Installing Microsoft Windows 98 SE (Second Edition)

This blog post is about installing Microsoft Windows 98 second edition and then configuring the operating system and resizing a hard drive partition.

A photo of a Windows 98 SE disc

I have an old laptop that I wanted to install Microsoft Windows 98 SE back onto. Previously it was running Linux, but I wanted to venture back to 98, even though that creates various headaches, such as virus scanning, and suitable software for my requirements. I know it is 2012, but I really wanted to use 98 again!

I had some requirements for the installation. Firstly I didn’t want to use a floppy disk as part of the installation process. Windows 98 by default wants to create a setup disk. Secondly I wanted to install Windows 98 from setup files on the hard drive, which means when Windows 98 requires system files from its installation files, it will automatically look to the hard drive, rather than requiring me to have to reach for my installation CD.

I actually own quite a few Windows 98 licenses, but had thrown away all but one CD! Luckily that oversight, meant I had one CD left and I could install the operating system.

Here is what I did to install Windows 98 SE on my old laptop

Preparing the hard drive:

  1. I booted with the 98 CD, but booted to the command line with CD support.
  2. I typed ‘fdisk’ and prepared the hard drive partition. Importantly I made the partition active after installation. At this stage I left some spare space for Linux partitions, just in case I decide to reinstall Linux in a dual boot mode.
  3. I then rebooted the laptop, and then again booted with the 98 CD, and again used the boot to command line with CD support option.
  4. I then typed d: and pressed enter to access the CD drive.
  5. I then typed cd win98 and pressed enter.
  6. Finally I typed format c: to format the partition I had just created.

Moving the Windows 98 installation files to the hard drive

I wasn’t using a US keyboard, and needed to use the ‘\’ character on my UK keyboard. There probably is an easier way, but I did a little work around to access the character, which then enabled me to copy the installation files to the hard drive. Here is what I did:

  1. I booted to the command prompt with cd support.
  2. I typed c: and pressed enter.
  3. I then typed dir > tmp.txt to generated a text file which amongst other details, contains the ‘\’ character.
  4. I typed d: and pressed enter to access the cd drive.
  5. I typed cd tools\oldmsdos and pressed enter.
  6. Then I ran the Qbasic application.

Using Qbasic to create a batch file.

Qbasic is a programming editor, however I decided to use it is as a text editor and batch file creator. I opened the text file that I had created on the c druve called ‘tmp.txt’. Then highlighting the ‘\’ character and selecting ‘copy’ from the menu, I created a batch file. The batch file contained one line.

D:\tools\oldmsdos\xcopy /s d:\win98\*.* c:\win98cd\

I saved the file as tmp.bat on the c drive. Then I exited Qbasic, returned to the c drive and ran the batch file, by typing tmp. It then copied the installation files into a newly created directory on the c drive.

Installing Windows 98 SE without a CD and without creating a setup disc

As I mentioned at the top of the blog post, I wanted to install Windows 98 SE without creating a startup disk (disc). All I had to do was type setup/IE, which enabled me to run through the setup process without using the floppy disk.

Obviously as I was installing Windows 98 from the hard drive, I first browsed to the ‘win98cd’ directory I had created, and ran setup/IE from there.

Performance issue using a secondary monitor

So I decided to plug an external monitor into my laptop, but I noticed the performance wasn’t great. It turns out this was because I was using both the laptop LCD screen and monitor, making life tougher for the low spec laptop. So in the laptop’s bios I told it to use just a single adapter, and for it to decide upon boot. Then I made sure the monitor was on and ready at boot, which the laptop noticed and then the performance improved, as I was only using the external monitor.

Showing hidden files and folders on Windows 98

One of the first things I do when I install Windows 98, is to enable the option to see ‘hidden files and folders.

Here is how I made the hidden files and folders viewable:

  1. I run ‘Windows Explorer’ (not Internet Explorer).
  2. From the menu I select ‘View’ and then the selection ‘Folder Options…’.
  3. I select the ‘View’ tab in the newly opened window.
  4. I then select the option ‘Show all files’.

Disabling applications from starting up in Microsoft Windows 98

It is easy to bloat an operating system once you’ve installed some packages. Some of these packages need to run at startup, some choose to install components, to speed up their load speed, but are not an essential item at startup. I have to make a judgement, and be careful I don’t disable an item starting up, that is essential to the security of the computer.

How I disable items from starting up:

  1. I check to see if there is an option within the application.
  2. I check the ‘StartUp’ program group in the ‘Start’ menu.
  3. I run ‘msconfig’ from the ‘Run…’ option from the Start menu and then browse to the ‘Startup’ tab.

Resizing the Windows 98 partition to free up space

I decided I wanted to free up more spare space on the hard drive, to fit in more hd partitions. My Windows 98 installation doesn’t take up the 10GB that I allocated to it, and I wasn’t going to use all that space, so I wanted to make it available for other operating systems.

Here is what I did:

  1. I downloaded the ‘Parted Magic’ Live CD iso and created a bootable CD. Then I load the cd using the low memory option.
  2. I ran the Gparted tool from within the live CD.
  3. I selected the partition to resize, in my case it was the /dev/hda1 with a fat32 file system. It shows me I am using less than a 1GB of the 10GB parition.
  4. I then selected ‘Resize/move’ from the menu.
  5. Knowing I am using less than 1GB, and taking into account file swap space for Windows 98, I decided to give the partition a new size of 3GB, aka 3000 MiB.
  6. Then from the ‘Edit’ menu I selected ‘Apply All Operations’, to get the application to actually resize the partition.

I hope you’ve found this Microsoft Windows 98 SE information useful.

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