I'd say that lands completely within the realm of abandonware.
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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 03:56:42 PM »
Legally, Windows  98 is copyright software. So are MS-DOS and NT. This is that kind of forum.

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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2018, 04:38:59 PM »
"Abandonware" isn't really a thing; it's sort of a fabricated moral divide people made up to try to address their cognitive dissonance over copyright terms to justify piracy of older software. It doesn't have any real legal basis in copyright, though; Software not being actively developed or even sold doesn't change how copyright works, after all. The best description is "abandonware" is copyrighted software that you can pirate with little risk of the copyright holder coming after you... which is a rather wide brush.

Personally I just leave out where I got software I installed when telling stories. Some of it is legally acquired, some of it isn't. Doesn't really matter, and I certainly wouldn't want to condone piracy.

Anyway my OS selection criteria:

IBM PC and XT get MS-DOS, obviously. They can run Real Mode Windows but there is no reason to and it runs poorly. Best ot let them do what they do best.

286's  that have VGA cards get Windows as well as MS-DOS. Lower graphics cards means Windows isn't worth it.

386's get MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 (And of course a VGA card if they don't have one- ideally, a Video accelerator)

486's I think excel as MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 systems. With enough RAM they can run Windows 95 well.

Pentium's/Nx586 I think are best for Windows 95. However, the Faster MMX chips can run Windows 98SE well.

Pentium II-class systems I think work best with Windows 98SE.

Pentium III can be used with Windows 98SE but I think it get's more bang for it's buck with Windows 2000. Windows XP can run well on some higher end chips or Pentium M's.

Pentium 4 get's Windows XP.

Beyond that and it's pretty much a choice between Vista/7/8.1/10, or, of course, Linux.
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patio

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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2018, 05:42:11 PM »
No Windows for Workgroups ? ?
   
 
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BC_Programmer


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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2018, 06:47:59 PM »
No Windows for Workgroups ? ?

Yeah, That is what I meant with 3.11, rather than the rather "rare" version of 3.11 that wasn't. That said, I seldom make use of networking on such old systems- not much point really- so Most of the main benefits of WfWG are lost. It might be useful for transferring files but I disabled the earlier versions of SMB on my main systems long ago so Windows 9x and earlier can't access them properly.

On the topic of Windows 98SE, however:

Generic USB Storage Drivers for Windows 98FE and Windows 98SE

Windows 98 Unofficial Service Pack Which rolls in hotfixes and some useful other software fixes into one large cumulative update.

KernelEx Which can allow some later software to run on earlier windows versions than they were intended for. It reminds me in some sense of Win32S for Windows 3.1.
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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2018, 09:06:41 PM »
Where do you live? In Siberia?
In the America,s Europe and much of Asia a used working PC desktop can be purchased for under $70 on auction sites or even locally. Depends where you live.
They can be found on eBay.
Like this:
Dell OptiPlex 755 Desktop Computer.
Pentium Dual 1.6GHz, 2 GB RAM, 80 GB HDD
$49.00 + $18.00 Shipping. Returns accepted - 14 days money back.


So yes,  you are obsessed with recovery of junk. Been there myself.  :-[

BC_Programmer


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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2018, 09:51:18 PM »
That's still more than the 0$ it costs to use what he has already. It would also be exceedingly pointless since their goal obviously is not to simply have a second PC but to specifically use older hardware and software.

It's sort of like complaining that revolutionary War re-enactors don't just line Rappahannock River with Anti Infantry machine guns. It sort of misses the point.

Also, there is a reason many of those systems are so cheap. Like any prefabricated system they are built down to a price, and those ones even more so, using stripped motherboards and a crippled BIOS, underpowered power supplies, and a reduced form factor that makes pretty much any upgrade difficult.

I'd say Garage sales and craigslist or kijiji are better if somebody wants a cheap, semi-modern system. But that was clearly not OPs goal.
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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2018, 10:08:37 PM »
Myself, I really like the idea of using something for a very long time. It just seems to be thong to thing to do. I still wear shoes that have holes in the doles because they are comfortable.   ;D
Likewise, one can feel comfort in maintaining and old system  that one can understand. The new modern computers introduce concepts that are hard to grasp. If you look at it as a hobby, then it starts to make sense.   8)

Still, you can get a working desktop with a windows 7 OS for less than the cost of the tools and parts needed to replace capacitors on an old motherboard.  :o

patio

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Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2018, 05:31:51 AM »
Holes in the doles.....
   
 
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    Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
    « Reply #11 on: March 07, 2018, 09:34:11 AM »
    Thorough write-up, entertaining and informative read, thanks! Next step: Install broodwar, photocopy invitations to the LAN party...

    AtomicSpud

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    Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
    « Reply #12 on: March 12, 2018, 11:55:42 AM »
    Well this got more interest than I thought it would, but that's cool though. I didn't mean to start an ethical debate on software copyright, my bad.  ;D

    Anyway, I've been toying with the windows 98 machine for quite a while now, changed a few things the (most likely) final specs are as follows:

    Pentium 4 2.8GHz (Underclocked to 1.86GHz) Northwood W/ HT (Disabled), 512KB L2, 800MHz FSB (Might swap it out for a P4 Northwood 2.4, 512KB L2 533MHz FSB, no HT)
    MSI 661FM2-V (7060) 478 mATX motherboard, with the following features disabled; Hyperthreading, ACPI, APIC, SATA, and HDD SMART, onboard AC'97 audio
    1GB DDR 400 (At 333 due to mismatched sticks)
    BFG nVidia GeForce FX 5500 256MB AGP 8x
    Soundblaster Live! Value PCI 5.1ch sound card (Supports Soundblaster 16 Emulation, including FM Synth, doom sounds great)  ;D
    Stock-ish aluminum chunk heatsink with a bracket and 70mm fan robbed from a AMD socket 939 heatsink
    80GB Western Digital IDE HDD
    Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-107D (With CD audio cable, also robbed from a Dell)
    250W Dell PSU (Changed out the Antec 350w because it was loud, ran hot, and had far too many wires)
    HP compaq DX2000
    Viewsonic 15" VA520 LCD panel
    Microsoft IntelliMouse 1.3A PS/2
    Dell SK-8135 keyboard

    I have full USB 2.0 support working, pretty reliable USB mass storage support working through 3rd party drivers, and for the most part everything seems to work decently, a few minor graphical glitches but it's mostly directx related. All in all this is a pretty solid build and a pretty reliable setup. Although I did have to manually tell the computer not to install the wrong USB 1.1 drivers. It wants to install SiS 7001 drivers, even though the USB chipset is the 7002, strange but I fixed it by using generic drivers.

    I think that's it, total budget, $0, nada, nothing. Well, a little bit of gas to go get a the free Soundblaster when I traded a 4GB SODIMM of DDR3 1333 for a 4GB DIMM at my local favorite PC shop. I needed the RAM to get my Dad setup with my old 1st gen Core i7 920 I bought with a Dell board back in 2013 for $100, stupid cheap, I'm good at finding stupid cheap stuff though.

    The motherboard, hard drive, and DVD drive are parts my dad bought back in 2005 to build his own desktop, he'd had no prior experience and needed little help from me or anyone else doing it. I still have the CPU (2.93GHz Celeron) RAM (512MB kingston), case (Antec mid tower of some variety that requires the top to be removed to remove the side panels), and power supply from that original build. The BFG FX 5500 I got a long time ago to upgrade my Dad's PC, I think in 2008. I swapped out the Celeron based system for a Athlon X2, which was just this past week swapped out for the aforementioned i7. I am fortunate to have space to store this stuff (Junk, it's really junk), gives me something to do when I don't have money to do anything else.

    The rest of the parts I got mostly out of PC's I've picked up off the side of the road. I have three Dell Precision 360's, some compact form factor Precision desktop, and a dead (Parts) optiplex GX260. I also picked up the HP case I am using for my Win98 rig on the side of the road. I'll upload some pictures of the antique spud I've built later on today, gonna borrow my Dad's old Kodak EasyShare for that 4:3 ratio goodness (And because my cell phone takes pictures that look like they're from a Logitech webcam circa 2006) ;D

    For now, I'll leave you with one of those horrid quailty cell phone pictures. And the hope that my suffering and stubbornness have helped someone build a vintage gaming rig rather than go the lazy (sane) route of emulation.


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    AtomicSpud

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    Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
    « Reply #13 on: March 12, 2018, 01:13:39 PM »
    So, through some trial and error I've found that my cell phone can do some interesting photos when it wants too, though most of the time it still looks circa 2006 webcam, here's a few of them scaled down.

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    AtomicSpud

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    Re: I've built a Windows 98 SE system in 2018, but why?
    « Reply #14 on: March 12, 2018, 01:16:31 PM »
    And a couple more...  ;D

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