Boot Manager for REALLY old system...

starhawk

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Hello, all. I'm going to resist my temptation to break out into 1337speak or txtcrap or whatever. Here's the problem I'm having:

I have an absolute relic system that I'm rebuilding for nostalgia purposes... with circa-1992 hardware :eek: it has a 486 in it and the hard drive controller is an ISA card (the motherboard is too old for onboard drive controllers!). I can post much more detailed information on the system than that, but I think it's enough to get us started.

I need a boot manager / boot loader that will recognize and load DOS 6.22 / Windows 3.11 on this system. The reason for this, before anyone asks, is because I installed it running from a boot floppy. The WFW311 installer is so bloody stupid that it assumes you have a bootloader already if you didn't boot from the install disk -- regardless of whether or not you actually have one on the relevant hard drive!

Also before anyone asks, I have checked on a much newer machine and gparted shows the boot flag as set.

I have tried BTTR's BootMGR. It beeps at me and dies. I can't get GRUB4DOS to install because it demands an EBIOS which is a far newer thing than this system. I can't get PLoP to install, either, because the installer won't recognize its own BIN files and the forum is utterly useless (literally. One response consisted entirely of "buy newer computer" and a nodding smiley). I found another BootMGR that installs and then gives an "invalid boot record" error when I try to use it.

Anyone got something I haven't tried?
 

D-EJ915

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If you can find it the old System Commander program was great, I used it a lot back in the day.
 

starhawk

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I'll see if I can find System Commander. XOSL is actually prettier looking than I want -- I *want* this to look like crapDOS (which is why I've avoided XOSL).

EDIT: System Commander, according to Wikipedia, requires 32bit DOS to install... which I can't run on a 16bit system ;) so that one's out. XOSL is sorta a last resort unless it has a text mode. I know, I'm special :D
 

starhawk

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Update... did a "sys c:" command, and then an "fdisk /mbr" command... still no go...
 

Tawnos

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Why what?
Why bother putting so much effort into getting a system that has no benefit over an emulation of such a system? Why try to get old, likely failing hardware to work with software that is old enough to vote (if it were human)?

It just seems like a pointless waste of time, though I have often been told that my lack of nostalgia is weird.
 

Tawnos

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Anyway, have you tried starting with http://www.bootdisk.com/bootdisk.htm and using the dos 6.22 bootdisk?

I see you said you did sys c and fdisk /mbr, but in what order?

Try this:
boot from dos floppy
type "fdisk" (no /mbr)
it should allow you to get a good partition on your hard drive, then tell you to press enter to restart, do so
then format c: (y to confirm)
then sys c:

remove floppy, reboot
 

starhawk

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sys c: then fdisk /mbr

If I do what you suggest (format the drive), I will have to reinstall Win311 -- which I would most certainly prefer to avoid. The process takes at least an hour on this system, and six of the eight floppy disks are used :eek:

I am using the bootdisk you are recommending.
 

Tawnos

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what is the precise error you get when attempting to boot from your hard drive?

I presume you can see your hard drive from your dos boot disk?
 

starhawk

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I can see it, yes. I can even boot Windows from it. Which is not to say that booting from a floppy every time I want to use that system is sufficient ;)

Upon boot with no boot floppy... I get "missing operating system" which indicates (at least to me) that it is missing the code needed to transition between BIOS initializing the computer, and the OS initializing itself. Especially since an operating system is already present.
 

GushpinBob

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^^^
TSRH. Sounds more like a boot order issue in the BIOS than a boot loader issue.

Out of curiosity, what brand/model ISA controller/adapter are you using? Does it have its own configurable BIOS?
 

starhawk

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Boot orders settable in BIOS: A, then C or C, then A.

Controller is a Goldstar IDE Plus v3. Everything is configured manually, through jumpers on the card. Yes, I am quite certain that the jumper settings are correct.
 

Tawnos

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Boot orders settable in BIOS: A, then C or C, then A.

Controller is a Goldstar IDE Plus v3. Everything is configured manually, through jumpers on the card. Yes, I am quite certain that the jumper settings are correct.
What does "dir" show from the c:?
 

GushpinBob

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TSRH = this shit really helps?
this sounds right here?

Can't figure it out.
TSRH == "This shit right here" ;)

Starhawk, you should type "dir /a" to see if the MS-DOS system files were transferred by the sys command (e.g. IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS).
 

Haven

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Does the IDE card have the correct drive settings? We used to have to set in the Bios the heads, sectors, etc.

If you didn't have that information in there correctly the system wouldn't boot because it couldn't find the boot loader.
 

GushpinBob

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Does the IDE card have the correct drive settings? We used to have to set in the Bios the heads, sectors, etc.

If you didn't have that information in there correctly the system wouldn't boot because it couldn't find the boot loader.
Also this. If this is the graphic for your card double check that JP2 is jumped.

One last obvious note: make sure that the hard disk itself is jumped to 'Master' instead of 'Slave' or it will as sure as shit not boot.
 

starhawk

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I double checked the jumpers before using the card. It would not recognize the hard drive at all if that were the problem.

Yes, C/H/S is set in BIOS. Correctly. I'm not that stupid.

Regarding the jumpers on the HDD itself, it is standard to set the drive as "single" if there is no other drive on that channel... at least on these old systems. My WDAC2250 is set that way, specifically by removing the jumper. Yes, I'm certain that this is the correct procedure.
 

Tawnos

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As gushpinbob said, dir /a (sorry, forgot the directive, didn't remember if command.com, io.sys, msdos.sys, and drvspace.bin were marked hidden.

Do you see those files? if not, your sys c: failed. Did you execute it from the a:?
 

starhawk

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a:
dir

gets you the listing. Command.com is listed, and the other three are hidden (I can see them if I go into Win311 and do some clever things with File Manager.

I did execute sys c: from a:\. Fdisk /mbr was executed from c:\ after copying fdisk.

I am going to try Ranish Partition Manager's MBR restoring thingy next, as a suggestion from PLoP forums.
 
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Well it's been a long time since I tried doing what you're trying to do, but I think after you run the old fdisk command to create partitions you need to make the boot partition active.

So the routine would be to run fdisk, wipe all partitions and create new, make active. Do a full format, not a quick to insure drive is in good condition.

You need to have DOS installed on the pc as windows 3.1 & wfw are simply a gui for DOS.
DOS 6.22 can readily be found on abandonware sites.

If you get it up and running you may want to install the needed y2k patch or else you'll see screwy things in file manager.
 

starhawk

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OK. Ranish Partition Mgr says that the entire first partition is "out of range". I'm afraid that my usual knowledge of this old crap is failing me... does that mean I have to wipe and start over? (I hope not!)
 

starhawk

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OK. I'm going to report this as a SUCCESS and if I have to go back and edit my post later... well, I can do that ;)

Here's what I did (at least, the part that worked)...

Boot from DOS 6.22 floppy
Open Ranish Partition Mgr from 2nd floppy (PART.EXE)
Delete old (bad) partition, make new one as FAT16 DOS >32MB
Install Boot Mgr from within Ranish Partition Mgr, as Text Mode, booting to Part#1
Save & Exit

REBOOT

Boot from DOS 6.22 floppy
A:\> sys c:
Eject boot floppy after command completes.

REBOOT

Should boot from hard drive. If not, something's wrong.
Insert 1st Win311 setup floppy in drive A:\
C:\> a:\setup

...and away we go!
 

Tawnos

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uh, that's basically what I said to do earlier, when you complained "If I do what you suggest (format the drive), I will have to reinstall Win311 -- which I would most certainly prefer to avoid. The process takes at least an hour on this system, and six of the eight floppy disks are used "
 

starhawk

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Solved, per post above. Especially since Ranish has a bootloader install option ;)
 

starhawk

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Oh, I will ;) soon as I get either a new sound card or working drivers for the current one... :rolleyes: always something...
 
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