I might be repeating some things here (and I'm no expert), but I don't
know if you fixed this yet, so ....

On Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 8:57 PM, John Sowden <jsow...@americansentry.net> wrote:
> First of all, I did not make myslf clear.  I was not running win98.  I was 
> only running
> the dos portion of win98.  I wrote over the dos portion of win98 with freedos 
> using
> the sys command.

"sys" should not have overwritten anything except a small boot sector.
You may be able to recover that (or similar) with TestDisk since
you're using FAT32 (backup boot sector).

For future reference, things like the MBR can be saved and recovered
(to file, preferably on external media) with other smaller tools, e.g.
BOOTMGR (which is its own tiny DOS-configurable boot manager).

For PuppyLinux, I put GRUB (Legacy) in its own Linux (ext3) partition
which is chain-loaded from BOOTMGR in the MBR (on primary, active FAT
partition). Windows 7 could probably handle it (see third-party
EasyBCD), but this seemed "easier" (famous last words).

IIRC, some other boot managers (e.g. Gujin) can boot from their DOS
.EXE (without any low-level installation) into your Linux (ext2)
partition if you have vmlinuz + initrd.gz available on your FAT file
system. I tried that once or twice, it seemed to work.

> My concerns are two:
> 1) In a multi-partitioned environment, how am I supposed to correctly
> install freedos on a partition without writing over the mbr where
> grub/lilo/etc resides.

OS-specific installation tools rarely play well with others. Most
people don't multi-boot, and most installations are from scratch,
covering the entire disk. It's an arcane mess, thus most people don't
mess with it. This is why emulators, VMs, DOS boxes, etc. are so

In other words, "sys" isn't GRUB nor LILO nor LOADLIN friendly, by
design. If you want to use other OSes, you have to use a
(semi-)supported boot manager. Luckily, DOS is small, and FD sys.com
allows you to put the boot sector in an actual file, which is (IIRC)
how most other boot loaders support DOS. (Of course, you could also
boot up DOS with a floppy or liveCD or similar.)

I'm not sure it's possible to have a single, standalone boot sector
that would load all DOSes. They always vary in their names of the
etc. etc.) and raw disk location and even in other details (initial
load segment).

> 1a) Do I need to install FreeDOS on each fat32 partition?

No, you only need one bootable media at startup. All others "data"
partitions don't need a kernel nor shell nor boot sector at all. With
BIOS + MBR, you're limited to 4 primary partitions anyways (though
more for extended), and total size can't exceed 2 TB.

> 2) Now I am unable to access my linux partition.  This drive has 6
> partitions.  Three are fat32 dos partitions, one is Linux swap, one is
> Linux and the last is about 2 gb laying fallow.

TestDisk (DJGPP port) can also directly recover those files from Linux
(ext2) partitions. Like also mentioned, you may also be able to
reinstall your boot loader (LILO?) from original SuSE media, if you
still have it lying around (5+ years later? doubt it).

Obligatory links for further reading:


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