Unable to write to drive C: after W98 install finishes.

I have tried everything I can think of to get Windows 98 Second edition installed on my system.  However, everytime, after a seemingly good install to a freshly formatted partition and detecting my hardware and installing the drivers, when it finally goes into its "normal" mode (non-safe mode), it hangs for a long time (with the select light on the controller card and the hard drive lit), then eventually gives a blue screen saying:

Unable to write to drive C:
Data or files may be lost.

I can get it to boot in safe mode and remove the Adaptec AHA-2940UW SCSI controller device, then it will restart in "normal" mode and detect the "new" device and install the driver (I have tried the driver from the Win98SE, my old AIC78xx driver that came with the controller, and a "new" (older than Win98SE) driver downloaded from the Adaptec site).  However the same thing happens.  If I allow it to just reboot normally after the hang, Win98 will start, but I do not have access to my CD-ROM because the device was not started due to ASD:

"Windows stoppped responding while attempting to start this device, and therefore will never attempt to start this device again (Code 11.)"

I have scanned the disk under both Windows (safe-mode) and the Adaptec SCSI-Select Utilities, but no errors were found.

The PCI assigned IRQ's are all unique, with no conflicts or sharing.  I am using a Tyan motherboard with Diamond S2000 Pro video, Adaptec AHA2940UW SCSI, LinkSys LNE100TX NIC, and WinTV PCI cards, and SB-AWE32 and USR 56000 Voice ISA cards.  I have tried running without the WinTV card and even without the ISA cards.  All Award BIOS (v4.51PG) settings are at their most conservative.  The SCSI hard drive is a Samsung 2.1GB (model WN312162U).

My Caldera Open Linux 2.2 on the same drive seems to work just fine.  I have tried installing another drive (IBM 309170U2) and have had similar problems with Win98SE, although I have reinstalled Windows 95a and RedHat Linux 6.1 on that drive without problems.  I would really like to get my new 9GB drive working with FAT32!

What else can I try?  I can't find any reports of a similar problem in Microsoft's Knowledge Base, Adaptec's Web site, or several other support sites.
RadagastAsked:
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dew_associatesConnect With a Mentor Commented:
As it stands for the moment, I have posted an answer that references the above and specifically to the motherboard as the reason for these issues. I will remain with you through resolution however, but this will prevent one of the transient techs we get every so often from locking this question.
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NESTIAMCommented:
While you are waiting for other responses just look in the Registry (START-RUN-type REGEDIT, Click OK) under the following KEY:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CURRENTCONTROLSET\SERVICES\VXD\IOS

See if there is a NOIDE showing on the right side of the screen when you highlight IOS.  If so, you need to delete it (Highlight the NOIDE, go to EDIT, and DELETE).  Restart the computer after doing this.  

If there was a NOIDE present and you performed these steps the computer should return to normal providing the error which caused the NOIDE entry in the first place is no longer present.
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bartsmitCommented:
Nestiam, I doubt if the noide setting will have much effect on a SCSI disk.

Radagast, check out your cables and termination settings. They account for the *vast* majority of SCSI problems. I've had a similar problem with a cable that reacted to adhesive on the connector and had corroded away several ground pins.

Windows turned out to be more sensitive to this than Linux; it ran without problem while the windows setup bombed out with errors.

If the cables and terminators are OK then you should remove the FAT partition, reboot, create a new one and format it.

If that doesn't help, try and take the CD out of the equation. Copy the win98 folder from the CD to the Fat partition and run setup from there. You can do this under linux or from a win98 startup diskette.

Remove the CD-ROM from the SCSI chain and try setup from the hard disk.
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SmartGamerCommented:
Try running Start/Settings/Control Panel/System/Device Manager tab. Tell us what Yellow ! or Red X  you see.
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lieblaCommented:
Enter the setup program of your AHA-2940UW
and set the values at their most conservative.

Let the Adaptec scan for all devices and limit the transfer rate for the harddisk (in the Adaptec Setup for the corresponding SCSI - ID).
Ensure that each device has a unique scsi-id.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Radagast,

Visit this URL at Adaptec:

http://www.adaptec.com/support/files/upgrades.html

And download these two files:

ASPICHK.EXE: This is a Windows 9X/NT utility that detects and lists the current version of the ASPI Layer on your system. It also informs you if the files are correctly installed on your system.

ASPI32.EXE

This will update you to the new ASPI layer version 4.60 (1021) for Windows 9x and Windows NT. This includes updates to the following files: WINASPI.DLL, WNASPI32.DLL, APIX.VXD, ASPIENUM.VXD, ASPI32.SYS, and WOWPOST.EXE. Simply execute ASPI32.EXE to install/upgrade the ASPI drivers.

Once you've done this, verify that your Adaptec card is set at SCSI ID #7 and that the SCSI drive, which I presume you are booting from, is set at SCSI ID 0 (zero)

Make all other SCSI device ID's between 2 and 6.

If you have a Win98 setup boot disk, boot to it (after accomplishing the above) and it will load a default aspi layer that you can use unless the Adaptec card has a problem.

Now pull the partition on the SCSI HD and reinstall it and make it active. Now format it with the /S switch to transfer the system files and then boot to it to test it.

Now shut the system down and pull the AWE 32 card and the network card out of the box.

Now boot the system to the Win98 Setup boot disk and install Win98 normally.

If you don't have a Win98 setup boot disk, you can get one here:

http://www.bootdisk.com/

Let me know if you need more!
Dennis
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hemorrisCommented:
Same thing was happening on a system I was working on last week except it was an IDE CD-ROM drive.  The problem was that the autoexec.bat was trying to load at old version of "mscdex.exe".  Correct version is date 4/23/99 and is 25kb in size.  I copied newer version to the correct directory (c:\cdrom for that computer) and it booted without a problem.  Current version of mscdex.exe is in the Windows/command folder.  Check your autoexec.bat file as it may be doing the same thing.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
All right guys,

Thanks for all the responses.  Here are my replies:

Nestiam: as Bartsmit commented, my problem is with SCSI.  I have deliberately disabled the IDE controllers on my system.  I have been using SCSI for over 10 years, since I upgraded from MFM on my first 386sx board.  I have never bought an IDE device (for myself - I do maintain family systems with IDE).  Thanks anyway.

Bartsmit:  How do I find out if I have a problem with my cables.  I am most suspect of this problem, but when it works fine in so many other environments (including Win95a), why should Win98SE complain, and only when it goes into "normal" (non-safe) mode?  I have tried another cable, but it had the same problem.  I did have a bad cable a year or two ago, but it caused much more obvious symptoms than this.
I have checked and rechecked termination settings.  I let the Adaptec adapter auto-terminate (especially since I keep switching channels from narrow to wide in testing this).  I did switch the narrow channel end termination from the Samsung HD to the Pioneer CD-ROM and that seemed to get me all the way through the install (I think it hung during the second device analysis during setup when I had the termination on the Samsung HD).  Let me know what else I can try.  It is difficult to find decent SCSI cables that are affordable, especially if you need to attach 3 to 4 devices as I do on my main system (4 HD's on one controller and 2 CD-ROM's, Jaz, Zip, and a scanner on the secondary controller!).  CompUSA seems to have stopped carrying SCSI cables in their store (although they have them online), so I have to go a long ways to Frye's to get cables now.

SmartGamer: Device manager shows the following exclamation marked entries:
- VIA Bus Master PCI IDE Controller (I disabled in BIOS & in Device Manager)
- PCI Multimedia Device (my WinTV card which I have not gotten to the point of installing drivers for - and yes, I have tried installing without this card plugged in - no difference - see reinstall log below).
- Adaptec AHA-2940U/AHA-2940UW PCI SCSI Controller (this is the problem device, with the AutoSkipDevice (ASD) message described in my original post).
- no red "X" entries

Liebla: I have all Adaptec Host Adapter SCSI-Select BIOS settings at their factory defaults.  What are the most conservative settings?  Limit the transfer rate to what?  I am letting the adapter scan the bus for devices at each boot.
- adapter is set to SCSI-id 7.
- current problem drive (Samsung) is set to SCSI-id 0.
- CD-ROM (Pioneer) is set to SCSI-id 3.
- other drive (IBM LVD) is set to SCSI-id 8 (on wide channel) - for most tests I leave this cable disconnected from the host adapter, but I eventually want to run with both drives connected (I want to copy data via LAN from my main system to the new FAT32 partitions on this new drive).

DEW: I had downloaded 7800v302.exe, 7800w9x.exe, & 7800wnt.exe, plus numerous instructions, tips and FAQ's files and web pages, and I applied the 7800w9x.exe update after the 7800v302.exe update did not seem to work (it did not find a matching driver when searching for best match).  However, nowhere in my search of the Adaptec site did it mention I needed to update the ASPI layer.  I was beginning to think that was a DOS holdover that wasn't being updated anymore.  Anyway, I downloaded them and here are the results:

ASPICHK: ASPI is not properly installed.  One or more components have been replaced with older versions of the software:

WNASPI32.DLL - 1.00(1)   - 04/24/99 - 36864
WINASPI.DLL  - 1.00(65)  - 04/24/99 - 3536
APIX.VXD     - 4.00(952) - 04/24/99 - 29497
ASPIENUM.VXD - n/a       - n/a      - n/a

ASPI32: This will upgrade your current version of ASPI to version 4.57 (1008).

After a reboot ...

ASPICHK: ASPI is properly installed and is fully operational.  However, no host adapters have been detected (0xE8):

WNASPI32.DLL - 4.57(1008) - 12/23/97 - 48128
WINASPI.DLL  - 4.57(1008) - 12/23/97 - 5600
APIX.VXD     - 4.57(1008) - 12/23/97 - 22091
ASPIENUM.VXD - 4.57(1008) - 12/23/97 - 7743

At this point I just removed the Adaptec SCSI controller via Device Manger and rebooted again (in the hopes I could avoid yet another reinstall).  A new PCI SCSI controller card was found and it again asked for installation of drivers for the Adaptec AHA-2940U/AHA-2940UW PCI SCSI Controller.  I selected search for best drivers and pointed it to the floppy made from 7800w9x.exe (I figured this would not overlay the ASPI layer as no such files were on the disk).  It found the updated driver, which I let it install.  However, as once before, the next screen pointed to C:\WINDOWS.98\INF\SCSI.INF, rather than to the INF file on the floppy that I was trying to install, so I clicked back, and chose "One of the other drivers", which DID point to the floppy.  This time the next screen did point to the correct location, so I clicked next.  I had to redirect its search for the AIC78xx.cat file, which it was trying to find on the CD (which was not yet working!), and then the installation finished with no further problems.

However, upon rebooting, I was treated to the same interminable wait (45 minutes? - plenty of time to prepare fresh-brewed coffee and english muffins and play a game of solitaire), but no response (not even the BSOD).

So it was time to retry the install per your instructions.

I assumed that the default ASPI layer on the boot disk you were talking about is that installed by the Win98 "Rescue/Startup" disk which contains generic drivers for all types of HD/CD/Controller combinations (ASPI8DOS & ASPICD, both dated 04-23-99, are the ones that actually get installed).  I did get far enough to create this, even the first time around, so this is what I used to boot.

I am not sure what you mean when you say "Now pull the partition on the SCSI HD and reinstall it", but I checked that it is set active with FDISK.  So I continued with reformatting with /S and rebooting to test (although I have never had a problem booting to DOS).  DOS booted fine, although with no drivers installed, it had no CD-ROM access (when booting from clean HD; CD-ROM access when booting from boot disk was okay).

I removed all adapter cards but the Diamond video and the Adaptec SCSI (with only the Samsung HD @id:0 and the Pioneer CD @id:3 drives connected - termination on the Pioneer - no cable attached to the wide, 68-pin, channel), then rebooted from the Win98SE startup disk and began the install again (for about the 13th time!).  At this time I had drives C: (command.com, msdos.sys, and io.sys only - and an empty bootlog.txt), D: (the RAM disk installed by the startup disk), and E: (the Win 98 SE upgrade setup CD).  No errors found by ScanDisk.  (BTW, why does it take so long to check for installed components and the required disk space on a freshly formatted partition! ;( ).

I chose a compact install with "the most common" components to keep the extraneous factors to a minimum.  I skipped creating a startup disk, since I had already done that.

As usual, all went well until the second reboot, at which time it went into a 5-minute wait after displaying the flash screen, then it displayed the dreaded BSOD:

Unable to write to drive C:
Data or files may be lost.

What do you suggest next?  I was really hopeful that you had come up with the solution when I found the outdated ASPI drivers, but no luck.  I really believe it is a problem with writing in "normal/protected" (i.e., non-safe) mode.  Although if I let it skip trying to start the device with ASD, I have no trouble writing to the drive then - but I don't have CD-ROM access!

If I had more points available, I would increase the value of this question!

BTW, I composed this response paragraph by paragraph to match step by step what I was doing as I went along, so I'm quite sure I didn't miss any steps.  Perhaps this detailed description will help some other user with a similar problem.  It is great having two independent systems so I can have one up and running for taking notes, going online to download ro ask for help, or just play a game of solitaire while waiting!  I don't know how I ever did it back when I only had one machine - of course a DOS install was a whole lot quicker than Windows! ;)
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dew_associatesCommented:
Acutally your info is perfect as it eliminates alot of possibilities. You've really drawn it down to three or four possibilities.

1. SCSI card has a problem or the settings are incorrect.

2. The hard drive has a problem of some sort or the partition information is wrong.

3. The last device in the chain is not terminating properly.

Let's try a few things.

1. If you've mounted the SCSI card in the first or last PCI slot, move it. If you have four PCI slots, use slot 2 or 3.

2. Go into the Adaptec card setup and check the device assignments to make sure that SCSI 0 (zero) coincides with the boot drive and that the CD Rom drive coincides with the assignment shown in the card setup. Reset the data transfer rates to their defaults.

3. Boot to Fdisk and remove the partitions and then reinstall it and make it active, then format it.

4. Put the HD as the last device in the chain and verify the jumper assignments.

5. In you motherboards bios settings, what are the first, second and third boot devices shown as?

6. You've stated that you have disabled IDE in the Bios setup. Re-enable the IDE bus, but change the IDE drive recognition to none! eg: where it shows the type of IDE drive etc..make sure it shows none, rather than USER or AUTO.

Let me know how you make out.
Dennis
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dew_associatesCommented:
PS: I'll be away for the holiday from this afternoon through 11/28.
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bartsmitCommented:
I agree with Dennis, changing the PCI slot may cover some PnP mishaps in win98.

Have you tried the install with just the adaptec, video and the samsung with the win98 setup files copied?

Generally if you have no access to known good replacement parts you can only reduce the problem as much as possible. Take out everything you can, including DIMM's over 64MB (if possible)

Try setup /ie /im /is to speed things up a bit.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
I've tried this install with bare minimum cards, etc. on both hard drives, with two different cables, with no more success.  So now I'm getting desperate and will start cannibalizing my main machine for different cables and terminators hoping for a solution (I hope I don't ruin my main machine configuration in the process!).

Here goes ... (about to shut down main machine to cannibalize) ... ah, saved by the e-mail bell!  DEW has a reply (phewww!) ...

Okay DEW, I'm glad you keep as strange hours as I do.

After removing extraneous cards in previous tests, I was left with Diamond video in PCI slot 1 (closest to power connectors) and Adaptec SCSI in PCI slot 3 - I had previously switched Adpatec from slot 2 with Linksys NIC in slot 3.  I believe when I first started trying to install Win98, I still had the SCSI card first (in slot 1) so now I will try slot 4.

I disabled termination on the Pioneer CD-ROM and put it first on the cable (sill SCSI-id 3).  I reenabled termination on the Samsung HD and put it last on the cable (SCSI-id 0).  All jumpers other than termination and SCSI-id are in original factory positions on both drives.

In the Award BIOS, I reenabled the IDE channels on the "Integrated Peripherals" page (I left associated settings there on "Auto") and then set the type to "None" for all 4 IDE positions on the first "Standard CMOS Setup" page.  On the "BIOS Features Setup" page, the Boot Sequence is: A,C,SCSI (as it was before).  I saved and exited BIOS setup (reboot).

In the Adaptec SCSISelect BIOS Configuration, I used <F6> to reset to "Host Adapter Defaults".  This left the adapter at SCSI-id 7, and host adapter termination as automatic, (and SCSI Parity Checking enabled) as before.  Boot device is SCSI-id 0 (as before).  SCSI Device Configuration for all devices is as follows:

Initiate Sync:        yes
Max Sync Xfer Rate:   20.0 (MB/s)
Enable Disconnect:    yes
Initiate Wide:        yes
Send Start Unit:      yes
BIOS Multi-LUN:       yes
Include in BIOS Scan: yes

Advanced Configuration Options are:

PnP SCAM Support:          Disabled
Reset SCSI Bus at IC Init: Enabled
Extended BIOS Translation
   for DOS drives > 1GB:   Enabled
Host Adapter BIOS:         Enabled
Support Removable Disks
   under BIOS as Fixed:    Boot Only
Display <Ctrl-A> Message:  Enabled
BIOS Support for:
   Bootable CD-ROM:        Enabled
   Int 13 Extensions:      Enabled

BIOS Information:

IRQ Channel:      10
I/O Port Address: E800h

I scanned the SCSI bus while I was there and Samsung HD was at SCSI-id 0, Pioneer CD-ROM was at SCSI-id 3, and AHA-2940 U/UW was at SCSI-id 7, all as expected.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say check "...that the CD Rom drive coincides with the assignment shown in the card setup."  But the settings are as above.

I rebooted with the Win98SE startup disk and removed the WIN_98_SE partition, rebooted and recreated the WIN_98_SE partition (and set it active), then rebooted and formatted the partition.

Hi bartsmit, glad you could join the party.  As you can see I have changed the PCI slot again.  Only the video and SCSI cards are present in the slots for now.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "with the win98 setup files copies".  Do you mean copy them to the HD first and then run without the CD-ROM connected?  My install partition is 510MB (I am not touching my MS-DOS 6.2 and Linux partitions!).  Do I just copy them to a directory on the install partition?  What about the "Compliance Verification" check where I have to put in my Win95 CD?  Will I have enough space for a copy of the Win 98 CD, a copy of the Win 95 CD, and still be able to install Win 98 in the remaining space?  I'm going to try it first with the CD-ROM connected.

I only have 32MB of 60ns EDO SIMM in this machine.

I'm posting this for now in case you guys have comments.  I will repost with results when I get them.
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bartsmitCommented:
Radagast, yes 510 should (just) be enough to put the win98 cab files on. Don't bother with the subfolders of win98

Dennis, which win95 file(s) can Radagast put on a diskette to keep the upgrade happy?

Can you borrow an OEM version of win98 to test with?

Alternatively, you can try and read the folder from the Linux partition under DOS with http://students.ceid.upatras.gr/~gef/fs/ext2tool.zip or http://students.ceid.upatras.gr/~gef/fs/lread10.zip
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
I've tried this install with bare minimum cards, etc. on both hard drives, with two different cables, with no more success.  So now I'm getting desperate and will start cannibalizing my main machine for different cables and terminators hoping for a solution (I hope I don't ruin my main machine configuration in the process!).

Here goes ... (about to shut down main machine to cannibalize) ... ah, saved by the e-mail bell!  DEW has a reply (phewww!) ...

Okay DEW, I'm glad you keep as strange hours as I do.

After removing extraneous cards in previous tests, I was left with Diamond video in PCI slot 1 (closest to power connectors) and Adaptec SCSI in PCI slot 3 - I had previously switched Adpatec from slot 2 with Linksys NIC in slot 3.  I believe when I first started trying to install Win98, I still had the SCSI card first (in slot 1) so now I will try slot 4.

I disabled termination on the Pioneer CD-ROM and put it first on the cable (sill SCSI-id 3).  I reenabled termination on the Samsung HD and put it last on the cable (SCSI-id 0).  All jumpers other than termination and SCSI-id are in original factory positions on both drives.

In the Award BIOS, I reenabled the IDE channels on the "Integrated Peripherals" page (I left associated settings there on "Auto") and then set the type to "None" for all 4 IDE positions on the first "Standard CMOS Setup" page.  On the "BIOS Features Setup" page, the Boot Sequence is: A,C,SCSI (as it was before).  I saved and exited BIOS setup (reboot).

In the Adaptec SCSISelect BIOS Configuration, I used <F6> to reset to "Host Adapter Defaults".  This left the adapter at SCSI-id 7, and host adapter termination as automatic, (and SCSI Parity Checking enabled) as before.  Boot device is SCSI-id 0 (as before).  SCSI Device Configuration for all devices is as follows:

Initiate Sync:        yes
Max Sync Xfer Rate:   20.0 (MB/s)
Enable Disconnect:    yes
Initiate Wide:        yes
Send Start Unit:      yes
BIOS Multi-LUN:       yes
Include in BIOS Scan: yes

Advanced Configuration Options are:

PnP SCAM Support:          Disabled
Reset SCSI Bus at IC Init: Enabled
Extended BIOS Translation
   for DOS drives > 1GB:   Enabled
Host Adapter BIOS:         Enabled
Support Removable Disks
   under BIOS as Fixed:    Boot Only
Display <Ctrl-A> Message:  Enabled
BIOS Support for:
   Bootable CD-ROM:        Enabled
   Int 13 Extensions:      Enabled

BIOS Information:

IRQ Channel:      10
I/O Port Address: E800h

I scanned the SCSI bus while I was there and Samsung HD was at SCSI-id 0, Pioneer CD-ROM was at SCSI-id 3, and AHA-2940 U/UW was at SCSI-id 7, all as expected.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say check "...that the CD Rom drive coincides with the assignment shown in the card setup."  But the settings are as above.

I rebooted with the Win98SE startup disk and removed the WIN_98_SE partition, rebooted and recreated the WIN_98_SE partition (and set it active), then rebooted and formatted the partition.

Hi bartsmit, glad you could join the party.  As you can see I have changed the PCI slot again.  Only the video and SCSI cards are present in the slots for now.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "with the win98 setup files copies".  Do you mean copy them to the HD first and then run without the CD-ROM connected?  My install partition is 510MB (I am not touching my MS-DOS 6.2 and Linux partitions!).  Do I just copy them to a directory on the install partition?  What about the "Compliance Verification" check where I have to put in my Win95 CD?  Will I have enough space for a copy of the Win 98 CD, a copy of the Win 95 CD, and still be able to install Win 98 in the remaining space?  I'm going to try it first with the CD-ROM connected.

I only have 32MB of 60ns EDO SIMM in this machine.

I'm posting this for now in case you guys have comments.  I will repost with results when I get them.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Whoops!  Sorry about the repost of previous comment.  Why does it resend that stuff when the comment box is empty and I hit refresh?

Well, it took a lot longer to boot the floppy because the Oak ATAPI CD-ROM driver took a while to be convinced there were no ATAPI CD-ROM's attached!

bartsmit, what's the switch to skip entering the product key <g>?  I may wind up being the only person in the world to have memorized his product key!  It still takes it's time looking for installed components and required space on an empty partition!

Well, guess what!  Same problem.  I realize now that it is not even getting to the step that sets up the time zone and shortcuts, etc.  It's at the beginning of that boot that it hangs and then complains (w/BSOD) that it can't write to drive C:.

I guess I am back to cannibalizing my main system for cables and terminators as it looks like that's the only remaining (and most likely at this point) suggestion that hasn't been totally explored (unless I have a bad SCSI controller ... shudder).

bartsmit, I'll need more details on what exactly to copy from which CD's to where before I try that approach.  Thanks for the input though.  I'll try it if the new cables don't work and if you can elaborate.

I am posting this, then shutting down to rip stuff out of my main system.  I'll let you know what happened after I get back online.
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dew_associatesCommented:
The setup data you posted is just fine. I agree that it looks like one of two things, either the SCSI card took a dumpt for there may be a problem with the drive. Although you did exchange drives before, so that kind of narrows the field to the scsi card.

Bart, all he needs to do is swap in the Win95 cd when the verification request comes up, point it to the CD and then swap back out.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Well, I'm back online, but I am not happy.

Here's what I did since last post:

NOTE: Since I was anxious to cut to the chase, I did not restart the install with each hardware change, I just booted to see if it could continue from where it was hanging up.

1) I disabled termination on both the Samsung HD and the Pioneer CD and put an (active/passive? - looks like a COM loopback kind of plug)) terminator at the end of the cable.  Rebooted to normal mode and it hung at the same point.

2) I changed the cable to one I was using in my main machine with no problems and also used the terminator plug.  Rebooted to normal mode and it hung at the same point.

3) I changed the Adaptec adapter to an older one I was using in my main machine.  A visual comparison showed the following differences:

Old (main machine) adapter:
- main chip sticker says: 945300-01D  9741
- little (BIOS) chip sticker says: 589217 rD 1100 (c) 1996  v1.25
- metal encased clock(?) chip says: Saronix 40 MHz

New (problem machine) adapter:
- main chip sticker says: 945300-01E  9748
- little (BIOS) chip sticker says: 589217 rE 9100 (c) 1996  v1.32
- metal encased clock(?) chip says: M-Tron 40 MHz

I did not change any SCSI-Select settings on the main machine card except for the boot device ID (my main machine boots from SCSI-id 1) to SCSI-id 0.  I noticed that the "Max Sync Xfer Rate" was 40.0MB/s for all of the devices, and that the "Advanced Options" had an "Enable Ultra ..." option that was not in the new board's "Advanced Options" (and also not in the individual "SCSI Device Configuration" options).

I rebooted to normal mode and it got past the hang before "Setting up Hardware and Finalizing Settings", but then it hung at the next reboot with the same BSOD (cannot write to drive C:).

4) I switched hard drives to the IBM LVD drive on the wide cable (I disconnected the Samsung drive, but I left the Pioneer CD connected) and switched my boot device to SCSI-id 8.  I had abandoned an install on this drive at the same BSOD, so I just tried to reboot.  After it failed to recognize a fixed disk, I realized I had to enable "Send Start Unit" and "Include in BIOS Scan" for SCSI-id 8.

I rebooted to normal mode and again, it got past the hang before "Setting up Hardware and Finalizing Settings", but then it hung at the next reboot with the same BSOD (cannot write to drive C:).

This drive was noticeably faster with the different adapter - I believe the Ultra speed was not being utilized with the other adapter.

Well, I didn't want to leave my good card in the clutches of this problem machine for too long, so I reinstalled it and the cable/terminator in my main machine and got back online ASAP.

I don't know what to do next.  Help!!

BTW DEW, I believe bartsmit's suggestion (and query to you) was based on the premise of my running without the CD-ROM connected, so swapping in the CD, as I do now, would not be possible.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Well you've eliminated (it seems) the scsi card and cable, so this narrows it to a MB/Bios issue or a drive issue.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Well, for lack of any other alternatives to try, I did some research into what needed to be copied from where to where to do an install from the hard drive.  I got the info about what Win98 files were needed from the setup.txt on the CD, and I got the info about what Win95 files were needed from "Sean Erwin's Windows 98 FAQ"
at http://www.listmaker.net/win98/index.html (question: "How do I install the upgrade version of Windows98 on a blank hard drive?").

I copied the Win98 folder from my Win98SE CD-ROM to a folder I named Install.W98 on my freshly formatted (with /s option) install partition.  Then I copied the *.cab and *.bin files from the Win95(a) CD-ROM to a folder I named Install.W98 on my install partition.

Then I booted to the install partition, changed to the Install.W98 directory and typed:

setup /ie /im /is

Installation proceeded much as it did in previous attempts.  I was rather surprised (almost disappointed) that it did not ask for me to point to the Win95 files I had copied.  Either it found them itself, or it accepted my aborted Win98SE installation on the other hard drive.

There was also one less reboot.  It seemed to go directly from detecting my hardware into finalizing settings, etc.

Alas, the end result was the same ... BSOD: "Unable to write to disk in drive C:"

Any other ideas guys.

DEW: I just got your latest comment.  I tend to doubt it is a drive issue since I have tried two completely different hard drives, and now have even eliminated the CD-ROM drive as an issue.  I am also reluctant to point to the motherboard since I changed that last week too!  When I couldn't get Win98SE to install with my Tyan S1571S Titan Turbo AT-2 board, after trying a lot of what we tried during the tests above, I decided it must be the motherboard, also.  So I went out and got a new one.  Unfortunately, another Tyan (this time model S1590S Trinity 100AT) was the only one I could find that would support my existing hardware (i.e., it used AT power connectors, had at least 4 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots, and had at least 2 SIMM slots - which is all it has!).  Why are motherboards providing so few expansion slots nowadays?  I don't know what I'm going to do when I need to upgrade my main system as I have 5 PCI slots filled already and I want to get a SoundBlaster Live! which is also PCI.
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bartsmitCommented:
Did you try different memory and power supply?
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
bartsmit,  Have you seen the price of memory lately!  It's outrageous!  It's twice the price it was last June.

No, I have not tried new memory (too expensive, and too hard to swap from my main machine), or a new power supply (too hard to find a standalone P/S - they only seem to come with new cases).

It's probably the case anyway ;)!
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Just for grins, I followed the "press any key to continue" path after I get the BSOD ("Unable to write to disk in drive C:"), it then redisplayed the splash screen, then went into another long wait, then went to text mode and displayed the following messages:

While initializing device SHELL:
Cannot find or load required file KRNL386.EXE.

Not ready reading drive C
Abort, Retry, Fail?

Well, since that is a fairly important file, I tried Fail, at which point it cleared the screen and said:

You can now safely turn off your computer.
If you want to restart your computer, press CTRL+ALT+DEL.

Upon subsequent restart (I gave it the 3-finger salute), it booted into the menu with safe-mode highlighted, so I tried that.  When it initialized the safe-mode desktop I went into Device Manager and did the following:

1) Under "Hard Disk Controllers", I changed the Settings for "VIA Bus Master PCI IDE Controller" - I selected "No IDE channels enabled";
2) Under "Network Adapters", I removed the dial-up adapter;
3) Under "Other Devices", I removed the "PCI Ethernet Controller" and the "USR Sportster 56000 Voice Internal" devices;
4) Under "SCSI Controllers", I removed the "Adaptec AHA-2940... PCI SCSI COntroller";

I then closed System Properties (I replied "No" to all requests to reboot), and then rebooted to allow Windows to redetect my hardware in a non-"Install" environment.

As each device was detected, I pointed the New Hardware Wizard to my most recent driver files, then replied no a reboot so that the next device could be detected also.  After the last new device was detected (which include my video card and monitor, which I had not removed in the previous boot), Windows did some more updating system settings, etc. and finally went into normal mode Windows, with the Welcome/Tour window playing music and everything!

I then ran the ASPI32.EXE program to upgrade my ASPI layer, and selected reboot when that was finished.

It again hung for a few minutes on the next reboot then displayed the same BSOD (cannot write to drive C:).  I again selected "Press any key to continue", and it then redisplayed the splash screen, then went into another long wait, which did not seem to end (I went and made lunch while I was waiting for it).

Upon subsequent restart (I hit the reset button, as ctl-alt-del did not seem to have any effect), it booted  "normally" (no safe-mode menu) into normal mode Windows, with the Welcome/Tour window playing music again (I haven't disabled it because I want to remember to check it out when I get a stable system).

I then went into Device Manager again and checked it out.  All of my devices seemed to be functioning properly with the drivers I specified, except "VIA Bus Master PCI IDE Controller" (as expected - no problem) and the "Adaptec AHA-2940... PCI SCSI COntroller", which said:

"Windows stoppped responding while attempting to start this device, and therefore will never attempt to start this device again (Code 11.)

For more information, look up ASD in Wondows Help

Try upgrading the device drivers for this device"

The driver file tab indicated Provider: Adaptec, and Date: 1-15-1999, and the details button elaborated with file AIC78XX.MPD, File version: 2.3 (4.10.2001) which matched the Version properties of the file I downloaded from Adaptec.  It also specified file IOS.vxd from Microsoft, dated: 4/23/99-10:22pm, with version: 4.10.2222, which matched all other Win98SE files.  I found the Windows provided version of AIC78XX.MPD in the BASE5.CAB install cabinet, dated: 4/23/99-10:22pm, with PRODUCT version: 4.10.2222, but file version v2.21a.  The internal name of the W98 version is b3_kc0042_KanoPP009 V2A11+ (with size 59,184 bytes), while the internal name of the Adaptec version is b3_kc0042_KanoPP_2940auw_rc2 V2A11A1 ks06+, which is close but not identical (with size 76,288 bytes).

Although the Windows 98 provided version is dated later, the version provided by Adaptec seems to have a later version number (2.3 vs. 2.21a).  So I suspect the Adaptec file one is the latest.

BTW, DEW, this seems to contradict something I read in one of your other postings (to another person's problem) regarding file version vs. file dates.  In this case it would seem to be better to take the highest version number, rather than the latest date file.  Also, as often happens, when I extracted the file myself, the file date was changed to today's date, which is another reason to be suspect of the file date, rather than the version.

So, at this point I have a mostly functioning Windows 98 SE system, except for no CD-ROM access!  This is a major defect as far as I am concerned.  Any ideas on how to get my CD drive working (besides reconnecting it!  I know somebody was going to say it, so I beat you to it <g>).

Who do I complain to?  Adaptec, Microsoft, Samsung, Pioneer, Tyan, or ?  I am inclined to point the finger at Microsoft, given that the SCSI controller works fine in other environments (Win95, DOS (6.2, 7.0, & 7.1?), and 3 different versions of Linux).  But why is nobody else having this problem.  I don't think my configuration is too unusual, is it?

I am going to send an e-mail to Adaptec (WebMail) and Microsoft (WebResponse) tech support, pointing them to this trouble-shooting dialog, and see if they respond.

Thanks again guys, for all your help!
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bartsmitCommented:
My money is still on your SCSI hardware... Good luck!
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
So far, I've talked to Adaptec, and they pointed out a BIOS upgrade that I had downloaded but forgotten to apply, but it did not resolve the problem.  I'm still running without CD-ROM and in compatibility mode.  Each time I try to remove the ASD flag, the system hangs during startup.  I guess this would've been even more difficult to troubleshoot without ASD (small consolation, eh?).

I just can't imagine what Windows 98 is trying to do at startup that hangs on a write, that isn't done by other operating systems (including Win95).

It's definitely not the media, because the two drives have been scanned so many times, by the controller, DOS, Windows (95 & 98), Partition Magic (which I can't install now, because I don't have CD-ROM access), and 3 versions of Linux, that I don't think a media problem would've escaped detection, especially not on two very different drives.

I found out that the controller in the Tyan machine (the problem one) is an OEM channel product - technically not supported by Adaptec.  However, my controller in the other machine is a retail channel product.  Since I tried swapping the controllers, I can claim technical support based on the retail controller.

There must be many other users out there running Windows 98 on a Tyan MB with an Adaptec controller, don't you think?  But if it were a defective controller, you would think that the swap would've resolved the problem.

It's a stumper, that's for sure.
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lieblaCommented:
radagast,
you have an AHA-2940UW. W is Wide SCSI and means 16bit SCSI bus.
Is it possible that one device at the end of your SCSI Bus is NOT a Wide Scsi device (e. g. SCSI CD ROM or  USCSI harddisk) ?
In this case the lower 8 bits can ber terminated successfuly, but not the upper 8 bits.

Suggestion: One end of the bus your Adaptec and at the other end a WideScsi device (UW Scsi harddisk or U2W Ssci harddisk.)
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
liebla: as I mentioned in my response to you on 11/23-2:33am, my IBM LVD is on the wide channel of my AHA-2940UW:

> - adapter is set to SCSI-id 7.
> - current problem drive (Samsung) is set to SCSI-id 0.
> - CD-ROM (Pioneer) is set to SCSI-id 3.
> - other drive (IBM LVD) is set to SCSI-id 8 (on wide channel) ...

I try not to mix wide and narrow on the same channel (it makes termination so much easier <g>).  In fact, on my main machine they are on separate adapters entirely (as I mentioned a couple of paragraphs earlier in that same response, to bartsmit).

Thanks for your input, though.  I am still waiting for your reply to my questions of that response:

> I have all Adaptec Host Adapter SCSI-Select BIOS settings at their factory
> defaults. What are the most conservative settings? Limit the transfer rate to what?

The tech at Adaptec, when he reviewed my settings, said my host adpater should be set to 40MB/s transfer rate, rather than 20MB/s.  He did not recommend changing any of the other settings (see my response to DEW on 11/23-5:33am for my settings).  He did note that there is a newer Flash BIOS for this adapter, which I realized I had downloaded but forgotten to apply.  Unfortunately, updating the BIOS did not resolve this problem.
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SmartGamerCommented:
I can't help! This is beyond me! I'm dropping out of the discussion!
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Well sports fans, I got a little excited there for a moment.  I thought serendipity had reared its beautiful head.  I bought a couple of accessories to make a new system out of the retired components from my earlier machines (I'm resurrecting my P60!), for Linux.  Anyway, one of the components I bought was a $10 keyboard.  When I got home, I found it had a connector like a PS/2 mouse port.  Whilst browsing the Tyan site for information on a PS/2 keyboard connection, I checked out the FAQ for the S1592S motherboard, which is an ATX version of the S1590S motherboard that I have.  It had the following VERY INTERESTING question & answer:

1.0 My S1592S Trinity Hangs with Adaptec 2940UW in Win98. What should I do?

Symptom: Windows98 will hang at installation or after installation when using an Adaptec 2940UW on the S1592S.  Solution: Two BIOS options must be set accordingly. See chart below. Please refer to your users' manual for more information on setting up your BIOS.                                          
                                           
      BIOS Setup                  Option                  Setting                        
      -------------------------------------------------------
      Chipset Features Setup      OnChip USB                  Enabled                        
      PnP/PCI Configuration      Assign IRQ for USB      Enabled                        

      Verified: 6-17-98      

Alas, when I tried enabling these options on my S1590S (the PCI config was already enabled - I just enabled the OnChip USB Feature setup), and then removed and reinstalled the AHA-2940UW device in Win98, I arrived at the same dead end.

Oh well!  I guess serendipity wasn't looking at me after all.

Does this give anybody any clues though?

In the meantime, I have finally broken down and bought my first IDE device for myself.  I needed to try something else to get Windows 98 installed, so I bought a $129 Maxtor DiamondMax 13GB HD (and a Promise ATA-66 controller).  The cheapest SCSI drive I could find at my local components store was a $300 IBM 9.1GB.  I just can't afford that right now (plus the price differential for SCSI has really gotten ridiculous!  I may have to reserve SCSI for my top-end machines only - especially since a hard drive is the one component that doesn't seem to last long enough to trickle down into hand-me-down systems.  I have quite a graveyard of dead hard drives!)

I'm planning to move the 2GB Samsung to the new hand-me-down system (with the P60 and a QLogic Fast!SCSI adapter) and make the new 13GB Maxtor the boot drive for my Tyan machine.  My hope is that Win98SE will accept the SCSI combination of AHA-2940UW and IBM UW HD (and my SCSI CD-ROM) as long as they are not the boot device.  I am still trying to get to my goal of setting up the IBM drive with data copied via LAN for my main machine which is almost totally out of free disk space.  I only got Win98SE to allow me to use FAT32 on the new HD!  I hate the thought of using 16K clusters for the new drive.

I also came across one other option I can try.  While I was rummaging around for parts for my "new" P60 machine, I came across an OEM copy of Windows 95b which I had forgotten I had (courtesy of a setup job I had done for a family member).  So, since I have been successful at installing Windows 95a on my Tyan machine, maybe I can get 95b to install and get to FAT32 that way!

Wish me luck!  I post the results here.  Happy Thankgiving everbody!  Gobble, gobble.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Would you believe it?!?  It still got hung up at the same place.  Now it's true I still had the Adaptec controller attached as a secondary to run the IBM drive, and more importantly, to run my CD-ROM (I did NOT buy an ATAPI CD-ROM <g>).  But I find it hard to believe that that could be involved in a hang-up like I'm having (although it didn't make it to the BSOD this time, it just went into a 20-minute wait before I gave up and hit reset).

Before I try again with copying CD's to my hard drive and running without the Adaptec in the system, I found someone I could borrow a Windows 98 CD from.  It is not Second Edition, so it will still leave it uncertain where the fault is if this works.  I also called a friend whose coming over tonight that might have a copy of the Second Edition CD that I could try.  And there's still the "eliminate SCSI" option I can try if all else fails!

I hope everyone's getting well stuffed.  Ciao!
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
I am so frustrated I could scream!  Windows 98 (not SE) hung in approximately the same spot!  (No BSOD, just a interminable wait.)  I think that rules out a defective CD.  The only thing left is to eliminate SCSI altogether, by copying the CD's to the Maxtor HD and then remove the SCSI controller.  Either that or it's a problem that's pervasive throughout the Tyan product line!  I find it hard to credit that though, or it would've surely been reported by someone else by now (unless the only other person running Adaptec SCSI and Tyan trying to install Win98 is the person who reported the Tyan S1592S problem I referred to above - but that solution didn't resolve my problem either!).  I guess I could try using my QLogic Fast!SCSI adapter in this machine also.

Well its going to be a "fun" Thanksgiving <grrrr...>!
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Well hurray ... I guess :(

Windows 98 SE finally installed without hanging up.  However, I do not have any SCSI support - no CD-ROM.  So I don't call this 100% success.

It does seem to point to either Adaptec, Tyan, or Microsoft as the culprit.  At this point, I am suspecting Adaptec (despite my controller swap with my main machine).  I imagine it's actually an effect of the combination of the Tyan MB, Adaptec SCSI, and Windows 98 (SE or not).  There's a lot of interesting FAQ/Info/etc. at the Promise and VIA web sites I am still checking it all out.

I am going to try installing to my original Samsung, in the Tyan machine, but using my old QLogic Fast!SCSI controller.  We might isolate this yet!

I hope you're all having more Thanksgiving fun than I am!
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dew_associatesCommented:
Radagast, I've gone over everything that you have written, and with that I can assure you that Win98 and 98SE fully support the 2940 and 3940 lines of Adaptec adapters without any problems. Not even a hiccup during installs. Granted, we only use Supermicro or Abit MB's, but nevertheless, there's never been a problem. If I were to point a finger, it would be at the motherboard given all of the testing done.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
DEW, I've been thinking the same.  My experiment to try installing to my original Samsung, in the Tyan machine, but using my old QLogic Fast!SCSI controller failed also (with the interminable wait - left it go while I went out to dinner & a movie - I'd say that 4+ hours was sufficient to certify that it was hung, not still "detecting devices" <g> - although surprisingly, it never stopped animating the activity bar at the bottom of the flash screen).

The last experiment I can think of, which I am about to try, is to disconnect the hard drives in my main machine and connect the Samsung from my Tyan machine and try the install that way.  My main machine has an Iwill P55XB2 motherboard with a 233MHz AMD-K6 and 64MB of memory.  That should definitely determine if the Tyan motherboard is to blame (but the same problem with two generations of Tyan motherboards? - my Tyan S1571S used an Intel 430TX chipset, as does the Iwill).  This machine also has an Adaptec AHA-2940UW adapter (the one I tried swapping into my Tyan the other day), plus an Adaptec AHA-2930U adapter.  The NIC is the same (LinkSys LNE100TX), but the soundcard is the SB AWE64 Gold.  It has two voice modems (one ISA and one PCI).  Video is Diamond's Stealth 64 Video.

Well, at least I got to go out and get stuffed last night.  I had to have my Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes!

Shutting down now for the latest (final?) experiment.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Well, not only did my Iwill machine pick up and complete the install begun on the Tyan machine, but it also did a complete install to a freshly formatted partition from the CD-ROM without a hitch.

During this time I tried to add the Adaptec SCSI controller to my Tyan machine's already installed Win98SE (which was installed to the ATA-66 drive wihtout the SCSI controller attached).  This attempt hung on the same interminable wait as soon as I tried to boot windows (i.e., even before Windows desktop came up to detect the new hardware).  Ctl-Alt-Del did not work either - it required the reset button.

I believe this definitely points to the Tyan motherboard as the problem, in conjunction with any SCSI controller (remember it had problems with the Qlogic adapter also) and Windows 98 (SE or not - although Windows 95a installed just fine).  I will open an incident with Tyan (in addition to my already open incidents with Adaptec and Microsoft).

My problem now is how do I get my SCSI IBM 9.1GB hard drive filled with data from my partitions on my main machine.  My main machine drive letters already extend to U:, leaving only 5 letters left to create 10 partitions on the new drive!  not to mention the hassle of the changing drive letters during this period of my other SCSI drives (2 CD's, Jaz, and Zip).  I have been through this hassle before and I was really trying to avoid it by using the LAN to fill the new partitions on my secondary machine before installing it on my main machine.

Oh well!  Unless the vendors (Tyan, Microsoft, or Adaptec) can come up with a quick fix, I guess I'm going to have to do it the hard way on my main machine only.  I'm still not comfortable enough with Samba to do it through Linux.  Besides, I haven't found a way to correctly partition the > 8.4GB drive without Windows 98.  Running Partition Magic under Windows 95 gives a unchangeable partition line at the 8.4GB barrier and the statistics for the free space after that line are all screwed up (terabytes available!).  Linux fdisk or fips or Disk Druid do not seem to handle it any better.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Could I interest you in mocing to IWill or Abit, or even Supermicro?
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Dennis,  I assume you mean "moving"? <g>

> Could I interest you in "mocing" to IWill or Abit, or even Supermicro?      

I have an Iwill P55XB2 in my main machine, that seems to work fairly good.  However, it is at its max capacity for CPU power (my 233MHz AMD-K6).  My problem is finding motherboards with sufficient expansion slots.  Iwill no longer makes a Super7 MB with 5 PCI slots & SIMM capability.  I will (pun "not" intended) be interested in their XA100plus MB when I am ready to buy an AGP video board and SDRAM memory, but that is expensive (especially at today's memory prices).  It also means I need to get an ATX power supply.

I have been a fan of Supermicro in the past (I even bought a P55T2S for my mother), but they don't seem to be making anything that fits my requirements for a long time now (they only seem to be interested in the top of the Pentium line).  As for Abit, they don't make any Super7 MB's with more than 4 PCI slots.  I probably would've bought something like the Abit TX5 or PX5 if it had been available at Frye's when I rushed over there last week to replace my Tyan S1571S, but not only were they not available there, I haven't found them available anywhere else either!  I would rather not get one af them anyway, since they would not provide any upgrade path for me.  At least the Tyan S1590S I bought will allow me to upgrade to the AMD-K6/III in the near future, without having to upgrade any of my other components.  Another nice feature of the Tyan is its ability to use either an AT or an ATX power supply, so I can make that upgrade at my convenience (i.e., when I can afford it <g>).  I will probably wait to get the AMD-K6/III until I can afford the PC100 SDRAM to make it perform well.

That is why I wound up buying another Tyan board.  Probably by the time I can afford the new memory, video, and ATX power supply (and probably a new case) for my next upgrade, I will be looking at the Athlon processors (if their price has come down a little).  I have been an AMD fan since my Z80 & CP/M days, when I wanted to design my own CPU using the AMD bit-slice processors (AMD 29000 series).  I finally gave up on that idea, but firmware has always held a fascination for me.  I also like the way AMD held on in its fight to keep up with and finally surpass, technologically (in my opinion), the Intel dominator (much like I keep playing with Linux vs. MS Windows).

I intend to accept and give your answer an "A", once this problem has been fully resolved, but I will leave it open for more comments until then.  Dennis, you were the first to officially point the finger at the motherboard (although I had the same thought at about the same point <g>).

I also appreciated bartsmit's significant input.  At one or two points I thought he was going to wind up with the answer, but all roads have led to dead ends so far - at least as far as a final resolution goes.

I hope Tyan can come up with a fix for this problem.  It would do a lot to restore my good feelings about buying two of their motherboards!
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dew_associatesCommented:
Well, if I were to give you a bit of advice, which is like opinions and "some other things" we all have one (if you know what I mean), I would sincerely suggest that you take a hard look at the Supermicro P6SBS or SBA. They are single processor types, with the SBS supporting SCSI and the SBA without. These are good performers and then handle el cheapo celerons to get you started, as well as PII, PIII and AMD. We built 1,400 of these for Boeing-Martin six months ago using the version one board and had one board out of the batch that narrowly made spec and it was replced no questions asked. We used celeron 300's to get them on line and they will eventually go to PII 400's when we get the right prices for the CPU's.

If nothing else, give it a look.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Dennis, the P6SBA looks like a nice board, IF you're interested in a Slot 1 processor, which I am not.  Even if I were, this board would require waiting until I could afford SDRAM and ATX power supply.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Supermicro seems to be designing all of their boards for the Intel processor line, with only the old (non-AMD-K6/III capable) P5 boards that can handle the AMD processors.  However, the P5 boards are not generally available, being somewhat obsolete (i.e., 200Mhz top CPU speed).

Actually, the most interesting AMD-K6/III capable board I have seen is the EPoX EP-MVP3G5 motherboard.  This board supports the AMD-K6/III at up to 550MHz, contains 5 PCI slots, 2 ISA slots (actually 1 is shared PCI/ISA), as well as the AGP slot.  It also supports Ultra-ATA/66 onboard (if I need to use IDE, like I did for Win98 SE, this frees up a PCI slot), and has a 2MB level "3" cache (w/AMD-K6/III).  Again, this board would require waiting until I could afford SDRAM and ATX power supply, but for this it would be worth it (unless the Athlon becomes affordable by then <g>).  EPoX has been receiving awards for a number of their boards lately.  Do you have any experience with them?

Thanks for your input.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Epox, generally, makes a good board. The only problem we have seen is there is an extremely long wait for Bios corrections to be released. The only other problem we have seen is that they only run a 30 day beta test on theit motherboards, which is entirely too short.
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lieblaCommented:
After reading again all these things:
Do your mainboards provide a "small" SCSI BIOS delivered/integrated with/in the normal PC BIOS ?

I had 3 years ago such a case, Mainboard provided BIOS support for an optional to buy Symbios Logic SCSI - Adapter.
An Adaptec 2940 was not able to run in this board, a NCR SCSI Controller did.

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RadagastAuthor Commented:
liebla, I wish that was the answer (well, not actually, as it would make my MB useless with my controller <g>).  No, nothing in the BIOS setup, visually on the board, in the manual, or on their web site indicates that this is so.  Besides, I have had the problem with 2 different Tyan motherboards and with 2 Adaptec SCSI adapters and a QLogic adapter.  But thanks for the input.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Here's a new twist on this problem!

As I mentioned, I revived my P60 Intel motherboard (Mercury?) to make a third system out of my spare parts, especially the SCSI adapter and hard drive that I could not get to work in my Tyan machine.  Well, the Windows 98 SE installation, on the Samsung drive, that had hung up on the Tyan machine, came to life on this P60 machine.  Of course Device Manager went crazy with the change in motherboard, etc. (I used an old Diamond Stealth 32 video adapter and a cheap Avance "SB-compatible" PnP sound card), but after reinstalling a bunch of drivers (including the Adaptec AHA-2940 drivers that I had downloaded), it started working just fine.  However, it was rather slow.

Having heard the claims, numerous times, that Linux did not require as much resource as Windows (of any type, but especially Windows 98), I decided to run Linux on this machine.  The previous install of Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 would not boot with the new configuration, so I started the install again from scratch, reformatting the Linux partition.  This install took forever!  Every panel that came up to ask for information took a minute or more to draw itself.  Once the "Entertain yourself" window came up, the background install was at about 12%, so I let it continue overnight and went to bed.  It could not switch into KDE at startup with the parameters I had specified with Lizard for the video card during installation, so I used LISA to reset them.  It took about 12 tries, with every combination of parameters I could think of, before I finally got it to find a setup that would successfully switch into the X server.  The only one I could get to work was the VGA-16 server with a 640x480 resolution.  When I finally got into KDE with this, none of the windows seemed to fit the low-res desktop and it took about 10 minutes for the opening desktop windows to draw themselves.  It took another 20 minutes to get through the Kandalf wizard.  At this point I had enough of Linux "efficiency" and shutdown (which took another 10 minutes)!  Are these comparisons with Windows done with Linux in console (character) mode?  If so, I don't think that's fair, if not, I would like to know how they got Linux to run better on a low-end machine than Windows.

I got to thinking that I could get Linux to run on my Tyan S1571S mother board, so I went out and got another AMD processor.  Of course I had to get a new case, because the Tyan would not fit into the old desktop case that I had the P60 MB in, but they had a nice tower case (with a 280W p/s) for $40.  They had a good price ($69) on the AMD-K6/II 450MHz, so I got that (and a new CPU fan) and put it into my Tyan S1590S machine (it really zooms along now!), and put my old AMD-K6 200MHz into the Tyan S1571S motherboard and booted it up.  So for another $120, I had a third AMD-powered system!

The interesting thing is that the Windows 98 SE installation, that I had started on my Tyan S590S board, hung up, and finished on my P60 board, now booted up on my Tyan S1571S board!  Of course Device Manager went crazy again and I had to reinstall a bunch of drivers again (including the Adaptec AHA-2940 drivers that I had downloaded), but it started working just fine.  This is the same motherboard that I originally tried to install Windows 98 SE on with the same Adaptec AHA-294UW SCSI adpater and the same HD and CD-ROM drives!  The only difference (not counting the sound card, because I had tried the install without one) was the case (and p/s) and the video card (Stealth 32 now, rather than Stealth 3D 200 Pro)!  So either it's the video card, or it's the case, like I joked about in one of my previous postings!

Now I have another problem.  The new S1571S machine, running Windows 98 SE and using a generic (SVEC) PnP Fast Ethernet board, can share directories just fine with my main (Iwill) machine, running Windows 95a (w/SP ...).  However, I have not been able to get Windows 98 SE on my Tyan S1590S machine (the one I had to convert to IDE) to share with either of the other two machines!  Occasionally, the Iwill machine will see the S1590S machine in the neighborhood, but if I click on it, a message pops up that the machine is not accessible! (both of these machines are using LinkSys LNE100TX adapters).  The S1571S machine just doesn't see the S1590S machine at all!

It can't be a hardware problem because I have installed Windows NT 4.0 (w/SP3) on the same drive (on a logical partition) and it can share with both other machines just fine!

I would open this as a new problem in the networking section except that I don't have enough points, plus I suspect that there's some relation to my other problems here.

I am running with just the TCP/IP protocol for the LAN, with hard-coded IP address for all machines (192.168.1.1-3).

BTW, no news this week, yet, from any of the vendors I have contacted about this problem.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Well, first things first. I wouldn't discount the MB being at fault and start blaming the video card and case just yet. Remember, it is during the initial install a number of crucial files are built, such as VMM32. These are not rebuilt if you change out motherboards, and if there are similarities between bios that are close enough to the motherboard resources that the VXD's will run, then you won't see a problem. The problems you did see where due to the dissimilarities.

As for the networking issue, we had some problems with the low end linksys products. We tried to stray away from 3COM, and it didn't work out.

Out whole network here, about 120 machines, are all Win98SE, and there hasn't been even a hiccup on the network.

Are the Linksys drivers you are using the ones that came with the cards? Are they pre or post 4/10/98?

Here is a somewhat related knowledge base article that you may want to review.

http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q192/8/44.ASP



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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Hi guys,

I just wanted to finally close out this problem, and wish you all "Happy Holidays!", and thank you all again for your help on this problem (problems?!?).

Dennis, you get the points, and guess what?  Since I put it off, I now have enough points to raise it to the 200 points I thought it was worth originally!  Merry Christmas!  BTW, congratulations on Expert-of-the-Week.  You deserve it.

I did resolve my network problem, somewhat, by installing the VIA Technology driver updates for IRQ Steering Holders (or something like that).  It took a while to get it all to work right - I think I deleted the wrong files trying to get it going and wound up having to reinstall Win 98 SE, yet again, before I could get it working again.

I now have all three machines running Windows 98 SE and talking to each other (i.e., file and print sharing) via TCP/IP.  I'm going to enjoy that and run some applications for a while (I spent a week reinstalling dozens of applications on my main machine!) before I try anything more ambitious, like a real domain server (Linux or NT) to handle DNS and DHCP services.

I can't install Linux on my IDE machine until I generate a bootable kernel that supports the Promise Ultra66 controller.  Anybody got one already generated?

I still have a problem with the Linksys NIC on my IDE machine.  Whenever I have to reboot (which I now try to keep to a minimum), it goes into a 20-minute wait (I'm NOT exaggerating - I timed it!) before the NIC connects to the network (I hear the click and see the light for the node come on at the hub), and then Windows finishes its startup.  I've run with bootlog enabled, but no clues as to what is causing the problem.

As far as vendor support goes, I never received any further reply from Adaptec, nor even a first reply from Tyan!  I think this ends my business relationship with Tyan.  My next MB will NOT be a Tyan product!

Microsoft had several by-the-book troubleshooting replies that completely ignored all of the information available in this forum, despite assurances from the T.S. rep that he had read this dialog.  After I called his negligence to attention, he handed the incident over to another rep who promptly gave the following final reply (the incident was closed the next day):

>My name is Francesca and I will be working with you today.
>
>In your last supplement, you also mentioned having several operating systems on your
>computer.  
>
>Microsoft does not support dual or multi booting.  I understand that some of the
>operating systems you are using may be  Microsoft products (e.g. Windows NT), but
>we still do not offer support when you have more than one operating system installed.
>
>Thank you again for choosing Microsoft Web Response.  
>
>Sincerely,
>
>Francesca N.
>Microsoft Platforms Support, MPSD
>Windows Support Professional
>http://support.microsoft.com/support/
>
>Your satisfaction is our highest priority. You can provide feedback to our management
>team at any time by sending email to DPERMGMT@Microsoft.com Please include your
>incident number (SR#) in the reply, so that we may better serve you.

Wasn't that nice?  So much for vendor support.

Well, once again, "Happy Holidays" to all!
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dew_associatesCommented:
Thanks "R" and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

<<I did resolve my network problem, somewhat, by installing the VIA Technology driver updates for IRQ Steering Holders (or something like that).>>

I'm glad to learn that you have the network up and running. Unfortunately we have seen alot of these boot problems recently (last 7-8 months from the Linksys and DLink cards. Don't ask why as I don't know and neither do the manufacurers, although I suspect they do but haven't figured out how to cure it. I also suspect that it may be an inferior component problem as 3COM NICs work just fine, including in multiple NIC environments.

For a small netowrk like yours, you may want to look at the small business server, as it comes with a whole raft of features.

<<I can't install Linux on my IDE machine until I generate a bootable kernel that supports the Promise Ultra66 controller.  Anybody got one already generated?>>

I believe there is one out there, but I'll have to try and find the reference again. Since I don't have time to pursue Linux, I don't save the book marks. If I can find it again, I'll post it here.

Adaptec suprises me, but Tyan doesn't. Since we do not manufacturer our own motherboards, we rely on companies like them for what we use in our systems. We drawn it down to Supermicro, Intel and Abit and left it at that. All three have been extremely good with issues that have arisen, including replacements where necessary.

<<Microsoft had several by-the-book troubleshooting replies that completely ignored all of the information available in this forum>>

Unfortunately this has been typical, although our tech rep has told us that the MS realignment should resolve this over the next year or so. Most of the MS support for their retail consumer products was outsourced and in order to change that, MS is bringing that support back in house. However though, based upon meetings our people have attended in Redmond, we have kind of gotten the feeling that MS may be waiting for the outcome of the anti-trust trial before finalizing anything.

I'll try and find that Linux kernel for you. Again, Happy Holidays to you and yours.
Dennis
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dew_associatesCommented:
"R", I've spent the last few hours running searchs on most of the archives I have available and havn't turned even a comment that relates to Linux and promise. If I get some replies regarding the kernel info you need, I'll post it here.
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RadagastAuthor Commented:
Dennis, thanks for the additional input.  Don't worry about the Linux kernel - I'll either find one or compile one myself one of these days.  It's no big priority right now.  I might pick up a 2.3 Linux release (or 2.4? - I hear "even" releases are risky, as they are test releases) before then, which is supposed to have the support already in it.

BTW, my real life name is Don Paul Beletsky, and most people call me Don Paul, so you can use that if you don't like my "Radagast" handle.  The initial registration on Experts Exchange seemed to encourage picking a connotative userid.  I'm a big Tolkien fan, especially his Gandalf character, but Gandalf and Mithrandir userid's were already taken!

As a home system hacker, I find myself always looking for a bargain whenever I can.  When I don't have any evidence to the contrary (which I do now), I will tend to pick a no-name generic component if it seems to promise the same performance as an expensive name-brand component.  When I decided to build my first network, it was because Linksys was the first to bring out an inexpensive 100Mbps "hub & 2 NIC's" combo package (about $120 for the package, a year or two ago, which was about 1/3 the price of a similar 3com package).  Until then, 100 Mbps was too expensive for me and 10Mbps had just gotten to that price range, but was too slow compared to the soon to be available 100 Mbps systems.  Anyway, I got the Linksys package and was very happy with it up until now.  I never had any problems with it under Win 95, Win NT, or even Linux, although I had to assemble Tulip drivers for my first couple of Linux systems for the Linksys card.  Anyway, the 3com NIC is still more than twice the price of a Linksys or Netgear or similar 10/100 NIC.

I guess I might splurge for a 3com NIC the next time I go to get one, but it's going to pain me - I really hate paying premium brand-name recognition prices, but if it really performs better, I'll do it.  I went through Always and Qlogic SCSI adapters before I finally broke down and got an Adaptec adapter (I now own 3 Adaptec adpters).  However, in that case, the Adaptec adapters used to be poorer performers, despite their brand-name recognition and higher prices, although they did have better support.  But then, Adpatec improved their performance and lowered their prices, so that the switch was relatively painless when I got tired of lagging OS support from Always and Qlogic.  As I've mentioned before, I prefer to use AMD processors rather than Intel.  However, I learned a long time ago to go with the most mainstream graphics adapters and sound cards to make sure they are well supported by the operating system, etc.  Am I now going to have to add NIC's to this category?  I really thought they were more mundane commodities, like parallel/serial port adapters.

What is the "small business server, as it comes with a whole raft of features" that you mentioned?  I'm not really supporting any business with my systems.  I'm just gaining experience to apply in my job as a software engineer/consultant.  That's why I am so frustrated by all these hardware problems, as I really want to get past them and concentrate on software development (I want to improve my Java skills especially, and do some more client/server applications).

What kind of motherboard do you recommend for systems that are loaded with peripherals, like mine, that support 5 to 7 add-in cards, mostly PCI finally (I've been slowly migrating to PCI from ISA over the last several motherboards)?  I've been alarmed by the number of boards being produced that only have 3 or 4 slots available.

Thanks again for your time.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Way back when eisa cards did everything and the processors and MB's and even the OS's were slower, it paid to look for bargains, but when I started looking at how much time I was wasting (or that of our employees) in trying to make things work, I realized that there was no savings, as a matter of fact it was costing several times more than a good component would have given that if you're getting paid for your time and you waste it searching for a fix, not only is your time not productive, but you're actually wasting it.

Although we can look to our OEM channels for supplies, as a user there are a number of price watch channels that offer significant discounts to users such as yourself. These will save you money over normal retail channels if you're not already using them.

As for motherboards, we've gone through most of the top twenty contenders out there, and after we boiled it all down it left us with three that have provided quality and support, Intel, Supermicro and Abit. Remember, we view this from a different perspective than you, we build a unit and deliver it to the user. Therefore, we need to be able to rely good quality and the ease of getting that PC back up and running as quickly as possible without having to go on site for every little problem. This is the main reason we've chosen some better brand components. We try and use components from companies who develop their drivers and other support software right along with the hardware. As for linksys and netgear, we've had some pretty sobering experiences with both. In both cases we've had major network rollouts where, other than the OS, nothing could be preassembled, therefore everything was done on site. One was a 1400 unit rollout and the other was 800. In both cases, the NIC drivers either couldn't handle the network or the OS, thereby requiring us to fedex in new nics and quadruple our on site staff to change out all the cards and get back on schedule. All wi got from Netgear was...geeez sorry bout that. Linksys never did respond with a cause and resolve.

You mentioned an NT network, and the small business server is based on NT, however it comes with Internet Information Server, Proxy, SQL etc.
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