Dave-H

Booting Windows 98SE from a Flash Drive

58 posts in this topic

I've been running an installation of Windows 98SE from a bootable flash drive memory stick, more as an experimental exercise than anything else, and also to give me a way of booting my machine without any hard drives connected so I can reconfigure them easily if necessary.

It works fine most of the time, but it's very slow and freezes up sometimes, as you might expect!

Just wanted to check with the experts here that I'm not missing anything that might make it perform better.

The main problem seems to be that the system drive (the memory stick) is running in compatibility mode.

There's probably nothing that can be done about this, but I am puzzled that the drive doesn't appear in the Device Manager at all.

Would that be expected?

The system has 4 GB of memory installed, so I'm using Rudolph Loew's RAM limitation patch.

There is no swapfile usage so I assume the OS is running completely in memory.

I cannot allow the system to install any USB controllers, as this immediately crashes the system, presumably because the drivers are trying to install on the system that's hosting the system drive!

The USB controllers still appear in Device Manager but I've removed the INF file information for them so they cannot install.

All other USB devices apart from the memory stick have to be removed (I have to use a PS/2 mouse).

I was pleased that I got it working at all, but just wondered if anyone else who's done it has any more insights into how the configuration could be improved.

Thanks, Dave.

:)

Edited by Dave-H
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The system has 4 GB of memory installed, so I'm using Rudolph Loew's RAM limitation patch.

Since you have far more RAM then what is need to both load and run a 98, if I were you I would try a disk image in RAM.

(or a "mixed mode" approach).

Either Syslinux/memdisk and grub4dos shoud allow it no prob.

jaclaz

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Since you have far more RAM then what is need to both load and run a 98, if I were you I would try a disk image in RAM.

(or a "mixed mode" approach).

Either Syslinux/memdisk and grub4dos shoud allow it no prob.

jaclaz

That sounds like a great idea, then I could presumably just load up Windows 98 from the memory stick and then actually run it using a RAM drive.

I want to be able to do this in a worst case scenario where I have no access to any of the hard drives on my system.

Obviously I would then lose the OS completely if I had to reboot or the system crashed or froze, as the RAM drive would disappear and I'd have to load it from scratch all over again, but I will certainly investigate this option as it looks very interesting.

Thanks.

:)

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Obviously I would then lose the OS completely if I had to reboot or the system crashed or froze, as the RAM drive would disappear and I'd have to load it from scratch all over again ...

(or a "mixed mode" approach).

;)

jaclaz

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Yours is a superb machine, but it has a not-so-recent BIOS, so I'd bet you're booting and running at USB 1.1 speed. If I'm right, you'd experience a noticeable acceleration by using the Plop bootmanager instead. It's quite easy to test this idea: grab a floppy and install to it the default Plop bootloader. Then boot to the floppy with the pendrive inserted, and select USB from the boot menu. The system will now boot using Plop's USB 2.0 support. If you find out everithing is faster, then I was right, and we may go ahead and modify the pendrive poot routine to use Plop automatically by default. Do try it and let me know the results.

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Sorry for the delay in replying, but I've been experimenting, both with Plop and Grub4DOS!

Where I am now is that I've managed to install Plop to the MBR of the flash drive, so Plop is now the first thing that appears when I boot from it.

I select USB, and it appears to be loading some files, presumably to support USB 2.

:yes:

I then select the drive, and it checks the MBR and says it's fine, but then checks the boot sector and says "No valid bootsector signature".

If I tell it to carry on it just goes to a flashing cursor and goes no further.

:no:

Any quick pointers to fixing that, preferably without destroying all the data on the drive?!

Cheers, Dave.

:)

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Where I am now is that I've managed to install Plop to the MBR of the flash drive, so Plop is now the first thing that appears when I boot from it.

I select USB, and it appears to be loading some files, presumably to support USB 2.

:yes:

I then select the drive, and it checks the MBR and says it's fine, but then checks the boot sector and says "No valid bootsector signature".

If I tell it to carry on it just goes to a flashing cursor and goes no further.

:no:

Any quick pointers to fixing that, preferably without destroying all the data on the drive?!

Cheers, Dave.

:)

:wacko: I told you to use a floppy, test it well, then report and discuss with us how to proceed, before modifying the pendrive, didn't I?

Did you test first with a floppy? What results did you get?

And, did you create a backup of the previous MBR, or a full "dumb" bit-by-bit image of the pendive, before modifying it? :ph34r:

Don't do anything, before we talk about it, please. I do believe we can get it to work OK again all right.

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:wacko: I told you to use a floppy, test it well, then report and discuss with us how to proceed, before modifying the pendrive, didn't I?

Yes I'm sure you did, but I used the floppy with the Plop image on it to boot and it went to the Plop install screen.

It seemed to only give me the option to install to the hard drives or the pen drive, but I presumably must have missed something.

I used the image plpbtin.img from the unpacked Plop's "install" folder, when I probably should have used one of the other images.

I'm afraid I do find the Plop documentation confusing in places.

Did you test first with a floppy? What results did you get?

As above really, I used the floppy to boot, which is what I thought you meant.

Obviously my misunderstanding.

And, did you create a backup of the previous MBR, or a full "dumb" bit-by-bit image of the pendive, before modifying it? :ph34r:

Don't do anything, before we talk about it, please. I do believe we can get it to work OK again all right.

I haven't looked again yet, but I'm pretty sure that the Plop installer made a backup of the MBR, which presumably can be easily restored.

If so, everything should be back as it was before pretty easily.

Even if it can't be restored, I did actually remember to back up the contents of the pen drive anyway before I started, so all is not lost!

:)

Edited by Dave-H
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Can you create an image of the first, say, 200 sectors of the pendrive, zip it, upload it to mediafire or qshare.com and PM me the link?

If you don't have any program capable of creating such an image, the trial version of WinHex can do it (on XP SP3). If you need detailed instructions of how to acquire (or collect) the image, please do let me know. Once having such an image I can inspect it so that we can make a really surgically precise intervention to fix the pendrive without any great risk.

I'm afraid I do find the Plop documentation confusing in places.

You're not alone. I do find it confusing, too. Very, BTW.

What you should have done (besides asking, :) of course) was:

1) Download plpbt-5.0.14.zip;

2) Extract from the folder plpbt-5.0.14 of the zip the file plpbt.img;

3) Write it to a floppy, using WinImage, NTRawrite or another such tool.

4) Boot the floppy you just created.

;)

Sorry if I misled you! :blushing:

You know that wasn't my intention.

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I've downloaded WinHex, and looked at the Disk Editor, which looks fairly frightening!

I'd appreciate knowing how to limit the export to 200 sectors as the evaluation version seems to be limited as to how much you can export.

Would the "fixmbr" routine on the Windows XP Recovery Console not fix the problem, assuming it can address the Flash Drive?

I have now made a bootable floppy (using RawWriteWin which was recommended by the Plop documentation) with the plpbt.img file, which is what I should have used in the first place, not the plpbtin.img file which I used the first time!

I still seem to be able to access the Flash Drive fine in Windows 98 and XP BTW, so nothing's been lost, I just can't now boot from it!.

Thanks, Dave.

:)

Edited by Dave-H
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We do not know whether it was the MBR or the boot sector (PBR) which has changed (or both).

With the pendrive inserted and recognised by Windows Explorer...

Open WinHex, go to Tools, select Open Disk, scroll all the way down and, in the Physical Media section, select your pendrive (it'll be prefixed "RMn:", where n is an integer and RM stands for Removable Media).

Then click OK and you'll get an hexview of it, starting at LBA 0 (or Offset 0).

Then go to Edit, select Define Block, and enter 102400 at the End slot and click OK.

The hexview is now highlighted.

So go to Edit again, then Copy Block, then Into New File and you'll get a Save File As window.

Then decide where you want to write the image (not in the pendrive itself!) and give it a name (the default is noname), say, pen200.bin and click Save.

Then close WinHex, go to the folder you saved pen200.bin (it should be 1034 KiB long) in and zip or, even better, 7-zip or RAR it.

That's all. Good luck!

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We do not know whether it was the MBR or the boot sector (PBR) which has changed (or both).

With the pendrive inserted and recognised by Windows Explorer...

Open WinHex, go to Tools, select Open Disk, scroll all the way down and, in the Physical Media section, select your pendrive (it'll be prefixed "RMn:", where n is an integer and RM stands for Removable Media).

Then click OK and you'll get an hexview of it, starting at LBA 0 (or Offset 0).

Then go to Edit, select Define Block, and enter 102400 at the End slot and click OK.

The hexview is now highlighted.

So go to Edit again, then Copy Block, then Into New File and you'll get a Save File As window.

Then decide where you want to write the image (not in the pendrive itself!) and give it a name (the default is noname), say, pen200.bin and click Save.

Then close WinHex, go to the folder you saved pen200.bin (it should be 1034 KiB long) in and zip or, even better, 7-zip or RAR it.

That's all. Good luck!

Unfortunately the evaluation version of WinHex doesn't allow the saving of more than 200KB of data.

In fact everything from offset 7DF20 to 102400 is all zeros anyway, but even the range from 0 to 7DF20 is too large to save.

:no:

Edited by Dave-H
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FYI: Maybe the Freeware HxD is an Alternative ?

HxD is a carefully designed and fast hex editor which, additionally to raw disk editing

and modifying of main memory (RAM), handles files of any size. http://mh-nexus.de/en/programs.php

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FYI: Maybe the Freeware HxD is an Alternative ?

HxD is a carefully designed and fast hex editor which, additionally to raw disk editing

and modifying of main memory (RAM), handles files of any size. http://mh-nexus.de/en/programs.php

Thank you so much, that's absolutely brilliant!

:thumbup

I've exported the necessary data as a (rather large) html file.

It's here.

Hope dencorso can make something of it!

Thanks again.

Dave.

:)

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Hi, Dave!

Sure I can.

Plop has installed itself into the MBR. The 1st (and only) partitions is intact.

So, let's restore the MBR. This should be done on Win XP.

Download the freeware CLI MBRWiz.

Download the attached DAVEMBR.zip and extract the file inside to some folder, say, C:\GETBACK

Run the following command from a DOS box, with the pendrive inserted, of course.

mbrwiz /list

From the list that appears, identify the pendrive's disk number (it's usually one of the last, if not the very last), and let's call this number n (it must be a natural number aka positive integer). Then run the following command:

mbrwiz /disk=n /restorembr=C:\DAVEMBR.BIN

As soon as it finishes, close the DOS box and safely remove the pendrive.

You may then insert it again and confirm it continues to be recognized by Windows, and explorable by Windows Explorer. If so, remove it safely again.

Now attempt to boot from it, and report.

Good luck!

DAVEMBR.zip

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