Software ⇝ Installing Windows 98 on an Asus Eee PC 701

Some legacy software only works on Older versions of Windows. This is particularly true for various synthesizer-related editors and applications. Some of this software interfaces with external devices and may not work properly inside a virtual machine, so a Windows 98 install is often better with real hardware.

The Asus Eee PC 701 is a good candidate for a Windows 98 install. Many (but not all) things work and the install is mostly painless. I use it to run Yamedit for my TX81Z, the SoundDiver software bundled with the FS1r, and have used it to update the OS on some e-Mu rack modules.

The one thing that makes the install much easier is the Eee PC's great BIOS support for booting from USB.

A rough outline of the process is as follows:

  1. Format a USB drive as a bootable drive.
  2. Copy the Windows 98 CD to the USB drive.
  3. Copy the software and drivers you want to install to the USB drive. See our Windows 98 Software Page for things you may want.
  4. Boot to a DOS prompt on the Eee using the USB drive.
  5. If necessary, fdisk and format the hard drive on the Eee (only necessary if it's not already partitioned)
  6. Copy the Windows 98 CD and any software and drivers you need from the USB drive to the Eee's hard drive.
  7. Run the Windows 98 setup from directly from the hard drive.
  8. After Windows installs, it won't start up properly because it can't handle 2GB of memory and will think the system doesn't have enough memory to run Windows. Fix this by editing System.ini and setting MaxPhysPage to limit the amount of RAM available (i.e. add MaxPhysPage=30000 in the [386enh] section). Full details are in this Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Q184447
  9. Install the VBEMP 9x driver to get 16-bit or 32-bit color (I run 16-bit at 640x480).

The reason this process is fairly complicated is because Windows 98 doesn't properly support external USB CD-ROM drives.

Since the Eee PCs are fairly similar, this may work on other versions. The PC 701 is the only one I've tried this on.

I have not yet gotten network drivers to work, whether it be the internal ethernet, or the wireless. This hasn't been a problem because I had an old SohoWare USB wired network adapter (NUB110) sitting in a drawer and it had a working Windows 98 driver. It may also be possible to get the internal ethernet to work, but there are a number of USB options that will work if you can't make that happen.