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Steven W
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2019-11-11 10:22 »

On the computer that I have Windows 98SE installed on, I don't have an official driver for the video card. I've was made aware of a driver that will work with a pretty big caveat, any DOS prompts or programs that open that ***are not*** full screen will result in the video corrupting. In short, if I launch a DOS program, command prompt, run a BAT file, run an update of some sort that launches a DOS executable or BAT file, the video on the screen becomes a garbled mess. :thumbdown:

I've sort of worked around these issues with previous installs of 98SE, but invariably would end up with screen corruption sometimes. ***Most of the time***, when the video would corrupt, I could do a little dance, pressing ALT+TAB, CTRL+ESC, up arrow, ENTER, ENTER and get my PC to reboot, but that wasn't always a given. I've searched high and low for a solution and never found one. I've tried a ton of things myself. Nothing worked, until today.

This might not be for everyone. If you're dependent on custom PIFs (program information files) for a lot of DOS programs, you may not like this. I'd like to think though, that if you were seriously into DOS gaming or had some 'mission-critical' DOS programs, you'd have the hardware to support the stuff. Part of my solution depends on a _DEFAULT.PIF file (although extension-less). In short, I think this will override and PIFs you have set up. It will use Microsoft's default settings for DOS programs, with the exception of them being full-screen. Technically, you could mod the _DEFAULT.PIF further, but with a Win 9x system, you want this to work with most software handled by command.com/DOS.

Regarding the driver, here's a link:

https://bearwindows.zcm.com.au/vbe9x.htm

In fairness, the screen corruption does not occur with all video cards. The author also makes a version for NT, that, at least to my understanding, generally speaking, doesn't suffer from the issues that the 9x one does:

https://bearwindows.zcm.com.au/vbemp.htm

Also, it could support fairly modern video cards on older software:
It supports ALL of MS Windows NT™ Family (3.x,4.0,2000(5.0),XP/XPMCE/WFLP 32-bit(5.1),2003 Server 32-bit(5.2))
There's some links (some about older versions of Windows) on his homepage:

https://bearwindows.zcm.com.au/index.htm

I strongly suggest reading up on these drivers before trying either of them out.

One last note before walking through my solution, a few of the things I'm doing may not be necessary, but I think they're a good idea.

On with the show:

I started by making command.com (at least clicking directly on it/them) go full-screen. There's two files on my PC (probably on most default installs) named command.com. We're gonna right-click them and mod their properties. On Win 9x you can open 'My Computer' or Windows Explorer and search for command.com just in case you have somehow got more than two. You can right click on the files right in the search box and bring up properties:
PROP1.jpg
PROP1.jpg (108.49 KiB) Viewed 409 times
Once the properties and brought up, we want to open the screen tab and check the radio button for full screen then click OK at the bottom of the dialog:
Check_em.jpg
Check_em.jpg (41.33 KiB) Viewed 409 times
Now, on the Start Menu, we're gonna do the same thing to the 'MS-DOS Prompt':
PROP2.jpg
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Now, if you're running 95 without the Desktop integration or have removed it somehow in later versions, you'll have to find that shortcut and do it in Windows Explorer, probably in 'C:\WINDOWS\Start Menu\Programs'.

We need to make a "_DEFAULT.PIF". The file (really a shortcut) we're gonna create actually does NOT have an extension. That's the way we want it. DO NOT ADD AN EXTENSION, the file will really just be named _DEFAULT. DO NOTE THE UNDERSCORE at the beginning of the file/shortcut name, you MUST have that there!

Here's a link I found to an old KB article from Microsoft:

https://jeffpar.github.io/kbarchive/kb/131/Q131877/
Article: Q131877
Product(s): Microsoft Windows 95.x Retail Product
Version(s):
Operating System(s):
Keyword(s):
Last Modified: 17-DEC-2000

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The information in this article applies to:

- Microsoft Windows 95
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY
=======

This article describes how to create a default program information file (PIF)
for MS-DOS-based programs.

MORE INFORMATION
================

A default PIF file for MS-DOS-based programs is used for those MS-DOS-based
programs that are not shipped with their own PIF files, and are started by
clicking Run on the Start menu. To create a default PIF file for MS-DOS- based
programs, follow these steps:

1. Open the Windows folder.

2. On the File menu, point to New, then click Shortcut.

3. In the Command Line box, type "command.com" (without the quotation marks) ,
then click Next.

4. In the "Select a name for the shortcut" box, type "_DEFAULT" (without the
quotation marks) , then click Finish.

5. Use the right mouse button to click the new _DEFAULT.PIF file, then click
Properties on the menu that appears.

6. Set the properties you want for the _DEFAULT.PIF file, then click OK.

7. Restart Windows 95.

======================================================================
Keywords :
Technology : kbWin95search kbZNotKeyword3

=============================================================================
That's essentially what we're gonna do. You can save the reboot until the last step though.

So, like in the quote above, open My Computer or Windows Explorer, navigate to the Windows Folder. Right click a blank spot (between the folder or files), choose New then Shortcut:
new_shortcut.jpg
new_shortcut.jpg (133.84 KiB) Viewed 409 times
We'll point the shortcut to 'command.com' and click Next.
s2_cmd.jpg
s2_cmd.jpg (93.74 KiB) Viewed 409 times
We'll name the shortcut '_DEFAULT' (again, NOTE the underscore)
_DEFAULT.jpg
_DEFAULT.jpg (65.13 KiB) Viewed 409 times
click Finish.

If you already did everything above, bringing up the properties on that file should show that it's already set to go full-screen, but I'd check anyway. Remember too, if you're showing extensions, that file won't have one. That's how you want it, adding a PIF extension will actually break this fix.
_DEF_props.jpg
_DEF_props.jpg (31.57 KiB) Viewed 409 times
Next, we're going to back up and edit an INF file. Open My Computer or Windows Explorer. Navigate to the Windows\INF folder and right click on apps.inf and choice copy, navigate to a folder you want to back the file up in and paste it. Navigate back to the the Windows\INF folder, and double click or right click - edit apps.inf. You'll get the message that the file is too big for Notepad, do you want to edit in Wordpad, choice yes.

Change the line that reads:

Code: Select all

COMMAND.COM=%COMMAND.COM%,pifmgr.dll,0,1,COMMAND.COM
to:

Code: Select all

COMMAND.COM=%COMMAND.COM%,pifmgr.dll,_DEFAULT.PIF,1,COMMAND.COM
Obviously, don't get extra space or create extra lines...

Save the file. Now reboot your computer.

That's all I did and now all my DOS programs and BAT files, et cetra are opening full-screen. I'm thinking about removing all the other lines in apps.inf that include references to 'pifmgr.dll'. Just in case. As to the file/shortcut really just being named _DEFAULT (extension-less) and the line in apps.inf referring to _DEFAULT.PIF, I suspect that's because pifmgr.dll has a reference to _DEFAULT.PIF. I saw it in a hex editor, was looking at hacking it to bypass everything else and just use _DEFAULT.PIF, luckily the idea of putting it in the apps.inf file occurred to me shortly before I did.

One last thing, I said I don't think some of the steps are necessary early, but a good idea. I don't think you necessarily have to right click on the command.com files and the shortcut in the Start Menu, but if _DEFAULT were to accidentally get deleted from the Windows folder, it'd be one less thing to worry about. :wave:

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Steven W
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2019-11-15 05:01 »

Steven W wrote:
2019-11-11 10:22
I'm thinking about removing all the other lines in apps.inf that include references to 'pifmgr.dll'. Just in case.
FYI, you don't need to do this. It's completely unnecessary. As I said I was only thinking about it. I've discovered there's no need.

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Steven W
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2019-11-16 20:47 »

Addendum:

Setting properties on command.com and the MS-DOS prompt shortcut is actually crucial. Further, when setting properties for everything(_DEFAULT, command.com, MS-DOS prompt shortcut), do the following:

Click on the Program tab and make sure that the Working field is empty. It's sets the working directory.
_DEFAULT_noWD.jpg
_DEFAULT_noWD.jpg (28.58 KiB) Viewed 337 times
Command_noWD.jpg
Command_noWD.jpg (28.21 KiB) Viewed 337 times
Failure to do so might cause you to make an ass out of yourself and accuse people like ProblemChyld of distributing faulty software. Just like I did. Mea culpa, buddy. :oops:

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Steven W
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2019-11-17 00:45 »

One more thing...

Gawd, I hope this is it :lol:

On all the things we brought properties up on (command.com, _DEFAULT, and the MS-DOS prompt):
disable_alt_enter.jpg
disable_alt_enter.jpg (30.07 KiB) Viewed 344 times
Let's disable ALT+Enter under Windows shortcut_keys on the Misc tab. Since the entire point of this exercise was to get all our DOS related stuff to go full-screen to prevent screen corruption, it seems foolish to leave a shortcut key to allow us to do exactly what we're trying to avoid in the first place. :wink:

You want to use Alt+Tab mostly.

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Steven W
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2019-11-22 03:14 »

Running Win9x on real hardware or a virtual machine? Using VBEMP 9x as your video card driver and getting a corrupted screen when you bring up anything DOS-related? How would you like to have all DOS programs, files, et cetera go full screen? Well, here's how:
A word of warning:
Doing this likely will eliminate the ability to set properties on DOS files in Windows use a pif file, I theorize that adding a proper entry to apps.ini could overcome that shortcoming. I haven't tested that theory though.
Create a _DEFAULT.PIF
(text below is modified from Microsoft's Knowledge Base article Q131877):
  • Open the Windows folder.
  • On the File menu, point to New, then click Shortcut.
  • In the Command Line box, type "command.com" (without the quotation marks), then click Next.
  • In the "Select a name for the shortcut" box, type "_DEFAULT" (without the quotation marks), then click Finish.
  • Use the right mouse button to click the new _DEFAULT.PIF file, then click Properties on the menu that appears.
*Note: Make sure you have an underscore in front of the shortcut name, that's important! If you're showing extensions, you'll see that the new shortcut does NOT have an extension. That's the way you want it, but I'll keep referring to it as _DEFAULT.PIF for simplicity. As to those properties you want to set on your file:
set_properties.JPG
set_properties.JPG (199.15 KiB) Viewed 306 times
link to full-size image
  • On the Program tab, make sure the working field is empty
  • On the Screen tab, check the radio box Full-screen
  • On the Misc tab, uncheck the ALT+Enter shortcut key option (using this if enabled would allow the DOS program/utility/BAT... to minimize and cause the corruption we are trying to avoid)
  • Click Apply and OK
Set properties on command.com and the MS-DOS prompt shortcut:

*Note: the properties we're gonna set on these files are the same as we did on _DEFAULT.PIF above. Refer to the image if needed.
  • While you have the Windows folder open, right click on command.com and choose properties
  • On the Program tab, make sure the working field is empty
  • On the Screen tab, check the radio box Full-screen
  • On the Misc tab, uncheck the ALT+Enter shortcut key option (using this if enabled would allow the DOS program/utility/BAT... to minimize and cause the corruption we are trying to avoid)
  • Click Apply and OK
  • Click on the Start button, move mouse to Programs and right click on the MS-DOS Prompt shortcut, choose Properties (see note below if this does not work)
  • On the Program tab, make sure the working field is empty
  • On the Screen tab, check the radio box Full-screen
  • On the Misc tab, uncheck the ALT+Enter shortcut key option (using this if enabled would allow the DOS program/utility/BAT... to minimize and cause the corruption we are trying to avoid)
  • Click Apply and OK
  • Optionally (highly recommended), Use Windows Search function (Win key+F) to search for other instances of command.com and apply the same properties. Search in drive C:, make sure to look in sub-folders.
*Note: If you're using Windows 95 retail out of the box without installing Internet Explorer 4 or 5 (or chose not to install shell integration) or running a later version of 9x and have removed the shell integration, right clicking on the start menu does not work. You can get to the MS-DOS prompt shortcut in Windows Explorer by navigating to the proper folder, most likely 'C:\WINDOWS\Start Menu\Programs'.

Modify apps.inf:
  • Navigate to your INF folder, most likely C:\Windows\INF
  • Optionally (recommended), back up the file in that folder named 'apps.inf'
  • Double click on or right click - edit apps.inf. You'll get the message that the file is too big for Notepad, do you want to edit in Wordpad, choose yes.
  • Change the line that reads:
    COMMAND.COM=%COMMAND.COM%,pifmgr.dll,0,1,COMMAND.COM
    to read:
    COMMAND.COM=%COMMAND.COM%,pifmgr.dll,_DEFAULT.PIF,1,COMMAND.COM
  • Save your changes
  • Reboot
Finishing up and dealing with it:

Once you've rebooted, Windows will build a driver information database. If you've done all of this correctly, any DOS program, BAT file, et cetera will run full screen. It can be a bit strange when in exe calls a BAT file and your screen goes blank for some time, but it'll eventually finish processing all it has to do and come back. You can use ALT+TAB to go back and forth between your DOS programs and Windows. If you need to open a DOS prompt and run some commands, just type 'exit' when finished.While it's probably best to use whatever 'exit' or 'close' mechanism your DOS program provides, however, if you absolutely must, you can ALT+TAB out of it and right click it in the Windows taskbar and close it that way. While this can seem like a pain, it's a heck of a lot better than have your screen corrupt and not knowing what the fuck you're looking at. I found myself adapting rather quickly and it's kinda fun playing DOS games full-screen. :wink:

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Steven W
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2019-11-28 05:13 »

This just keeps getting better. I've read complaints that Dosbox causes the same corruption under Vbemp 9x, well turns out that's because it fires up a real command prompt. On my system, the screen goes blank for a second and BOOM! There's Dosbox!
Dosbox_Keen_VBEMP_9x.jpg
Dosbox_Keen_VBEMP_9x.jpg (159.55 KiB) Viewed 147 times
:thumbup:

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Steven W
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2019-11-28 05:59 »

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2019-12-02 17:26 »

Beautiful screenshots. :smile: :relaxed:

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Steven W
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2019-12-02 19:16 »

! wrote:
2019-12-02 17:26
Beautiful screenshots. :smile: :relaxed:
Thanks! VBEMP 9x makes a good driver, shame it's not accelerated though (not gonna be playing DirectX or OpenGL games). I always thought Dosbox was kinda pointless on 95/98/SE, starting to re-think that.

Another bit o' good news, found one of these in my junk box:



Now, hopefully it works and will fit in the case of this ol' Dell.
fc.png
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