PS/2 FAQ, Section 8

S) 8.0 Operating Systems (OS) NOT reviewed 04/26/00

Q)  8.1  Can I run UNIX on my PS/2? Which UNIX variety works?

According to C. Beauregard: 

Currently, most of the common disk controllers are supported: IBM SCSI, IBM ESDI, AHA-1640, Buslogic, Future Domain.  X Windows runs under XGA, XGA-2, 8514, VGA, etc.  Network cards include 3c523, 3c529, assorted WD/SMC, IBM Ethernet Adapter/A, and a few ethernet, Token ring, and :) Arcnet.  Basically, it's running on almost all MCA machines in one form or another including most PS/2s, NCRs, Apricot, and some other extremenly weird configurations (An IBM P390 300 MHz Pentium Pro with 1GB of RAM, for example). 

The 2.0.x kernel series is supported via patches available at glycerine. As well, MCA support is now in the 2.1.x kernel (well, with a few bugs), meaning MCA hardware will be fully supported in Linux 2.2, although support from specific distributions will probably come a little slower. The exception is Debian, which has had complete MCA support since 2.0. 

There's also been some work done on NetBSD for MCA, and Bob Eager is working on some other BSD support.  Linux, of course, is way ahead of the game. 

Q)  8.2  Why won't certain UNIXs run on my PS/2?

The only thing that stops anything type of program from running on a PS/2 that would normally run on any other machine with the same CPU/memory etc  are usually the device drivers.  In the case of UNIX more than likely it is just a matter of obtaining the correct disk drivers.  If you have ESDI and want to run LINUX there is a ESDI fix available.  If you have a SCSI that is compatible with any of the supported drivers you are ok also. Currently there is a large Linux/MCA following and Linux is by itself a great OS... 32 bit and totally stable. 

For questions on Linux/MCA go to: 

Q)  8.3  What is better for the PS/2, MSDOS or PCDOS?

I would have to say it is a toss-up.  In one hand, PC-DOS supplies special programs that are optimized for/unique to the PS/2 and may be helpful, but  then you have the problem that something may not be compatible with the MS-DOS standard.  By purchasing MS-DOS, you may not get the special programs you need to run certain diagnostics, and procedures on your PS/2, but you do get a 100% compatible DOS.  Buy whichever you think you will need, PC-DOS should be more than 98% compatible with anything MS-DOS has, but if you have something in that 2% incompatible area the decision is practically made for you. 

Another note is that DOS is on its way out in the form we know it today. The routines and procedures are being incorporated into GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) like Windows, OS/2, and of course as always UNIX. If you are still one holding out on running Windows or OS/2 you really should start as soon as you get far behind in the realm of OS's and it will be hard to catch up. 

Actually DOS is Windows 95/98 or UNIX/LINUX if possible and don't worry about it unless you are running applications that rely on a DOS version that does not run under Windows 98 or UNIX/LINUX or you need a low disk space OS. 

Q)  8.4  Can I run Windows?  What would I need?

Any PS/2 with the basic requirements can run all of the standard OS's, such as OS/2 and Windows, even Windows for Workgroups and Win95.  Just make sure you read the box carefully and that your machine has all the requirements.  Even though Windows and other OS's can run in 2-3 MB it is wise to at least have 4MB and 8MB is a more comfortable range.  Try to get as much RAM as possible as the more RAM you have the faster/more efficiently your machine will run. 

One system.ini line that should be added for the PS/2 user is under the Enh 386 section, add the line InitPS2MouseAtExit=False.  This prevents Windows from reinitializing the mouse on a PS/2 and thus causing a 5-10 second delay. 

Q)  8.5  Can I run Win95? What would I need?

   95 works without many tricks - you will have to add the IBMCDROM.SYS MS-DOS 
driver to the Win95 starter disk.

Ohland's chaotic explanation and W95/DOS examples are HERE
Wendt's Eurotrash explanation for CD-ROMs specifically is HERE

Q)  8.5a(1)  Can I run Win98? What would I need?
Under revision 4 May 2006

Us, the God Emperor:
   After some really frustrating experiences finally culminating with a 9590, a P90 complex, and Spock, I got religion, and incidentally, a W98SE system that ran with everything in protected mode. During this penetential flagellation, I tried a SDC3211F / BT-646S first, with a P60, and I could not get it stable. System failed to complete the setup process and at times would not even get into Windows. So if I was using the Buslogic driver, and it blows chunks, and the IBM driver blows chunks, then what thing is common? IOSUBSYS.

   To run W98SE in [un]Protected mode, your CPU must be running on a base clock of 50 MHz or less. A 486DX2-66 runs on a 33 MHz base, a 486DX-50 is fine, but a 60 MHz or higher clock is verboten. I tried to run SETUP /NM on a P90, and it stayed in compatibility mode. I then swapped out the complex for a Type 3 486DX-50 [restored system partition and added Corvette adf to system partition]. To install on systems with slower base clocks (25 MHz or so) use SETUP /NM.

Texas Bill piped up with:
  Remember, my system wouldn't run properly with a 486DX4-100 (33x3 or 25x4 base clock),
a POD83 (33x2.5, thanks to David for the multiplier) or (sometimes) a 133 MHz Kingston TurboChip. I didn't have SCSI problems, but I believe that can be assigned to the fact that I am using a Future Domain adapter instead of IBM SCSI.

We, the God Emperor reply:
   This multiplication thing may point to a timing issue, or some sort of chip specific issue. As to the FD, it is PIO, and this timing/speed issue MAY only affect adapters that use DMA... Texas Bill, will you test this combo, the FD and something with a base clock above 50? This may give a clearer idea of what the issue is within IOSUBSYS.

   PS. For all you frustrated Model 90 owners that felt scr*wed because of limited colors on your planar XGA [and having to burn a slot on a better card] W98SE has 640x480x64K built-in! Of course it's at 60Hz, but it looks a heckuva lot better than 256 colors. As expected, you must have all 8 ZIPPs for 64K. XGA lacks an oscillator for the 800x600 resolution.

   PPS. Make sure your bootdisk used to fire up the hard drive and CD Rom is a version of MS DOS. Trying a PC DOS bootdisk gives some really bad issues with memory managers [Ed. though I think it's really an MS FUD, a-la W95 and PC DOS].

   PPPS. A utility I found extremely handy is the Visual's Windows 98 all version Product Key Patch. You run, it patches SETUPX.DLL [from PRECOPY2.CAB}, and you'd be surprised. Run it once, then that's it. Note: Run VISW98 under MS DOS [W9x - during boot, choose #5]. It has issues running under PC DOS.

   PPPPS. Get your hands on 98Lite, Professional if you can. It cuts a lot of the garbage that MS tries to load in your W98SE installation. Thanks for the help, Charles!


Peter Wendt said:
   You'd experienced a very familar problem - some machines (with SPOCK SCSI that is) run Win98, some don't. The problem is the SCSI miniport driver SPOCK.MPD. It fails, you don't have a CD-ROM any longer, machine runs in 16-bit mode and all drives outside the ones on the first HD are no longer accessible.
   There is no fix for the machines that *need* to run on the Spock SCSI. (56 /57, P75, Bermuda 76 / 77, 85, 90, old 95).
   However: Win98SE worked on *my* Bermuda-77. The "First Edition" failed. But Win98SE also failed to run on the 9595-AMT, where Win98 1E failed too.
   It has to do something with the IOSUBSYS - or with the bus and device detection repectively. MCA is not supported with Win98 ... and obviously MS found a secret way to keep them out.

Tim N. Clarke pondered the IOSUBSYS dilemma, and said:
    This could be *either* a "sin of omission" related to MCA-bus "back-to-back I/O" to related I/O ports *or* a more esoteric timing issue. When developing the Model 90/95 complex-based processor systems' BIOSes the appropriate I/O delay between consecutive back-to-back I/O requests changed from using an intervening "JMP SHORT $+2" instruction to using an "OUT 4Fh,AL" instruction (this is to a, supposedly, never-/non-existent I/O port, so the AL register's contents are irrelevant), to insert the appropriate number of clocks delay for the MCA bus to "recover". 
   P.S. the "OUT 4Fh,AL" methodology is a necessary "compatibility enhancement" which forces, possibly buffered I/O data, on the 486 and later CPUs, to be flushed to I/O bus.

    Win98 First Edition will not work - Second Edition will. The 1st has a bug that drops the machines with <50 MHz base clock *and* IBM MCA SCSI adapter into 16-bit compatibility mode with e.g. a CD-ROM inaccessible. Second edition works fine and I'd installed it on a couple of PS/2 so far. Don't forget to run SETUP /NM from the Win98 CD to bypass the processor speed detection (or else you end up in a silly error message that your CPU is too slow). 
   Win98 (any version) has its pitfalls on MCA-based machines. It may run on some - but fail on others ... your individual mileage may vary. (BTW: it was not the DX50 Type 3 -AMT where 98 failed to run but the -AKD DX33 Type 1. Any 98 ran on the -AMT)

   Don't know for the mix-architecture machines like PC-730 / 750 or Server 320 / 520 with PCI / MCA. They are *basically* PCI machines with add-on PCI-MCA bridge in the case of the PC-730 / 750. Most likely Win98 has its problems properly identifying and initializing the bridge chip - and the MCA cards behind it.

Success so far:
- 9577-0NA "Bermuda" with onboard SCSI
- 9577-BTG "Lacuna" with Fast SCSI-2 (which ran 98 1.Ed already too)
- 9590-AH5 w. T2 DX2-25/50 platform and cached SCSI
- 9590-xMx w. T3 platform with Corvette [LFO]
- 9590-xMx w. T3 platform with Spock [LFO]
- 8573-401 P75 w. DX-33 and onboard SCSI

Failed to run:
- 9595-B20 w. T4 P60 platform and cached SCSI
- 9590-xPx w T4 P60 platform and Storade Domain Concepts SDC3211F [LFO]
- 9590-xYx w T4 P90 platform and Spock [LFO]
- 8595-AKD w T1 DX2-33/66 platform

Christian Hansen pipes up with:
   FYI: On my PC Server 320, win95B happily recognizes both PCI slots (graphics and sound), as well as the MCA based network adapter. One of the serial ports (COM2) switched off in BIOS, to free up some resources. Haven't tried with win98 though. Hmm - think I have a disk lying around for experiments....  no promises made.

Q) 8.5a  Blank Screen Under MS-DOS Mode

   When shutting down to dos with XGA-2 and W9x, the screen goes completely blank. 

1) Go into Windows Explorer, look in the "windows" folder for an icon marked "Exit to DOS". 
2) Using the right mouse button, click the icon, and choose "properties". 
3) Click the "Program" tab.  In the "cmd line" box,place the cursor at the end of the C:\, add a space, then the switch "/k mode co80". Click "Apply", then "OK" 

Q) 8.5b  Can't See >16MB or >64MB  Under W95 
   Supposedly only affects the Model 77, 90, 95 and PS/Note 425 model 2618-M40. These computers use INT 15 ax=c700h to report  memory above 16 MB. (Other PS/2 MCA computers may use INT 15 ax=E881.) The updated version of Himem.sys accepts a /P switch that causes HIMEM to use this API to detect  memory in excess of 16 MB. Without the /P switch, the updated  HIMEM does not use this API, and functions the same as the shipping version of HIMEM. 

 The new version of Himem.sys reports itself as version 3.95, the same as the shipping version. (Please make sure your video aperture is disabled under system programs, this can cause >16MB memory to be not accessible). Supposedly, OSR2 and greater have the updated HIMEM.SYS, also, Win98 has the fix built-in. 

For a real boring explanation, go HERE
For MS's explanation, look for Q137755
Here is the updated HIMEM.SYS and a installation INF as well HERE

Q) 8.5c W95 Does Not See IDE Controller on MCA System
   After installing Windows 95 on an IBM 95xx computer with a standard IDE hard disk and controller, the following message may appear:  "Windows has detected that your computer is not configured" blah, blah, blah... Windows 95 does not detect standard IDE hard disks on MCA computers. See Windows KB article Q134452

If you can confirm that the computer has a standard IDE hard disk, manually add the ESDI/IDE driver to get 32-bit protected-mode functionality. To do so, follow these steps: 
     1.Click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel. 
     2.Double-click the Add New Hardware icon, and then click Next. 
     3.Click No, and then click Next. 
     4.Click Hard Disk Controllers, and then click Next. 
     5.In the Models box, click Standard IDE/ESDI Controller, and then click Next. 
     6.Accept the default resource settings for the device. Click Next. 
These settings work on a lacuna 9577- YMMD... 

Standard IDE/ESDI HD Controller 
           IO Range 01F0-01F7 
           IO Range 03F6-03F6 
           IRQ 14 
       Note: If the computer is configured for non-standard resources, these settings may not work correctly and will have to be set manually. 
     7.Click Finish. 
     8.When you are prompted to restart your computer, do so. 

Texas Bill came up with:
   It might be worth mentioning that the IBM 9553/Reply board upgraded 55SX machines might need to have the "Standard IDE Controller (No Serialization)" driver installed instead of one for a standard IDE controller. In my experience, picking the standard controller on these systems causes severe crashes after a while. Using the "no serialization" driver choice worked perfectly on my current 9553 and produced no real improvement on another. (The second machine may have had a bad hard's not around any longer, so I'll never know for sure.)

Other Reply boards (Powerboard for model 25 and TurboBoard for model 50/50z) seem to work fine using the standard procedure.

Q)  8.6  Can I run Linux now?

Uh, hell yes. For you unfortunates (?) with a Pentium PS/2, there is the little "HLT" problem with Linux. 

Almost 100% of the time providing you are at least running a 386.  Almost every SCSI card is supported.  And if you can't run the latest kernel the invaders kernel ( usually will run and is very full-featured itself.

Content created and/or collected by:
Louis F. Ohland, Peter H. Wendt, David L. Beem, William R. Walsh, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Tomáš Slavotínek, Jim Shorney, Tim N. Clarke, Kevin Bowling, and many others.

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