In my first post about the Sony VAIO PCV-J120, I was focusing on the hardware. After receiving the missing components (extra memory, additional hard-drive, FireWire, TV-Tuner, and modem cards), I went ahead and installed Windows 98 SE. I forgot how painful the simple install could be! If you forgot – as I did -, you first need to boot off the Windows 98 CD. Of course, the install will fail, so you have to switch from the installation method prompt to the limited MS-DOS. From there, cd into the win98 folder and use the fdisk application to create primary DOS partitions (that you need to activate).
Then, format the partitions (at least the C:\). Ah, also, copy all the Win98 folder onto one of the freshly formatted partitions. Then only, from this copy, start the setup! We had to be motivated! And of course, each time there is a need for an additional file, you will need to re-point to the CD copy made earlier…
But all this is simple compared to what comes after installing the missing drivers. It is not the installation that is problematic; it is finding the right driver. I imagined that I would find all the drivers and even more on the Internet. Well, I could not be more wrong. Network card driver, various chipset components drivers, etc. It was a pain, and I still have a couple of yellow-bangs I need to resolve.
The other issue I faced during this exercise concerned access to the Internet. It became so pervasive that if you also wish to enjoy its benefits you need to jump through a few extra hoops. Of course, any browser from the ‘90s will fail to render anything today. I am currently, with some success, exploring the use of KernelEx which also requires installing the Microsoft Layer for Unicode on Windows 95, 98, and Me Systems, 1.1.3790.0. After this, you can installer a bit less-outdated version of Firefox, Opera, etc. I tried Opera 9.6 with limited success. Still some work to be done, especially on supporting HHTS. Finally, I also installed an anti-virus that still works under Windows 98. I went with the active open source ClamWin project. I only focused on the painful aspects of building such a system from scratch in 2020. But, once we are done, a vintage PC is a lot of fun. Especially when you run vintage apps and games. I appreciate running the Borland Turbo dev tools. Yeah, Turbo FORTH 83 and C 2.1!