Windows 9x Installation Guide

I've discovered that many people don't really have a "Good" way of installing Windows 95, Windows 95 release 2, or Windows 98.  Here's my attempt to rectify that situation!  Interestingly, the basic process is pretty much the same for all versions.  I will refer to all these packages as Windows 9x.  Individual details I'll mention when appropriate.

These instructions assume a CD-ROM on the installation machine.

But I don't HAVE a CD-ROM

Get one.  I won't help you if you don't have a CD-ROM on a Windows 95 machine.  CD-ROMs are very cheap now, and my time is not.

Step 1: Start from a clean computer.

Don't do upgrades.  After a few experiences, I won't waste my time trying to fix a Windows Upgrade.  It works sometimes.  Perhaps even often.  However, nowhere near enough to be worth subjecting yourself to the problems.  And, even if it works initially, all the garbage from older versions of Windows will often give you nightmares some day.

But I only have the UPGRADE version of Windows 9x!!

Yes.  I'm sorry.  Microsoft, in their infinite has decided to only sell Windows 95  as an Upgrade to consumers.  You would think they had learned this doesn't work properly with Windows 95.  The good news is the Upgrade versions only ask you  to PROVE that you have the old version, you don't have to INSTALL the old version of the software.  Windows 95 Upgrade will ask you to insert Disk 1.  I understand the Windows 98 upgrade does something else, not sure what, but I understand it is more unpleasant.  Oh, well.

Now, inspite of the official ban against selling full OEM versions to end users, many, many small computer stores will HAPPILY sell you a copy of Windows 9x OEM.  I will not name any names.  But if you see a small hole-in-the-wall computer store, odds are they will sell it to you.  Forget the big places, though.

Another reason to avoid the Windows 95 upgrade:  It is only available in the origional release.  This means if you want anything cool from Release 2 (OSR2 as some people call it, Release B as others call it), you HAVE to go through less than legitimate channels.  There is no way to get Win95r2 legimiately other than to buy a computer with it (and then you can only use it on that one computer...)

Update:  It *is* possible to buy a "legitmate" copy of Windows 98 full release, box and all.  'Bout time.

The computer should have NO \WINDOWS directory on it.  IF you might have some data lost in an upgrade,  you could Rename the \WINDOWS directory to some other name, if you so desire.

But, I don't WANT to wipe my system out!

    You like what you have?  Then don't upgrade!  Keep it!  Or, don't come whining to me about the results.

Step 2:  Boot machine from floppy, prepare hard disk, get CD-ROM running

Windows 95 r2 and Windows 98 include a boot floppy.
Windows 98: The Windows 98 boot floppy includes several popular CD-ROM drivers, including some SCSI controllers and a driver which appears to work with most IDE CD-ROMs.
Update: It is possible to boot off the Windows 98 CD-ROM.  To my surprise, the boot disk and the boot image on the CD-ROM are different.  Go figure.  However, either source works pretty well.
Windows 95r2:  The boot disk doesn't include any CD-ROM will have to make a copy of this disk (DISKCOPY) on another computer, and provide your own CD-ROM driver for your own CD-ROM.
Windows 95: If you are using Windows 95 release 1, you will have to provide your own boot disk.  "Good" news: Since Win95 only supports FAT16, you can use your old DOS boot disks for this.

Boot off the floppy.  If this disk has CD-ROM support, you may wish to hit <F5> to keep from loading it -- we won't use it on this boot
If appropriate, FDISK the drive, create your partition, make it "active"
Windows 95r2 & 98: If you run FDISK and have a hard disk bigger than 512M, you will be asked if you want to use FAT32.  I recommend yes, do use FAT32.  I have *never* come across an application which doesn't work with FAT32, only a couple utilities that normal people would be better off without.  If your primary purpose is games and recreation, this may not apply -- games are more picky than business apps.  FAT32 lets you use larger hard disks as one partition, and stores data much more efficiently than FAT16 does.
After FDISKing the drive, you need to reboot the machine, booting off a disk with CD-ROM support.

Format the hard disk, using
     FORMAT C:/S
This not only formats the hard disk, but puts a system on it so it can be booted.

I have been told that I should say here DON'T REBOOT YOUR SYSTEM YET! (Hi, K.O.B.! 8-)

Step 3: Copy the installation files

Go to drive C:, and create a directory called C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS.  Note, this has to be done in three steps, you just can't make all three nested directories.
     Commands for the DOS command line challenged:  You type the stuff in lower case and Italics
    C:\>md windows
    C:\>cd windows
    C:\WINDOWS>md options
    C:\WINDOWS>cd options
    C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS>md cabs
    C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS>cd cabs

Or, if you really know what you are doing, try this.  Note: Some careful use of the F3  key will do wonderous things here...
    C:\>md windows
    C:\>md windows\options
    C:\>md windows\options\cabs
    C:\>cd windows\options\cabs

Excuse me, that's one convoluted directory path!  Where did you come up with that brain dead location?

No is a pain to type.  However, somehow, it became a standard location to put these files.  You can put them anywhere, but if someone who knows Windows sits down in front of your machine, they will probably think to look in this location.  On more than one occation, I didn't notice that someone put them in a DIFFERENT location.  Most OEMs use this location.  If you wish to be a free thinker, I would suggest, rather than messing with this, try a REAL operating system, such as Linux or OS/2

Copy the contents of the WIN95 directory on the CD-ROM to this directory.
    C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS>copy d:\win95\*.*
                Or, if loading Windows 98,
    C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS>copy d:\win98\*.*

When this is done, eject the floppy (or CD) and reboot your computer.

Step 4: Run SETUP

At this point you machine should be booted from the hard disk.  No device drivers of any kind should be loaded.  There should be NO CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT file.  This is a clean boot.  You don't want Windows to mess up and try to keep anything you have already loaded.  This particular re-boot is very critical -- if you booted off the floppy, Windows Setup will assume you will continue to boot from the floppy, and funny things will happen later.

After the machine has rebooted, go back to the C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS directory and type SETUP.
    C:\>cd \windows\options\cabs

At this point, the Windows 9x startup program will start.

Windows 95, both releases: The first complication is when SCANDISK runs, the first part of the setup process.  It will complain that the system does not have HIMEM.SYS loaded, and thus can't run.  This is quite O.K., as your hard disk has just been wiped out, and if something corrupted the hard disk so far, you have hardware problems.  Tell the system to continue anyway.  Windows 98 doesn't seem to have this problem, interestingly.  If you have a very small hard disk, you may not see this message.

There are a few other points of interest.  Setup *may*  will ask if your system has a CD-ROM, a Network card and/or a sound card.  General rule:  Don't select ANY of these, even if you DO have any of those devices.


    Windows 95 was developed in 1994.  At that time, many or perhaps even most CD-ROMs were propriatary, not IDE or SCSI.  Many odd sound cards existed, as did many odd network cards.  By checking any of those options, you are telling Windows to do a more complete scan for these devices.  This not only slows down this step, it also GREATLY increases the chances the system will hang by "probing" for one device and crashing another device, and thus your computer.
    If you have an IDE or SCSI CD-ROM, it will be found anyway.
    If you have a Plug-and-Play sound card or network card that is supported by Windows, it will be found anyway.
    If you have a device NOT supported by Windows, Plug-and-Play or not, checking these boxes won't help.
    In short, in setting up a modern machine, checking these boxes will only hurt, not help.  IF you are using an old propiatary CD-ROM (i.e., Teac, Soundblaster 2x, Mitsumi 1x, etc.), you might gain by checking the CD-ROM box.  If the system locks, hey, I warned you.

At one point, Setup will ask you where you wish to install Windows.  NOTE it wants to put it in C:\WINDOWS.000.  This is bad.  Choose "Other Directory", and change it to C:\WINDOWS.  Windows will protest and complain, that's o.k., tell it to do it anyway.
WARNING: Make sure you delete the period!  In theory, "C:\WINDOWS" and "C:\WINDOWS." (see the period?) are the same location, although some programs will go absolutely bonkers if you leave that period in there.  Ask me, I know.

Let the install complete, and reboot as needed.

Step 5: Cleanup

Whaddya mean cleanup?  Aren't we done??

Nope.  If *all* your hardware is recognized by Windows 9x directly, you are done, but that is pretty rare.

Go to the System Control Pannel.  Look under Device Manager.  You will very possibly see a yellow question mark labled "Other Devices".  This is where Windows 9x Setup filed all things it noticed but didn't recognize.  These devices are known, but no drivers were loaded.  Usually there is a semi-descripive title, such as "PCI Ethernet card" or "SCSI Adapter".  You may see some devices labled "Unknown device" -- save these for last.  Or ignore them.  I haven't figured out why some main boards put those up -- sometimes, they may be USB ports, other times, they are bizzare functions on otherwise plug-and-play cards (One of the many variations of the Soundblaster 16 board leaves two mystery "Other Devices" at I/O address 100 and 101 which can be ignored)

There are two things you can do here:  1) pick the device, and click "Change driver".  Insert the disk or CD-ROM, and point the system to the drive and the proper driver.  Option 2) Delete the device, and let Windows notice it on the reboot, and install the drivers then.

Note that if you try to install video, sound or network card drivers before doing this, you will probably fail.  Why?  Because the "resources" used by the cards in question are already in use by these "Other Devices".  You can't load two devices using the same resources, therefore you can't load the drivers before you remove them from "Other Devices".

Once this is done, if you are snug on disk space, you can delete *.EXE, *.BIN, and basicly everything but *.CAB from the C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS


Well, those files won't be used again, unless you need to reinstall Windows, of course.  And, of course, if you DO have to re-install Windows, you will need to copy those files back, so I don't recommend deleting them unless you run snug on space.

You want to leave the *.CAB files so the system can find the files every time you add or remove something.  Yes, this means you have a copy of absolutely everything on your hard disk, and two copies of the things you are actually using.  Microsoft efficiency.

Novell Network Support

I don't like the Microsoft client software for several reasons.  1) it doesn't support NDS (Netware v4) well at all.   2) It has traditional Microsoft disrespect for network security (it will commonly spontaniously connect to servers, and it has been seen to do so as a passworded supervisor equivilent.  Not funny.) and 3) it has a very incomplete support of the Netware API.

I instead recommend that you use the Novell client.  This is a bit tricky.  Easy and works well if you go through the right process, but a nightmare if you don't.

The short version:
1) Get Microsoft Network Support working
2) Delete the excess
3) Log into the Netware network
4) Install Novell Client Software.
5) Adjust client software, and reboot.

Step 1: Get Microsoft Network Support working first.

If it is not already done, load the network card driver.  As part of this process, it probably loaded the Client for Microsoft Networks and Client for Novell Networks, along with NetBEUI and IPX/SPX protocols, and perhaps Dial-up Networking Adapter and TCP/IP.  If not there, load at least the IPX/SPX and Client for Novell Networks.

This leads to mistake number 1:  If you want to hook to a Novell network, you would think you might click on Add, Client, and for Vendor, you would pick "Novell".  Wrong.  You are NOT (initially) loading a Novell provided client, you are loading a Microsoft-provided client for a Novell network.  Got it?  The options under Novell are the DOS-based client solutions.  YES you are connecting to the Novell network, but not by using Novell  solution -- not yet.

Set the Primary Network Login to Client for Netware Networks.

Step 2: Delete the excess network components

If you don't absolutely NEED NetBEUI, remove it.  It is a brain dead Microsoft protocol and inapproprate for large offices.
If you aren't using a modem or internet dial-up, remove the dial-up adapter.
If you aren't using TCP/IP, you may wish to remove it.
If you aren't using NT or Windows 95 peer-to-peer networking, remove the Client for Microsoft Networks. (some Internet packages expect this to be there.  If you need it, leave it.)

The less you have loaded, the fewer problems you will probably have.

The system will want to reboot after removing or adding anything.

Step 3: Login to network

When you reboot, you *should* get a three-field box, asking you for a user name, a password and a server.  IF you do not, your network software is not working properly, or you forgot to plug in your network cable.  IF you didn't get the login box, you have to figure out the problem and fix it before going further.

Note, if you are running Netware v4.x, you are logging into your network in the Bindary Emulation context, for you are not coming in as a NDS user.  Make sure the user ID  you are coming in as exists in that bindary context.  Your login script probably didn't run, your drive mappings are probably messed up.  That's all o.k.  This is only temporary.

If you get in successfully, you have proven your hardware configuration and your network card driver is working properly (if not, fix it!).

Step 4: Load Novell's Netware Client

There have been several versions of Novell's client software.  Entertainingly, they keep changing the name.  Roughly in order, it was Client 32, IntranetWare Client 32, Client 32 for Windows 95, Novell Netware Client.

I would recommend Novell's Window Client software v2.1 or later (the version number is displayed in the Network Control Pannel when you double click on the Netware Client line.  If it doesn't come up with a version number, it is older than v2.1).
Windows 98: Use client 2.5 or later.
Update: Client 3.10 and later:  It works well, but it has lots of "extras" which probably don't do much for most people running Netware v4 or earlier, so I am personally keeping v2.5 around for older computers.  IF you aren't using TCP/IP networking, you may want to customize your setup, and tell the client software to use IPX only.
Yet More Update: Client 3.1 does NOT work with the original release 1 of Windows 95.  You either have to patch Windows 95 or use client 2.5.
Update for Windows 98:  I -- and many other people -- have discovered that under some cirumstances, it is not possible to install the Netware client from the server.  The short version of the problem is the client disconnects you from the server while doing the update, preventing the rest of the update from completing, and leaving a real mess.  Solution: 1) Load the client from a CD-ROM (a problem if you don't have a CD-ROM burner) or 2) copy the client to the local workstation FIRST.  Then, follow these directions from THIS directory, rather than from the server.  The v3.x client sometimes puts up a warning message to this effect, unfortunately, I haven't had it happen to me in the lab, just at clients, where I am ill-prepaired to play with it.  There is apparently a "fix" for this problem, apparently involving a new file from Microsoft, but Microsoft doesn't consider it a "standard" fix, so they don't have the file for public distribution.  The Great Bill has spoken.  I create a directory on the local hard disk, C:\Novell\Ins to copy the install files to, but there is nothing sacred about this.

I normally copy the Novell client software to the SYS:PUBLIC\CLIENT\WIN95 directory on the server.  Yeah, it seems kinda dumb to put the client software on the server you are trying to get to, but since both Windows 9x and Windows NT both have a limp-on mode for Netware, it actually works pretty well.

In either event, browse/explore/whatever your way to the client directory, and run SETUP.EXE from this directory.  There are a lot of files here, so I normally just tap the 'S' key -- all versions of the client software I have used take you right to the SETUP.EXE file when you do this.

Some versions of the client software offer you the chance to upgrade to the Novell ODI drivers from the Microsoft NDIS. This sounds like a good idea -- Novell's ODI spec is more rigidly controlled than Microsoft's NDIS, and under DOS, ODI was much easier to use and troubleshoot.  This isn't true under Windows 95, however.  Everyone's Windows 95 NDIS driver works, that can't be said of the 32 bit ODI drivers.  In general, I would recommend UN-checking this box.  This can also simplify future trouble shooting, should problems arise later.  This option has been dropped from later versions of the driver software -- probably good.

Unlike most programs, it seems best to accept the defaults for the Netware client software (other than the above issue with the ODI driver)
Update: The client v3.x defaults to TCP/IP as its prefered protocol, and loads something called "Novell Distributed Print Services".  I usually turn both of these off, but the default does work fine.

Usually, at some point in the process, it will ask for the Windows 9x install CD-ROM.  When it comes up with a location box, hit the up or down arrow until you see the (way) above C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS.

5) Adjust client software, and reboot

Now, when the client software finishes installing, you are asked to reboot.  Don't.  Not yet.  Some versions of the client software installer offer to let you customize the installation, others just let you defer the reboot and return to the Windows desktop.  Either way, work your way to the network control pannel, and double click on the Novell Client service to customize it.  There are two key things you MUST change: under the Default Capture tab, turn OFF the Form Feed and the Enable Banner check boxes.  Idiotic feature that has been the default in Netware since day one.  While many mainframe systems use banners quite effectively, I haven't seen any  networks using them.  Ever.  I've been playing with Netware for 13 years, and the most common problem is the banner page at the front of a print job, and the blank page at the end.
Update:  Client v3.01 and v3.10 have FIXED this!!  YEAH!  Then they turned on the Notify option.  Bummer.

IF you are running NDS (i.e., Netware v4), you should know that whatever server you specified when you first logged in under the Microsoft client software is now the default server.  This may not be appropriate.  In theory, you want to log into the tree, not the server.  In practice, unless you disable the NDS support on the client, you WILL attach to the specified server, then from there you will log into the tree.  In a small network, there is no reason to change anything.  In a big or multi-server network, you will find it best to reset the default login to the TREE, not a particular server, in case that server is down, overloaded, or gets replaced.

Now, you can reboot.  You now have a functional Windows 9x workstation!  You will probably now need to set up printers, but that's another story...

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(C)opyright  2000, Nick Holland, Holland Consulting

Published: 6/12/2000
Revised: 6/24/2000