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Windows 98! Freezes at desktop, safe mode fine. GPU? Disc? Memory?

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by oscy, 21 Apr 2020.

  1. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    I found my old XP PC to try Win 98 on it, turns out I already installed it. However it would freeze as it was going to desktop.

    In safe mode it seemed fine (the mouse randomly stopped working once), but if I did anything as crazy as apply the time or search for display drivers in normal boot, it would freeze, maybe temporarily but then permanently a few seconds later. Sometimes a BSOD came up saying it's unstable or:

    "A fatal exception OE has occurred at 015F:BFF9DBA7."


    Scandisk found nothing, RAM is fine (I've tried 512MB and 1GB), so I tried reinstalling Windows 98. It wouldn't let me do it from the Win 98 folder (in safe mode), something about "conventional memory". So I did it booting from disk.

    It installed mostly fine, but now it freezes when doing the final touches. There's a list of things it's setting up, and it always freezes at 'Programs on the Start menu' after 'Control Panel'.

    So I went into safe mode, it goes straight to desktop. I was suspicious of my GPU (8800 GT) being too futuristic and turned hardware acceleration down. Now it goes past 'Programs on the Start menu' but freezes further down at 'Web TV for Windows'.

    Notably, if I don't have the Windows CD in, it will still go through that final process but at 'Web TV for Windows' it will ask for the CD, then freeze as soon as I put it in and click 'ok'.

    I had a Windows 2000 disk so tried that, but it won't boot from the CD drive, I guess it wants to finish the Windows 98 setup.

    Also the PSU is Antec Earthwatts 550W.

    The motherboard (Asus P5N-E SLI) doesn't have onboard graphics and I don't have a spare so can't test that yet. I might need a different GPU anyway, but worth asking if anyone else has ideas or can confirm.

    Given my GPU is 512MB VRAM, could that be it? Googling threw up some people saying 256MB is the max for Win 98(?)
     
    Last edited: 21 Apr 2020
  2. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    Are your hard drive and CD drive on different cables and IDE sockets on the m/b?

    Checked RAM timings or set BIOS to default?

    Is there a DMA jumper on either the HD or the CD drive?

    (I had that board years ago)
     
  3. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    The hard drive uses a little black SATA(?) cable and the CD drive uses a big old wide IDE(?) ribbon cable so they're separate.

    I don't know about RAM timings and I've reset the BIOS to default settings.

    I don't know what a DMA jumper is.

    I've not touched it since I last used it years ago. I don't remember trying Win 98 but presumably it was fine back then.
     
    Last edited: 21 Apr 2020
  4. Big Elf

    Big Elf Oh no! Not another f----ing elf!

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    Random thoughts.

    What size is the hard drive?

    You may need to set the Hard Drive to IDE mode in the BIOS

    You may need an additional driver for the SATA hard drive, alternatively do you have access to an IDE drive?
     
  5. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    It's something like 180GB haha. What could be the problem with the hard drive? I figured it would either work or not work at all. It felt more like a memory or display problem (and Googling suggested maybe the VRAM being 512MB is too much?)

    I don't have any other hard drives to try.
     
  6. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    Update:

    I tried a diagnostic startup, then I tried a selective startup with everything unchecked, and I reset the BIOS to default settings. For selective startup, it actually got all the way to the last bit (configuring something or other) but still 'froze', but I could still move my mouse around. When I ctrl + alt + del, a BSOD came up saying it was busy, but I couldn't press any key to continue. It didn't get that far again.

    BTW do PSUs degrade if they sit doing nothing for 5 years?...

    I looked and couldn't see anything.

    The only things related I could see was:

    1) Selecting the hard drive SATA and there was an 'Extended IDE Drive' option, which could be either 'none' or 'auto', and was set to 'auto'.

    2) An 'IDE Function Setup' menu under 'Advanced'. The options were 'OnChip IDE Channel0', 'OnChip IDE Channel1', 'IDE DMA transfer access', 'SATA Controller 1, 2', 'SATA DMA transfer', 'SATA Port 3, 4', 'SATAZ DMA transfer' and 'IDE Prefetch Mode'. All were enabled.

    3) An 'NVRAID Configuration' menu for SATAs, with 'RAID Enable' disabled.
     
  7. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    I still have a load of drivers, BIOS' and the manuals (PDF) for the Asus P5N-E-SLI if you want them?

    I found them in a compressed archive from 2007 on my NAS.

    Edit: Just noticed (and remembered) that it is an NVIdia NForce 430i chipset so you will probably have to load that driver at some point for proper SATA operation.

    Edit2: Also just noticed that Asus still have all the drivers available on their website - not bad for such an old board.

    Edit3: It only mentions XP and Vista as compatible.
     
    Last edited: 21 Apr 2020
  8. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    I think the issue is the NVidia SATA chipset, you'll need a driver for it and Asus didn't do a Windows 98 driver - XP & Vista only.
     
  9. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    I was able to 'complete' the installation by changing an advanced startup option about drive compatibility in msconfig. It meant the CD Drive didn't work, but I was able to skip every file the installation wanted from my disc (they weren't important, just to do with the fancy features no one used like TV or whatever). So now I can get to desktop, but it still freezes whenever anything mildly strenuous happens, like opening the file explorer for example.

    Someone else just said that Win 98 doesn't like nForce. It's random if it'll play nice but usually it's unstable.

    I'm thinking this is a lost cause and it's an overkill PC anyway, so I should probably just try and find an XP ISO or something and keep it as it is. Unfortunately I can't install Windows 2000 at all as for some reason it won't boot from the disc, and the freezing desktop means I can't do it there. Hopefully it'll read an XP disc...
     
  10. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    When you say it won't boot from disk - do you mean boot from CD? Is the CD-ROM drive set to master? IIRC sometimes they wouldn't boot from CD if it was set to slave.
     
  11. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    Yes CD. I'd have to check but I think it was master. 98 and 98SE are fine, 2K is just the weird one. Maybe cause it's a copy rather than original.
     
  12. oscy

    oscy Active Member

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    Update: I was able to trick the PC into installing Windows 2000.

    I started with the Windows 98 disc in and formatted the hard drive anyway with the command prompt. Then I took out the disc and put the 2000 disc, and ran WINNT.exe in command prompt. It all went fine.

    Now I just need to somehow find some XP ISO or something, they seem to not exist or are on dodgy websites.
     

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