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Old SuSE Linux 4.2 - not really working in a VM (an odyssey not in space) 
Sunday, December 3, 2017, 09:24 PM
Posted by Administrator
Starting with installing SuSE Linux 4.2 on a real 486 PC, I thought it would be a good idea to try it in a virtual machine, too.
But guess what happens. Different errors leads in the same result - it didn't work, although console is working always, X-Server did only work with VGA 640x480 in 16 colors (not more).
First I tried to install it in VMWare Player 7, but then I tried it in Workstation 6, too.
Both installation tries resulted in a working character console, but SVGA or even accelerated X-Server aren't possible.
Also, "Soundblaster IDE" interface auto probe at boot time was a pain. This can be skipped by additional boot parameter "sbpcd=0", so started with the installation floppy disk, you had to type in "scsi1 sbpcd=0" always.

But the problem with the graphics adapter continued, also with VirtualBox and Virtual PC 2007. You will get always a scrambled screen after starting X:

You will get additionally trouble with Virtual PC, even if in Virtual PC's BIOS "ACPI" was switched off. Unexpected write errors on your virtual hard drive (in VPC) occur:

Later on, even if you managed to install something, you will be not able to boot or to use programs in general:

A good idea was to try it with QEMU. But unfortunately QEMU does only support a Cirrus Logic GD5446 graphics card, and SuSE Linux 4.2 does NOT. But MS Virtual PC 2007 supports a S3 graphics chip. So even if you can't install it in MS Virtual PC 2007, you can prepare it in QEMU.
Later on, you can convert the virtual hard drive image to a VPC hard drive, just with this command:

qemu-img.exe convert suselinux.raw -O vpc suselinux.vhd

When preparing with QEMU, choose the accelerated X-Server for S3 using xf86config, but don't try to start it in QEMU. Also, because you have to change the floppy disk images, don't forget to switch into the QEMU console to enter the "change floppy0 filename" command with Ctrl-Alt-2 and then back with Ctrl-Alt-1.

The result is a working SuSE Linux in MS Virtual PC 2007, but you can't save any file nor working with it in an usual way, because it will immediately be corrupted again.

You can click on every image to enlarge it.

related link points to version history overview of S.u.S.E Linux (not OpenSuSE nor SuSE Leap)
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Benchmarked two VLB cards with 3DBENCH 1.0 and Wolfenstein 3D Timedemo 
Monday, October 2, 2017, 07:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
As already expected, a S3 805 video card seems to be faster than a Trident 9400CXI (which is interestingly displayed as 9100 LCD in some tools). This can be easily checked by using two benchmark tools, one which is well known, the other is difficult to get.
3DBENCH from Superscape in Version 1.0 (not 1.0B or 1.0C, but the first one) is suitable for older PCs below Pentium class, so my 486DX4 shows comparable values.
And Wolfenstein 3D in a "timedemo" version (not the activision version !) shows it even more precise - the S3 (the Miro Crystal 10SD) is superior compared to the Trident.

3DBench TRIDENT 9400CXI:

3DBench S3 805 (Miro Crystal 10SD):

Wolfenstein 3D Timedemo TRIDENT 9400CXI:

Wolfenstein 3D Timedemo S3 805 (Miro Crystal 10SD):

Screenshots were done with VTHIEF 0.07, viewed and again grabbed with ST201F.

Btw. meanwhile I replaced the AMD486DX4-100 CPU with an AMD 5x86 (133MHz), this results in 66.6 fps for 3DBench (with the S3 card).

Related link points to download page of 3DBench 1.0...
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Found an appropriate video card, but followed by some problems 
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 08:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
I found a Vesa Local Bus Card - a Miro Crystal 10SD, but it was not working.
After a deeper inspection of the card itself, I found something missing on it - a capacitor. So I added a new one, and the card worked again.

But it didn't worked in all 3 VLB slots, just in 2 of them - strange.

Also, I recognized my 486DX4-100 was slower than expected. So after some successless tries with other jumper, I was also asked for memory benchmarks, because I expected "fake cache" problems. The benchmark software SPEEDSYS 4.78 (DOS, originally from, but disappeared since a few years, can be found now also >here<) helped a lot, because it was possible to see the cache had still an effect, but not much.

Last but not least I was able to blame the TURBO SWITCH for the slow function. After reseating the switch connector, problems were gone (see second benchmark picture).

My very first problem, even before the DirectX setup told me, that the video card had no usable drivers (because of using Windows 3.1 driver), was related with the harddisk, or more in detail, with the CompactFlash card, I tried to use with the IDE controller and the CF Card adapter.

I was able to create a partition and also to format it, but it wasn't bootable. But after using FDISK /MBR, it worked - I thought using FDISK for creating the partition will be enough, but no, the master boot record has to be "fixed" additionally.

The "related link" points to the wikipedia entry for VLB. Interesting facts there.
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I didn't had (at least) the right video card ... 
Sunday, September 17, 2017, 05:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
... to install DirectX 3.0 and later on, Diablo 1. That's because if you install a video driver from Windows 3.1 (but used in Windows 95), there is no hardware acceleration nor DirectDraw support.
The Diablo 1 CD included also a "Test your PC" feature, and beside the fact I didn't had a Pentium 60 (at least) installed, it needed also a CD-ROM with 300kps minimum data rate and ... tataaa ... a DirectX compatible driver/card.

I was soooo close to it, see my photo:

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Forgot what it means: Installing Windows 95 (first edition) on a 486 PC 
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 11:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
I rebuild a 486 PC with some spare parts, and because it had 32MB RAM, I thought it would be a good idea to install Windows 95... YES, this first rolling stones ("start me up") driven meanwhile ancient operating system.
Unfortunately I didn't have an IDE CD-ROM yet available for it, so I decided to recreate the floppy disks for installing Windows 95 from my Windows 95 CD-ROM (using my modern PC).
This was not so easy ... while googling for it, I found a lot of hints about Windows 95B (OSR2) installation, also describing how and what to copy onto the floppy disks, but hey, Windows 95 (first edition, 4.00.950) differs here totally !
Infos I found about a "WIN95_02.CAB" file were misleading - there is not such a file for the first edition. There is also no need to format floppy disks in DMF format here.
But it's not difficult - the bootdisk has to have at least the OEMSETUP.* files,
and the first installation floppy disk (No. 1) must include these files:

The second installation Disk contains only PRECOPY2.CAB, and the 3rd one just PRECOPY3.CAB and WIN95_03.CAB. All subsequent floppies contain a WIN95_XX.CAB file, while XX is the number of the disk, starting with No. 04 up to No. 22. Btw. the german version of Windows 95 has an INFO.TXT file instead of README.TXT ;-)
At least 30 minutes later, the base installation was finished.

What I didn't knew before - the video card was an ET3000 and Windows 95 did not recognized this, but you can surprisingly install drivers also from Windows 3.1 (there were no Windows 95 driver for the Tseng ET3000). Now I was even able to set 256 colors (instead of the default 16 colors).

Next project for me: Installing the first Diablo game (from Blizzard)... stay tuned.
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