Installing Win98 on a Thinkpad 560Z

How I installed Win 98SE on an Thinkpad 560Z laptop with a blank hard disk

Despite posting this Web page I have neither the background or interest to become a funky-old-Thinkpad installation guru. I did this as a favor for friends and the Thinkpad belongs to them. My laptop is modern and runs OS X. I know even less about Linux than about Windows 98, so asking me questions about installing Linux on a Thinkpad probably won't help you to solve your problem. There are several thousand better Web pages on that topic. That said, Windows 98 is getting pretty old and isn't up to the task of defending itself on the mean streets that the "Information Superhighway" has become. Myself, I'd consider something modern yet petite instead, like Damn Small Linux.

Still reading this? Not tempted by Linux? I guess you're committed to your Win 98 install. OK then, here's what you need to know. The tricky part of a standard Windows install on this machine is that the 560Z uses an external PCMCIA-connected CD ROM drive which Win98 doesn't support natively so Win98 will lose contact with its own install disc midway through the installation with predictable results. Windows offers a workaround during the install but it didn't work for me. I got around it by copying the install files to the hard disk while under DOS; that requires some tricks of its own. And thanks to a contribution by Hal L., you can probably skip all the hard parts. Read on...

The machine:
Thinkpad 560Z
Pentium II 233 Mhz
2G hard disk
External CD ROM attached to a PCMCIA IDE card. The CD I dealt with was IBM part number 1969-010 which identifies it as a 8/20x non-stero CD ROM.

A Shortcut

In April 2003 Hal L. used my instructions and then generously sent a ZIP file to me that contains three things: 1) an image of his hard disk with DOS and all of the important drivers installed, 2) a freeware program to extract the image file and 3) a batch file to copy it to a hard disk. In Hal's words, "This...disk actually gets rid of steps 1-10 and makes it so you can install any version of windows directly from the cd rom. there is no need to copy the cd to the drive anymore. Depending on what OS you are installing you can even skip the formating of the hard drive." Does this sound great or what? The freeware program is a version of a standard Unix utility called DD. You can learn more about DD for Windows if you want to.

Caveat: I have not used this shortcut and I can't vouch for its effectiveness or safety. It uses executable files provided by a total stranger who seems like a nice guy, but who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Nevertheless, the file has been on this site for over two years and I have gotten only positive feedback about it, so it looks like Hal L. is simply one of those people making the Internet a better place.

If You Don't Want To Take The Shortcut

You'll need three blank floppies, Internet access to download the drivers and several hours of time. The CD reader should be connected and on. These instructions assume you're comfortable extracting files to floppies, moving around in DOS, and installing Windows.

Do you have the drivers you need? Remember that floppy disk you dropped behind the desk, and which been sitting there on the heating vent accumulating dust bunnies and dead spiders since 1997? Yeah, those drivers. Well, that floppy is probably useless so you'll have to download the drivers either from or some less authoritative source, like this Web site.

IBM provides a list of drivers for this laptop on a page called, appropriately enough, TP 560 - Software and Device Drivers. If they move this page, you might want to Google for this:
560 drivers

These are the driver versions I used:
BIOS flash: spsdie29
DOS PCMCIA drivers: v5.32.23.hs4
Win98 video drivers: v6.29.00Q

You will also need drivers for the CD ROM. In March 2003, the 8/20x CD ROM drive became an "expired" product and IBM no longer provides the drivers. Thanks to Alex Avtsin for bringing this to my attention. I rescued my copy of the drivers from the old floppy I'd used, and the so 8/20x CD ROM drivers are available here for you. (A big raspberry to IBM for removing these drivers; I get hundreds of hit per month on these instructions! Old hardware never dies, it just gets harder to support.) Thanks also to Aldo J. for supplying drivers for the 4x CD ROM (part number 1969-008).

IBM recommends that you flash your BIOS to the latest version to support Win98. I did so. You can get the BIOS flasher from IBM's Web site using the google search above.

I used Win98SE (Second edition). If you use another version of Windows, YMMV.

Getting Started

  1. Create bootdisk of DOS 6.22 from The version you use is important -- we will need XCOPY later and's 6.0 bootdisks don't have xcopy on them. (Our motto: "Finding things out the hard way since 1998")
  2. Boot from the (write protected) DOS floppy. Format the hard drive using the /s option.
  3. copy a:\*.* c:\
  4. Remove floppy, reboot.
  5. During bootup you'll get some messages about a failure to find the CD ROM drive. This is expected at this stage as DOS doesn't have native PCMCIA support so it can't talk to the CD ROM. Once you've rebooted, edit config.sys and REM any unREMmed lines for DEVICE=cd1.SYS /D:banana. Edit autoexec.bat and REM the line that says MSCDEX.EXE /D:banana /L:R and that will silence those warnings. While you're in there, add the line set path=c: which will make your life easier later.
  6. Download DOS PCMCIA drivers from Make sure you get the ones for a 560Z. I used the wrong version (mistakenly thought I had a plain 560) and got only "BAD PROFILE" error messages while trying to install the drivers. Even the correct version of the PCMCIA install program is a bit flaky. It has some hardcoded assumptions built into it that are not correct. Due to this it is important that you run the install a) from the floppy and b) when DOS has been booted from the C drive. If you boot DOS from a floppy or run the install program from C it will fail. Finally, the install program updates your config.sys with an incorrect reference to emm386. It assumes the path is c:\dos\emm386.exe but if you're using the procedure above then emm386 will be in the root. You will need to edit config.sys and change the EMM386 path to c:\emm386.exe.
  7. Reboot. You should now have a) no error messages from config.sys or autoexec.bat and b) happy messages regarding PCMCIA drivers (they might be called Card Services or something similar; I forget).
  8. Grab one of the sets of CD ROM drivers provided above and unpack it to a floppy. It isn't obvious but the disk contains both DOS and Windows drivers for the CD reader which is good because we'll need both. Save this disk!
  9. Go to a: and install the CD drivers from the (write protected) floppy.
  10. Reboot. You should now have drive H: as your CD. Pause and celebrate.
  11. mkdir c:\w98i
  12. Stick in your Win98 install CD. Copy the contents of the CD to your hard drive with this command: xcopy h:\*.* c:\w98i /s /e This took 10 or 15 minutes to complete for me.
  13. Remove the Win98 CD.
  14. Start the Win98 installation by typing c:\w98i\setup

Installing Win98

Install win98 as normal. I chose the "portable" install option.

At some point Windows will ask you if you are using an external device (such as your external CD ROM) to install Win98. Thanks to your xcopy above, you can and should answer NO to this question which is otherwise the source of much heartache.

Windows will also ask you if you are using any real mode drivers to access devices. (My phrasing is only approximate -- I'm sorry I don't have screen shots or direct quotes but I didn't think of it at the time.) In my case Windows install was unable to detect any but I answered YES to this question anyway. It gave me the opportunity to comment out the references to the DOS PCMCIA and CD drivers which I thought might give Win98 a stomachache. After this, the install proceeded normally.

Once the Install is Complete

PCMCIA support is built into Win98SE so Win98 will see your PCMCIA card as soon as the install is done. It won't be able to see the CD ROM yet though. To fix this:

  1. Take the floppy containing the CD drivers that I told you to save and stick it in the floppy drive.
  2. Open Control Panel/Add new hardware. In my case Windows was aware of the CD but said no driver was installed for it. I clicked Update driver and allowed Windows to search the A: drive for a new driver. It found it and also offered to install some joystick thing(?) apparently related to the CD. I just kept clicking ok, ok, next, yes, ok, next, yes, shut up and install the damn thing already and eventually the install completed.
  3. Remove the floppy, reboot and your CD should work.

You'll also need to supply video drivers. Download drivers from the driver Web page and install. Once I was done with this (and another reboot) I was able to get nice 800x600 high color.

You might also want to convert your drive to FAT32 (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Drive Converter). Note that you won't be able to access your hard drive via DOS once you do this, so if you still have a need to boot using your DOS floppy (unlikely), don't convert. It might be possible (I haven't tried it) to modify the Win98 startup disk (that Win98 will create for you during its installation) by adding the PCMCIA drivers (if necessary) and the CD drivers to the floppy and thus get access to the FAT32 file system and CD under DOS. But I haven't tried it and I have a gut feeling that this is "ambitious".

If you don't convert the drive, you should at least defrag the disk as it is all messy as a result of the installation. (If you convert the drive to FAT32, defrag runs automatically.)

That's it! If this helps you'd I'd appreciate an email to know that the 15 or so hours I spent messing with this helped someone else.


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All contents © 2008 Philip Semanchuk under a Creative Commons License.