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I have acquired an old Shuttle X PC (Windows XP, Mini-DTX form factor HTPC) that works fine.

As I can't do much with this form factor (I can't fit a modern motherboard in the case) and that the computer came with a working ATI X800 Pro graphics card, I plan an making a compact retro-gaming PC out of it.

I would like to dual boot Windows 98 and Windows XP to be able to play a large quantity of old PC games (from late MS-DOS titles to Windows XP games).

I also plan on installing both of the operating systems on a SD card using a SD to IDE adapter.

How can I install a dual boot with both Windows 98 and Windows XP on a SD card?

P.S: I have read about a Windows 98 bug that bloats the RAM if more than 256Mb of RAM is installed. This PC has 1Gb of RAM and I plan on upgrading to 2Gb, is there anything I'll have to do to fix this?

  • 3
    You'll want to limit Win98 to 512MB or less; you can do that via the MaxFileCache setting in [vcache] in system.ini - computermemoryupgrade.mysuperpc.com/out_of_memory.shtml – Joe Mar 11 '17 at 2:51
  • @Joe Thank you for the link to the RAM bug fix. – user2109 Mar 11 '17 at 2:56
  • I still can't get my head around the fact that I regularly carry around in my pocket a storage device bigger than a high-end Windows 98 hard drive, but an SD card seems too small. I have a disk of MS-DOS arcade games that ran really, really, really quickly on my Windows 98 (before displaying garbage on the screen and soft-locking half a second later) so you might want to install something like DOSBOX on the XP partition. – wizzwizz4 Mar 11 '17 at 9:24
  • Does the W98 compatibility mode in XP not work? It seemed to be OK for most of the games my kids used to play. – cup Jul 22 '17 at 9:36
14

Presuming a totally fresh installation of everything and access to all the needed installation media. Also, presuming that the Shuttle X PC can read the SD card through the SD to IDE adapter.

Planning

Partition Sizes The size of the SD is likely to cause the most problems. Windows XP system requirements is for at least 1.5GB of available hard disk space. Windows 98 only needs around 300MB of disk space. Since you are planning to run games, and probably install gamer related tools, you may need to raise those limits. I'll presume that you have a SD card large enough to provide the disk space needed for your intentions. This will still need some planning. Just for the installation, XP wants six times what 98 does, so you need to split your SD card's space between them accordingly.

In addition, XP will be installed on a partition formatted NTFS while 98 will be on a partition formatted FAT32. XP can read FAT32 disks, 98 cannot read NTFS disks. To make it easier to share data between both versions of Windows, you can make a third partition, formatted FAT32, that both systems can read and write. This should be large enough to handle an extra-full CD of data, at the minimum. An extra advantage of using a third partition for data transfer is that if you move the card to another computer, that partition will still have the data on it without having to wade through the system and program files of either Windows installation, and using it to transfer data from another computer will not endanger the system installs in the other partitions.

Without knowing the size of your SD card, I can only recommend that you do some extra math ahead of time. The number of games you have for each system will also influence how you allocate the space of your SD card. As an example, with an 8GB SD card, maybe 1.9GB for Win 98, 5.1GB for Win XP, and 1GB for the shared partition. OTOH, if you have a really big SD, say 32GB, and plan to use some kind of virtual CD program in both XP and 98, the third partition can be sized rather large, and the VCD files can be stored there, allowing both systems to access them, while only needing one copy on the card. Maybe 2.1GB for 98, 5.5GB for XP, and 24.4GB for shared space. Note: In order to format a partition as FAT32, in XP, it has to be 32GB, or less.

Preparation Not that you haven't already considered it, but before installing either version of Windows it would help to collect the needed drivers first. If you already have all the drivers, or the original install disks for your devices, that's great. If not, you may have some trouble finding such old drivers for your devices. XP is still in use a lot, so most of the drives may not be too difficult to find and download. Windows 98, however, is so old that finding compatible drivers for your hardware might be tough. The video card and the sound card are both rather important for your gaming, yet may be the hardest to still find for Windows 98. Transferring those download, once you find them, is another possible use for that third partition on the SD card.

Installing

  1. Boot the computer with the Win 98 Install disk inserted (either floppy or CD)

    • If you boot with a Win 98 Install CD:
      • Select 2. Boot from CD-ROM
      • Select 3. Start computer without CD-ROM support.
    • If you boot from a Win 98 boot floppy, or a Win 98 install floppy set, disk 1:
    • Select 2. Start computer without CD-ROM support.
  2. Create a partition for Windows 98

    • Type FDISK to create the partition for your install
      • If you have a hard drive larger than 512MB you will be given a screen full of information about Windows support for large disks, followed by the option to enable that support. The choice is yours, but my recommendation is to enable it.
    • Next you are presented with the menu for FDISK.
      • Unlike most modern tools for working with disk partitions , all commands are performed immediately when you select their option, there is no final "write" command to make changes permanent! (As you select perform the various steps, you will constantly be presented with Press Esc to continue it is safe to press Esc, as it will return you to the previous menu or step.)
    • Select 4. Display partition information to verify the contents of the disk. Hopefully blank. If so, skip the next step.
    • Select 3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive as needed until the disk has no partitions left.
      • You have to select 3. Delete Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition for each Logical drive before you can delete the extended partition.
      • Then you can select 2. Delete Extended DOS Partition.
      • Finally you can select 1. Delete Primary DOS Partition.
    • Then select 1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive.
    • Select 1. Create Primary DOS Partition.
      • FDISK will show Verifying drive integrity while it checks the whole disk.
      • FDISK will give you an option the use the whole disk for the primary partition and make it active. Since the objective is to create a dual-boot setup we don't want that.
    • Enter N
      • FDISK will again verify the drive integrity before finally asking how big to make the partition.
    • Enter the size you want for the Window 98 partition.
      • You can enter the value as a number, meaning MB, or as a percent 15%.
      • FDISK is notoriously bad at math, so I recommend using raw numbers over percents.
    • Enter the size you want and press Enter. (See the partition size discussion above.)
    • Now, select 2. Set active partition.
    • Choose partition 1 as the active partition.
    • Press Esc twice to exit FDISK
    • Reboot the computer.
  3. Begin installing Windows 98

    • If you boot from a Win 98 boot floppy, or a Win 98 install floppy set, disk 1
      • Select 1. Start computer with CD-ROM support.
      • Type FORMAT C: to format the new partition for Windows 98 to use.
      • If your floppy is part of a complete install set that will be used for the installation:
        • Type SETUP to launch the installer for Windows 98 from the floppy.
      • If the floppy is a Win 98 boot floppy and you intend to install from a CD:
        • Type D:
        • Type SETUP to launch the installer for Windows 98 from the CD.
      • Press Enter to continue.
      • Follow through the entire Windows 98 installation process.
    • If you are booting with a Win 98 CD:
      • Select 2. Boot from CD-ROM.
      • Select 1. Start Windows 98 Setup from CD-ROM.
      • Press Enter to continue with the setup.
      • Select the option Format this drive (recommended). and press Enter.
      • Press Enter to continue.
      • Follow through the entire Windows 98 installation process.
  4. Fix the memory cache issue, if needed,using the link provided in the comment by @Joe

    • At this point Windows 98 should be operational.
    • Other than the memory cache issue, you shouldn't do any other driver/software installs or updates yet.
      • First, they can have unintended consequences when installing XP.
      • Second, if something goes wrong in the XP install, it's just that much more work to repeat on the next round.
    • Wait until the dual-boot setup is final before doing any driver updates, software installs, or customization.
  5. Install Windows XP

    • If not already running, boot the computer into Windows 98 normally.
    • Insert the Windows XP install CD.
      • If you haven't changed any settings in Windows 98, the CD should "autoplay," if not, then
        • Double-click on My Computer.
        • Double-click on the CD drive icon.
        • If that opens a new Explorer window, double click on the setup icon.
    • Click on Install Windows XP
    • In the Installation Type drop-down box select New Installation (Advanced).
    • Click Next.
    • Accept the EULA and click Next.
    • Enter your CD-KEY and click Next.
    • In the top section of the dialog is an option to Review or change the default options.... Click on the Advanced Options button
    • Place a check mark in the I want to choose the install drive letter and partition during Setup option.
    • Since you intend to do gaming here, it's likely helpful to have the installation files available, so (optionally) place a check mark in the Copy all installation files from the Setup CD option.
    • Click OK.
    • Make any changes you need to the options for accessibility and the language options.
    • Click Next.
    • On the Get Updated Setup Files dialog, select No, skip this step and continue installing Windows.
    • Click Next.
      • The setup process will copy the files to the disk and reboot (after several minutes).
    • Press Enter on the first screen to begin installation.
    • Move down to the Unpartitioned space line.
    • Press C to create a partition in the unpartitioned space.
    • Enter a size for this partition and press Enter. (See the partition size discussion above.)
    • Select the new partition, labeled [New (Raw)] and press Enter.
    • Select the option to format the partition that you prefer and press Enter.
      • Recommend the one not labeled "(Quick)".
    • Follow through the installation process for Windows XP
  6. Adding the third partition

    • If not already there, boot into Windows XP.
    • Click on the Start button.
    • Click on Run.
    • Type diskmgmt.msc.
    • Click on OK.
    • Click in the free space for the disk. (It should have a lime-green bar across the top.)
    • In the menu bar click on Action -> All Tasks -> New Logical Drive...
    • Click on Next.
    • Logical drive is the only option available, and should already be selected.
    • Click on Next.
    • Enter the size, in MB, for the new partition, 32768MB maximum. (See the partition size discussion above.)
    • Click Next.
    • Change the drive letter, if you wish, and click Next.
    • Make sure that the Format this partition... option is selected.
    • Change the File system: drop down to FAT32
    • Enter a volume label, if you choose
    • Leave the option for Enable file and folder compression OFF, or Windows 98 still will not be able to read it.
    • Click Next.
    • Click Finish.
    • Close the "Disk Management" console.
  7. Install drivers and software. I'd recommend the following sequence:

    1. Install Windows 98 drivers.
    2. Install Windows XP drivers.
    3. Install your main programs and tools, not games, in Windows 98.
    4. Install your main programs and tools, not games, in Windows XP.
    5. Install your games into Windows 98 and XP as you choose to test/play them.
    6. Make the virtual CD images for the games that you really want to keep rapidly accessible. Space will be limited :-(

Notes:

The FAT32 filesystem can, in theory, handle very large drives. Implementation, however, has set other limits.

  • The hard disk boot sector uses a 32-bit variable to store number the physical sectors present on the hard disk drive, making a practical limit of 2 TB.

  • Win 98 can only access up to 128 GB. (When formatting any partition over 64 GB, the system will report that it is formatting 64 GB. This is only a display bug, as it will correctly format for the requested size anyway.)

  • Win XP without at least SP1 installed does not have 48-bit LBA enabled, limiting it to 128 GB as well.

  • Win XP with SP1 or higher installed will see, and access, FAT32 partitions up to the 2 TB limit.

  • Win XP, any SP level, will only format FAT32 partitions up to 32 GB, irrespective of what it can access.

It is possible to replace step 6 above (Adding the third partition) with a similar process in Win 98. It is not so simple to perform, however, and is more error-prone. It is also possible to use a Live Linux disk, of any distro, to create the third partition. Both variations will allow creation of FAT32 partitions up to the 2 TB limit, or the Win 98 limit of 128 GB.

A final option is to repeat step 6 to make a fourth, fifth, etc. partition, each of 32 GB FAT32 partitions. Or make additional NTFS partitions. FAT32 also has a 4 GB file size limit which could make storing full-DVD movies impossible.

Odds are that the "SD" card in question is SDHC, which has a limit of 32 GB overall, so none of this matters. It could, however be the high-end SDXC, with a limit of 2 TB and considerations need to be taken for the extra space.

  • You can format a partition up to 2 TB in size as FAT32, you just can't use a recent version of Windows to do it. Win98 and WinXP will both work just fine for it. – Mark Jul 13 '17 at 18:08
  • @Mark See the added notes. Newer versions of Windows, which might handle >32 GB formatting are, of course, out of scope for the OP. – Gypsy Spellweaver Oct 9 '18 at 7:02
4

Windows 98SE which is what you should be running, not vanilla 98.

SE has a maximum partition size of 137GB; vanilla 98 is 64GB. The boot partition should not extend past the first 2GB on the drive. The rest of the drive would be the game storage area. I would use 2 SD cards, The boot loader and 98 on the first drive. XP on the Second, the nice feature that gets you is the Bootloader would let you select which OS, which would be which partition on which SD, but if you had to you could boot add a second entry on the XP boot screen to select a boot of the device alone if it were the only one in the system.

XP can be installed on a FAT32 partition as well. It is not recommenced because fat32 limits you to just under 4GB maximum file size. That makes many DVD images hard to deal with since those are 4.7 GB

  • I posted this as an answer simply because it was too large for a comment. – Rowan Hawkins Jul 12 '17 at 21:56

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