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Old Sofpaqs

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April 23, 2012 11:05:32 PM

I have a very old Compaq that is still useful as a local file and mail server, due to its limited power usage. I recently changed one of the drives in it causing the bios to re-detect, incorrectly I might add, and now I can't access any of my drives. It is one of those Compaqs that require a setup partition or boot disk to set the bios. It appears my disk set have died, but I have downloaded the softpaq exe file. It writes an image directly to disk, but it keeps erroring out saying "file write error". I need to know why it's doing this, or at least how to extract the contents of the softpaq another way.

More about : sofpaqs

April 24, 2012 9:04:57 PM

are you able to accesst the BIOS?

if so what are options under hard drive operation

sometimes on older computers for a newer hard drive to be recognized you might have to set the capacity or type of drive under the hard drive options
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April 24, 2012 11:10:23 PM

The problem is, I need the setup utility from the softpaq to set my bios options.
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April 24, 2012 11:32:45 PM

is that softpaq file an ISO file?
or an exe?
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April 26, 2012 7:24:48 PM

Exe. I tried opening it with an ISO editor. Also with a Zip/Ace/Rar program hoping it'd be able to read it's contents. Nothing. Maybe someone else can try running the softpaq, letting it write to a floppy, and then sending me it as an ISO?
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May 1, 2012 12:36:42 PM

I gotta be missing something silly. :-\
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May 6, 2012 5:09:23 PM

Ideas anyone?
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May 11, 2012 4:47:32 AM

This computer predates USB, and only has ISA slots, so Usb can't be added, unless some mad scientist makes a ISA USB card. LoL
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June 18, 2012 12:31:12 AM

I'd hate to have to scrap it simply because I can't get the softpaq exe to write a viable disk.
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June 18, 2012 3:29:54 AM

sorry I am out of answers
hopefully somebody can come up with an answer
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June 18, 2012 9:47:16 AM



Softpaq is only a download manager so it won't be bootable. If you're seeing an exe file, it's already been upzipped if it ever was zipped in the first place.

My best shot would be to remove the CMOS battery, leave it out for a day and pop it back. BIOS may have forgotten everything it ever knew by then. If that doesn't do it, try looking for CMOS jumpers or short points on the motherboard.

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June 18, 2012 10:15:57 AM

Since you have an older computer, it may have an IDE HDD - on the back of an IDE HDD is a jumper with three positions, Master, Slave, Auto. Set your operating system HDD as Master, all others as Slave.
If your HDD is SATA, ignore this...
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June 19, 2012 8:44:12 PM

Ok. This is an older softpaq. It is an EXE. When you run the EXE in DOS, it opens up a program to write the setup disk files to a floppy. Basically, it's writing from an image, that is internal to the EXE file. It is a Presario 850. It's old as hell. Only has ISA slots, so that lets out anything USB.

My problem is it requires the setup floppy to access the bios settings. I need to access that because I need to manually set my drive geometry. It doesn't have a built in bios utility. Thus there is no pressing f2,f10, or del to get into bios. Well, it does have an option to write the service partition to a hard drive, but that requires you to have been able to run the setup disk first, AND have access to the hard drive to install it. Neither do I have because I can't get the softpaq to write a viable boot floppy, and the hard drive is what I'm trying to get working to begin with.

Ultimately, since the softpaq exe basically writes an image to the floppy, I need to know how I can view the image contents to manually retrieve the files. Since it's built into the exe, tools like winImg can't read it.
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June 19, 2012 10:34:19 PM

so you are using another computer to open this softpaq exe?
are you using a internal or external floppy disk burner with this computer?
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June 28, 2012 11:15:06 PM

I've tried both options. My laptop uses an external floppy drive. Also tried booting from a dos boot disk, and running the softpaq on the computer istelf.
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June 28, 2012 11:30:04 PM

just thinking out loud but could you install the HD to another system or external HD dock/adapter and do something that way?
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June 29, 2012 10:28:42 PM

Well, yeah. But defeats the purpose of running on the old computer, to save power.
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June 30, 2012 1:15:55 AM

No I mean take the old HD put it in an external HD and install software then put back on the old tower

by the way newer computers are more energy efficient than the older towers
more efficient power supplies and lower wattage components
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June 30, 2012 11:10:54 PM

Less than 200W? It's the lowest wattage system I have short of hooking my laptop up as file server. LoL
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July 1, 2012 3:41:50 AM

there are newer systems that wiil draw under a 100 watts
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July 3, 2012 8:26:31 PM

True, but for free? Though if they're cheap enough, could save that money back in electricity.
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July 3, 2012 9:34:45 PM

something like this Intel Atom system would be low powered
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

dont know what your budget is
and trust me I know what operating on a low budget is all about
so I dont know if $250 is doable or if newegg USA is available to you
but that would be a great low powered file server for the money



I am a big fan of keeping older systems going
the best way to practice being "Green"
but sometimes you have to give up on a system when it gets too obsolete
you could check Craigslist or newspaper classifieds or flea markets
in US about $150 will get you a OEM Core2Duo system used
just stay away from Pentium D and Pentium 4s
power hungry
the OEM Core2Duo models usually only have 200 watt PSUs and draw about 125watts during normal usage
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July 5, 2012 10:06:36 PM

Good point. I'll have to check it out. Sad to have to retire it on account that I can't make good a setup disk.
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July 5, 2012 10:25:37 PM

at this point any computer without USB and PCI slots running anything older than XP is really obsolete
some members will consider Athlon XP and Pentium 4 computers unusable but they are fine as web browsers,office and music machines.
I commend you on keeping a system that old going for so long.
the E-dumps are full of towers that could still be usable which is a shame
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July 8, 2012 10:36:19 PM

Stumbled upon some good luck. I realized that the data in my /boot partition is likely smaller than the BIOS's currently (incorrectly) detected drive size, though the partition itself is bigger. I figured I could boot off my linux CD and re-size it to fit. Then I'd be able to boot again since Linux throws out the BIOS's detected geometry and detects for itself (hence the lack of need for a DDO in linux) "I reject your reality and substitute my own". But I still had a hurtle. The computer doesn't support CD-boot. So I put in my disk to cheat it into a cd-boot, "Smart BootManager", as I've done before. I realized that in it's menu, it showed the hard drive in question, and at it's true size. So I selected it to boot from that, and it worked! The server is running!

Well, since I'm up and running, I can go in and re-size that partition. And if not, I can always boot from that floppy. LoL
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July 9, 2012 12:33:44 AM

AWESOME
great work
and I love the Adam from Mythbusters quote
My favorite TV show
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July 9, 2012 7:35:40 AM



Am I missing an eyebrow? I can't see a quote! :D 



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July 9, 2012 1:15:14 PM

Cobrag0318 said:
Stumbled upon some good luck. I realized that the data in my /boot partition is likely smaller than the BIOS's currently (incorrectly) detected drive size, though the partition itself is bigger. I figured I could boot off my linux CD and re-size it to fit. Then I'd be able to boot again since Linux throws out the BIOS's detected geometry and detects for itself (hence the lack of need for a DDO in linux) "I reject your reality and substitute my own". But I still had a hurtle. The computer doesn't support CD-boot. So I put in my disk to cheat it into a cd-boot, "Smart BootManager", as I've done before. I realized that in it's menu, it showed the hard drive in question, and at it's true size. So I selected it to boot from that, and it worked! The server is running!

Well, since I'm up and running, I can go in and re-size that partition. And if not, I can always boot from that floppy. LoL



that is the quote
from Mythbusters and Adam Savage
at least that is where I have heard it used
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July 10, 2012 1:28:39 AM

Yeah, that'd be where I got it from.

So in morbid interest, as well as furthering it's role as file server, I decided to try to shoehorn my 1TB drive into it. Now, I know there's no hope in hell for BIOS to understand it, but as mentioned before linux doesn't care what the BIOS thinks. Hell, this thing suffers from the 2GB barrier. The primary drive, discussed earlier, is an 8GB drive, which as you recall wasn't detected right by BIOS.

Well, Linux detects it as a 65MB hard drive. So the difference may be too much for even linux to compensate for. And as far as I can tell, there is no way to force linux accept manually entered geometry. Or at least not without major hassles. Though I do know my 320GB drive works on it. The 1TB drive is merely for shits and grins, just to see if I could. LoL

I'm not sure if I mentioned the original specs. As purchased in '94.
Compaq Presario 850
486DX2/50
4MB ram
270MB PATA hard drive
No CD drive, No Sound card (though both were purchased aftermarket with the system)
No NIC, 9600bps modem
Cirrus Logic 1MB dedicated video VLB

Current Stats
Pentium Overdrive 83 (for the 586 instruction set, cost $10)
64MB ram (free, from being a packrat. Maxed out)
8GB PATA Hard Drive (free, again, because I'm a packrat)
16x SCSI CD-RW drive, and a 4x SCSI CD-rom caddy drive (again, both free. Only have 1 PATA channel)
No-sound as not needed for a file server.
Intel etherexpress pro 10, No dial up modem

Incidentally, it hosts video files across the LAN to my blu-ray player just fine.
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July 10, 2012 1:39:40 AM

Darn
more power to you
that is a great job of keeping an oldie going
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July 10, 2012 1:48:00 AM

Yeah, splurged with the CPU. Was $5+$5 shipping. LoL I actually had a 5k86 133, really an enhanced 486 DX5 I beleive. But it lacked the 5th gen instruction set required to run 586 packages and kernel.

It's actually running Fedora Core 3. 2.6.and.some.change-kernel. No GUI. Actually the gui installed and worked for a couple of boots, then something changed, and it broke. Not needed, so I uninstalled it.

It currently serves DNS, HTTP, FTP, SMTP, SMB. And the only apparent lag comes in when my windows 7 computer browses the shared folders, and it likes to load all of those thumbnails at once. LoL
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July 10, 2012 2:24:50 AM

sounds like your tech level is way above mine
I ran a small computer repair business for four years
worked as a PC tech briefly for a company until they promoted me to the front office
so now I work for a HP channel partner configuring servers,workstations,desktops and network printers and writing sales quotes.
I miss the hands on of working on towers
now I sit at a desk (good size at least) with a dual monitor display in a cubicle
sometimes is easier to communicate with the other people in office by email even though they are 5 ft away
dont get me wrong
they are paying for my certifications
so now I am HP certified on workstations and laserjet printing solutions and going for my Enterprise Server and Storage cert
and I am very happy to be working but my real passion is fixing a broken computer
something about making something work that otherwise would be garbage that makes me feel fulfilled
the best way to recycle IMHO
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July 10, 2012 2:45:00 AM

Yeah, I'm afraid some something like that. Where you become so successful you completely blow past where you want to be and end up as a desk jockey, and not in the fun with a hot secretary way. You want a problem to fix? Figure out what is different between the 320GB drive and the 1TB drive, to linux in this application.

The BIOS can't handle either, and I beleive the 2.6 kernel has equal capability to handle both. Now the 1TB drive is SATA, with a SATA to PATA adaptor, whereas the 320 GB drive is natively PATA. However, I have tried the adaptor on another 320GB SATA drive with no issues.

So it shouldn't be the BIOS because both are equally out of it's league. It shouldn't be linux, because it supports both equally. It shouldn't be the adaptor because I've tested it using another drive, and works fine. And, BTW, it's not the drive as it works in my other system.
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July 10, 2012 5:56:55 PM

I have only played with Ubuntu but isnt there a few different file systems that linux uses
I would assume you are using EXT2?
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July 10, 2012 6:41:12 PM



Has any system ever recognised that 1Tb disk while it was sitting on a PATA connection?




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July 10, 2012 9:19:22 PM

I thought there were PATA TB drives, haven't really checked on that. Might be a good idea. There may be a limitation with PATA.
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July 11, 2012 2:42:10 AM

And no, not even gotten to formatting. In fact, I'd rather not, since it is full of my vids, music, etc.
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July 11, 2012 3:29:06 AM

Interface size limitations

The first drive interface used 22-bit addressing mode which resulted in a maximum drive capacity of 2 GByte. Later the first formalized ATA specification used a 28-bit addressing mode, allowing for the addressing of 228 268 435 456 sectors (blocks) of 512 bytes each, resulting in a maximum capacity of 128 GiB (137 GB).[18]

ATA-6 introduced 48-bit addressing, increasing the limit to 128 PiB (144 PB). As a consequence, any ATA drive of capacity larger than about 137 GB must be an ATA-6 or later drive. Connecting such a drive to a host with an ATA-5 or earlier interface will limit the usable capacity to the maximum of the interface.

Some operating systems, including Windows XP pre-SP 1, and Windows 2000 pre-SP 3, disable 48-bit LBA by default, requiring the user to take extra steps to use the entire capacity of an ATA drive larger than about 137 gigabytes.[19] Older operating systems, such as Windows 98, do not support 48-bit LBA at all. However, members of a third-party group (MSFN) have modified the Windows 98 disk drivers to add unofficial support for 48-bit LBA to Windows 98 and Windows ME


source- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_ATA#x86_BIOS_size...
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July 11, 2012 7:06:32 AM



The point I was trying to make is that I'm surprised if such a thing exists as a 1Tb PATA disk. I've run a quick search and can't actually find one. I doubt it's the answer to the problem here but it may have a reduced capacity by being connected through a converter cable.


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July 11, 2012 3:26:32 PM

It sounds like the hardware on the computer is ata-5ish, if it isn't true ata-5. The bios def doesn't support the int13h extension. It can see 513MB drives, and 2 GB, but does not support anything beyond that, which is a limitation of software, whether programs, drivers, firmware, etc. And can be worked around with software. So I didn't really think about the hardware itself being unable to physically address that size.

Maybe, if I can get a (more) recent ISA IDE controller for free, or like maybe $5. One with LBA support probably is ATA-6, even if it's onboard bios might be limited to 137GB. Linux could fill in the rest.

Odd, technically, what we refer to as IDE is actually EIDE. and ISA is actually EISA. As the original versions of both would likely not even entertain what we talk about. An 8-bit only ISA slot wouldn't even understand a promise EIDE controller.
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