Windows 98 Second Edition in numbers

Since I still use Windows 98 Second Edition as my main OS, I thought I share some of the experience.


Up:No (mainboard issues)
Last install date:2007-02-08
Last recovery from full backup:2010-07-03 (virus infection)
Last registry recovery:2016-06-15 (accidential HKCR wipe)
On-disk footprint:1.4GiB
In-memory footprint:~150MB3
Virus infections since last install:1 (IE6 vulnerability)


After considering, that this repair is going to be expensive and time-consuming anyway, I have looked for a replacement board on ebay, found one and bought it. Taking into account, that it comes with a Pentium processor (as opposed to my Celeron), the price was just fine.

To be continued...


PPGA478 processor socket capacitor cross x faulty red white pcb electronicsThe fact, that the on-board LAN stopped working completely after replacing the capacitors, ended up being due to my poor soldering skills. Reflowing solder on one capacitor returned the on-board LAN back to its half-working condition, where it prevents Windows from booting. Since the VT6122-related circuit did not show any problems, I have moved to components around the processor. Where I thought, that I have a spare processor laying around, turned out, that the socket was different, so testing the processor is out. So at least before putting the processor back into its place, I decided to check all components obscured by it for continuity. Result, one capacitor does not charge (open circuit).


The datasheet did not provide many clues to me about what could be wrong, but certainly provides information about few components that should be right. The whole circuit is pretty tiny to mark it on board, so I have decided to track each and every connection from the IC and document it (read reverse-engineer that mainboard area). Of course with electronics, using an EDA program made sense, though I was not familiar with any of them. The typical first choice was Eagle, but that was paid in the past and since it was acquired by Autodesk, it became cloud-infested. In the end, I haved settled with KiCad, which was recommended to me by an acquaintance. Thanks to the introductory tutorial, getting started with it was easy. Thus I spend rest of the night creating the VT6122 component and then tracing each and every connection to it.


The whole-night capacitor replacement did not yield much difference. The mainboard worked as it did before, so nothing got fixed, but nothing broke either, except that the on-board LAN stopped working completely, so it no longer was interfering with the Windows boot. Since I could not find any datasheet for the VT6122 on the internet, I have asked the manufacturer, if they could provide one. While I got a prompt and friendly response, unfortunately they no longer support this ancient, 15 year old chip. At the end of the day, I found a leak of the datasheet after extensive google-fu.


At first the solder did not want to melt, but adding some lead-based solder fixed that. After figuring out, how to do the removal on the first capacitor, all the others were easy, except for one, which did not want to give up its spot. Soldering the replacements was another problem. For solder removal I opted for a desoldering wick, which was falling apart, instead of sucking up solder, and while I got the right capacitors in terms of capacity and voltage, the 1000µF/6.3V Nichicon capacitors turned out to be slightly thicker, than those, that were populating the mainboard before. In dense areas this means, that they are mounted at an angle, which looks comically at best.


On this day, after a restart, videos and graphics in general got slow. The "Direct3D HAL T&L" device was gone, too, only software vertex processing was available, which is, well, slow. Tried booting Windows 2000 (dual-boot for debugging), same, so a hardware issue. Since this was the third technical trouble this month (after the TV antenna fell apart due to corrosion and the ASUS DSL Router semi-bricking after an update), I was more than delighted.

Visual inspection of the graphics card did not show any obvious trouble. The mainboard, though, was riddled with puffy capacitors. After reading some websites on how to replace them, and a few restarts, both Windows 98 and 2000 stopped booting completely; they just hung around the device initialization phase. The culprit this time was the on-board LAN VIA VT6122. While the graphics did not bother me too much, this was a blocking issue, which prompted me to actually order replacement capacitors and a TS100 soldering iron (since mine was not up to the task). The capacitors arrived after few days, the iron after a week.

Stability (2018-08-06 ~ 2019-08-06)

Starts:64 (successful)3 (failed)
Shutdowns:34 (clean)27 (unexpected2)
Uptime1:88 seconds (min)2 week 6 days 1 hours 16 minutes 40 seconds (max)5 days 12 hour 55 minutes 32 seconds (avg)

Stability (2017-08-06 ~ 2018-08-06)

Starts:101 (successful)6 (failed)
Shutdowns:66 (clean)25 (unexpected2)
Uptime1:60 seconds (min)3 week 1 days 17 hours 15 minutes 31 seconds (max)3 days 14 hour 20 minutes 38 seconds (avg)

Stability (2016-08-06 ~ 2017-08-06)

Starts:114 (successful)4 (failed)
Shutdowns:92 (clean)18 (unexpected2)
Uptime1:21 seconds (min)2 week 3 days 6 hours 32 minutes 56 seconds (max)3 days 2 hour 26 minutes 2 seconds (avg)

Stability (2015-08-06 ~ 2016-08-06)

Starts:139 (successful)3 (failed)
Shutdowns:112 (clean)24 (unexpected2)
Uptime1:30 seconds (min)1 week 5 days 9 hours 6 minutes 13 seconds (max)2 days 1 hour 44 minutes 25 seconds (avg)

Foot notes:

  1. Measures time spend in GUI (from HKLM\RunServices till WM_ENDSESSION), only.
  2. Includes (in order of frequency): Whole OS stopping responding, power-outages, non-BSoD whole OS crash, BSoD whole OS crash (seldom).
  3. System + auto-started applications

AN™ project