Install Windows 98SE and Windows XP Pro on Sony Vaio PCG-F430

[ Sony Vaio PCG-F430 (Before) ] Recently, I had the opportunity to completely reformat the 5.58GB hard drive on my trusty Sony Vaio PCG-F430 laptop. During the process of reformatting, I decided to install both Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows XP Professional on a partitioned C drive. Additionally, I needed to establish a wireless connection to the local network. The entire process consumed around five hours and required plenty of research, analysis, and patience. Upon completion, the project proved quite beneficial, as I now enjoy the benefit of a Win-98(SE)/Win-XP(SP2) dual-boot, wirelessly networked laptop. This article outlines the entire process and will benefit anyone attempting a similar operation..


  • Sony Vaio PCG-F430 laptop computer
  • Sony Vaio Windows 98SE “System Restore” CD
  • Commercial edition of Windows XP Professional (SP2)
  • Partition Commander Version 6

Resources & research

Before beginning, search the internet for any new information concerning drivers, errors, and/or other vital data. Check out Microsoft’s online labyrinth for any critical updates for Windows XP. Also ensure that you have the complete set of critical updates for Windows 98SE. You may want to burn all updates and other related data to CD for easy access. Also check the Sony Vaio PCG-F430 home page for any late-breaking news. Execute a few searches beforehand — there are several very informative articles concerning the various components involved in this process (see references at the end of this article), so be sure to take the time to educate yourself with some online research.

Preliminary steps

Step one: backup all data before reformatting your hard drive. Remember to save web favorites, email info, and other latent data. Record any settings you may have specifically configured for firewalls, routers, networks, as well as any system configurations and/or registry edits. Finally, remove all peripheral devices, including mice, network cards, USB drives, etc.

Reformat the hard drive and install Windows 98SE

With your laptop stripped down and ready to go, slip in your Sony Vaio System Restore CD and boot up. Once booted, the install program will present you with a series of options concerning the recovery of your operating system. Select option #4, “Windows 98 restore with format”, and follow the prompts until finished. Upon completion, the program will prompt you to “Remove the System Recovery disk and press any key to restart the system”. After the computer restarts, jump through the Windows activation hoops and grab a floppy disk. Open up “My Computer > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs”, and click on the “Create Boot Disk” tab. Follow the prompts to create your own Windows 98SE boot disk and set it aside just in case — hopefully you will not need it, but who knows. Finally, navigate to your C:\ directory and make a copy of the boot.ini file.

Install Partition Commander and partition the hard drive

Next up: install the Partition Commander (PC) software. Load the PC CD and install partition commander using its default configuration. After the rather lengthy installation process is complete, be sure to reboot the computer. Upon reboot, the System Commander boot utility will present itself, providing several file menu options as well as a boot menu containing any available operating systems. At this point, it may behoove you to investigate the System Commander interface. Snoop around and check out the various tools and options, and then go ahead and boot into Windows 98SE. After Windows boots up, run Partition Commander and select “Add an operating system”. Follow the prompts and create a partition that is approximately 3333MB (~3.3 Gigabytes) in size. For the “Type” of drive, choose Windows 95/98/ME/2000. After PC partitions the drive (the process may take awhile), a dialogue box will instruct you to restart the computer with the new OS disk in the drive. So, grab your copy of XP, slap it in, reboot, and pay close attention to the screen as the XP disk is recognized..

Setting up Windows XP

As the computer reboots, it should recognize the Windows XP installation CD and prompt you to “press any key to boot from CD”. Press any key and wait for the program to inspect and install the requisite files. After installing all of the necessary files, XP displays a “Welcome to Setup” screen that provides several options: “Set up XP now”, “Repair”, and “Quit”. Select “Set up XP now” and click next. After agreeing to the license, Setup displays a list of your existing partitions along with several options: “Set up WinXP on selected partition”, “Create a partition in an unpartitioned space”, and “Delete selected partition”. Now, looking at the listed partitions, we should have something like this:

C: Partition 1 (Win98SE) [FAT32] 2385MB (1631MB free)
D: Partition 2 (WinXP) [FAT32] 333MB (3328 free)
Unpartitioned space 8MB

If you are not so fortunate, and see something similar (or worse) to the following:

E: Partition 1 (Inactive OS/2) 2385MB (1631 free)
C: Partition 2 (New-OS) 3333MB (3328 free)
Unpartitioned space 8MB

Then you will need to perform the steps described in the next section (Fixing the partitions). If, on the other hand, you are fortunate enough to have the correct partitions listed, then feel free to skip the next section and continue the process in the section entitled, “Installing Windows XP”.

Fixing the partitions

If, for whatever reason, the drives listed via the WinXP setup screen are incorrect, follow these steps to correct them. Insert the floppy boot disk you supposedly created before embarking on this noble mission and reboot the computer. After reboot, type “fdisk” at the command prompt and select the “No large drive support” option. In the next screen, select #2 to set the active partition and type “1” to select the first partition. Press enter and then escape twice to exit. Remove the boot disk, restart the computer, and boot into Windows 98SE. In Win98SE, run Partition Commander, choose “Manual Partition” and ensure the proper partition configuration (as listed in the previous section). Save any changes, if any, and reboot the computer with XP in the disk drive. At this point, return to the previous section and continue the setup process.

Installing Windows XP

With the correct partitions listed in the WinXP setup screen, select the “WinXP” partition and press enter. In the next screen, choose “Leave current file system intact (No changes)” and press enter. Setup will then proceed to copy files. After it has finished, the program will automatically reboot into Windows XP. Do nothing to interrupt this process. After restarting, Windows XP resumes the installation process and continues for approximately 40 minutes. Throughout this process, you will be prompted to set various Windows configuration options and enter other bits of user data. Remember to jot down your Admin username, password, and any other vital information along the way. After Setup has finished doing its business, the computer will automatically reboot into the Windows boot screen, which should now provide options to boot into either WinXP or Win98. Select WinXP and follow prompts to complete the installation.

Customizing the boot.ini file

Once you have both operating systems installed and booting properly, you may want to change various aspects of the boot screen. The boot screen displays information as specified in the boot.ini file, which is located in the root directory of Windows 98SE (i.e., the C:\ directory). Boot into Windows 98SE, locate (ensure that all files are visible) and open the boot.ini file. It should contain something similar to the following:

[boot loader]
[operating systems] 
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Windows XP" /fastdetect
C:\="Windows 98"

This code represents the dual-boot configuration with Windows 98 and Windows XP. The timeout value is set at 3 seconds, which is the amount of time that the boot loader screen will wait for user-specified input before automatically booting into the default operating system, which, in this case, is Windows XP. Three seconds is not very much time when you are busy multitasking, so we recommend increasing the value to something more flexible (like 30 seconds). The values within either set of quotes may be edited to affect the OS information that is displayed at the boot screen. Here is a copy of our boot.ini:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /nodebug
C:\="Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition"

As you can see, we increased the timeout value to 33 seconds, added complete OS information, and added /nodebug and /noexecute=optin switches. The /nodebug switch disables the monitoring of debugging data, supposedly boosting performance. The /fastdetect switch disables serial mouse detection during startup. Other possible switches are /SOS, which displays device driver names during startup, and /BOOTLOG, which logs the boot process in a file named “ntbtlog.txt”.

Notes on networking the dual-boot Vaio

Important: Please be advised that the information in the following section is primarily for our own reference purposes and is designed for our specific network configuration and software preferences. You should explore and develop your own specific routine for setting up and configuring your system. In other words, implement at your own risk!

[ Sony Vaio PCG-F430 (After) ] After successfully configuring your dual-boot machine, disconnect your router or other internet connection source (modem, cable, etc.). This is a safety precaution to protect you while configuring your network/internet connections and firewall. With XP especially, do not connect to the internet without a firewall. Connect and activate XP only after a firewall has been installed and activated.

After isolating your network from the internet, boot into Win98SE, disable the default security settings and install Zone Alarm 5.5. Reboot and install card software. Reboot again. Insert card and follow the prompts. Click “Proceed anyway” when Windows tries scaring you with that bizarre warning message. Also select “Yes” at that other prompt. Reboot again. Set up the network info via the network config (right-click My Network) and then configure Zone Alarm with the correct IP range. Check the connection, quit and boot into WinXP. Repeat the process for WinXP only install Zone Alarm 6.5 in this case.


To fix unrecognized primary drive after installing WinXP, boot into MS-DOS via boot disk and type “bootcfg/rebuild”. At the prompt, enter the drive number "1" (I think, or maybe "2"). At the next prompt, type “/startfast” and press enter. That should do it. Reboot into each OS and ensure complete boot.ini files, etc.