Author Topic: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!  (Read 2700 times)


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ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« on: January 09, 2020, 02:00:52 pm »

Unlike many users on this forum, I have no professional or personal experience with OS/2. Instead, I first heard of ArcaOS through Brian Lunduke; one of my favourite technology vloggers. Since then, I've done a bit of homework and have decided to invest in an ArcaOS license to install it and tinker around. I would call myself an intermediate computer user.

I hope to install ArcaOS alongside Windows 98 SE. Since the Windows partition won't be used for anything other than playing Rainbow Six and SimCopter, I'll be using 98lite to strip out all unnecessary components such as networking. ArcaOS will constitute the "meat" of the system, and is where I will be spending the majority of my time.


  • IBM ThinkPad T43 (2010 Patched)
  • Pentium M 725 (BSEL modded) @ 2.13GHz
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64GB Lite-On LMT-64M6M mSATA SSD (converted to 2.5" PATA drive using generic adaptor)

Machine was chosen for best "out of the box" compatibility with OS/2, including WiFi and sound. I don't want to think too hard about drivers and stuff, or lug around a SIM router and Ethernet cable everywhere I go.

The Problem

While there are resources and tutorials online, they are sparse and scattered across the web. Additionally, many presuppose a degree of familiarity with OS/2 that I simply do not possess. I have a couple of questions that I would seriously appreciate answers to:

  • How should I partition my SSD? According to this, I'll need at least two partitions for ArcaOS (Primary and Data), along with a third for Windows 98. However, the user in this thread seems to suggest the need for a fourth partition for the boot manager (??), and several other sources warn that Windows will only boot from a primary partition labelled "C". If someone could help me cut through the ambiguity and come up with a definite plan to set up my partitions, I would greatly appreciate it.
  • What should my install sequence be? Windows first, then ArcaOS; or vice versa? At what point do I set up the boot manager? Is a boot manager included with either OS, or do I need to use a third party program such as EasyBCD? I should be able to navigate the respective installation processes myself when armed with these tips.

Finally, I would appreciate any other comments, hints and tips you care to provide.

Thanks in advance!

Laurence Pithie

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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2020, 02:10:07 pm »
Arca comes with the airboot boot manager which removes the need for the OS2 boot manager and a boot manager partition. Create the partitions for the installation using the LVM partitioner on the ArcoA Installation CD. Select system management from the intial installation screen and from there acces the LVM tool. Then install windows before installing ArcaOS.

Martin Iturbide

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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2020, 04:52:00 pm »
Hi DF94. Welcome to the forum.

I haven't installed a dual boot system in a long time, but the good thing is that I remember that dual boot with Windows 98 it was easier than with Windows 8 or 10.

As  Laurence suggest, It is better to use AirBoot (included on ArcaOS) instead of the old IBM Boot Manager. AirBoot installs on the first partition of the hard drive.

I think that the trick is to take a moment to define the partitions layout on your hard drive.

For example I made this VM with one virtual HDD to try to install ArcaOS and Win98.
This is a VHDD with 20GB and I organized this way:
- 1 - Windows 98 - 5GB - Primary
- 2 - ArcaOS Partition - 5GB - Primary.
- 3 - Shared Partition - 10GB - Logical

I think that Windows 98 will not let you install if it is on a second partition away from the first sector/part of the HDD. (I don't remember the name of that limitation).

I did this layout with ArcaOS tool for partition the HDD on the installer. No extra tools.

I also asked to install the "Boot Manager" (which is Airboot) from the same tool.

After that I installed ArcaOS 5.0 Normally on the second partition. ArcaOS names this partition C:
Once ArcaOS finished instaling, you will see at book AirBoot first and them it will boot ArcaOS.

Now, let's install Windows 98. Boot the CD (an ISO image on this VM) and let's see if it accepts our VHDD layout.
Windows 98 is not a nice player, it will ask you to remove any other OS, JUST SAY NO!!! :)

Win98 will not see the ArcaOS partition and will think C:\ is the first partition and will ask you to format it. Windows will format it as FAT32.  Here I did some trick, since Windows 98 seem that didn't like how ArcaOS made the first partition, I pressed "F3" to go to Windows98 command line and run FDISK. I deleted the first partition and recreated it with FDISK.

After that I was able to normally install Windows 98.

Once Windows 98 is installed and running, it would break AirBoot, so you can not get back to ArcaOS. To fix this you need to boot again with the ArcaOS CD and install "Boot Manager" again.

Now it seems to work for me on my VM.

Maybe it could be easier if you only make the HDD layout with ArcaOS, install Windows 98 and then install ArcaOS. 

« Last Edit: January 09, 2020, 05:07:55 pm by Martin Iturbide »
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Dave Yeo

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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2020, 05:02:06 pm »
As Laurence says, the important thing is to do all partitioning from OS/2 using "System Management" from the AOS install media.
Win98 has to go on a primary partition, simplest as first partition so yes C:. OS/2 can boot from any partition but needs a bootmanager that can tell the kernel which partition letter it is installed on. Traditionally OS/2 included the Bootmanager which also needed a primary partition of one cylinder (smallest that OS/2 could make, often 7MB) but ArcaOS includes airboot which installs in the MBR. Win98 used to disable Bootmanager at the end of install, easy to fix with fdisk and might overwrite the MBR boot code so best to install first after partitioning with ArcaOS.

On my T42, installing ArcaOS with legacy APM works best, everything but hibernate works, suspends fine and the other function keys all work unlike with the regular ACPI install. The standard mouse rather then amouse also works better. I have to manually choose my wireless NIC during install as ArcaOS defaults to the wired NIC, not sure which wireless NIC your T43 has.

David Graser

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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2020, 06:30:42 pm »
Hi DF94

As for myself, I have one Windows 8.1 partition and 3 ArcaOs partitions on my SDD drive.

On one partition I have the OS/4 kernel installed. The other partitions are using the ArcaOS kernel.  I use two of the partitions for testing and experimentation.  The other one I do not touch except for updates and a few enhancements.  I keep Win 8.1 around for programs I can only use under Windows.  The number of partitions will be determined by what you plan to do with your computer. 


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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2020, 09:27:34 pm »
Wow! I honestly wasn't expecting such a positive and comprehensive response. Thank you to everybody who pitched in to help me out. Thanks especially to Martin, for the step-by-step guide with pictures.

Since it seems like quite a lot of interest in OS/2 and ArcaOS comes from folks who like tinkering with older operating systems and/or playing older computer games, I hope this thread could be useful for more people than just myself.

Alex Taylor

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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2020, 02:47:08 am »
The rules of thumb I always use for installing OS/2 alongside other OSes are:
  • Install Windows (any version) first, making sure to leave empty (unpartitioned) space on the hard disk(s) for the other OSes.
  • Install OS/2 (e.g. ArcaOS) second, and install Air-Boot at that time.
  • If planning to install any other OSes, like Linux, use OS/2 to create the partition(s) for those other OSes.
  • Install any Linux-based OSes after OS/2, and make certain you do not allow it to install Grub (or LILO) to the MBR. Instead, install Grub to the Linux root partition.  (I gather some Linux flavours do not give you that option, so steer clear of them unless you really know what you're doing.)

This is not to say that doing it differently is impossible.  However, doing it this way (above) minimizes the potential headaches.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 02:49:55 am by Alex Taylor »

Doug Bissett

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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2020, 03:30:18 am »
Install Windows (any version) first, making sure to leave empty (unpartitioned) space on the hard disk(s) for the other OSes.

I have had problems with that. Windows can, and will, create a disk geometry, that OS/2 cannot use, and it must be changed. At first I thought it was only with disks larger than 512 GB, but later windows versions always use a geometry that OS/2 can't work with. My approach is this:

1. If there is anything on the disk that you wish to keep (including windows), BACK IT UP with a good, proven, backup program. Acronis is the ONLY windows backup, that I know of, that actually does it properly. Check out Seagate Discwizard (a free, limited function, version of Acronis), if you have a Seagate, Samsung, or Maxtor, disk (even if it is in a USB enclosure, you just need a valid disk attached). There may be other windows backup programs, that will work, but I don't know about them.

2. Boot to an alternate boot system, and wipe the disk. The ArcaOS installer, or DFSEE, will do that.

3. Use the ArcaOS installer, or DFSEE (MUST be run from a booted OS/2 system) to initialize the disk, and create every  volume that you will want. Never allow any other partitioning tool to touch the disk, or it will likely get messed up. Install Air-Boot.

4. Restore your windows, and/or other operating systems, being careful that nothing, other than OS/2, touches the partitioning, or the MBR.

5. Install OS/2.

Step 4, and 5, can be done in any order.

If you have a spare disk, I would use that to learn how to do all of this stuff, before messing with your real disk.


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Re: ArcaOS 5.0/Win98 SE Dual-Boot - Questions!
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2020, 04:42:07 am »
Hi All

I always create partitions first then install windows *limiting* it to the C: drive with no hidden boot partition - If there is enough empty space on the disk Windows will create the hidden boot partition.