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2 Windows 98 on the same PC !

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2 Win98 on a single computer is not an impossible thing !

Unless you have a PC dedicated to audio, it's impossible for us Cubase users to use the full power of our PC, simply because of antiviruses or other softs that are working in background and also because of those shareware which don't uninstall properly and let some traces in the registry, slowing down the whole system.

I tried to find a solution and to me, the most efficient one is to have 2 Windows 98 on the same PC. With this method, you can keep a clean system for audio applications such as Cubase, and test other softs, develop software, do office work or surf the net on the other one.

My computer :

  • P3 450
  • 128Mo RAM
  • IDE 8,4 Go hard disk
  • SCSI U2W 9,1 Go hard disk

As my system is optimized for audio, my SCSI HD is entirely devoted to it, that is why I have to install both Win98 on a single HD, the IDE one.

Just a bit of theory

In order to boot 2 systems installed on a HD, both must be installed on a primary partition of the HD. So we need 2 of them (one per Win98). As a consequence, we can't use fdisk, because it is unable to support more than one primary partition.

We must find another utility, if possible a freeware one and such a thing does exist: it is called Partition Manager. To this date, two versions of that soft exist, the first one is a final version (v 2.37.10) and the other one is a beta version (v. 2.38).

We will also need a utility which is commonly called a "boot manager" to be able to boot on the system we want to. As I didn't want to spend a lot of money, I found a freeware one, the well-named Xosl ((extended operating system loader). If you follow the instructions, you will have a fully functional multiboot system for the cost of 0 bucks !

NOTE : Partition Manager can also install a boot manager. I give details about how to use xosl but you can also do it with Partition Manager (how to do it is described in the help manual included with the soft). But I think that xosl, thanks to its graphical interface, is easier to configure.


Just get a floppy and copy both programs I described above on it. The first thing to do will perhaps not please everybody but we have to (re)partition the HD, which means that we will lose all data on it. (for you it's perhaps the right time to backup your data...) To do that, insert a boot floppy and restart the computer. Once you are in DOS mode, insert the floppy where you installed the softs and run partition manager (part.exe). There, erase all partitions and recreate two primary partitions and an extended one, with at least a logical disk of about 8 or 16 Mo in it (to install xosl). All those partitions must be formatted in FAT 32 (FAT 16 for the xosl one).

IMPORTANT : if you are not sure, first make a back up of the MBR ((where the informations about the partitioning of the HD are written), so that you can restore it in case of problems. How to do that is explained in the readme file of partition manager.

Then, you have to activate the first primary partition (press B when the right partition is selected), reboot and install the first Win98.

After this first installation, reboot in DOS mode (otherwise it doesn't work). Insert your floppy disk and install xosl (install.exe). Xosl will ask you where you want it to be installed. Choose the dedicated partition (the one you created for this use). This way, you can't erase the files xosl use when you work in Windows.

NOTE : While installing xosl, you can also install "Ranish Partition Manager", which is the beta version of Partition Manager.

Then reboot to enter for the first time into the soft. Now, it's time to setup. First, click on the "add" button and select the partition where you installed the first Win98. Then, click on "hiding" and hide the second primary partition. For the second Windows, do the same: select the second primary partition and hide the first one. Don't forget to let the soft activate your partitions (check "Activate"). Save and quit.

Now, you must be in a menu where you can select the windows on which you wish to boot. Boot on the one which is not already installed. Insert a boot floppy and install the second Windows 98. Don't worry if Windows installs itself on your C drive because in fact, it is not the same actual one (remember, you hided it to this windows) and windows gives the C letter to the now active partition.

Once the second Windows is installed, you may be afraid that xosl doesn't start when you reboot your computer. To correct this, reboot in DOS mode, insert your floppy disk where you copy xosl, run install and then choose restore with the same parameters as when you installed it. And that's all there is about to it!

Conclusion et recommandations

In fact, this is not the only applicable method, but it's working fine for me.

You should read carefully the documentation that comes with both softwares, because those manipulations are a bit dangerous and complicated for a newbie, and I'm not responsible for any damage those manipulations can do on your computer.

I hope this article helped you setting up a multiboot Win98/Win98. Articles about multiboot already exist on the net, but only to have linux running with Win2000 or Win98 for instance, but not 2 Win98 together, which is the goal of this one.

With those softs, you can also setup a more complicated multiboot, for instance 2 Win98, 1 BeOS and 1 Linux.

Before doing such a thing, I advise you to get informations on the internet and if you are not sure, let a more experienced person do the job for you.

Samuel MONTASSIER, on the 11-11-2000

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