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bbcmicro
February 28th, 2007, 07:56 AM
In the grey area of computer vintage-ness here, I have a Compaq contura Aero 4/33c (Long name) laptop with a colour screen, 4mb ram, 33mhz 486 etc. etc.
I'm making an effort to repair this machine because of its very small foortprint.

When I first got it it booted fine the first couple of times, with an OEM front end thing called tab-something by Xerox. Anyway, I must have not shut it down properly one time because now it hangs after the windows 3.1 boot screen. I could do a reinstall of windows 3.1 from disk, but I would rather keep the OEM installed Windows 3.1 compaq as it has some good software on it and is more hardware specific.

There is a diagnostics partition which is accesible on bootup. RAM, harddisk and everything passed OK.

For an even smaller footprint, data transfer is by a PCMCIA floppy drive. Does anyone know how I can go about trying to repair the current installation of the compaq branded 3.1 rather than try and do an new one (From disks I don't have, may I mention)?

Thanks

ahm
February 28th, 2007, 08:24 AM
Ah yes, the Compaq Aero Contura. They made a couple of models.
You have the color version. I've got the black and white 4/25.
Cute little machine but as you say, somewhat limited by the odd floppy drive.

Have you seen these pages?
http://conturaaero.tripod.com/
http://www.zenspider.com/~pwilk/aero_stuff.html
http://ulihansen.kicks-ass.net/aero/index.htm

One of them seems to suggest you can use a parallel port CDROM drive to reinstall the o/s. Of course, you'd need to find installation media.

HTH,
Andy

bbcmicro
February 28th, 2007, 08:41 AM
I would need the media and a PCMCIA cd rom drive, which I don't have.

chuckcmagee
February 28th, 2007, 09:38 AM
Hold the shift key down when DOS is first starting up. This should bypass autoexec.bat & config.sys. CD \windows, copy system.ini system.sav, edit system.ini, change the shell= line to "shell=c:\windows\progman.exe", save it, and restart the machine. It might startup again.

Also, when you are in \windows in DOS, you can do a "dir system.d* /a", see if you have a system.dat AND A system.da0. If the .da0 file exists, it is a backup of the .dat file (from earlier time). The "registry" exists in system.dat and user.dat. If you have a system.da0 and a user.da0, you can replace the .dat files with these, or rename the 2 .dat files something else then copy the .da0 files to the correct names. Have to use "attrib -h -r -s *.da?" to take of the system attributes before renaming, copying, etc. etc. Note the " /a " on the dir commands, this forces the hidden files to show up on the dir listings.

chuckcmagee
February 28th, 2007, 09:42 AM
If the shift key holddown thing doesn't work, get out a DOS bootable floppy and boot from the floppy. Or pound on F8 before DOS starts, might get a menu that way also. If you do the floppy thing, just change drive to C:, rename autoexec.bat to autoexec.sav and reboot like normal. Windows won't start after autoexec is renamed.

IBMMuseum
February 28th, 2007, 10:07 AM
If the shift key holddown thing doesn't work, get out a DOS bootable floppy and boot from the floppy. Or pound on F8 before DOS starts, might get a menu that way also. If you do the floppy thing, just change drive to C:, rename autoexec.bat to autoexec.sav and reboot like normal. Windows won't start after autoexec is renamed.

Yes, at least get it to boot into DOS without automatically trying to start Windows. From there you can try to start Windows manually with the different combination of commandline switches. Also change over to the Windows directory to check the SETUP program (sometimes handediting of WIN.INI/SYSTEM.INI was needed, before the days of this "Registry" thing; I've got the 3.1 WRK)

bbcmicro
February 28th, 2007, 11:49 AM
I tried all the above with no luck.
There are no system.dat files in c:\windows, even with /a . The only *.dat's there are WINTUTOR, REG and WPQC6002. The system.* files are .LGI .000 and .INI.

Changing the shell from tabworks to program manager in system.ini didn't do anything :(

c:\windows\setup.exe just gave a list of langauge and keyboard options.

The system boots from a boot disk, but it does not have a CONFIG.SYS file, so windows wont boot from dos either from disc or pressing shift, because himem.sys is not loaded into memory so I can't try out any of the switches.

Would a clean install of Win 3.1 or 3.11 be clean or a pain due to proprietary laptop hardware, in case I can't revive this.

Keep the ideas coming

dongfeng
February 28th, 2007, 01:00 PM
If you do format it from scratch, firstly back up any directories that look like they might contain drivers!

Copy the autoexec.bat / config.sys files too as it will tell you which drivers are installed and where they are.

Terry Yager
February 28th, 2007, 01:27 PM
Compaq is notorious for using a hidden diagnostic partition on thier drives. Do not re-partition the drive unless you have the reload floppies on hand. Download what you need from Compaq's ftp site.

--T

IBMMuseum
February 28th, 2007, 01:29 PM
...Keep the ideas coming

"WIN /?" will give commandline switches, primarily you want to look at disabling 32-bit disk access or see if you can start in other modes. There are ways to get a BOOTLOG.TXT on startup, which can tell you the last thing that loads. For SETUP.EXE, does it say what the video hardware is?

chuckcmagee
February 28th, 2007, 02:37 PM
Huh? There is ALWAYS a way to start the machine without letting autoexec.bat run. Either boot floppy or F8 key, right when DOS starts. I usually pound on it just before it goes for the hard drive.

If system.dat, user.dat files are missing in Windows subdir, and the *.DA0 files do not exist, these is NO hope of recovering that install of windows without a reinstall. Those 2 files are the old REGISTRY for windows.

Once you succeed in getting into a DOS prompt, I would just rename the WINDOWS subdir to WINOLD or something. All the drivers are usually in windows or windows\system. The rename trick with save all your .ini files also, usually important for figuring out special drivers.

billdeg
February 28th, 2007, 02:47 PM
How about using Norton Utilities of the era to clean things up?

I checked, I only have Win 3.10 OEM for NCR and CMOS systems, no Compaq. MY guess is that many of these files are essentially the same, let me know if you'd like a copy of the disks to borrow.

The core system files should be the same, you should be able to use the NCR OEM or regular stock Win 3.10 disks in many cases. Compaq's customization, as I remember had to do with memory allocation and pre-Windows setup stuff, plus perhaps an extra disk for the mouse set up and utilities. I used to support this era Compaq.
Bill

bbcmicro
March 1st, 2007, 07:48 AM
Huh? There is ALWAYS a way to start the machine without letting autoexec.bat run. Either boot floppy or F8 key, right when DOS starts. I usually pound on it just before it goes for the hard drive.

Sorry if I wasn't clear, it boots dos fine from a floppy or pressing shift.


"WIN /?" will give commandline switches, primarily you want to look at disabling 32-bit disk access or see if you can start in other modes.

I tried this yesterday but I can't get anything to start because it says himem.sys is missing, because the only way to boot to a dos prompt is to skip autoexec/config.sys on the drive which I presume loads himem.sys so windows won't boot.


The core system files should be the same, you should be able to use the NCR OEM or regular stock Win 3.10 disks in many cases. Compaq's customization, as I remember had to do with memory allocation and pre-Windows setup stuff, plus perhaps an extra disk for the mouse set up and utilities. I used to support this era Compaq.
Bill

This machine seems to have a small following on teh webs, so I'm sure I can find instructions on how to do this somehow. I doubt windows 95 will run on 4mb ram?

bbcmicro
March 1st, 2007, 08:13 AM
In the meantime I've just deleted
C:\windows\win
from autoexec.bat. This way I still get all the PCMCIA and trackball drivers, and a useable dos system.

chuckcmagee
March 1st, 2007, 08:24 PM
And, now with JUST the win line gone from autoexec, you can try the various win /? things. Like I said before, if system.dat and user.dat are gone, windows is not going to start as far as I know. "Setup" has some trick where it builds a new, skeleton registry but I have never figured out what the "registry rebuild" trick is.

bbcmicro
March 2nd, 2007, 08:12 AM
Yeah, I tried win/x yesteday. No such luck.

facattack
March 10th, 2007, 03:04 PM
http://www.bootdisk.com/
Get a boot disk from Windows there... I just got a Packard Bell 610 and it has Windows 3.11 for Work Groups.

Otherwise, I don't know... I deleted the himem.sys file and had some hiccups. Then I got the boot disk. Too bad for me I formatted the hard drive now I"m stuck booting from floppy. Now I'm reinstalling the files because, well, DOS is annoying. :D

AH, and get DoS 6.2(?). Need a link for disk images of Win 3.1?

bbcmicro
March 11th, 2007, 01:35 AM
No thanks, unless it's a link to windows 3.1 compaq!

facattack
March 13th, 2007, 09:37 AM
Uh... I actually looked for that particular brand of Windows, but no luck. Anyway, my Packard Bell has a program called "Navigator." It's stored in the PBFront directory of the C drive. Windows is in a seperate area along with DOS in its own directory.

If you upgrade to Windows 3.11, that might not affect the special Compaq programs because they might be stored in C:\compaq (?) and not in C:\windows.

And I've noticed Windows 3.11 doesn't seem to want to format or repartition the hard drive. It just makes a Windows folder or over-takes the existing Windows folder. (I think.)

P.S. Am i allowed to post disk images of Windows 3.11 online for archival purposes?



As luck would have it, here's a page that discusses fixing (or making?) autoexec.bat and config.sys files.

http://www.computerhope.com/ac.htm



So..... have you tried a boot disk?

And I've heard that if you hold SHIFT and press F5, you'll bypass the loading of the config files and do a clean boot. :D


And I found an article that helps you make a boot disk.

http://www.computerhope.com/boot.htm#08