Technotes and other helpful items        

Software issues and installations General hardware installations


IDE controllers and other IDE devices Avdanced technical issues
General technical notes Y2k Issues

Adding an IDE CDROM to your system

To add an IDE (ATAPI) CDROM to your PC isn't as evil as it used to be. With older CDROMS each type had it's own controller card. You couldn't take a Sony AT type drive and use any controller card. Everyone had their own cable, pinouts, and drivers. Even with the correct type of controller, you could have a driver designed for another manufacturer with different addresses and interupt settings. Life was evil without all of the documentation and drivers for the controller card.

Since most PCs have IDE controllers now built into the MB, it made sense to standardize on an IDE CDROM format. Since manufacturers can now use the same interface, cost of the drives dropped like a stone. The new CDROMS are 8x, to 32X in speed and are half the cost of the old 2x Panasonic 562, Sony 33A, and Mitsumi drives. As an added bonus, the audio cable from the CDROM to the sound card, which also had a thousand different combinations, is now the same. Most CDROMS now use an MPCII audio connector, with the exception of the SCSI Toshiba CDROMS and a few others. The cable is also provided free instead of charging $12.

SCSI CDROMs are still the preferred choice for heavy multimedia PCs or file servers, but the IDE CDROM is the best choice for most users.

How you do it in a DOS / WIN3.x system

You first need to kill your old CDROM in the sytem if you have one. In your CONFIG.SYS file you will find a line that turns on the CD controller port....some thing like

DEVICE=C:\pas16\slcd.sys /d:cdrom1 ......add a REM statement in from of this to turn it off

In the AUTOEXEC.BAT do the same thing by REMing out the MSCDEX line


Notice that the CDROM label after the /d: is the same for the MSCDEX and the CDROM controller driver. This is always true, and you will have to match that up in the new driver also. This is very important.

Now you need to remove the old drive and its cables and install the new one. Turn off the powerfirst!

The CDROM will use the same power connector as the old unit, but the other cables will be different. Please remove the rest of the older cables from the box. If your CDROM did not use the sound card for the controller, remove the old controller card. These tend to be very small, 8 bit ISA cards with maybe one or no connectors on the rear bracket. Most of the Sony and Creative Labs ( Panasonic ) CDs used the sound card for the controller, so leave those cards in place. Either way it won't hurt anything to leave it in, since the drivers has been neutralized.

Now the fun begins. If your PC is a P90 or lower chances are that your on board controllers can't drive a CDROM on an IDE bus without a hard drive on the same bus. All 386 and 90% of 486 machines are this way. What does that mean? It means that if you must have a HD on the same cable as the new CDROM in order for the PC to recognize the new hardware - even though you might have two IDE controllers in the PC. This will slow your HD down during installations, but it won't work any other way on these machines. You can olny have two IDE devices on one bus.

If you already have two HDs one one bus and don't have a second, then you must buy a special controller or get rid of the second HD.

Newer PCs use the secondary controller to drive the CDROM and leave the HD(s) on the primary controller. IDE can't mutlitask. It can't do two things at once. So having the CDROM on a different controller allows the CD to be reading and the HD to work at the same time. If they are on the same IDE bus, it is one or the other. During a new program installation, the CD would read, stop while the HD writes, and then start up again...back and forth. The PC slows down, but it is still much faster than the old 2x drive.

IDE CDROMs are just like the HD in that they have master and slave settings. Unlike a HD you don't have to change the setting if you add a CD to the bus. In a single HD PC, leave the master/slave setting alone on the HD.

What are the settings for master and slave, and where do I find them? For your HD, you need to consult the manufacturer's database. Some drives have settings that you will need the divine intervention to figure out the correct settings. This is what the WEB is for, right? Sometimes they are jumpers on the back of the drive, sometimes on the front. Still others still put the jumpers on the circuit card of the HD.

Other manufacturers, such as Western Digital, , and Toshiba, use a more sane approach. They have three rows of pins in the back of the HD labeled SL, for Slave, MA for Master, and a third for other purposes. If you want the CD to be a slave, connect the pins to the SL position. For a master, such as the CDROM on the secondary controller, jump the MA pins. No jumper means stand alone. This is pretty easy and intuitive.You will find a guide printed on the CDROM or HD for Western Digital and Toshiba if you need one. If you have one of these HDs, do not jumper MA for only one drive or if you have the CD on the bus. MA means master for a HD. It is not stand alone, which, again, is no jumpers. The machine will not work properly otherwise. The CD must still be a slave as the second drive on the first bus, or set to master as the only thing on the secondary controller.

Device Older PC, one controller Newer PC two controllers
Current HD leave alone leave HD(s) alone on bus 1
IDE CDROM set to SLAVE add CD to bus 2, set to Master

There are other combinations, but the older system CD must be a slave on a bus with the HD as the primary device. Newer PCs may run with the CD on the secondary bus and set to slave, but many require it to be the master.

You might need a new, LONG, IDE cable. Older PCs often had short or single drive cables. Now the IDE cable must go from the controller to the HD and then to a CDROM maybe a foot away. The 12" IDE cable won't do that trick. Drop us a line if you need a longer cable.

In any event, connect the CDROM to the IDE bus one or two depending on your system. It will probably be controller one with the CD and set as a slave. Make sure that the red stripe on the IDE ribbon is set to pin 1 on the controller port, the HD and the CD. If any one of these is backwards your PC won't even boot. It may not even start. It could just there. What did I do? Check the cable before you turn on the PC. The red stripe is closest to the power connector on the HD and CDROM. This is the standard. The controller may be hard to read for markings, so make a note if you have to remove the old cable before going to the new one. Try and use a keyed, IDE cable to avoid wiring errors.

If all has gone well, the PC should boot up at power on. The HD will work as before, but your CD will not be seen by the system. This is good. You haven't loaded the new driver yet. If the HD isn't accessable, stop and get it working. The HD must work before you can continue.

For AMI BIOS users

On some machines you will need to change the BIOS settings for the drive in question. Most BIOS works with no changes necessary for the CDROM. AWARD and Phoenix BIOS, for example, will work just fine with the AUTO detect for the IDE CDROM. AMI may need to be changed. Set the IDE BIOS in AMI to IDE CDROM instead of NONE or NOT INSTALLED.

In the CONFIG.SYS, at the last line, you need to add the IDE CDROM driver:


The D011V110.SYS driver is a universal IDE CDROM driver. This assumes that you copied the driver to the c:\ directory of your main HD. IT can go anywhere, but make sure the path is correct in the CONFIG.SYS. Your CD should come with the necessary driver.



Again notice the CD label, CDLABEL, is the same in the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT. It must be! MSCDEX.EXE must be in the root directory or pathed out to the root.

It helps if you have a DOS 6.22 boot disk with these drivers properly configured. That way you can test the new CDROM without changing anything on the HD until you are happy. AE Systems provides this disk to its CD customers at no charge.

That's it!

Note that some older IDE controllers will not accept an IDE CDROM no matter what you do. The VLB caching controllers are especially prone to this problem. It isn't their fault. IDE CDROMS didn't exist in those days! You can fix this problem by using a non caching VLB or ISA controller. The HD may slow down a bit, but the new CDROM speed will be worth it.


Old IDE CDROMs on new Systems can cause problems

Adding an old IDE CDROM to a new system might not seem to be a bad idea. The older drives are slower, but they are usually free from the junk box. Speed is certainly not an issue with a file server, for example. That old CD may not work however. Even if you installed it correctly ( see Adding an IDE CDROM to your System ) it still may not work. Why?

Newer mother boards use the Intel PIIX4( pronouced PICKS 4) drivers to enhance system performance on the IDE bus. These drivers do conflict with some of the early IDE CDROMS. People report strange things such as failure to boot with the CD connected to the system, or maybe it does boot but the MB BIOS can't even see it. Still other systems work on occation. You check your cables and drive settings. Everything is correct, but still no joy in CD land. The fault is not your but in the old IDE interface in the CDROM. The only solution is to get a newer CDROM. None of the drives made within the last year have this problem. A lot of the first generation, 2X and 4x drives do have this problem. Like everything else in a PC, it is nice to have spare hardware when you debug . Intel makes the PIIX4 driver and does warn you during installation of the software.

Add an IDE internal ZIP drive to your PC

z100header.gif (4498 bytes)

ZIP drives are very popular these days. The media isn't much bigger than a standard floppy drive, but it can hold 100MBs of data. These little devils are cheap, too. The drives with media are under $100 for an internal model. The ZIP drives are also available in external parallel, external SCSI, and internal SCSI models. The internal ATAPI, or IDE, is the lowest cost and most popular. IDE is always cheaper than SCSI or parallel port hardware, since the PC already has the controller built into the MB. This installation guide is for the internal, IDE ZIP drive only.

Your primary HD should be left alone, connected to the primary IDE controller on your MB. The IDE CDROM should already be on the secondary controller. If you do have two IDE controllers, and the CDROM is on the primary with the HD, stop. Fix it. Your system will be very slow with the CDROM and primary IDE HD on the same controller.

Most of the time a ZIP drive will be installed on the secondary IDE controller with the IDE CDROM. One will be set as the MASTER and the other as SLAVE. The only real trick is to figure out what your MB will work with on the secondary controller. Some MBs will not see the IDE ZIP on the secondary controller unless it is the MASTER and the CDROM the SLAVE. With other MBs, it is reversed. These settings have nothing to do with WIN95, DOS, UNIX, or WINNT. This is strickly a MB BIOS issue before any OS even loads.

Before you run off and change IDE jumper settings, make sure the BIOS is set for AUTO or NONE for type detection on the IDE drive screens in the BIOS where the ZIP drive will live.

One quick way to tell which is the correct setting on newer systems is to look at the startup screen while the PC boots. All new PCs identify the IDE hardware as it is detected at startup. System information such as HD model and size, CDROM manufacturer and model, and even ZIP drive data all show up just before the boot process starts. If you get the ZIP and CDROM settings reversed ( or wrong because you made both MASTER or both SLAVE, etc. ), the PC won't see all IDE hardware. Some MBs won't even boot at all if these settings aren't correct.

On the Intel SE440BX MB, for example, the ZIP must be the MASTER and CDROM the SLAVE. With these settings, the BIOS lists out the HD(s) on the primary controller. The CDROM and ZIP show up on the secondary list.

If the CDROM is made MASTER and the ZIP the SLAVE, the PC still boots and sees the ZIP under DOS and WIN95. The user swears that everything works as it should. However, the PC doesn't always boot or shut down properly. Also the HD LED stays on almost all of the time, even without known IDE bus access. The OS is happy, but the BIOS isn't. The moral is just because it works doesn't mean that it is working correctly!

IDE Device Setup type 1
Primary Controller Secondary Controller
Hard Drive #1 ZIP set to Master
CDROM set to Slave


IDE Device Setup type 2
Primary Controller Secondary Controller
Hard Drive #1 ZIP set to Slave
CDROM set to Master


With care, you can upgrade to WIN95 SR2

Original link found at:

Why didn't Microsoft release OSR2 for retail sale?

This is a contentious issue, and speculation abounds. My current opinion is the following: Microsoft really isn't sure that the enhancements in OSR2 (especially FAT32) will work on every system in existence. So, they released it only to OEMs, so that the OEMs have to do the work of figuring out if it works on the systems they sell (especially since the OEM has to supply tech support for OSR2, not Microsoft). Also, in this way, OSR2 only appears on new systems, thus eliminating having to deal with upgrading & legacy problems. Microsoft hopes to identify problems with new elements in OSR2 in this way, while simultaneously developing "Memphis," the next retail version of Windows, which presumably will include FAT32 and a means to easily upgrade from older versions of Windows & FAT16.

OSR2 is also needed for USB, universal serial bus, support in WIN95.

Memphis is currently due for retail release in 1Q 1998. I offer the information in this FAQ mainly because I got rather angry with Microsoft's intent to restrict the availbility of OSR2, and so I decided to try to disseminate as much information as possible about it (including how to buy it legitimately as easily as possible).

Can I upgrade my extisting installation of Windows95 to OSR2 with the OSR2 disk?

No. If you attempt to upgrade from an earlier version of Windows95, it will give an error message and not let you proceed. You can only install OSR2 on top of DOS, and the most you really need are a formatted hard disk, either bootable or with a boot floppy, and your properly configured DOS CDROM drivers.

Okay, but there's gotta be a way to fool it into upgrading from an earlier version of Windows95.

There are several ways.

robot.jpg (45793 bytes)Danger! Danger! Warning Will Robinson! Dr. Smith and Bill Gates are the same person. Internet Explorer 4.0 is evil! Do not attempt this upgrade if you have IE 4.0 on your PC. The WIN95 explorer, EXPLORE.EXE in the WINOWS directory, will not work this the version changed by IE 4.0. Uninstall 4.0 before you do anything. Otherwise, the PC will crash and burn before you finish the upgrade. You will have to wipe the HD and reload WIN95 from scratch. How come Netscape never does things like this?

Before your start any of these methods, do a complete backup of your data to a separate PC or to tape. As a minium backup key directories such as \MY Documents, Turbox data, etc. Then run SCANDISK on your C drive before you start. These installation processes will check for space and errors anyway and halt if it finds any abnormalities. Your machine will be left in a state of limbo and may not start.

Please make sure that you have 80+MB of free HD space. This does not include the CAB files, which take another 45 MB or so. The CAB files, all 28 of them, are the WIN95 image files that live on the CD. During an OEM clean installation, these get copies to the C drive in the \Windows\options\cabs directory. The upgrade will not do this, so either copy them over manually when your are done, or else you will always need the SR2 CD for new driver installations.

Also, set your video card adapter to VGA in the display driver setting, or some other low technology driver. WIN95 often incorrectly guesses at your video card on initial setup. If this happens during the upgrade, you will have a machine that is out in the weeds somewhere.

Method 1 (easier, but follow the instructions carefully!)

You will need a DOS 6.22 boot disk with the real mode CDROM, and mouse drivers to start this process.

Boot from your DOS floppy and rename the file "WIN.COM" to "WIN_OLD.COM" in the C:\WINDOWS directory. Then run setup on the OSR2 CD from the DOS prompt. This will upgrade your current version of Win95 to OSR2.

Copy all entries from C:\windows\start menu\programs\startup before you upgrade to a temporary directory, and then delete them from the original location. Of course, you will need your DOS CDROM drivers properly configured to read from your CDROM under DOS. Do not attempt this unless you are comfortable mucking around with system files.

You will need your SR2X OEM serial number to complete the installation. (format: XXXXX-OEM-XXXXXXX-XXXXX)

Finally, once you get OSR2 setup running, and you get to the screen where you specify which directory to install to, the default will not be C:\WINDOWS. Manually change the install directory to C:\WINDOWS (or wherever your existing version of Win95 is) to upgrade your existing installation. Copy the Startup programs back from the temporary directory.


Method 2:

This method is more difficult than method 1, but is preferable in that it tells the setup.exe to perform an upgrade installation. This method can only be used if you have your OEM number from you certificate of authenticity on your manual (format: XXXXX-OEM-XXXXXXX-XXXXX): you will be prompted for this during installation. If it dies in mid stream for whatever reason, you can go to method #1 if you have your DOS BOOT disk as a backup. Be sure that you do. It does happen. You can go to method #1 above if this procedure dies.

1) Start up the OSR2 setup as normal, from within Windows95.

2) When you are presented with the License Agreement dialog box, stop. Don't click anything yet. Resist the urge to click "Next." Just stop!

3) Open Start Menu (CTRL + ESC) and click "Run." Type "Notepad" and click "OK".

4) Open the file "setuppp.inf" in the directory WININST0.400. This directory and its associated files were created by the OSR2 setup program.

5) Find the line in the file with the text "[data]". Add the following one the next line: "OEMUP=1". The text should look as follows:



6) Save the file and exit Notepad.

7) Switch back to the OSR2 setup (using Alt+Tab) and continue with OSR2installation.

When you finish the SR2x upgrade, your HD will have 40ish MB less space to play with. Some of this are the AOL, AT&T, and Compuserve online services. These are located in the \program files\online services directory. I just look the whole online services directory and sent it to the recycle bin. Don't forget to empty the bin! This is 22MB of garbage for most people!

back to main page

plug.jpg (6682 bytes)sock.gif (10287 bytes) USB

Why USB Is a "Must-Have" Feature

Universal Serial Bus enables true Plug and Play, outside the box connectivity on a wide range of new peripheral devices now coming on the market. Here are just a few important USB benefits:

USB requires no add-in cards or complex configuration steps. Device configuration happens automatically when the peripheral is attached. USB features hot attach and detach, so users can plug and unplug peripheral devices "on the fly" without stopping to shut down and restart their computer. Up to 127 devices can be connected at one time. For business users, USB enables easier device sharing, especially between desktop and mobile PCs. USB distributes power to many peripherals, eliminating separate power supplies. USB is now supported by all leading PC OEMs and hundreds of leading Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs).

Simply put, USB enables virtually limitless "outside the box" connectivity for PCs. The best part is that this "next generation" technology is available now!

Intel "end-to end" USB solutions USB is supported on the host side in all new Intel PCI and AGP chip sets, such as the 440FX PCIset and the 440LX AGPset. As a rule of thumb, PC motherboards based on the Intel PentiumŪ II processor and Pentium processor with MMX™ technology feature fully enabled USB ports.

Intel also created the first USB peripheral controller chips, the 8x930 family. These single-chip solutions are thoroughly tested and validated to work with Intel host controllers, which can make integration fast and easy––at both ends of the wire.

USB peripherals: available now — and more coming soon Independent Hardware Vendors are actively developing USB products in a number of application areas:

Digital cameras for video conferencing and image capture
Computer telephony products
Hub monitors with built-in USB ports
Digital speaker systems
Digital input devices for multi-player games

USB-compliant peripherals based on Intel 8x930 controllers have already begun to arrive on the market.

USB Peripheral Configuration Checklist

1.Check the back of the PC for USB ports. If the PC is either a Pentium II Processor-based system or a Pentium Processor with MMX technology-based system, it most likely will have the sockets on the plate.

2.If you are enabling USB on a motherboard only, then you need to locate the cable that supplies USB sockets to the backplates. If no cable is found, then review the documentation to determine where the USB functionality is on the motherboard. Some motherboards require a ribbon cable. Cable vendors include USBStuff, and others. 

3.Look for Microsoft Windows* OSR 2.1x. Check the control panel in system settings and verify that you are using version 4.00.95B or later. If not, load the software.

4.Verify that USB is turned on in the BIOS setup.

updated 6/17/99

back to main page