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 PostPost subject: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:02 pm 
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Hello everyone,

Recently I have been trying to install Windows 98 on an older Windows XP workstation. (2GB Of Ram, Xeon CPU). The problem is that whenever I try to start "setup.exe" from DOS, I get the error "Setup cannot find a high memory manager and cannot continue. ERROR: Unable to control A20 line! XMS Driver not installed.". I read online that Windows 98 and older had problems with amounts of ram over 512MB, and I was wonder if there was a patch or workaround I could use besides actually taking out a RAM stick?


Thanks.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:33 pm 
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There's, but it isn't free. 1 GB of RAM is fine, after installation use this: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/304943

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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:54 pm 
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This probably means you're missing himem.sys. Try booting from a win98 boot floppy, or make sure it's loaded on boot by checking config.sys.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:39 pm 
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Windows 95 OSR1/2/2.5 won't boot with more than 0.5gb installed. 98 (Not SE) has a similar bug, which as I remember is also 0.5GB, whereas 98SE fully patched or Millennium will work with 1GB. No DOS-based Windows release supports 2GB of memory to my knowledge.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:27 am 
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With my Patch, Windows 95C, 98, 98SE and ME can support up to 4GiB of RAM.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:39 pm 
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rloews Patch works very well if you want to use more than 1GB RAM and Windows 98 wont normally start with 2GB RAM, but I think that you have a different problem as well, I was able to install Windows 98 with more RAM, but I could not start it afterwards.
I would follow ricklaptops advice and boot from a boot floppy or a boot cd.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:17 am 
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I think that the problem is related to the A20 gate controller. In my Award BIOS I have to change to Fast (from Normal) to make the installer run. Maybe your BIOS is too new to include it? Check it anyway. Personally, I don't know what the [censored] it is, I'm not a technician. ;) But you need to enable it. It's something related to the high memory.

The problem with too much memory won't show you during installation, just after that, during the first boot into the system. Make sure to plug out some memory sticks(512MB is maximum amount as far as I know) or after each reboot during the installation, insert system floppy and edit with editor system.ini by adding MaxPhysPage=10000 in 386Enh section.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:46 pm 
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The "A20 gate" was originally a circuit connected to the pin on the CPU that represented the 21st (20th when numbered from 0) bit in the memory address that enabled that pin to be ignored.

The reason for this is that on the original 8086/8088 there were only 20 address pins, but it was possible to attempt access memory addresses that should have 21 bits. This resulted in a "wraparound" where accesses to this "extra" memory would instead access the start of memory.

When IBM were developing PCs with newer Intel processors (the 80286 and 80386) that did have a 21st address pin, they found that a few programs didn't work correctly because they were expecting the "wraparound" behaviour of the earlier CPUs. To fix this, they added a bit of circuitry to the motherboard that enabled the 21st bit to be ignored, re-creating the old behaviour. This circuitry was called the "A20 gate".

Since older software knew nothing about the A20 gate, it was enabled (i.e. address bit 21 ignored) by default when the system booted up. For a program to access memory above 1MB properly it had to be disabled by software. To make matters more complex, different IBM systems and clones had different methods for doing this. Microsoft eventually created a "standard" API for MS-DOS programs to control the A20 gate on all supported hardware and built this into HIMEM.SYS. As an added benefit, disabling the A20 gate gives ordinary "real mode" DOS applications access to another 64KB of RAM (where those "impossible" 21-bit addresses pointed to). This RAM was known as the "high memory area" (HMA).

Over the years, a few things have changed. The A20 gate circuit was built into newer CPUs from and from Intel's "Haswell" CPUs has been removed completely. I have no idea what happens if you try to run MS-DOS/Windows 9x on a Haswell...

The BIOS switch that's sometimes present is related to changing the method to enable/disable the gate; "Fast" was a method first introduced on the IBM PS/2 (so won't be compatible with pre-1987 software) and "Normal" was the method used on the IBM AT (and thus works with 1984-1987 software).

Modern (or just not-DOS) operating systems will, of course, turn off the gate during boot and never touch it again.

As for your error message; it almost certainly means that HIMEM.SYS isn't loaded, so there's no A20 API for setup to call to ensure it can access all of memory without problems. It might mean that HIMEM.SYS failed to load because of too much RAM or some other aspect of your system that it doesn't understand.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Windows 98 Setup Problems (RAM related?)        Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:08 pm 
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mallard wrote:
Over the years, a few things have changed. The A20 gate circuit was built into newer CPUs from and from Intel's "Haswell" CPUs has been removed completely. I have no idea what happens if you try to run MS-DOS/Windows 9x on a Haswell...


As far as i know all Hanswell logic boards and newer are UEFI-64Bit only, so you can't boot older DOSes/anything relying on them in Hanswell machines anyway.


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