I have an old Fujitsu LifeBook that I want to install Windows 98 on.

I burned a Windows 98 CD and verified it works, but the LifeBook's CD drive cant seem to read it. I do know the CD drive works, as it had Windows 95 (before I erased it) on it. I think it cant read it is because I cant burn the CD slower than 10x on a newer computer with a much faster writer and I believe the Fujitsu's CD drive is 1 or 2x.

The LifeBook does have a USB port. However, it is not a boot option. I remembered FreeDOS supports USB, so I thought Id try that. So I did it old school and created the FreeDOS floppies and installed in on the laptop. This erased the Win95 instalation. After futzing around, I realized the USB support was third party and got that software installed. It kind of almost works. It recognizes the USB host controller and once in a while can read the a directory on the a USB stick, but fails more or less immediately. I tried fat12, fat16, and fat32 drives. I cant seem to see any limitation in FreeDOS or the USB support. As far as I can tell, there shouldnt be any.

Perhaps I am missing something obvious? How can I use a USB stick on FreeDOS.

Ultimately, if all else fails, I can take the hard drive out and deal with it that way. However, I was talking to someone who said they remember these machines and said they are a massive pain to open up get to the hard drive.

  • 6
    Re: the CD, burning speed and reading speed have nothing to do with each other. If it's a 1x or 2x drive, it's probably too old to read CD-Rs. Just as NiMH rechargeable batteries output about 1.2V instead of the 1.5V of disposable batteries, CD-R dyes are less reflective than the deposited aluminum layer of mass-produced CD-ROMs, and drive designs needed to be revised to be compatible. CD-RWs are even worse on that front. If you can find any, try New Old Stock of a brand that claims to match the reflectivity of the professional ones. (I remember using Kodak CD-R Gold back in the day.)
    – ssokolow
    Oct 31, 2022 at 15:15
  • 1
    Alternatively, Windows has always been designed to install from a folder for easy network deployment, so you could use floppies or, if you have a FreeDOS driver for them, a passive PCMCIA-to-CompactFlash adapter (possibly with an active CompactFlash-to-SD adapter inserted) to copy your Windows install files to a folder like C:\WININST and then run the installation from there. (Electrically, CF cards are funny-shaped PCMCIA cards that boot in "16-bit ISA mode" or "IDE/PATA hard drive mode" depending on a sense pin. Starting with Win95, support for the PCMCIA passive adapters came standard.)
    – ssokolow
    Oct 31, 2022 at 15:24
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    What I'd probably do if the hard drive is a pain to pull is use LapLink or INTERLNK/INTERSVR (a LapLink clone that comes with MS-DOS 6.22) and a null modem or LapLink serial cable to copy over the contents of the CD from something with a less finicky CD drive. All DOS versions of LapLink I've tried (Pro/4.00 and V/5) support "type this command on the remote machine" remote-installing themselves over a serial cable. Once you've got Win9x installed, the aforementioned PCMCIA-CF adapters are as easy to use as a USB flash drive or integrated SD card reader.
    – ssokolow
    Oct 31, 2022 at 15:33
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    I've also seen blog posts and forum threads about how to use DOSBox on a modern Windows or Linux machine as one side of a LapLink connection, taking advantage of how it can map the emulated serial ports to real ones.
    – ssokolow
    Oct 31, 2022 at 15:39
  • 1
    Isn't FreeDOS modern supported piece of software? Try the USB drivers under real MS-DOS. You need to boot the Win98 install floppy anyway and make the USB work in that DOS, not FreeDOS.
    – Justme
    Oct 31, 2022 at 16:13


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