Make bootable hard drive with command prompt

How can I make a hard drive bootable to a command prompt.  I have windows xp.  It used to be format /s or sys, but that is long gone.  How about a link to dos installer.  Everything I have found wants a floppy, and I don't have one.
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It all depends what you are seeking to achieve.
The command you're thinking of would have been going back to Windows 9x, where you boot to a Win98 boot floppy and issue the command
Either of them would copy the required Win98 DOS files to the root of the C: drive and make it bootable to DOS.

Are you trying to install Windows XP to a hard drive that formerly had XP installed?  If so, and IF it was formatted as NTFS during the original WinXP setup, then a DOS Boot floppy or Boot CD won't recognise the NTFS partition.

Is your Windows XP CD Bootable, or more correctly is your CMOS Setup (BIOS Setup) configured to boot to the CD-Rom Drive?  If so, and installing XP is what you are seeking to achieve, then you have the option of creating a fresh installation and optionally formatting the drive as FAT32 or NTFS, or you have the option of repairing the current installation.

In addition to this, the "Recovery Console" from the bootable XP CD offers you a handful of command line utility programs including the FORMAT command:

That won't allow you the format c: /s option you remembered though, because it's WinXP command line programs and not DOS.

If you could perhaps explain a bit more what you are trying to do by making the drive bootable, we will be able to offer some suitable solutions.

If you install the recovery console, You will need XP without SP2 installed, unless your version was XP with SP2 on it.

If XP is installed you will need to intagrate XP and SP2 to the correct folders.
Tom_HickersonAuthor Commented:
I just need to get windows 98 on a computer without a floppy drive and without a cd.  So I need a way to make a bootable hard drive that has a command prompt and I can load it with all the windows 98 install disk.

I have a usb to ide converter so I can work on the hard drive with a windows xp machine.
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Then you will need to copy Win98 to a folder, Then copy the Win98 startup disk to the drive.

The drive will need to be fat32, Then use the DOS commands to start the Win98 setup.

If you had a USB floppy drive it would make it simple.
I stand to be corrected by Comply, but I'm not totally convinced that merely copying the contents of a Win98 boot floppy to a hard drive will make it bootable.  I look forward to Comply's comment about this, and you can ignore the rest if it has been tested and works.

What I would personally do is as follows, seeing as you have a spare PC at your disposal.  This assumes that your XP system has a floppy drive and doesn't have SATA connectors only.

Disconnect the hard drives from your XP system and  attach the one you want to make bootable to it on the primary IDE channel with the jumper pins set to master.

Boot into the CMOS Setup Screen (BIOS) and make sure it automatically detects the attached hard drive.  Usually just set to "Auto" works.

Boot the system to a Win98 Boot floppy and use FDISK to wipe and recreate an Active Primary DOS partition, and one logical drive in the remaining extended DOS partition.  The sizes are your choice, but make the logical drive sufficiently large to hold the "win98" folder from the Win98 CD.

REBOOT to the Win98 floppy and THEN format both partitions (will be FAT32 using the Win98 file).  This time choose "With CD-Rom Support" so it loads the DOS CD-Rom Drivers to allow access to the Win98 CD if you intend copying files from it.

Make sure that you say Yes to any prompts to "enable large disk support" or else you'll end up with partitions limited to the FAT16 maximum capacity only.

Another issue is if the hard drive capacity exceeds 64 GB, in which case an updated FDISK prog file is required or it will report the capacity as the true size MINUS 63GB.

If you don't want to go the whole way and wipe then recreate the partitions, just use the command  FDISK  /MBR  to ensure that the Master Boot Record of the hard drive is recreated.

Hard drive will be C: so you can now issue the command   SYS C:  and it will make the drive bootable to DOS.

I always prefer to copy the win98 folder to the 2nd partition from within Windows, but the DOS COPY command should be OK.  Your CD-Rom Drive will be one letter higher, ie. C = primary DOS partition, D = Logical Drive, E = Temporary RAMDrive created for unpacking the EBD.CAB file from the floppy, F = CD-Rom Drive.

copy F:\win98\*.* D:\win98\*.*

If intending to copy files like that from DOS, then it would be wise to copy the Win98 file SMARTDRV.EXE to the boot floppy and run the command SMARTDRV after it boots to the A:\> Prompt otherwise file copying can take an excessively long time.

Power off your XP computer, disconnect and remove the Win98 Hard Drive, reconnect your XP one, Boot to CMOS and make sure it auto-detects original hard drives again.

Connect Win98 Hard Drive to Win98 machine, boot to C:\> and issue command  D:\win98\setup.exe

To create a Win98se boot floppy using any Windows system:

Win98 FDISK update:;EN-US;q263044

Extract 263044usa8.exe with WinZip and rename either of the following files to an *.exe, then copy it to the boot floppy allowing it to overwrite the one on it:
fdisk.98g = First Edition
fdisk.98s - 2nd Edition

Compatible SMARTDRV.EXE can be copied to boot floppy:

Hope this helps.
He can always just install Win98 on the D-Drive, Then set the drive as master for the new box.

This will avoid all the problems from the start.

Remember you can chose where the New OS is installed. I did this years back to have Three OS's on different Hard Drives. I would just tell the BIO's which drive to boot-up in the order list.
I would have suggested that (to C: or D:), but the registry and other configuration files is going to get all cluttered up with different hardware detected while in the XP box, and then sticking the drive back into the other box is going to start detecting the different hardware there and start asking for driver setup CD's.  That's going to happen anyway, and cause problems without a CD available, so the setup files for the drivers could be copied to the drive (2nd partition) in advance.

The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Enum registry key could be deleted using a *.reg file before sticking the drive into the box where it is going to stay, and that will create new registry settings when it redetects everything from scratch again on that system.

So I would say that either suggeston has its "problems", and it's just a case of choosing which one is the easiest.
I was thinking the samething after I posted this. He has no CD to load the device drivers with. So he would have to put all the drivers on the Drive as well.

The Registery would have only a few settings changed in the new box. He could run a reg cleaner after he gets it all setup.

If this boxs has no network card to DL with, I wonder how its going to get furture drivers or updates.

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yes, those are good points.
Tom_HickersonAuthor Commented:
Man things sure have progressed, backwards...  I can't believe it requires all this to get a command prompt on a hard drive.  I remember in the good old days formatting the hard drive fat 32 making it a system disk, and copying over the windows 9x install cd, and that was it.  What I would really like is a format /s command that will run on windows xp, and install the dos command prompt.

I have a laptop with sata hard drives so no plugging in a new hard drive and doing it that way, and no floppy drive on the laptop.  I guess I'll have to get an ide cdrom and do it that way.

I'll split the points if that is acceptable.


When Bill Gates told us that "DOS is dead" and that Windows ME would not use any DOS programs, he was being economical with the truth.  They hid it while they figured how best to totally get rid of it.  Windows XP has got rid of 16-bit DOS as we knew it, but has left some backward compatibility for old DOS programs to run.  Unfortunately the bits you are referring to are pretty much gone.

The problem is that the proper DOS program files that Windows XP uses to create a bootable floppy disk (Right-Click A: Drive > Format > Make MS-DOS Boot Disk) are Windows ME version DOS files, and not those 32-bit program files used in the Windows XP Command Prompt Mode.

The ME versions are just about the same as the Win98 files, but there are only a couple of those DOS program files on the system, and that's their only purpose ie. to create a DOS boot floppy.  The option to copy system files to a fixed hard drive in the Format dialog does not exist in Windows XP, and there is no such thing as booting into a true DOS in XP to use the format c: /s, or sys c: commands other than by booting the entire system into a DOS environment from a Win9x boot floppy or bootable CD that is made using floppy disk emulation from a Win9x boot floppy.

If the PC that you want to install Win98 has both IDE channels enabled in the CMOS (BIOS), then a standard CD-Rom Drive is now incredibly cheap to buy and is always a handy thing to have available for such situations.  Similarly, a standard floppy drive is just a couple of bucks to buy now.

By all means try Comply's suggestion of copying the contents of a Win98 boot floppy (or even one made from within XP) to the other drive along with the "win98" folder from the Win98 CD and see if it does boot to the hard drive.  I would be interested to see if it would.

I agree that things have been made pretty complicated these days, and the simplicity of Win98se is the main reason that so many people (like me) are still using it.

What kind of laptop with SATA only has no CD drive installed?

If I really had to get it on the drive. I would just get out some old PC parts and install DOS 6.0 on it. Then install Win98.

I still have a Program that needs Win95 to run it. It answers my home phone and can text me to say I have a Fax, Voice, E-mail etc. Then I can forward it to any fax machine or phone. I can even setup to 100 voice mail boxs for users.
Thank you Tom.
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