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Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
05-24-2016, 03:35 PM (This post was last modified: 05-25-2016 08:52 PM by Bill (Smithville NJ).)
Post: #1
Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
I believe there are quite a few HP Omnibook 300/425/430 enthusiasts here. I have been playing around with them for many years, especially the 425/430. I found the model 300 to be limiting in that I couldn’t install other operating system on it.

For those that have the OB-430 or the OB-425 with a OB-430 System ROM card installed (and actually the 530 & 600), I have created images of a couple of fun operating systems to play with. These were created using WIN32 Disk Imager.

Image 1 – 32MB:
Two Partitions, first has MS-DOS 6.2 and the second has CP/M-86. The MS-DOS 6.2 is about 21MB in size and the CP/M-86 is 8 MB in size with four User areas. User 0: System Files & Utilities, User 1: Turbo Pascal, User 2: Wordstar, User 3: Games There are utilities included to copy files to/from MS-DOS/CPM.

Image 2 – 340MB:
Two Partitions, first has MS-DOS 3.3 and the second has Xenix System V 2.3.4. MS-DOS 3.3 is the last MS-DOS that Xenix 2.3.4 will recognize. So it is possible to copy to/from MS-DOS/Xenix.

The images can be restored to larger CF cards (sometimes) – for example, I have restored the 340MB Xenix to a 1 GB PNY CF Card and it worked fine. But the CP/M image restored to the same 1 GB PNY CF card would NOT boot. I could restore the 32MB CP/M to an old Lexar 64MB CF card and it did boot fine.

Note: These will NOT work with the OB-300, since it always boots from the System Rom card.

EDIT: These will NOT work with the OB-425. I just tested them on a OB-425 with the OB_425 rom card, and they do NOT work. I had forgotten that all my OB-425's have OB-430 system ROM cards in them, which make them the same as a OB-430. sorry for any confusion I may have created.

They will work on an OB-425 IF you have the OB-430 ROM system card installed in lieu of the OB-425 System Card.

Please email me if you wish a copy of either image. It’s fun playing with CP/M and Xenix on a small notebook.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
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12-16-2016, 03:33 AM
Post: #2
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
Is it possible to "create" an OB430 ROM Card and does such an upload exist? I have a 425 and would like to try some new operating systems besides windows 3.1.
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12-17-2016, 02:13 PM
Post: #3
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(12-16-2016 03:33 AM)Omnibook 425 Wrote:  Is it possible to "create" an OB430 ROM Card and does such an upload exist? I have a 425 and would like to try some new operating systems besides windows 3.1.

I believe it can be done. You need a linear flash PCMCIA card (a standard ATA card will not work), and appropriate software to write the image file to the card. I did this a few years ago with the OB300 1.1 system card image to "upgrade" my 300. I can't remember the exact program I used for writing the flash card - it may have been some old DOS program from Intel - and I'm pretty sure I had to run it on an old Win95 machine (either my Libretto, or AST laptop).

It took a lot of trial and error to find a flash card that worked. Fortunately the techs at work had a bunch of spare linear flash cards scavenged from old Cisco routers and I was able to test a bunch until I found one that worked. Some day I might try to find another usable one among the pile. I'm not brave enough to try reflashing my current card with a 425 ROM and screw something up, rendering the OB unusable. (Naturally, I have no idea where the hell I put the stock system ROM card that came with it...)
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12-26-2016, 03:51 PM
Post: #4
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
Bill, what's your process for installing operating systems on the OB? I've got a 2.0 ROM card coming via ebay for use with my 300. I was assuming I would use VirtualBox on my desktop, mount the USB-attached CF card reader as the VM's hard drive (or something like that), and run the OS installation there. Is there a simpler or more effective way to do it? Also, what about drivers for the mouse and battery gauge when performing your own fresh installation of DOS 6.22 and Win 3.1? Do I need to extract those from my 1.1 ROM first, and install them by hand after switching to 2.0? (Not sure how/if that would work, given the 1.1 ROM is largely execute-in-place binaries.)

My end goal is to have DOS 6.22 with Win 3.1 running in 386-enhanced mode so I can have more conventional memory, and multitask multiple DOS programs. My 300 has 8 MB RAM, so I think it's up to the task.
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12-26-2016, 07:47 PM (This post was last modified: 12-26-2016 07:55 PM by Bill (Smithville NJ).)
Post: #5
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(12-26-2016 03:51 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  Bill, what's your process for installing operating systems on the OB? I've got a 2.0 ROM card coming via ebay for use with my 300. I was assuming I would use VirtualBox on my desktop, mount the USB-attached CF card reader as the VM's hard drive (or something like that), and run the OS installation there. Is there a simpler or more effective way to do it? Also, what about drivers for the mouse and battery gauge when performing your own fresh installation of DOS 6.22 and Win 3.1? Do I need to extract those from my 1.1 ROM first, and install them by hand after switching to 2.0? (Not sure how/if that would work, given the 1.1 ROM is largely execute-in-place binaries.)

My end goal is to have DOS 6.22 with Win 3.1 running in 386-enhanced mode so I can have more conventional memory, and multitask multiple DOS programs. My 300 has 8 MB RAM, so I think it's up to the task.



Hi Dave,

I have sent you a PM.

I never tried a system 2.0 (ie, OB430) card in the OB-300. Not sure if it would work or not.

The method I used to install the operation systems on the Compact Flash for use in the OB-430 was the following:

CPM-86 -
Put the card in the OB-430. Boot to D-Drive. Have a CF card in the A slot with f-disk, format, etc on it. Fdisk the CF card in the C-drive. I was using a 32mb CF card, so, I created a 20MB partition. Them format that partition with Format /s. That leaves some space for the CPM partition.

Remove card, and put into older computer with IDE/CF adapter. Use a CP/M boot disk to boot into CP/M. Use HDmaint to create an 8 mb partion on the CF Card. Copy CP/M files to Card.

Put card back into OB-430 and boot up - it may boot to Dos or CP/M depending on which partition is set active. You can use utility SETBOOT to select a partition to make active.

Xenix - Use old computer again. Create a full set of Floppy Xenix 386 disks. Boot Xenix and install to CF Card. I also created a small 32mb Dos 3.2 partition so that I could copy files to/from the Xenix partition.

Slackware Linux 7.1 - This can be totally done on the OB430. I used a 4GB Microdrive. Fdisk and format standard dos partition - this will be 540mb - the maximum dos can do on the OB. Use a CF/USB adapter to copy the zip linux to the CF card. Also copy the install disks to a directory. You can then boot the zip Linux (UMBS file system). Once Linux is booted, you can use the Linux tools to create Linux native partitions on the remaining 3.5gb Microdrive space. The Zip slack system can be moved to the new partition. You can boot to dos, then boot Linux. You can then also install any other parts of the Operation systems from the install disks you had copied to the dos partition. Once Zip Linux has been moved to the Linux Partition, you can delete the files from the Dos side. You would use LOADLIN to boot from dos to the Linux Partition.

I never tried using VirtualBox to create the CF systems. It should work.

The big question is whether the OB-430 Rom Card will work in the OB-300. I don't think it will since I seem to remember that the OB-300 always boots from a boot loader on the OB-300 Rom card and that this boot loaded is not on the OB-430 card. If I remember correctly, the OB-300 does NOT boot from the boot sector on the CF card - but always from the ROM card, even when booting to the C-Drive.

I'll be interested in hearing what you discover.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
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12-26-2016, 07:56 PM
Post: #6
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
Okay, that makes sense; thanks.

Right now, I've got my 300 booting from a 1.1 ROM image (i.e. 425) that I wrote to a linear flash card, and no compatibility issues there, so I'm assuming the boot process is similar enough. It probably just branches to a specific address on the ROM card at power on. Considering the 430 ROM actually has LESS software on it, seems like it ought to be at least as compatible.

I'll post results when I've had a chance to experiment. Worst case scenario, I'll have an excuse to track down a 425. Wink
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01-02-2017, 02:33 PM
Post: #7
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
interesting ... do the systems images (DOS, CP/M, Xenix) allow accessing the hardware e.g. the serial port? For example for printing or to run Kermit?

Martin
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01-03-2017, 02:56 AM
Post: #8
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(01-02-2017 02:33 PM)Martin Hepperle Wrote:  interesting ... do the systems images (DOS, CP/M, Xenix) allow accessing the hardware e.g. the serial port? For example for printing or to run Kermit?

Martin

The DOS image would work fine with the com port.

As to CP/M, Xenix, Linux, etc, I'm not sure - I never had a
reason to use the com port.

Bill
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01-07-2017, 04:27 AM
Post: #9
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
Alright, got my 430 card today, and spent some time experimenting with it in the 300. It seems to work fine in that model; I popped it in, and booted right to the tiny DOS 6.20 installation on D:. The tricky part was getting DOS installed to the C: card, though. You have to use OBFDISK on the ROM card to properly partition the card to make it bootable. Then I mounted the partitioned card as a raw disk for a VirtualBox VM, and ran the DOS 6.22 installation. That got the OmniBook booting 6.22. Hurray!

Only had partial success getting Win 3.1 up and running, though. When running in 386-enhanced mode, it would hang shortly after startup, requiring a visit to the reset button. (The exact same thing happened when I tried to do a full installation of Windows on the 1.1 ROM and run it in 386 mode). After a lot of trial and error, it appears you have to disable 32-bit disk access in SYSTEM.INI to prevent the system from hanging.

I still can't get OBSTATUS.EXE working, though; it dies with a GPF as soon as it launches, implicating OBCONFIG.DLL for some reason. Start Windows in standard mode, and it comes right up. Going to have to experiment some more to see if I can get everything running stably. I'd really like to get OBSTATUS working so I can see the battery level in Windows.

On a related note, the Logitech TrackMan Portable works great on the OmniBook. Just tweak SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI as appropriate to choose either the built-in mouse, or the Logitech. Keep the lines for both mice in each file, and just comment out the one you don't want to use.
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01-07-2017, 11:50 AM
Post: #10
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(01-07-2017 04:27 AM)Dave Britten Wrote:  That got the OmniBook booting 6.22. Hurray!
That's great, as it means you could also install DR-DOS on the Omnibook 300, which would give you more sophisticated memory management, multitasking and more.
Quote:When running in 386-enhanced mode, it would hang shortly after startup, requiring a visit to the reset button. [...] it appears you have to disable 32-bit disk access in SYSTEM.INI to prevent the system from hanging.
If this would be down to the Omnibook's disk hardware being non-standard (which, I think, is quite likely), it could well be that there is no other solution. Is it still necessary to disable this on later Omnibook models like the 430? I take it that you have to disable 32-bit disk access completely, and that disabling 32-bit disk write access, but keeping 32-bit disk read access enabled doesn't work, right?
Quote:I still can't get OBSTATUS.EXE working, though; it dies with a GPF as soon as it launches, implicating OBCONFIG.DLL for some reason. Start Windows in standard mode, and it comes right up.
Is the OBSTATUS for the OB300 different (older) than the version for the OB430?
Where is the OBCONFIG.DLL installed on your system?
Quote:On a related note, the Logitech TrackMan Portable works great on the OmniBook.
Does this TrackMan require the standard Logitech "MouseWare" DOS mouse driver (which version?), or does it use a special trackball driver?
Quote:Just tweak SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI as appropriate to choose either the built-in mouse, or the Logitech. Keep the lines for both mice in each file, and just comment out the one you don't want to use.
You could also set up two versions of the files and copy the desired ones to the proper place depending on which mouse you want to use. The copying could be easily made dependable on your choice in a DOS boot menu.

Does the built-in HP mouse require the OBMOUSE driver under DOS, or does it also work with more "generic" DOS mouse drivers? Background of the question are possible optimizations - some mouse drivers are smaller / better than others, but they might not work for the built-in mouse, if it uses proprietary hardware.

Greetings,

Matthias


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01-07-2017, 01:13 PM
Post: #11
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(01-07-2017 11:50 AM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  If this would be down to the Omnibook's disk hardware being non-standard (which, I think, is quite likely), it could well be that there is no other solution. Is it still necessary to disable this on later Omnibook models like the 430? I take it that you have to disable 32-bit disk access completely, and that disabling 32-bit disk write access, but keeping 32-bit disk read access enabled doesn't work, right?

It's actually not that the OB disk hardware doesn't support it, but rather it appears to be some weird conflict with the power management. Using POWER.EXE to dial power management back to either STD or OFF also seems to prevent the freeze, but doing that causes some other problems (like the loss of suspend/resume functionality).

(01-07-2017 11:50 AM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  Is the OBSTATUS for the OB300 different (older) than the version for the OB430?
Where is the OBCONFIG.DLL installed on your system?

I still need to verify that. I can probably find a few different versions of those files on omnibooks.info/archive and do some comparisons to see which ones differ and which are the same. I simply installed OBCONFIG.DLL into C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM; that file appears to provide the OmniBook control panel, and that was running just fine.

(01-07-2017 11:50 AM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  Does this TrackMan require the standard Logitech "MouseWare" DOS mouse driver (which version?), or does it use a special trackball driver?

The one I bought (which was still brand new and unopened!) came with MouseWare 7.0 floppies in the box, along with the necessary PS/2-to-serial adapter for use with the OmniBook. Thankfully, the floppies were still pristine and not suffering from any bit rot. I suspect the TrackMan would be pretty flexible about the version of MouseWare you use, and it may even be generic enough to function with any basic serial mouse driver. You would likely lose the ability to adjust the orientation or redefine the buttons, of course.

(01-07-2017 11:50 AM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  Does the built-in HP mouse require the OBMOUSE driver under DOS, or does it also work with more "generic" DOS mouse drivers? Background of the question are possible optimizations - some mouse drivers are smaller / better than others, but they might not work for the built-in mouse, if it uses proprietary hardware.

I honestly haven't messed with the built-in mouse under DOS much at all - it's clumsy enough under Windows. Smile But I would highly doubt that it would work with generic mouse drivers, since it's actually a 2-axis analog input more akin to a joystick (i.e. absolute positioning) rather than the relative tracking of a typical mouse.
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01-07-2017, 02:44 PM
Post: #12
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
Looks like there's more to this than just 32-bit disk access (and I'm no longer certain that actually has anything to do with it). I did a fresh installation of Windows with it disabled, and it hangs a few seconds after startup. Disabling advanced power management corrects the problem, but isn't a viable way to run the system. I'm reapplying tweaks/customizations one at a time until it stops freezing. If that doesn't get me anywhere, I might try a newer build of Windows, like WFW 3.11 or something. Or possibly go back to DOS 6.20, since that's apparently what the 430 shipped with.

If any of you guys with a 430 is really hard up for entertainment, I'd be curious to know if that model has the same problem running a stock 3.1 installation in 386-enhanced mode.
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01-07-2017, 06:32 PM
Post: #13
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
Update on the mouse situation: it turns out the standard OB mouse driver does support serial mice. Simply connect/disconnect your mouse (e.g. TrackMan Portable) and restart Windows. As long as you don't need the ability to use lefty mode, or reconfigure the buttons, the Logitech software isn't necessary at all.
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01-08-2017, 09:49 PM
Post: #14
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(01-07-2017 02:44 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  If any of you guys with a 430 is really hard up for entertainment, I'd be curious to know if that model has the same problem running a stock 3.1 installation in 386-enhanced mode.
I agree. It would be really useful to know, if all this is working fine on the 430. If it doesn't, there's little point trying to get it running on the 300, but knowing that it works on the newer model this model's configuration would be very good starting point trying to isolate the problems and derive a working configuration on the 300.
Quote:I did a fresh installation of Windows with it disabled, and it hangs a few seconds after startup. Disabling advanced power management corrects the problem, but isn't a viable way to run the system.
Before being able to track down power management issues, you need to know that the system is otherwise in a reliably working state and all other issues have been resolved. Therefore I suggest to disable advanced power management for a while.
Quote:Or possibly go back to DOS 6.20, since that's apparently what the 430 shipped with.
Generic issues of MS-DOS 6.22 and 6.20 are almost identical (except for DriveSpace vs. DoubleSpace). So, unless the kernel files were altered by HP, there's little point switching to 6.20. The HP-specific files all seem to be prefixed with "OB".

Not as a solution, but as temporary tests to isolate problems I would suggest that you try to rule out any possible disk DMA problems, upper memory address conflicts and miscommunication between the DOS and Windows memory managers. Once you have found a 100% stable configuration, these settings can
be tuned as well.

- disable (U)DMA modes in BIOS setup (because they could cause problems in V86 mode), or increase DMA size in SYSTEM.INI [386Enh] f.e. HardDiskDMABuffer=32 DMABufferSize=64
- disable multi-sector disk access in BIOS and CONFIG.SYS MULTITRACK=OFF
- experiment if changing the STACKS directive in CONFIG.SYS has an impact on stability, f.e. STACKS=16,512 or STACKS=0,0
- don't attempt to load anything high or into UMBs (CONFIG.SYS DOS=NOUMB, LOW)
- try loading HIMEM without EMM386 and loading both at the same time (but without declaring EMS or UMBs).
- dito, but explicitly exclude all upper memory (X=C800-FFFF)
- dito, but doing the same through SYSTEM.INI [386Enh] EMMExclude=C800-FFFF

Hope it helps,

Matthias


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01-08-2017, 11:37 PM
Post: #15
RE: Omnibook 430- Other Operating Systems
(01-08-2017 09:49 PM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  I agree. It would be really useful to know, if all this is working fine on the 430. If it doesn't, there's little point trying to get it running on the 300, but knowing that it works on the newer model this model's configuration would be very good starting point trying to isolate the problems and derive a working configuration on the 300.

On the contrary, if the results are the same on the 430, then I would think it's more likely just a matter of software misconfiguration, rather than some inherent hardware conflict between the 2.0 BIOS and the 300. After all, Bill has been running a bunch of other 386 operating systems on a 425/430 without reporting anything similar.

(01-08-2017 09:49 PM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  Before being able to track down power management issues, you need to know that the system is otherwise in a reliably working state and all other issues have been resolved. Therefore I suggest to disable advanced power management for a while.

Yeah, I need to experiment with that a bit more. The trouble is that running the OB without APM is really impractical - you lose the instant suspend/resume, which means you're getting a reboot if you try to power off. Should be tolerable enough for 30-60 minutes of stationary testing, though.

(01-08-2017 09:49 PM)matthiaspaul Wrote:  Not as a solution, but as temporary tests to isolate problems I would suggest that you try to rule out any possible disk DMA problems, upper memory address conflicts and miscommunication between the DOS and Windows memory managers. Once you have found a 100% stable configuration, these settings can
be tuned as well.

- disable (U)DMA modes in BIOS setup (because they could cause problems in V86 mode), or increase DMA size in SYSTEM.INI [386Enh] f.e. HardDiskDMABuffer=32 DMABufferSize=64
- disable multi-sector disk access in BIOS and CONFIG.SYS MULTITRACK=OFF
- experiment if changing the STACKS directive in CONFIG.SYS has an impact on stability, f.e. STACKS=16,512 or STACKS=0,0
- don't attempt to load anything high or into UMBs (CONFIG.SYS DOS=NOUMB, LOW)
- try loading HIMEM without EMM386 and loading both at the same time (but without declaring EMS or UMBs).
- dito, but explicitly exclude all upper memory (X=C800-FFFF)
- dito, but doing the same through SYSTEM.INI [386Enh] EMMExclude=C800-FFFF

I've played around with a few of these, but I'm sure there are loads of other settings I'm not familiar with that I can try adjusting. I did a little bit of UMA exclusion, but I don't think I've tried explicitly excluding the whole thing. I also used all of win.com's /d: troubleshooting options simultaneously, but didn't see any difference there. The OB doesn't have any sort of BIOS setup menu, apart from pressing Alt at startup to select the boot drive, so any system-specific tweaks generally have to be done via TSRs, config utilities, config file options, etc. I've not seen anything referencing DMA modes. Leaving out EMM386 entirely didn't seem to improve results.

What I do know is that the system runs perfectly fine in standard mode, and also seems to be okay if advanced power management is disabled (there are three levels of APM - I haven't yet fully confirmed if simply using a less aggressive setting helps). I don't know exactly what 386-enhanced mode does differently from standard, but it does seem like it's the combination of that and power management that's hanging the system.

And when I say that it's hanging, the peculiar thing is that the mouse cursor is still movable, and you can hit Ctrl-Alt-Del to get the usual Win 3.1 blue-screen hung application warning, but from there, Ctrl-Alt-Del a second time just totally hangs the machine (and pressing a key to go back and wait for the hung application gives you only a partially redrawn screen).
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