Dave-H

Booting Windows 98SE from a Flash Drive

58 posts in this topic

Thanks!

Done all that, and Plop seems to have disappeared from the drive when I boot from it, but it's not booting to Windows 98 either.

It's just going to a flashing cursor and stopping there.

:(

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In Win 98, insert the pendrive, open Windows Explorer, locate the pendrive, take notice of which drive letter it has got (let's say it's got T), open it locate something readable in it, some .txt or even config.sys, open it then close it. So now we're sure the pendrive is mounted. Now open a DOS box, make sure you're in C:\ then issue the following command:

SYS T:

Then, since we're at it, do a DIR T:\ copy the output and post it here.

After that, remove safely the pendrive, leave windows and attempt to boot it again. What happens?

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I'm getting a message saying: "Could not copy COMMAND.COM onto target disk".

Strange, as I can read from and write to the disk perfectly happily with Windows Explorer.

COMMAND.COM is not present in the root of the disk, which is obviously why I can't boot from it..

I'm sure I could copy it there using Windows Explorer, but I'm puzzled why the SYS command can't seem to do it!

The DIR command only shows the files in the root that aren't hidden of course, so isn't going to be very helpful unless I remove the hidden attribute from all of them.

:)

Edited by Dave-H
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SYS expects command.com to be present in the root of the source disk, it's not a very brilliant little program.

Copy command.com by hand with the windows explorer. It's OK. But make sure there is an IO.SYS in the root of the pendrive too.

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SYS expects command.com to be present in the root of the source disk, it's not a very brilliant little program.

Copy command.com by hand with the windows explorer. It's OK. But make sure there is an IO.SYS in the root of the pendrive too.

Well COMMAND.COM is in the root of the source disk (C:) of course!

Anyway I copied it by hand (in fact from the backup of the flash drive that I made before Plop got onto it.)

IO.SYS is present and correct too, as is MSDOS.SYS.

Still the same result though, just boots only to a flashing cursor.

I'm not getting an "operating system not found" message, so I assume that the drive is still bootable.

It's just not actually loading.

It's still an active primary partition.

One thing I did find when I compared what's on the drive now with the backup was that there is now an extra file in the root of the drive DRVSPACE.BIN that wasn't there before.

I've tried deactivating it by changing its extension to B~N but it made no difference.

I don't know where it came from, if can't have been there when I did the backup.

It should be booting to the Windows 98 startup options screen, which is how I had it set before.

One thing I've just realised that I should mention, as it may be an important clue, is that now when I insert the pen drive in Windows XP, it triggers the Autoplay routine, which it never did before, so something has definitely changed in the way that the drive is being seen by the operating system. It started doing that after I installed Plop onto it.

:)

Edited by Dave-H
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DRVSPACE.BIN was put there by SYSing the partition. That's to be expected, and it can be safely deleted.

Now the boot flow should be BIOS --> MBR --> PBR (= boot sector) --> IO.SYS...

We've ensured the MBR is now correct, and that was the only thing Plop changed, so, it should be booting already.

Then, by SYSing it, we've ensured the PBR, which already seemed right, is allright... or did we?

Well, the relevant messages from the MBR are worded exactly as: "Error loading operating system." and "Missing operating system.", so, since neither corresponds to "Operating system not found", I'm confident we're reaching the PBR (whence that message may come). So, we're being able to do BIOS --> MBR --> PBR OK, it seems, and the problem lies in the last step, as far as I can see...

I'm not home, right now, so I don't have a 98 machine at hand right now... but I've decided to reply anyway, just to keep the ideas flowing.

Let me think until tonight, and as soon as I get home I'll test some ideas and get back to you, OK?

The Autoplay clue seems important. But, at the moment, I fail to realise what does it mean, sorry.

There's something right in front of me, and yet I'm missing it... :wacko:

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Thanks Den.

I've also noticed that the Flash Drive is generating error messages in the XP System log "RSM could not load media in drive Drive 0 of library Integral ICE Flash Drive USB Device."

This is an error that always has appeared when I use SD cards from cameras in USB card readers.

It's a known issue apparently, and the error messages can be safely ignored.

It's something that MS have never got around to fixing, at least not in XP.

The flash drive didn't use to generate that error though, so something has definitely changed in the type of device that Windows XP is seeing it as.

Just to give a bit more background, it was formatted using the HP USB Disk Storage Tool 2.1.8, which allows you to make it bootable.

I'm just wondering if whatever that did to it has been undone somehow.

:)

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I searched for the exact phrase "operating system not found" throughout the first 10% of my Win 98SE Disk (the HDD on which 1st partition 98SE is installed) and I've not found it at all.

On the other hand, it returns hits galore on google. As I said before, the MBR contains just two relevant strings, worded exactly as: "Error loading operating system." and "Missing operating system." And the standard PBR (= Boot Sector or VBR) for FAT-32 contains the following strings, worded exactly as: "Invalid system disk"; "Disk I/O error" and "Replace the disk, and then press any key". Finally IO.SYS contains the famous "Starting Windows 98..." message, which you did not see, so we cannot be arriving that far. In fact, now that I mused over it all day, I'm convinced it probably exists in your machine's BIOS, which would mean we're not even reaching the MBR, after all. Yes, on page of the Supermicro X5DAE Motherboard Manual "Operating sistem not found" is indeed documented as one of the error messages of the Phoenix BIOS

Later edit:

Well COMMAND.COM is in the root of the source disk (C:) of course!

Anyway I copied it by hand (in fact from the backup of the flash drive that I made before Plop got onto it.)

IO.SYS is present and correct too, as is MSDOS.SYS.

Still the same result though, just boots only to a flashing cursor.

I'm not getting an "operating system not found" message, so I assume that the drive is still bootable.

It's just not actually loading.

It's still an active primary partition.

Well, so I misread your post I quoted above. I missed that not I just put in red. :blushing:

So, back to square one:

1) Verify that you're really selecting USB-HDD as the fist boot device. And, if so:

2) Try again to export a binary inmage of the pendrive as per my intructions some posts above, but this time use 0 as the start and 9000 hexadecimal or 36864 decimal as the end of block. I guess WinHex will allow you to export this file, since it's just 36 KiB. Then zip and attach it, please.

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So, back to square one:

1) Verify that you're really selecting USB-HDD as the fist boot device. And, if so:

2) Try again to export a binary inmage of the pendrive as per my intructions some posts above, but this time use 0 as the start and 9000 hexadecimal or 36864 decimal as the end of block. I guess WinHex will allow you to export this file, since it's just 36 KiB. Then zip and attach it, please.

OK here's the new WinHex export.

I hope it provides a clue what's going on!

WinHexExport.zip

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OK. The good news are: the SYS procedure worked as expected.

Now the bad news: The Plop BootManager remains at LBA 0 (place of the MBR).

So, under Win XP, repeat please the procedure using MBRWiz, as described in post #15 (I've just revised it to make it clearer).

Pay a lot of attention to any output produced by MBRWiz and report it, please (screenshots of the dos box are also welcome)

post-134642-0-75643200-1334622532_thumb.

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It looks as if the problem is that mbrfix isn't doing what it should be doing.

I've tried it again twice and then checked again with winhex, and it didn't look as if anything had changed.

The output I'm getting is here -

When I put in the command line the light on the flash drive flashes briefly, so it is being accessed at that point.

There is no further flashing when I press "y" though, and it just goes back to the command prompt with no further messages, which doesn't look right to me.

:)

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"Temp Folder" has a space in its name. Under XP, try from a temporary folder that hasn't, and that has an up to 8 characters name, say, "TEMPO2". If that doesn't work, let's try it from Win 98. Now that means you'll have to "dance the 98 dance", due to the way Win 98SE USB stack works: once on 98, insert the pendrive, open it in Windows Explorer, copy something to it, say, a copy of my DAVEMBR.ZIP, open it with, close it and delete it; then open config.sys (or any other text file) with notepad, then close it... by now we're sure Win 98SE has mounted the USB pendrive and initialized whatever structures it needs to. So, close Windows Explorer and open a DOS Box, and thence try the same MBRWiz procedure as you did before. Does it work this time? Does it boot? Either way, do capture once more a binary image of the first 9000 hexadecimal bytes of the pendrive (as in post #23) and attach a zip of it. If that does not work, too, I'll tell you how to do it with WinHex.

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Tried again with mbrwiz.exe and davembr.bin in a folder C:\Temp.

Same result.

Tried again with both files in the root of the C: drive.

Same result.

When I check with winhex after using mbrwiz, nothing has changed in the data at the start of the drive, plop is still in there!

:(

Good thought about the space in the path, I know some DOS programs don't understand that, but they usually put up an "invalid path" or "invalid filename" message.

I'm getting no error messages from mbrwiz, it's just not doing anything!

:no:

Of course it would be very easy to just re-format the drive and transfer my backup to it, which should give me back what I had originally, but this is all good learning stuff, and I'm as intrigued as I'm sure you are to find out exactly what's happening (or not happening) here!

:)

Edited by Dave-H
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I suspect your anti-virus or some internet banking security add-on is preventing you from getting write access to MBR's in generan, under XP. That's more common than you might imagine. So, it's time to dance the 98 dance. Let's see what results you get under 98SE.

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I suspect your anti-virus or some internet banking security add-on is preventing you from getting write access to MBR's in generan, under XP. That's more common than you might imagine. So, it's time to dance the 98 dance. Let's see what results you get under 98SE.

Neither fixmbr or winhex will work under Windows 98, even with KernelEx.

:no:

I thought I would try undoing what I'd done with Plop by using Plop, so I booted from a Plop install floppy disk again as I did the first time, and told it to completely uninstall Plop from the flash drive.

This it did, and I now get "operating system not found" if I try to boot from it.

I looked at it with Norton Disk Doctor, which said it had no MBR and offered to fix it.

I tried that but it didn't sort out the problem so I undid what NDD had done using the undo data I had saved.

Windows is now just seeing it as an unformatted drive.

Looking at the first sector and comparing it with the equivalent data in the DAVEMBR.BIN file you gave me, they are completely different, but I was pleased to see that all references to Plop seemed to have disappeared from the flash drive.

I've tried loading your file onto it again using mbrwiz, but it still obstinately refuses to actually do anything!

I could, as far as I can see, copy the data from your file and paste it into the disk using the HxD Hex Editor I downloaded, and I'm sure you can do it with Winhex too.

Do you think that's worth it for one last try before I re-format it and start again?!

:)

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