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Wyse VX0: Windows 98 


 


 

 



Windows 98

In May 2018 I heard from Brandon who had recently picked up a VX0L (dual monitor version + dual SD-reader/PCMCIA slot) and, after much trial and error, had been able to convert it into a Windows 98SE gaming machine.

Wyse V90L with PCMCIA and SD card slots His V90L is not one I'd seen before and had a factory fit option of PCMCIA card slot and an SD card reader slot.

Here's the route he followed:

On the hardware front I upgraded the onboard DOM to a 32GB IDE DOM to provide plenty of space for Windows and the applications. I would suggest that the minimum size of DOM you need would be 4GB. (Vertical DOMs are not the easiest to find). You need ~700MB for the CD image (see on) and ~500MB for the Windows 98SE installation plus space for your games. I also had available a USB connected CD drive but found Windows 98 would not install directly from that.

I then:

  1. Used Hiren's boot CD to boot the machine via USB to mini Windows XP.
  2. Used Mini Windows XP to partition the 32GB drive into 2 partitions: The first partition being roughly 28 GB and the second one being 700MB.
  3. Formatted each partition to FAT32.
  4. Swapped the CD for a Windows 98SE CD and used the still-booted Mini Windows XP to copy the entire contents of the Windows 98 CD over to the 700MB partition.
  5. Re-booted the Hiren's boot CD, but this time booted into DOS.
  6. In DOS, changed directory to the drive with the copy of Windows CD files, then ran Windows 98 Setup.

At this point Windows 98 setup took over and successfully installed Windows 98SE onto the other partition on the DOM.

Finally, based on the info in the PCI listing on the parkytowers website, I was able to track down all the drivers I needed on the VIA website. I was even able to get the SD reader working in Windows 98 after installing the windows generic mass storage device driver!

To complete the gaming aspect of the machine I used the PCMCIA slot to install a PCMCIA game port controller adapter so I could connect a vintage 15-pin joystick. The DOS part of Windows 98 recognized this fine and I was able to play and control old DOS games with the joystick.

The VIA sound chip even provided decent sound emulation for the games I tested.

Overall it works surprisingly well. It is basically the equivalent of a Pentium-III era machine and can run late DOS games and early Windows games, basically between about 1994 and 2001.

One extra detail is that, once Windows 98 is installed, you'll want to change the hard drive settings (as found in the device manager --> hard drive) from PIO to DMA mode. This brought the Passmark benchmark rating for the drive up about 10-fold from roughly a 25 to a 250, drastically improving data transfer rates and overall speeding up the machine.

Not bad for spending $15 on the machine (complete with the power adapter), $40 for the 32 GB DOM, and throwing in a 512MB stick of ram I already had lying around.

Thank you for sharing that Brandon.

The key point here would appear to be to partition the DOM so that you can copy over the contents of the Windows 98 installation disk. Error free installation only works if you are installing from media that is directly sitting on the IDE interface.

For those without a CD drive you should be able to achieve the same result using pen drives, Booting from Tiny Core linux you can partition and format the DOM, copy the Windows 98 installation across from another (or the same pen drive). Then reboot into DOS using a pen drive created with Rufus. NB: In order to boot a USB pen drive on the Vx0 you need to set the 'First Boot Device' to 'USB-ZIP'. The pen drive itself must have a convential partition table at the start and the boot partition must be 1GB or less. As I write this I have two pen drives to hand that were created using Linux Live USB creator tool, both containing installations of Tiny Core 9.0. One is a 1GB pen drive, one is a 2GB pen drive. The 1GB one boots quite happily. The 2GB one is ignored.

PCMCIA Game Port The PCMCIA Game Port controller adapters are rare - I did a quick look for some and found nothing. Luckily for him Brandon had picked up a couple on eBay a few years earlier.

 


Any comments? email me. Added May 2018