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Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

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solidpro
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Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#1 Post by solidpro » Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:00 pm

Hi everyone

I'm back fighting with a PC110 and I'm using a 1Gb CF card as the HDD2 to boot from. I've hit a brick wall though and it's all to do with how Windows 95 onwards manages the hard drive partitions - and I don't understand. Most threads about this are full of dead ends and are usually about 16 years old.

So what I tried to do is this:

FDISK and Format the CF card using DOS 6.22 (Upgrade) floppy disk. The PC110 has a 4Mb 'built in' hard drive on a chip, which has J-DOS, and I think the standalone 6.22 floppies 'see' this and refuse to install.
Then I install DOS 6.22
Then I install Windows 3.11 to a 'Win3' folder.
Then I rename win.com and winver.exe in the Win3 folder so W95 doesn't refuse to install.
Then I installed W95 to a Win95 folder.

Now what happens is the machine always runs through the Autoexec.bat and config.sys but will always autoboot into Windows 95, despite nothing in those two files telling it to load.

I *think* it's either modified the primary partition of the HDD to force W95 to load or it's automatically running IO.SYS or something similar and booting because of that.

I was using a simple menu in config.sys to select between DOS, W3.11, W95 and some other things but it seems W95 won't ever allow me to keep doing this.

I seem to remember back in the day, with Windows 98 you could get freeware boot menu manager tools which allowed you to customise the Windows 98 boot menu to allow access to 'previous versions of DOS' but I can't use Windows 98 on a PC110. It has to be W95.

So has anyone got any advice on triple booting this single 1Gb CF card. I wondered if partitioning it into 200/800Mb and putting DOS and 3.11 on the first partition and W95 on the second might improve things? I also would rather not have to resort to using F8 on startup to get to the 'safe mode' menu in order to select 'previous versions of dos'....

Thanks
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Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#2 Post by astral » Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:07 pm

The line that makes windows 95 boot automatically is in msdos.sys, not either of the others.
See: https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000132.htm
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Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#3 Post by solidpro » Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:16 pm

It's funny, since you replied I also found loads of articles pointing me to msdos.sys - but everywhere says it's editable in notepad / edit etc. however when I open it, it's all garbage - not plain text I can edit. I tried changing the attrib but that didn't make any difference. what am I missing?
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Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#4 Post by dr_st » Tue Mar 05, 2024 2:54 pm

solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:00 pm
Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95
The first question I ask when someone asks how to do the above is 'what for?' What does DOS/Win3.1 give you that Win95 with its plain DOS mode does not?
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:00 pm
Then I rename win.com and winver.exe in the Win3 folder so W95 doesn't refuse to install.
This suggest that you have a "clean" Win95 installer that is not designed to be installed over an existing OS. Therein lies the first problem. You install Win95 and it thinks there is no previous OS, so it does not set up multi-boot options. That's my guess. It would be easier if you had Win95 upgrade installation media.

Then I installed W95 to a Win95 folder.
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:00 pm
Now what happens is the machine always runs through the Autoexec.bat and config.sys but will always autoboot into Windows 95, despite nothing in those two files telling it to load.
BootGUI=1 in MSDOS.SYS makes Win95 start up by default, as was pointed out already.
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:00 pm
I was using a simple menu in config.sys to select between DOS, W3.11, W95 and some other things but it seems W95 won't ever allow me to keep doing this.
You can't do that with a Config.sys boot menu. That is specific to a particular OS. To dual boot you need to make 'previous version of MS-DOS' accessible. This is achieved by adding BootMulti=1 in MSDOS.SYS.
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:00 pm
DOS and 3.11 on the first partition and W95 on the second might improve things? I also would rather not have to resort to using F8 on startup to get to the 'safe mode' menu in order to select 'previous versions of dos'....
If you put BootMenu=1 in MSDOS.SYS, it will always display the boot menu, and you will not need to press F8.
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 12:16 pm
It's funny, since you replied I also found loads of articles pointing me to msdos.sys - but everywhere says it's editable in notepad / edit etc. however when I open it, it's all garbage - not plain text I can edit. I tried changing the attrib but that didn't make any difference. what am I missing?
Are you, by chance, editing the MSDOS.SYS of DOS 6.22? That one indeed is a binary file, not editable.
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Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#5 Post by fultontech » Tue Mar 05, 2024 3:10 pm

There was 5 or 7 versions of Win95 OEM so the method for dual boot can be different, as I recall.
MS-DOS 6.x MSDOS.SYS is a binary file, I believe you will need to go through the upgrade of MS-DOS to one of the later Win95 versions to do what you are trying to do.
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Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#6 Post by solidpro » Tue Mar 05, 2024 3:49 pm

Thanks for everyone's help so far. I encountered a few issues in that the MSDOS.SYS file seems to get easily corrupted editing it in Windows 95's own notepad file. Good job I'd backed it up.
Also many threads suggested MSDOS.SYS could be edited in the MS-DOS EDIT program or W3.11 notepad - which it can't - seems only Windows 95 onwards can decypher a binary file.

So i've got it to the point that, after starting again, I did DOS6.22 then Windows 3.11 and then Windows 95, then by modifying the MSDOS.SYS file to always show the F8 menu, I can manully either boot into W95, or use the 'previous version of DOS' menu to then access 6.22 or Windows 3.11.

I guess I could leave it there. I would love to be able to edit the Windows 95 boot menu though to add in direct options for some software on the drive.
The first question I ask when someone asks how to do the above is 'what for?' What does DOS/Win3.1 give you that Win95 with its plain DOS mode does not?
It's a bit like asking someone why the replace the LCD panel on a 10 year old thinkpad, or upgrades a Pentium 2 300Mhz to a 450Mhz? Because it's there. In this case, I just want to make one of the most usable CF images for the PC110 - starting with the option of the four easiest programs I can run on it - DOS, Win3.1, Win95 and Personaware.

I am at the point it's doing it - i would just like to make it more intuitive....
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Re: Dual Booting DOS, Win3.1 and W95

#7 Post by dr_st » Tue Mar 05, 2024 4:29 pm

solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 3:49 pm
Also many threads suggested MSDOS.SYS could be edited in the MS-DOS EDIT program or W3.11 notepad - which it can't - seems only Windows 95 onwards can decypher a binary file.
You're doing something wrong. Win95's MSDOS.SYS is not binary, and yes, I've edited it in the DOS editor program.
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 3:49 pm
I guess I could leave it there. I would love to be able to edit the Windows 95 boot menu though to add in direct options for some software on the drive.
You can't do that in the Win95 boot menu, most of the things there are hard-coded. But you can create a second-level boot menu in the Config.sys of either DOS or Win95.
solidpro wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 3:49 pm
It's a bit like asking someone why the replace the LCD panel on a 10 year old thinkpad, or upgrades a Pentium 2 300Mhz to a 450Mhz? Because it's there. In this case, I just want to make one of the most usable CF images for the PC110 - starting with the option of the four easiest programs I can run on it - DOS, Win3.1, Win95 and Personaware.
It's not the same thing, because upgrading a 300MHz to a 450MHz CPU, or replacing an old worn LCD panel with a brighter and cleaner one give you something. Using DOS6.22 along side of Win9x (DOS7.x) gives you nothing really, because when it comes to DOS programs, there is nothing that DOS6 can do and DOS7 cannot (except esoteric artificial things).

But, Win3.1 I can understand, a bit, if only for its aesthetic differences compared to Win9x. And since you need DOS6 to run Win3.1 properly, I suppose I see your case now. Glad you got it working.
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