So from a small user demand I'm going to attempt a simple write up for making a Windows 98se box.
1. 98se supports a lot of things modern OS doesn't like older sound cards natively for that sweet midi music.
2. 3DFX, nuff said.
3. Full DOS support without emulation.
4. Older games DOS and Windows alike.
5. Sweet *** desktop themes.
6. It's fun.
Now that we have that out of the way I will lay out some basic things to know about the older OS and its support.
No PCI-E, no dual core, no native SATA controllers (onboard), no proper wireless support, no FF above 11 or Chrome, must not exceed 512MB of RAM
until after a few updates are applied.
These things I haven't found a work around for besides the RAM. I am always working on new 98 fixes and stuff so if I find anything new I guess I now have a thread to post in.
I suggest anything between a Pentium 2/K7 T-Bird to Pentium 4 or Athlon 3000+ S754.
Anything that supports the previously mentioned processors that sports an AGP slot. SATA support doesn't matter, as I have found no supported motherboard SATA controllers. SDRAM or DDR, doesn't matter. No higher than nF3 or 965 chipsets from my personal experience.
512MB or less to install, no more than 1GB after. 2GB can be used but gets real sketchy as programs act funny with random crashes.
No higher than Geforce 6000 series or Radeon 9800 series. I have modified drivers to run a 7800GS but I get random crashes.
Anything that will run the machine is fine.
Any HDD will do be it SATA or IDE, but I recommend SATA for the simplicity of the setup. You must use a SATA card for this, and so far the only one I've known to work without a problem is this card.
SYBA SD-VIA-1A2S VIA PCI SATA 1.5G / IDE ATA 133 Combo Controller Card / Supports Raid 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD, non-RAID mode - Newegg.com
If you go with IDE just remember they are slow and can be unpredictable at times due to their age. If the cable is squished it can also lead to problems which will cause 98 to become unresponsive. If you don't know how to properly setup Master/Slave then go ahead and ask. For now, I'll leave it out of here.
Size is limited to 32GB per partition so far. Although there are work arounds for FAT32 I highly suggest limiting your partition sizes to 32GB no matter the size of the drive. If a 500GB drive is all you have (or whatever), partition it to 32GB sizes and format on your main PC first to make things much easier. If you do this, I suggest putting extra drivers and programs on a secondary partition of which I will discuss later.
NO NTFS. Windows 98 doesn't support it. NO SSD! If you have a spare one to kill, be my guest. It's quick, but buggy and the constant I/O will kill it quick.
IDE DVD or CD-ROMs must be used for install. I have not found a SATA combo that works from start to finish for the install process. Afterwards, you can use a SATA optical drive but why bother?
I suggest downloading or obtaining the following;
1. Winrar 32bit
2. Daemon Tools 347 (the latest 98 supporting version) Download
3. DX9C 2006 Redist
4. Firefox 3.6.28, Opera 1063, or Firefox 4 are the highest I would go
5. IE 6 SP1 (can't be the webdist, must be redist)
6. All 98 supporting drivers for your hardware.
To begin you will need a copy of Windows 98se and the activation key. You can find copies really cheap. After you obtain your copy I suggest using UltraISO to make an ISO copy of your 98 disc to add some files to it.
Head on over here:
Windows 98 + ME *still* alive campaign = Spread the word
You need 98SE SP2, Native USB Drivers, IE 6 Updates pack, Kernel EX, and MP10 if you want to listen to music.
You will need to rename these and repack these using WinRAR. I suggest putting SP2 and USB Drivers in 1 RAR file and naming it 1 then putting it on the ISO. Then rename the WinRAR setup to 2 and copy it unpacked. The rest can be stored on a flash drive or storage partition for later. The reason for this, is you need SP2 and the USB drivers before doing anything, and the CD will be readily available no matter what. You don't pack the WinRAR setup because you can't unpack the RAR without installing lol. I would also put a copy of that ISO on a secondary partition if you have one.
Once you have your ISO square go ahead and burn it as bootable to a blank CD. No, you cannot use a flash drive. I have been 100% unsuccessful making and installing a 98 flash drive.
Assemble your PC and install all hardware you will want to use, because adding hardware and drivers later can sometimes muck up an install. Yes, older Windows was that terrible. Start the install and install everything if you like. The complete install is like 500MB tops. Once in Windows, it will ask for the key and you input it. Once on the desktop immediately go to My Computer and go to the disc directory where you have WinRAR and install it. Once this is done, install SP2 and after that Native USB Drivers. You will have to reboot several times during this process but that's all 98 for you.
Finally you can install Daemon Tools. Once this is done I would mount the 98 ISO and remember what the drive letter is. The reason for this is each driver or program install usually asks for the 98 disc. Having the ISO mounted greatly reduces disc swapping and it's much faster than reading a CD within Windows 98.
Next up I would install DX9C and IE 6 SP1. Finally after that install anything extra you may have downloaded from that site like MP10 and whatnot. Leave Kernel EX for later.
Now start installing drivers. If you are using a SATA card, install those drivers, then make sure DMA is selected in device manager to get the full speed of your drive (CDROM too). Next install your sound if you have a Sound Blaster card, and ethernet if you have one. Leave video drivers for last no matter what card you have. Leaving these for last has given me the most successful experience without crashing.
Once you have all of that installed if you have extra RAM over 512MB go ahead and put that in. Once booted up, install Kernel EX and your "updated" browser of choice. Naturally, you don't need to do this if you won't be accessing the internet. Remember, there is no 98 support so don't try to download updates. It will only do a load loop.
Now that you have this long process completed you can start installing games. If you're smart and reading this before doing your 98 box here is where I'll tell you to make ISOs of your games and put them on a different partition while that drive is hooked up to your main PC. It speeds game installs up considerately in 98.
That's pretty much all there is to it. Not an extremely complicated process but can be tedious depending on the hardware being used. I have it all streamlined and do everything in order the same time each time but sometimes even I have problems. If you run into blue screens constantly don't be afraid to format that C: partition and start over. This is only for fun after all. That is also why I say, partition out your drive. Keeping your drivers, programs, and game ISOs on a different partition means it doesn't get formatted when you start over the install process.
Good luck and have fun with it. If you have any questions post here. I'll do the best I can to answer.