Running Frontier Elite II with Windows 95/98

Stop here, you might wish to do yourself a favor, like save this page and print it.

Many people have posted me asking how to get FE2 running with todayís platforms and newer operating systems (Win95/98). Although, I am by no means an expert, the following is my techno-babble on the subject - for what itís worth. Oh, and by the way, youíre on your own messing with anything that follows - itís possible to goof your system good if you do the wrong thing - so be warned... To be smart, take the time to do the two steps below before proceeding.

(1) Protect yourself. Make a Boot Disk first if you do not already have one. If you do not know what I am talking about you can find out how to create a system disk from within Windows. Access Windows Help on the topic and do what it says before proceeding...

(2) Next thing to do is to make backups of your current Config.SYS and Autoexec.BAT files. Rename these copies Config.ORG and Autoexec.ORG. That way you can go back to your original files if what you do does not work out properly.

Right now lets get busy. FE2 runs best from the DOS prompt... Itís the way all simulations used to be. Older sims usually wanted full control over system resources, FE2 is no different.

To run FE2 at all - you will need to configure you system for Expanded Memory... Expanded memory is a throw back to the hey-day of DOS 5.0 & higher when you could configure your memory as Expanded / Extended or a little of each. FE2 likes a little of each.

You can do this within Windows95/98 by altering the Property Sheet for the program Icon, under the Advanced Section, but for our discussion here you may wish to alter the global or standard Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files - for simplicity (initially). These two files are a bit less critical than they were under DOS, but are still very important in using Win95/98 with older DOS games (If you do not wish to use the individual Property Sheets mentioned earlier).

To begin, open your Config.SYS file in the root directory and add the lines below in between the ***. (Note: you can edit this file with any word processor, but you must save it as a text file without formatting... Or you can be like a real DOS Guru and use the EDIT command from the DOS prompt.) EDIT is perfect for altering Config or Bat files. It is also simple to use. You may have to bring a copy of EDIT.COM out of the C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND subdirectory (oops I mean - folder) before you can use it in the root or make sure that the PATH command is properly set up in the Autoexec.bat file to begin. Something like:

PATH=C:\WINDOWS;C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND (and any other paths you need)

Sorry to get side tracked here....
-----------------------------------------------------
Add the following to your Config.SYS:

***
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\EMM386.EXE RAM 1024
BUFFERSHIGH=10,0
FILESHIGH=40
DOS=HIGH, UMB
***

It is highly possible you will have other stuff (lines) here (in the Config.SYS file) that your system may or may not need. You might find lots of lines REMmed out. In fact this is usually the case on most new systems I see. Putting a REM in front of any statement in a bat or config file makes it a comment.

REM out other lines which are replaced by the above, or are not needed (If you donít know what the line is doing leave it in for now and come back to it if you find it is hogging memory). You can see what is in memory by using the following command:

MEM /C /P

Note that these lines (those added above) DO NOT include your CD ROM driver. If you must have the CD you will have to add a line similar to the below (its different for every system):

DEVICEHIGH =C:\CDROM\SLCD.SYS /D:SONY_000 /B:320 /M:P /V /C

This line is often set up for you in the default config.sys and is in a remmed out condition. You can add it in, however, this line will eat memory. If you do not need your CD Rom (you will only need it if you wish to play CD music while you play FE2), do not load it here...

Thatís it for the Config.Sys file so save and exit, then open the Autoexec.Bat file.

For Adlib sounds, You may have to add the following line to your AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Note that the files that we are altering are in the ROOT directory. C:\

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 T4

If you have a CD rom and MUST have it loaded, you may also need something like the below to get DOS control of the unit in the Autoexec.bat as well:

Loadhigh C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001 /e /m:10

This line also EATS memory so do not add it if possible.

So, add the above to the Autoexec.BAT, save the file, then re-enter and or reboot Windows. Start Windows(95/98) like normal, however, then go to DOS though the DOS Prompt command in the Start Menu, Programs.... (You can create a shortcut to DOS on your desktop if you like). Once you are in DOS, make sure you are NOT in a window. If you see a window press ALT+ENTER to go to full screen.

Change directory to Frontier. Type FRONTIER, and pick option 2 to play with ADLIB sound.

Note that the above method for running FE2 uses WIN95/98 drivers to control mouse and or joystick drivers (this usually works fine and should supply enough conventional memory to run FE2). However, there is a "purer way of running FE2" outside of the Windows environment, that is by pressing F8 when you see the "Starting Windows" message (on cold boot up - with Win98 systems holding the CTRL key down on reboot also brings up the Boot Menu), this will take you to the interesting Boot Menu, where you can choose option 6, Command Prompt Only... the catch here is that you must now load a Mouse Driver to have mouse control. Usually the Mouse driver (for Dos) is in a directory on your system, perhaps something like:

C:\MOUSE

If a driver is in the above directory you can load it by starting the TSR executable, usually done by adding the following like to the Autoexec.bat, but you can simply run it from the command prompt if you want to. Often the line looks like this with a standard mouse...

C:\MOUSE\MOUSE
If possible you should try to load this mouse driver into upper memory with the LoadHigh or LH command:
LH C:\MOUSE\MOUSE
There are two other issues that can present a problem in running Frontier. (1) Acceptable amount of conventional memory to run the program, and (2), program running too fast.

(1) Conventional memory is conserved with running FE2 from the DOS prompt, accessed within Windows, because Win95/98 is still doing the work of handling your hardware drivers. If you go with option two, booting into pure DOS (actually DOS7.1 - found in the C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND subdirectory), you have to worry more about memory optimization. While there is no MEMMAKER, as in DOS6.22,you can still use a lot of the tricks to free up as much conventional memory as possible and to LH or Loadhigh as many driver as possible. It is also important to remember that not all mouse drivers are the same (though most do the same thing), some have a very small footprint, or automatically go into extended memory, while others are memory gobbling pigs.

Again, It is a very go thing to use the following command from the DOS prompt to check to see exactly what is in memory:

MEM /C /P

This will give you a lot of good info. as to what is in memory. You my find certain programs in memory on a WIN95/98 machine that you DO NOT see drivers for in the Config.Sys or Autoexec.bat. For example there is a memory hog called DBLSPACE which automatically loads into conventional memory on some WIN95/98 systems when booted to the Dos Prompt via the Boot Menu. To remove these drivers is may be necessary to edit the hidden very important file root file MSDOS.SYS and add the following lines:

DBLSpace=0
DRVSpace=0
You do not need these drivers if you have already have a FAT 32 disk(s) system - usually what you get on a new Windows 98 platform, or if you DO NOT use Drivespace3 (a Windows file compression utility for drives of less than or equal to 2 gig).

For more info. see the following documents in the Microsoft Knowledge Base for Windows 95 /98 (CSi users can GO MICROSOFT) to access the Database.

Article ID: Q118579 Contents of Windows Msdos.sys File
Article ID: Q147132 How to Prevent DoubleSpace or DriveSpace Drivers from Loading
Article ID: Q191473 Windows 98 Msdosdrv.txt File -- This file is useful for uses not familiar with MS DOS programs and switches.

Speed Concerns:

Personally, I think FE2 runs best on a 486DX2 - 66. You can get one of these clunkers pretty cheap ($200.00) or so, Install DOS6.22 and a sound card - then this can be your dedicated Frontier Simulator or PC game station for older DOS games (and thereís a lot of awesome older DOS games that were created in the early 1990s). There is also a company out there called Cybernet Mfg. that currently (3/99) sells a 486 mounted within a standard size keyboard case complete with all ports, hard drive, 3.5Ē floppy, and even an expansion slot for a sound card. Its like a laptop only it is a keyboard top - get it ? - Itís called the Zero Footprint PC, see the following website for additional information: http://www.cybernetman.com.

Your other option of course is to play Frontier at the speed of your new platform. It will work fine, however, some of the animations will be too fast. You will know what is too fast in a couple of places, but one give-a-way is the flickering of the flames on the factory stacks (you can observe this during the beginning animation sequence). The flames should flicker back and forth rather slowly - say every .7 seconds or so. If you see the flame going nuts - thatís too fast.

You can slowdown FE2 with a unique utility called MOíSLO.COM. There are several other programs out there for slowing down a system to run older software, but I like this newer version of MOíSLO the best (was previously known as MOSLO). Search under MOSLO.ZIP Even better, this is a free utility and is available at many sites as well as on CompuServe. Unzip MOSLO.ZIP into your FE2 subdirectory and use a command line such as:

MOíSLO /45 FRONTIER.EXE

This usually gets FE2 running at the proper speed on say a PII 266. You can alter the speed with the switch (/?), where ? is a number of the desired percentage of the processors speed.

If you are not used to playing FE2, you may not even notice the speed is too high, however, this will become apparent in battle as you begin to loose every fight. Attacking ships will be all over you and you will have very little time to react or maneuver. Additionally, things like landing and docking will happen way too fast, and the fastest forward on the Star Dreamer will seem almost instantaneous. Lastly, you will notice that the target square on the auto-pilot gets the shakes (its irritating too).

The problem for many new users when using older software like the circa 1993 Frontier Elite II is that the user did not live through the era of Config.SYS and Autoexec.BAT tinkering. This evolved into almost an art form as DOS grew from 2.0 to 6.22. If the user came into computers after say Ď93/94 - using mainly Windows 3.1 or Windows 95... they sometimes lack the critical knowledge on to know how to configure systems to run older games which require DOS drivers, pure environments, a certain type and amount of memory, special sound cards, etc. One of the reasons why Windows was so successful for the gaming world was that many folks just couldnít get a good handle on becoming Config.SYS and Autoexec.BAT wizard .

... And then, from on the most high - Bill Gates looked down from his mighty mountain and took pity on the lowly user - and created WINDOWS!- and Windows did the configuring for them, automatically (at least with new windows games). Unfortunately, many of this new breed of games now pale in gameplay and content when compared to products like FE2.

Good Luck, I hope this helps.

I originally wrote this bloody thing for Commander Dave Pratt. Gee Dave, I sure hope this finally gets FE2 running on your system !!!


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