Today Windows 98 stopped working. I couldn't get to the desktop, it hung on the 'Windows flag' screen. I have no clue why. It was working fine last night when I checked e-mail and newsgroups. I haven't installed any new software. Norton AntiVirus finds no viruses, as always. NAV virus definitions were updated yesterday, but I can't imagine how that could prevent Win from booting.
I tried every fix I could think of, for four hours of fiddling and rebooting. I tried loading drivers one-by-one, and thought the offender might be an old 16-bit scanner driver (but why now, when it had worked fine for three years?), and deinstalled the driver. Nope. Windows still wouldn't boot, except in 'Safe Mode', in which you can't do much of anything.
Why in god's name would Windows work fine one night, and not the next morning? 'Bit rot'?
I ran regclean.exe. No dice. I tried booting from a floppy. Nope.
So I finally re-installed Windows 98, and spent the next hour or so re-downloading and installing all the various updates since Win98 was released. What happened? My guess is that something, somewhere, overwrote some .vxd with junk, and the load hung on the bad .vxd. But I really don't know. My Win installation still isn't back to normal. Somehow the date got pushed up a year, to 2002, during all the mess (no, I didn't do it deliberately, I don't know how the hell it happened), and when I ran Forté Agent, all the old Usenet posts got wiped out, because Agent thought it was 2002. 9_9 And my Zip drive still isn't working, or even showing up as a device under System. So I guess I'll have to re-install the drivers for that.
This sucks. I'm thinking real hard about Linux or FreeBSD. I'd still need to keep a Win98 installation, for some games, and other stuff, like my video capture board, that probably doesn't work. Maybe with my next PC, in about a year, I'll set up a *nix partition. I've tried Linux a couple of times before, and always given up on it, because of lack of software relative to Windows, sluggish graphics, and a user interface that wasn't up to scratch. But things have gotten better with Gnome and KDE, Maybe I'll try it again.