Doesn't Not Compute

My log of experiences with GNU/Linux and computers in general.

I’d like to introduce you to Roy A. L’Pain

Roy A. L’Pain…Royal Pain. šŸ˜€ Humorous intro to a long post.

Anyway, I’m referring to the hassle involved in making Windows 98 Second Edition a viable operating system for modern usage. This means word processor, secure internet browser, firewall, updates, pdf viewer, and flash player.Ā  Not counting the time it took to remove Linux & its partions from the hard drive, repartion with FDISK, and regenerate a DOS-compatible master boot record with fdisk /mbr, OR the 40 minutes or so it took to install Windows 98SE, it took about an hour to install everything.

Upon first install, Windows 98 Second Edition only allowed the Dell Latitude C600 16-color display at 640×480 resolution. Unless I want to try 2-color mode, which I don’t.

No flash drive support, no sound, no ethernet, no modem. Deli goes into Standby mode — and comes back out — just fine, and apparantly the infrared port is detected properly.

To get the flash drive working, I’ll need the Unofficial Universal USB Drivers pack. As for everything else, Dell still keeps the drivers available on their website.

So, the first thing to take care of is either the USB or the ethernet drivers. In the interests of time, I chose to install the ethernet drivers first and ask questions later. šŸ˜› Modern viruses, as far as I know, depend on functions only present in Windows XP and newer verisions, and since I’m not going to attempt using the projects developed to allow using Windows XP programs with 98se’s kernel (until later on, if at all), I’m not worried about that. If you’re going to duplicate this experiment for actual usage, however, DO worry about it, ancient viruses still float around the interwebs.

The ethernet driver installed fine, but this was only the first step to being able to actually connect to the internet. Clicking on Internet Exploiter or the Connect to the Internet icons opened up a program called “Setup MSN Internet Access” and required Outlook. No thanks, partner, I don’t use MSN. By going into the Control Panel, however, and clicking the “Internet Options” icon, opening the “Connections” tab, and clicking the Setup button, I was able to skip this and open the Internet Connection Wizard directly, where I used the “I want to…connect through a local area network (LAN)” option, then the “I connect through a…(LAN)” option, and from there out used default options.

Guess what? Internet Explorer 5.5 still couldn’t access the Internet. So out comes the IE 6 upgrade from a CD in 24x speed drive. šŸ˜® If I had any sense I would have copied it to the hard drive first and shaved off a massive amount of time. I just used the defauls, btw. The setup program rebooted the computer yet again (this makes about eight times in the first half an hour of work), and after another four minutes of waiting for Windows to finish updating files, I finally could connect to the internet.

I promptly downloaded the freeware version of ZoneAlarm firewall. I attempted to download Firefox, but the 3.x series is not Windows 98SE compatible. šŸ˜„ No fear, time for the Windows-browser-world runner-up, Opera 9.64. It isn’t open source, which is why it’s second place in my mind, but it’s supposedly as secure — and definitely faster than IE 6 on this machine when it works right.

And, yea me, ZoneAlarm no longer supports 98SE either. Opera works just fine, although it downloaded something called INSTIMIA.EXE or something in the process of installing. I assume this was a newer version of the Windows Installer, but I’m still not happy about it not asking permission. Ah, such is the way of life in the land of propritary software. šŸ‘æ Also, a warning was generated about Msimg32.dll being too old, so transparency effects were very, very slow. Apparently getting the file from Windows ME would solve this, but I’m not doing that this time around.

After rooting around in Dell’s website for the sound driver I had forgotten — I didn’t include the search in the time estimate, but it was painfully slow. It finally downloaded, and I ran the self-extracting file, but in the end I had to install the driver by opening the Device Manager, selecting “PCI Audio Device, and manually pointing it to the extracted files. Same thing happened with the drivers for the ATI Rage Mobility M3 video card. A bit of a nuisance, but at least it works.

And last but not least in the Windows 98SE system upgrading I’m going to do to this machine for now, the Windows 98SE Service Pack 2. Yes, I said “2”. It’s an unofficial conglomeration of Microsoft’s bugfixes, patches, etc. for 98SE, complete with a installation program that automatically determines which ones your system needs. You can find it in’s Essentials section. Besides the default options, I also opted to install new boot and shutdown logos and a NotePad replacement that doesn’t have 9x/ME’s Notepad’s limitations. Whenever a question comes up that asks if I want to keep a newer, existing file when an older version is about to be installed, I said no (of course), and when it asked if I wanted to reboot now I said no, until the installation was actually done.

At this point, all of the hardware is working. Here’s the software I recommend:

Total Commander 7.50a: Dual-pane file manager, far more efficent a setup than the default Windows Explorer and My Computer method. For me, at least.

Updated Scandisk, Defrag programs: Just what it says.Ā  Straight from, I recommend…. SCANFRAG! It installs the Windows ME versions of both Scandisk and Defrag, which are faster and more efficient.

Diskeeper Lite 7.0.418: The last freeware, nontrialware version of Diskeeper — as I understand it, Windows XP’s Defrag is just a watered-down version of this. It’s more efficient than even the updated, WinME Defrag. Have fun’ing it.

Acrobat Reader 6.06: It’s old. But it’s the newest version that supports Windows 98SE. I haven’t found a copy of it yet, but you can get 6.01 from here at

GIMP 2.2.17-i5: The newest version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program that supports 98SE. You also need the appropriate GTK for Windows version, which is 2.6 — it’s listed two entries down from the GIMP 2.2.17 entry.

Adobe Flash Player 9: The newest version of the Flash Player that works with Windows 98, 98SE, and ME.

I believe OpenOffice 3.1 is compatible as well, but I don’t know for certain.

Software I don’t recommend at all, but works:
Windows Media Player (WMP) 9: I think this is the version when Microsucks started building in the Digital Rights Manhandling — er, Management. So I don’t recommend it. But, if you insist, install it.Ā  You might as well install the WMP10 codecs with MDGx’s 98MP10 tool while you’re at it.

So now I have a fully up-to-date version of Windows 98 Second Edition, complete with a Windows 2000 color and icon scheme. There are a few other things I can do, such as use MDGx’s tool 98SE2ME to replace about 700 Windows 98SE files with the Windows ME versions, and then run 98lite from to strip out Internet Explorer and gain a lot of speed (and possibly some inability to use programs that depend on the integration, although that supposedly can be fixed by manually installing IE, which doesn’t get integrated the same way when installed in this manner), but I don’t feel like it right now. šŸ˜›


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