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Running Windows 98SE in a VM on Windows 10 and building a Windows 98SE PC

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A thread in the Adventure Games Forum regarding Black Dahlia (thread here: Black Dahlia) migrated into trying to run the game on a Windows9 8SE build on a modern(ish) computer and/or to run Windows98SE within a VM on a Windows 10 PC.

If you read that thread it will show the initial difficulties found in building the PC (that’s a software build only BTW) so I said, as it was out of context for that forum, to start up again here. I want to make it clear that this is not “my” thread and anyone can chuck in thoughts, ideas, memories, suicidal feelings Smile as appropriate.

I’ve started the thread slightly earlier than expected as I hit an unexpected snag.
My copy of 98SE is part of a multi-boot CD so I thought that it good idea to strip the files out and copy onto a standalone ISO CD so it’s 98SE only. My base PC wouldn’t read that disc which I thought was down to it being a very old CD (from 2003) and using a Blu-Ray drive so I tried a USB external DVD drive but the same happened. Fortunately I own an external USB box for connecting PATA drives so I hooked up an old CD player to it and managed to do a complete copy of the disc as an ISO which burnt onto a new CD. Stripped off the 98SE files into a folder on my HD and I’m now going to burn that as an ISO and then test both discs.

I’ve posted this as a warning to anyone about to try all this. Old discs can be a problem, nearly as much as old hardware, so don’t be surprised if you hit snags. One of the reasons for this thread is to try to help people past any problems encountered in doing this type of exercise so don’t be scared of asking - or helping!

Firstly though, once the new discs are checked (I need them to work for the VM exercise) I’ll be moving onto said VM installation. I’m going to do this on a spare PC first though. Brave I might be but stupid I ain’t Sarcastic

     

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I found these two links:

https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?t=64995

Mod edit - Second link removed. Please don’t link to abandonware sites, thanks.

     
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Obviously found the post. Looking forward seeing where this goes. It would seem that getting an older game to play on a rebuilt 95/98 era machine should be a piece of cake. Evidence from your experience says it isn’t. Maybe you really need to find a relic from that era, complete with all the shortcomings it came with.

Also re: Old games on Win10. Several Tex Murphy games, which are of the same era as Black Dahlia, have been successfully converted by Steam and/or GOG to run on current machines.

     

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rtrooney - 12 May 2020 02:46 PM

Obviously found the post. Looking forward seeing where this goes. It would seem that getting an older game to play on a rebuilt 95/98 era machine should be a piece of cake. Evidence from your experience says it isn’t. Maybe you really need to find a relic from that era, complete with all the shortcomings it came with.

Yes, a computer from the mid to late 1990’s or very early 2000’s is the easiest to install Windows 98 on—provided the computer still works, and that there isn’t any problem worse than replacing the CMOS battery, and that the CMOS battery is one of those common coin batteries and not one of those weirdo batteries they don’t make any more.

Also re: Old games on Win10. Several Tex Murphy games, which are of the same era as Black Dahlia, have been successfully converted by Steam and/or GOG to run on current machines.

Most of the early Tex Murphy games are DOS games, and DOSBox is what GOG and Steam use to run them.
GOG will often say “This game is powered by DOSBox” on their webpage for the game.

Tex Murphy: Overseer was a Windows game though, and that was probably a lot harder for GOG and Steam to get working compared to the earlier games.

Another strategy for running Black Dahlia is by using a wrapper called DxWnd on Windows 10.
A YouTube video by “IkiFoo” shows how to do it

It looks like he still had problems with the mouse cursor, but maybe the game is at least playable, and you don’t need a Windows CD to use DxWnd.

 

     
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Bit of an update.

For those that are promoting possible Black Dahlia workarounds thanks, and I’ll get to look at them later, but for now I’m dealing with the wider area of getting a way of playing more games and in an easy(ish) way for as many people as possible.

The PC direct build came a cropper. Even with a 40GB FAT32 HD partition and 512MB of RAM the installation once again froze when trying to install a mouse driver. Rather galling as the mouse works perfectly satisfactorily during the install. I also downloaded a different ISO of Windows 98SE to see if that made any difference but sadly not. However, I’m going to be using that downloaded version in all future attempts in getting a stable version of 98SE running as I suspect that’s what everyone else will do. I hope, once the UK’s lockdown eases, to get 3 or 4 old PCs that people want me to clean and scrap so I might be having another go with one of those.

On to emulators.

Virtualbox was my first port of call as I’ve run that in the somewhat distant past but I also have downloaded PCem as suggested by Veovis and I also found another one called 86Box but more on those later.

Virtualbox is free and easy to install. Adding an operating system is just as easy providing you have a bootable CD or you download and burn to CD the relevant OS ISO. There’s plenty out there to download from and it would appear Microsoft aren’t bothered by this. I’ll link to where I acquired mine from provided CaliMonk doesn’t object as I’m not about to be causing him any worries.
WIN98SE loaded without any problems bar a warning that mouse and keyboard capture won’t work outside of Virtualbox. A small annoyance but not a problem. WIN98SE booted up within Virtualbox and working so tried installing Black Dahlia. First go I installed on the local disc by mistake (oops!) but the second go installed properly within the VM. BD started up and then promptly fell over because there was only a standard VGA driver installed and the game requires a minimum of 256 colours. Started investigating this and found it to be a known problem. There was a workaround to install a better driver but the person who set this up has since stopped working on it and deleted the files from the links given. I have found a possible copy but, at this moment, can’t get it to work.
I then had a sideways thought in why not install a VM of Windows ME as it was the last DOS base of Windows released and that might install with a better video driver. Alas, not the case as it just installed a standard VGA. Whilst the mouse now worked outside of Virtualbox when ME was running it also stuttered badly and I was getting a repeating bell sound as if there was an error somewhere although no warning prompted. So no further way on there for the time being.

PCem and 86Box.

Both of these caused me an unexpected problem due to lack of knowledge and experience on my part so any advice gratefully received. Both require you to select a ROM file (that’s a BIOS file for those that don’t know) but neither programme comes with any. Not too difficult to source though and I downloaded a large volume in one hit but here’s the problem. I have absolutely no idea which to try. The PC I’m using for this is a Dell Optiplex, originally with Windows 7 now updated by myself to Windows 10 and it runs a Dell A14 BIOS. The only Dell on the list is a Dells200 which may well work but I’d like a bit of guidance on this because I want to make sure that if I get everything running OK then I’ll know what I’m doing as, hopefully, will anyone reading here and appropriate advice can be passed on in the future.

     

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Jabod - 15 May 2020 07:22 AM

The PC direct build came a cropper. Even with a 40GB FAT32 HD partition and 512MB of RAM the installation once again froze when trying to install a mouse driver. Rather galling as the mouse works perfectly satisfactorily during the install. I also downloaded a different ISO of Windows 98SE to see if that made any difference but sadly not. However, I’m going to be using that downloaded version in all future attempts in getting a stable version of 98SE running as I suspect that’s what everyone else will do. I hope, once the UK’s lockdown eases, to get 3 or 4 old PCs that people want me to clean and scrap so I might be having another go with one of those.

What type of mouse is it? If it’s a modern USB mouse, Windows 98 might have problems recognizing it. By “modern” I mean USB mouse from 2016-2020 and not USB mouse from 2000. Maybe a mouse with a PS/2 adapter would be recognized. Do you have any old mice like that? Does the computer have PS/2 ports?

Virtualbox is free and easy to install. Adding an operating system is just as easy providing you have a bootable CD or you download and burn to CD the relevant OS ISO. There’s plenty out there to download from and it would appear Microsoft aren’t bothered by this. I’ll link to where I acquired mine from provided CaliMonk doesn’t object as I’m not about to be causing him any worries.
WIN98SE loaded without any problems bar a warning that mouse and keyboard capture won’t work outside of Virtualbox. A small annoyance but not a problem. WIN98SE booted up within Virtualbox and working so tried installing Black Dahlia. First go I installed on the local disc by mistake (oops!) but the second go installed properly within the VM. BD started up and then promptly fell over because there was only a standard VGA driver installed and the game requires a minimum of 256 colours. Started investigating this and found it to be a known problem. There was a workaround to install a better driver but the person who set this up has since stopped working on it and deleted the files from the links given. I have found a possible copy but, at this moment, can’t get it to work.

I didn’t have much luck running games Windows 95 or 98 on VirtualBox, but I was using a Mac at the time and it was something like 2009—11 years ago.

I did find something called SciTech Display Doctor 7.0 beta which provided the necessary VESA color. Unfortunately the VM would crash not long after starting a game. I don’t know if it would be more stable on a PC as opposed to a Mac version of VirtualBox.

You can find SciTech Display Doctor 7.0 beta at archive.org
https://archive.org/details/displaydoctor0b5e12b4a8a40b
The version that’s uploaded there is the same as the one I used—I did md5 and sha1 hashes and the file is identical to the one I used.

I then had a sideways thought in why not install a VM of Windows ME as it was the last DOS base of Windows released and that might install with a better video driver. Alas, not the case as it just installed a standard VGA. Whilst the mouse now worked outside of Virtualbox when ME was running it also stuttered badly and I was getting a repeating bell sound as if there was an error somewhere although no warning prompted. So no further way on there for the time being.

I wonder if Windows ME would work better for mouse detection with your “PC direct” build.

PCem and 86Box.

Both of these caused me an unexpected problem due to lack of knowledge and experience on my part so any advice gratefully received. Both require you to select a ROM file (that’s a BIOS file for those that don’t know) but neither programme comes with any. Not too difficult to source though and I downloaded a large volume in one hit but here’s the problem. I have absolutely no idea which to try. The PC I’m using for this is a Dell Optiplex, originally with Windows 7 now updated by myself to Windows 10 and it runs a Dell A14 BIOS. The only Dell on the list is a Dells200 which may well work but I’d like a bit of guidance on this because I want to make sure that if I get everything running OK then I’ll know what I’m doing as, hopefully, will anyone reading here and appropriate advice can be passed on in the future.

A Dell Optiplex GXPro with a 200 mhz Pentium Pro processor is an excellent computer for old Windows 95/98 adventure games. I got one in the early 2000’s after seeing it recommended at oldskool.org, where they call it “An Oldskooler’s Dream.” It’s the last computer listed at
http://www.oldskool.org/guides/oldonnew/friendlyboxes

So if you can find a BIOS from a Dell Optiplex GXPro, that should be compatible with games like Black Dahlia. Maybe that’s the “Dells200” in your list, if 200 refers to mhz.

 

     
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crabapple - 15 May 2020 11:46 PM

What type of mouse is it? If it’s a modern USB mouse, Windows 98 might have problems recognizing it. By “modern” I mean USB mouse from 2016-2020 and not USB mouse from 2000. Maybe a mouse with a PS/2 adapter would be recognized. Do you have any old mice like that? Does the computer have PS/2 ports?

It was a PS2 mouse. On old kit I always try to use peripherals that match the time of PC manufacturer where I can to try to avoid unnecessary complications

I didn’t have much luck running games Windows 95 or 98 on VirtualBox, but I was using a Mac at the time and it was something like 2009—11 years ago.

I did find something called SciTech Display Doctor 7.0 beta which provided the necessary VESA color. Unfortunately the VM would crash not long after starting a game. I don’t know if it would be more stable on a PC as opposed to a Mac version of VirtualBox.

You can find SciTech Display Doctor 7.0 beta at archive.org
https://archive.org/details/displaydoctor0b5e12b4a8a40b
The version that’s uploaded there is the same as the one I used—I did md5 and sha1 hashes and the file is identical to the one I used.

That was what I found but, as I said, the person who created it deleted all his files. I’ll be having another go during the coming week as I know people have got it working.

I wonder if Windows ME would work better for mouse detection with your “PC direct” build.

That’s a very good thought and something I’ll be trying as well this week. Bought a new PATA cable for the CD player, which was a bit annoying considering how many I threw away, so I can install the CD Drive properly in the PC.

A Dell Optiplex GXPro with a 200 mhz Pentium Pro processor is an excellent computer for old Windows 95/98 adventure games. I got one in the early 2000’s after seeing it recommended at oldskool.org, where they call it “An Oldskooler’s Dream.” It’s the last computer listed at
http://www.oldskool.org/guides/oldonnew/friendlyboxes

So if you can find a BIOS from a Dell Optiplex GXPro, that should be compatible with games like Black Dahlia. Maybe that’s the “Dells200” in your list, if 200 refers to mhz.

Makes sense and it’s worth trying. This PC is an October 2012 Optiplex 390 so not quite the same as yours but the worse that can happen is deleting it all and starting over which is no big deal.
For anyone reading that bit and is worried about changing the BIOS on the PC, don’t be. The BIOS file being spoken about runs purely within the VM and nowhere else.

     

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What are you using to burn the Windows 98SE ISO’s? ImgBurn?

You could also use a USB to install Windows 98SE, if the computer supports booting from USB, see:

As the comments also mention, it’s important that you have a BOOTABLE Windows 98 SE Image. Perhaps you can purchase an original Windows 98SE CD that’s OEM somewhere on eBay.

Also, you can download Display Doctor from FilePlanet:

https://www.fileplanet.com/archive/p-75661/SciTech-Display-Doctor-v7-0-Beta

I’m guessing you’re following the instructions from the VirtualBox forums?
https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?t=9918

     
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CaliMonk - 18 May 2020 02:20 PM

What are you using to burn the Windows 98SE ISO’s? ImgBurn?

I’m using Ashampoo’s Burning Studio 2020 but anything that will burn an .ISO image will do as well.

As the comments also mention, it’s important that you have a BOOTABLE Windows 98 SE Image. Perhaps you can purchase an original Windows 98SE CD that’s OEM somewhere on eBay.

There’s loads of places you can download for free if you look on the net. Microsoft seem to be OK with this, although I suspect it’s unofficial; how do you feel about links Calimonk or would you rather none were posted?

Also, you can download Display Doctor from FilePlanet:

https://www.fileplanet.com/archive/p-75661/SciTech-Display-Doctor-v7-0-Beta

I found a copy on the Major Geeks website but I think that your link is a much more recent version so I’m going to be trying that one.

I’m guessing you’re following the instructions from the VirtualBox forums?
https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?t=9918

Follow instruction!? Are you mad Tongue
Slightly more seriously I’m trying to do this from scratch so I understand the complete process and then can answer queries, give general help, provide a step-by-step installation process for others and know what I’m talking about. Doesn’t mean to say that I won’t be looking there for help if required Smile

I won’t be able to do much this week as it happens as life has gotten somewhat in the way but I’ll be back to it as soon as possible. In the meantime the attempt at doing a straight build with ME has stalled as the installation of hardware always falls over when it’s installing the IDE controller driver(s). This might be down to the fact that I’m using a SATA HD and I might be better attempting with a PATA. Also on the list to do Meh

     

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Jabod - 20 May 2020 09:57 AM

In the meantime the attempt at doing a straight build with ME has stalled as the installation of hardware always falls over when it’s installing the IDE controller driver(s). This might be down to the fact that I’m using a SATA HD and I might be better attempting with a PATA. Also on the list to do Meh

Is that before or after the mouse driver?

Is there anything in the computer’s BIOS that lets you turn off SATA/AHCI/RAID support?
It may affect whether or not Windows can see its hard drive.

When installing XP on a computer from 2008 I had to either turn off SATA/AHCI/RAID in the computer’s BIOS settings, add the SATA driver during the installation (have to hit the F6 key at the right time, then add the driver on floppy), or slipstream the SATA driver into the .iso file before installing from it. If XP is installed without the SATA driver it won’t boot after installing—at least it wouldn’t on my particular model computer from 2008.

There’s an article about this problem here
https://www.prime-expert.com/articles/b02/installing-windows-xp-with-f6-ahci-raid-drivers-from-usb-only/

I imagine Windows 98 and ME would also need a SATA driver—unless the computer’s BIOS has some way to disable the SATA/AHCI/RAID support (whatever your particular BIOS calls it).

     
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Just a quick (non) update.

As said earlier life has gotten in the way of this project and the earliest I can get back to it is the coming Thursday and I hope to be able to allocate most of the day to it.

Current status:

PC rebuild as Win98SE/ME has gone on the back burner as I doubt that many people will be able or willing to be going through that although I do intend to resume.

VirtualBox got as far as trying the version of Display Doctor as linked to by CaliMonk but, whilst I could install that within the 98 OS running under VirtualBox, it didn’t actually do anything.
Considering all the playing around that I had been doing I decided to delete the whole lot and start from scratch again which, all thing being equal, will be Thursday Smile

     

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When searching for something else I came across this writeup on “How to install Windows 98SE on a modern PC” :
https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=41065&p=384748

It is from 2014, so “modern” probably means a 6-year-old computer.
Way more complicated than installing Windows 98SE on a 20 year old computer.

     
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Just a quick (lack of Smile ) update here.

As said earlier life got in the way somewhat and I now have a further, self-imposed, hiatus coming up.
As a wedding present to an old friend I’m going to be cleaning his, and his FiancĂ©e’s, record collection(s) to a professional level and, as this amounts to around 250 albums, it’s going to take a while - covid restrictions notwithstanding Neutral
Also, where I do this work in my office is where I play around/fix/run old PCs so I wouldn’t have the space to continue.
Accordingly this experiment is on hold, quite possibly until late autumn, but I will be returning to it.
This shouldn’t stop anyone else from having a go/adding info to the thread of course. Might make my attempts easier once I return to it Wink

     

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That’s a great wedding gift, Jabod.  I’d be very interested in how to clean the albums, since my own collection can use some work.  If you have time, could you post something in Chit Chat about it?

     

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Lady Kestrel - 04 July 2020 01:12 PM

That’s a great wedding gift, Jabod.  I’d be very interested in how to clean the albums, since my own collection can use some work.  If you have time, could you post something in Chit Chat about it?

Initial thread started Lady K Smile

     

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Thank you! Smile

     

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