The Fun and Frustration of Operating Systems

I've played around with different computer operating systems over the years, although for the last few years, I hadn't done much with them.  So recently I dug out my old multi-boot computer with five different operating systems on it and decided to make sure everything worked.  It did.  The computer has Partition Commander, with System Commander Personal Edition, to help me manage the partitions and booting. This computer has the following operating systems on it:

  • MS-DOS 6.22/Windows For Workgroups 3.11
  • Windows 98 (2nd Edition)
  • FreeBSD 4.11
  • Mandrake Linux
  • BeOS 5 Professional

Or rather, it did have those until I started messing around with it.  I upgraded its memory, and somehow I messed up my Win98 installation--it wouldn't boot.  Alas, the computer also has some problems with it, such as not working with the cd-rom drive, and I'll be darned if I know what the problem is.  I tried switching out drives, and while the new drive was recognized by the system, I couldn't get the os's to actually read cd's in the drive.  So reinstalling from CD seemed to be out of the question.

However, I remembered that I had copied a Win98SE installation disc onto a Fat32 extended partition on the hard drive, I just had to get to it so that it could be started.   I found an old Win98 boot floppy disk, used Partition Commander to hide the DOS/Win311 partition, and was able to boot up on the floppy and start the Windows 98 installation.  Except that this was the upgrade version of Win98, not the OEM version.  The installation couldn't find a previous version of Windows because of the hidden partition, and wouldn't let me install Win98.  So, I went back and copied the Windows 3.11 files onto the newly created FAT32 partition, then rebooted with the floppy and started the installation.  Success!  This time it recognized the Windows for Workgroups 3.11 files, even though I couldn't possibly have run it on a FAT 32 partition.

So Windows 98 was fixed, but I really was wanting to install Windows 2000, as I wanted Win2K's better USB handling.  USB works in Windows 98, but you still have to have a driver for your USB device for it to work.  So I copied my Win2k OEM edition to an accessible FAT32 partition.  Then I had an idea: why not keep Windows 98 and install Windows 2000 as a separate OS on the computer?  Alas, Partition Commander informed me that I had too many primary partitions, and couldn't install another OS on a primary partition.  So, I went ahead and installed Win2K over Win98.  Except that I had to do a clean install, because it didn't like a couple of things I had installed on Win98, and then it tried to install it over the smaller DOS partition, until I told it to use the same partition Win98 was on.  Finally, I had Windows 2000 installed over Windows 98.

But full of success, I couldn't leave well enough alone.  I've long thought of installing BeOS on another computer, but my BeOS 5 Pro cd was messed up, and I cannot install or re-install from the cd.  But I thought that I might be able to install BeOS onto another disk from my working installation of BeOS, and I decided to try it to make sure it works.

My multi-boot computer has two hard drives in it, one is 30 gigs and the other is 60 gigs.  So I figured that I would try installing BeOS onto the other hard drive.  I used Partition Commander to make sure I had a clear, roomy partition to install it on, then booted into BeOS and went to work.  I initialized the partition as a BFS partition, then ran the Installer to install my current BeOS installation onto the new partition.  The installation worked fine, and I soon had a second installation of BeOS on the computer.  Except that I chose the wrong partition and installed BeOS over my FreeBSD installation!  Argh.

So now, the computer has this installed:

  • MS-DOS 6.22/Windows For Workgroups 3.11
  • Windows 2000
  • BeOS 5
  • Mandrake Linux
  • BeOS 5

So, being the determined and stubborn person I am, I've been trying to reinstall FreeBSD.  I had downloaded a later version--this time 7.4--to install, but I still can't get the cd-rom drive to work, so I've been trying to figure out how to get around that problem. The install files are also on a FAT32 partition, but for some reason I can't seem to start the installation from there, even when I booted up on a PicoBSD floppy disk.  So I made the FreeBSD 7.4 boot floppies from images, and booted up with them.  It works up to a point, but then when probing the computer for devices, it seems to just hang, and not go any further.

So now, I need to figure out why the installation won't continue, or find another way to reinstall it on this older, messed up computer.  Perhaps I can start the installation from Mandrake Linux?  Anyway, fun stuff!  ;-)