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Thread: Free 386 compatible OS's

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    Default Free 386 compatible OS's

    I have an old 386 that the HD died in, for one is there a maximum size limit that a 386 will recognize for a hard drive? Two, what is a good free OS that will run properly on a 386 that I can download? I lost Windows 3.1 with the HD crash and need a replacement OS

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    It's hard to say for sure what the size limit is. Look at http://www.dewassoc.com/kbase/hard_d...e_barriers.htm .

    As for the OS, well, that depends on what you mean by "OS". If you just want to play old games, you don't really need Windows 3.1; you can make do just fine with FreeDOS or DR-DOS.

    Or are you looking for file management? Or networking? What, exactly, do you want to do with a 386?
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    I could settle with Dos. I'm mostly gaming but an icon based file management OS would be nice just for the sake of it and networking would be nice for maybe easy driver transfers or stuff like that, not much more than that though.
    Last edited by vintagegamecrazy; 06-03-2011 at 12:04 AM.
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    Networking is probably going to be more trouble than it's worth if you don't want to deal with Windows.

    By the way, CF-card-to-IDE adapters apparently work quite nicely even with old systems and will probably save you much anguish when it comes to transferring files. (There are SD-card-to-IDE adapters too, it seems.)

    As for file management, you might as well go with the old MS DOS Shell. It's included with olddos.exe , available from Microsoft at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/135315 .
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    I would love to put windows back on it but need to get around to buying a copy from some online store, hopefully soon. I'll try the link above, my PC says that it microsoft.com can't be found for some reason, is that a firewall issue?

    I just got my pentium II tower built yesterday night. I'm loving it, it has Windows 98 on it and is working nicely, I can only get my 3GB hard drive working on it though. I have 80 and 120 GB HD's and the 120 is obviously dead. I don't understand that link above for hard drive recognition that well. It reads my 80 GB's brand and type but won't format it and gives me an error. Is that because 98 won't work with a HD that big or is the HD bad?
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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagegamecrazy View Post
    I would love to put windows back on it but need to get around to buying a copy from some online store
    Honestly, no one is really going to care if you download Windows 3.1 from somewhere.

    my PC says that it microsoft.com can't be found for some reason, is that a firewall issue?
    http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/

    I don't understand that link above for hard drive recognition that well.
    Well, is there something in particular you don't understand?

    It reads my 80 GB's brand and type but won't format it and gives me an error. Is that because 98 won't work with a HD that big or is the HD bad?
    Don't you think the content of the error would be kind of pertinent to that question?

    The best way to be sure that it's not dead would be to plug it in to a newer computer (possibly with an IDE-to-USB adapter). I remember upgrading a Pentium II long, long ago and it wouldn't recognize disks larger than 8 GB until I updated the BIOS.
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    My friend is going to bring over an external HD case so we can test those drives properly.

    Looks like Microsoft.com is just down on my end. Don't know why as of yet.
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    There's Freedos for basic DOS compatibility. Not sure how it holds up for gaming.

    For Windows, check out ReactOS. There's a few "free Windows" OS projects, but this is the one I always remember.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NayusDante View Post
    For Windows, check out ReactOS. There's a few "free Windows" OS projects, but this is the one I always remember.
    On a 386? I kind of doubt that.

    Actually, I can't seem to find anything that says it can't run on a 386, but http://www.reactos.org/wiki/Installing_ReactOS does say it needs 32 MB of RAM, which is an awful lot for a 386.
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    I never got to test those HD's so it looks like the 386 is on hold for now. I'll probably just buy a hard copy of Windows 3.1 since they're so cheap on Ebay now, when I either get the Hard Drive working or replace it then I will get it running.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagegamecrazy View Post
    I never got to test those HD's so it looks like the 386 is on hold for now. I'll probably just buy a hard copy of Windows 3.1 since they're so cheap on Ebay now, when I either get the Hard Drive working or replace it then I will get it running.
    What is your CPU speed and how much RAM does the computer have? I wouldn't install Windows on a 386 unless you have at least 25 MHz and 4 MB RAM (8 MB would be great).

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    Well, there's always OS/2... *ducks*
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