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:

Make sure that all the directories leading up to the one where the file is stored are no longer than 8 characters in length. A simple way to insure this is to temporarily put the self-extractor in your root directory. (I suspect a longstanding bug or seriously subpar implementation of the OS/2 subsystem is to blame here. OS/2 did support long file and directory names with its native HPFS file system.)

If you don't wish to move the file, simply open up a command prompt window, navigate to the directory where the self-extractor is stored and key in FORCEDOS programname.exe

The extractor will then run.

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...

Make sure the diskette you select is a fresh diskette or one with no errors or data on it.

For the 8525-XT models, you need this image file. Note that this file REQUIRES you to use a low density, 720 Kilobyte capacity 3.5" diskette.

TeleGet Program (needed to extract the file you will download below, instructions are here)
Model 25 XT

(To download the TGSFX.COM file you may have to force your browser to do a binary download, otherise display garbage will appear.)

Both 25-286 and 25SX models have high density disk drives and the disk images are also self-extractors, meaning that you won't have to fuss with running a separate program to expand the contents of the file to a diskette. You will need 1 3.5" 1.44MB diskette for each of these systems.

25-286 Starter Disk
25SX Starter Disk

Using the Diskette

Have you read Quick and Dirty setup? It's highly recommended reading if you're just getting started with your 25.

Once the diskette has been created, pop it out of the drive and into your model 25. Check the voltage switch on the back of the machine, plug it in, turn it on, insert the diskette and wait. In a moment you should see a memory count on the screen. You might also see errors. Let the diskette boot.

If you see errors, run diagnostics from the diskette. This will help you figure out what is wrong. You may also find the PS/2 error codes reference to be helpful.

If you don't see errors, simply look around the diskette to see what your options are and what you can do. You won't mess anything up just by looking and looking through the contents of the disk to see what you can do beats writing up a small book here to explain everything about the different systems to you.

Diskette Drive Problems (other than, say, finding one with which to create your starter diskette)

The weakest link in the PS/2 lineup is the floppy drive. IBM chose to use a combined power and data cabling arrangement for every PS/2 floppy drive ever made. This really wouldn't be any kind of problem, only IBM also reworked the diskette drive's logic! Thus even if you built an adapter, a standard floppy drive isn't going to be compatible. The most common PS/2 floppy drives come from Mitsubishi and Alps Electric and both are practically certain to be broken today. Less commonly seen are drives from Sony and YE Data.

Failures come from both mechanical and electrical sources. On the mechanical front, none of the early PS/2 floppy drives had dust shutters and certain drives also tended to suffer from the failure of glue used during the assembly process. Cleaning the drive or repairing the failed glue are both easy things to do. Alignment problems are also a possibility if a drive was mistreated significantly enough before you got it. I've seen a few otherwise functional drives that just needed an "exploratory" before they'd start working again. (Like, say, rotating the spindle motor gently by hand. Don't touch the stepper motor or driving mechanism, especially on the Mitsubishi drives!) Electronic failures are primarily the result of bad surface mounted electrolytic capacitors that will leak. These will leave a corrosive mess on the circuit board.

Drives with electronic problems generally behave as though the lights are on but nobody's home. You'll usually see the access indicator lamp come on and the spindle motor run, yet there will be no (or very little) activity from the stepper motor that moves the heads. Other failures are unfortunately possible (though quite rare) and due to the highly integrated nature of the circuitry, there just isn't much you can do about that. I suppose it's even possible for a drive to act completely dead, but I haven't personally witnessed that.

The supplies of readily available PS/2 floppy drives have long ago dried up. Do not pay a ridiculous sum of money for a replacement drive. Your existing drive can almost always be repaired and if you expect it to be reliable, that is the only option you have. Cleaning the drive, cleaning up the circuit board and replacing the faulty capacitors will get almost every drive working again. Alignment problems are tougher to fix, but there are even ways of going about repairing that. A web search should give you some ideas.

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.)

I've never actually seen a YE Data or Sony drive fail in a PS/2.

I don't have any PS/2 floppy drives available in any condition, so please don't ask.

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Copyright 2002-2019 by William R. Walsh. Some Rights Reserved. Last updated 08/25/2019.