|8525 Starter Diskettes
To configure the various hardware aspects and options of your Model 25, you will need the starter disk that is appropriate for your machine. The 25-XT, 25-286 and 25SX all use a different starter disk and they are not interchangeable with each other.
EduQuest Machines DO NOT use starter diskettes. They have built in setup programs. This includes the 7386 upgrade.
A Word About Floppy Drives (and Diskettes)
Back when this resource was first written in the early 2000s, floppy diskette drives were still commonly seen in most computers. These days a floppy drive in a new computer is practically unheard of. Worse than that, most computers don't even have the facilities to let you add one, as if you could actually buy one brand new at the average computer store. (This is completely stupid, since most motherboards still have the needed logic as part of their I/O controller. Your motherboard maker just didn't want to spend the extra $0.01 to bring it out.) Even USB connected floppy drives have largely disappeared. Those USB floppy drives that are left on the market come from sources of dubious quality and may not support reading from or writing to a low density diskette.
If you can find or gain access to a computer having a real internal floppy drive hooked up to an actual floppy disk controller, this is the best way to go. Such systems are still fairly easy to come by and cheap enough on the secondhand market as of this writing. (Years in the future this will very probably no longer be the case.) If you simply cannot find such a computer, an older USB attached floppy drive (from the early/mid 2000s) is far more likely to work than a new one.
Diskettes are another problem entirely. Here in late 2016 most office supply stores still carry high density diskettes of passable quality. If they aren't stocked you can probably still order them. Boxes of new and used diskettes also show up at thrift stores from time to time. For low-density diskettes as you'll need for the XT-class Model 25, your options are much more limited. New old stock or serviceable used low density 3.5 inch diskettes can also sometimes be found at thrift stores.
If you just can't find any low density diskettes anywhere, a trick that might get you through involves covering over the hole opposite the write protection tab on a high density 3.5 inch diskette. Use something of an opaque nature in case your diskette drive uses optical means to determine the density or write protection status of an inserted diskette. (I've never personally seen a disk drive that uses anything but "feeler" switches. Nor have I seen all the computer equipment ever made, especially in the more remote parts of the universe.)
(You'll probably have to force format the diskette at the low density setting. For most people that means FORMAT A: /F:720 or -- on Windows XP and later -- FORMAT /N:9 /T:80 .) It depends. Some systems are much more willing to do this than others, and it may take several tries (or hitting the disk with a bulk eraser/degausser of moderate power) to make it happen.
It is with regard to diskette density detection that your PS/2 takes a superior approach and actually examines the disk to determine its data rate and density. The trickery outlined above to "create" a low density diskette is only required on other, inferior computers. (Try it and see when you get your Model 25 or any other PS/2 up and running, if your PS/2 has a high density or better diskette drive.)
Things are Going to Get Worse Before They Get Worse (64-bit Operating Systems and Starter Diskettes)
Another change that's taken place since this page was written is the rise of the 64-bit operating system. In the case of x86-64 bit Windows operating systems at least, the NT Virtual DOS machine subsystem has been removed. This means it is no longer directly possible to run an MS-DOS based program like all of the starter disk creators you probably need and want to run if you're reading this.
(...however, this may prove interesting or useful on a 64-bit machine...)
A couple of solutions present themselves here. The most preferable and likely to work approach is to find an older computer running a 32-bit version of Windows or something else, such as DOS.
Emulation (as in DOSbox) or virtualization may also work to get these programs running on your modern computer. Whether you'll be able to arrange for a disk to be written under any such solutions is unknown to me. You'll just have to try it and see. Unfortunately, beyond the suggestions offered on this page, I won't be able to offer much help here as I've not had to do any of these things. (You are probably unsuprised to learn that I keep lots of old computers around!)
Another solution is to visit the PS/2 reference/starter diskette archive, where disk images in more contemporary and compatible formats are available. With these you can frequently utilize a modern, currently maintained program (such as WinImage, rawrite, or dd) to write the disk image file to an actual diskette.
Why Do I Need a Starter Disk?
The starter disk is the equivalent of a "system setup" for your Model 25. From it you can set the time and date, run diagnostic programs, prepare hard disks for an operating system and do some other things.
It is better to make the disk now and have it handy than it is to make configuration changes and have to hassle with making the diskette or finding it just so you can finish up and use your computer again.
Making Starter Diskettes
There are a few basic rules here that must be followed. (If you expect the disk to work, that is. If you don't care, do whatever you like.) See some of the commentary above.
You may make the starter diskette on any MS-DOS or
compatible system. This includes Windows 9x, Windows Me, and also the
Windows NT (NT3/4, 2000, and XP) systems. 32-bit versions of Windows
Vista, 7, 8 and later ought to generally work. (On Windows 8 and later
you may be prompted to install the NTVDM subsystem when you first run
an MS-DOS or 16-bit Windows program.) 64-bit versions of Windows can no
longer directly run DOS or 16-bit Windows programs.
If you store the file in a path with long file
names and you're using a Windows NT/2000 box, the self-extractor
programs will appear not to work. This is because those programs are
actually two in one programs. One half is DOS and the other
OS/2. On a true DOS system, the OS/2 half is simply ignored. On
Windows-NT family products up to Windows 2000, there is an OS/2
subsystem that sees the OS/2 parts of the self-extractor and NT then
treats it as an OS/2 program. For some reason, the program just
terminates and does nothing. You can solve this one of two ways:
Do not look at the diskette's contents under Windows 9x/Me or NT4 and higher systems with the "dir"
command or Explorer: you will end up writing over some special ID bytes
on the diskette and though it will still work, your PS/2 won't know
that it is "special" in the case of configuration troubles. If you want
to explore the diskette's contents (none of which are really exciting
anyways), write protect the diskette first. Or, see this.
If by some chance this does happen, the damage can be reversed with the REFSTAMP
utility. It's quite likely the software will work anyway: you'll just
have to press F1 to get past an error message and let the system
attempt to start from the diskette.
Now, on to selecting the diskette you need to make...
Diskette Drive Problems (other than, say, finding one with which to create your starter diskette)
For some of the "last gasp" RS/6000 series
systems, which use the same connection as PS/2 systems having pin-type
(not edgecard) floppy drives, IBM produced an electrical adapter cable
that went between an industry standard floppy drive and their
proprietary combined power/data wiring. This doesn't solve the problem
of differing circuit logic between the two types of drives, but if you
have a floppy drive whose logic operation can be adjusted or you're
just feeling lucky, you can try to find one of these. I've seen some
Panasonic drives that had a jumper to select between different types of
drive logic. I don't know the IBM part numbers, and my only RS/6000
series machine has gone away to points unknown. (I may have
accidentally given it away.)