Seeking help to preserve WWII database on Windows 98

75 points8
squarefoot3 hours ago

Just a reminder that WINE [0] runs a lot of new and old Windows software pretty well, so that anyone wanting to consult the database could either load it either from a desktop Linux machine, a Linux VM, or even have it boot it directly to the database software since it can be easily embedded in a self booting Linux distro contained in a pendrive along the CD's data.


thelastparadise2 hours ago

> it can be easily embedded in a self booting Linux distro contained in a pendrive

Very interesting. Is there a framework or helper for this?

Seems useful for things like games or audio DAWs in particular.

squarefoot43 minutes ago

Not sure it does exist, but shouldn't be hard to do by hand. One could either modify a live distro to embed the necessary software, or simply run the install process with a USB key as target, then boot from it just like an internal disk and proceed to install WINE and remaining software. Once WINE is installed, which is straightforward using the standard package managers for each distro, it runs automatically once a Windows application is clicked from a desktop windows, or called via "wine <windowsapplicationname>" from command line or a script, so that for example, if the database application in the subject is configured to auto start after the window manager is loaded, it goes straight into the Windows application as if it was part of the system.

It shouldn't be that different for DAWs. By the way, I experimented a while ago with Alpine Linux and Yabridge to achieve a very small system that works as a host for both native and Windows .vst plugins. The goal would have been a MiniPC configured as synthesizer that boots very quick and does just that, with both studio use and live performance in mind. I got to the point plugins were converted but loading them failed. Probably using a musl based distro was asking too much, but I'll try again in the future (just moved to a new house, everything is packed) as Alpine Linux is so much faster and smaller compared to other distros that to me it makes the best candidate for building appliances where the operating system exists for the sole purpose of loading a dedicated software, therefore must not get in the way with resources consumption, automatic updates etc.

jansommer42 minutes ago

Buildroot is a good tool to build a custom Linux. Wine is available as a package.

frodowtf5 hours ago

Can we agree on not posting anything directly from twitter? It's absolutely useless without an account.

HeckFeck4 hours ago

Elon removed that restriction when he first took over, then apparently reintroduced it because of machine learning scraping the site; if you believe that. It is very annoying either way, so many interesting things that belong on their own page or even a blog lost deep in multi-tweet threads.

korantu1 hour ago

The link loads correctly for me in an incognito tab. Maybe it was something temporary when you tried? Nitter also does the job.

kawhah29 minutes ago

do you see all the tweets or just the top one?

ta12434 hours ago
rakoo2 hours ago doesn't play videos. EDIT: This is false, I made a mistake on my side. Apologies.

Maybe a paywalled website that is actively hostile to non-users shouldn't be considered a source of news ?

zinekeller1 hour ago

> doesn't play videos.

Huh? Unless you meant that you can't play without JavaScript (which is unfair considering that the other website can't even load with JavaScript off), this is blatantly false that I even doubt if you have really used it.

TheHappyOddish3 hours ago

I assume the new standard will be the top comment is a link similar to how the top link on paywalled news sites is an link.

kristopolous5 hours ago

There should be a communal throwaway account or some proxy site that uses one

therein5 hours ago

Replies are retrievable via the API so any Nitter instance does the job for anonymously browsing Twitter.

But yeah, I also don't appreciate the restrictions.

einr6 hours ago

It’s Microsoft Access, ”works only on Windows 98” seems highly doubtful, especially as the screenshot in the post is Windows Vista…

hsbauauvhabzb4 hours ago

I vaguely recall bugs where windows OS version prevented access, rather than office version.

I’m glad the access mess is over, I do wish you hadn’t triggered that memory though :P

Dalewyn4 hours ago

It's probably most likely that OP on Mysterious Twitter X simply doesn't know that's Windows Vista.

It's ancient Windows, OP doesn't know Access, UI looks like something from the 90s, Windows 98 is the most famous of the 90s Windowses(?).

As evidenced by how it's seemingly running fine on Windows Vista using whatever version of Access that is, either:

A) Any newer version of Access should be able to at least open that thing fine.

B) Whatever version of ancient Access that will open that should run just fine on Windows 11.

Microsoft's commitment to backwards compatibility shines, especially in these types of circumstances.

einr3 hours ago

I think the spanner in the works is that the CD-ROM bundles an MS Access runtime executable that is 16-bit and therefore will not run on 64-bit Windows. If you look in the top left of the window in the screenshot, the icon looks like Access 2.0, which was designed for 16-bit Windows.

Given, as you say, Microsoft's commitment to backwards compatibility, it is very likely in my opinion that a modern computer running 32-bit Windows 10 (not Windows 11, as they dropped the 32-bit version and therefore finally dropped 16-bit software support entirely) would run this software fine. It is also likely, as you say, that modern Access could import the underlying database (does Access 2023/365/whatever import Access 2.0 databases? Who knows! Not I, I don't touch the stuff ;)

gandalfian3 hours ago

I think their main computer being a Mac without a CD-ROM drive may be contributing elements as well. Interesting juxtaposition that they are struggling to take the files off a cd but confident they can produce a web database. But seems they found help so nice it's all ending well.

tokai4 hours ago

The Air Force Historical Research Agency should be contacted to figure out if it is actually important data. I would be very surprised if that old cd is the only source of this information.

edit: Reading the third paragraph here[0] it seems that all of this data is definitely stored at different museums and libraries.


ilamont5 hours ago

Glad to hear people have reached out to help, but the sad thing is for every project like this there are a hundred more that die a quiet death every year. There's a universe of important and unique data tied to history and genealogy blogs, web databases, 20th-century software programs, and hard drive archives maintained by a single person.

One of my favorites: (click on the "Go and Search My Archive" link). Tom has done an amazing job of scanning and posting old historical photos and newspaper archives, but will it last once he's no longer able to maintain it?

I often hear suggestions like "let Ancestry take them over" or "the Internet Archive is the solution." I have to ask: Will either be operational in 20 years, or the data on them as easily accessible as they are now?

Ancestry is currently operated by Blackstone, the third or fourth PE firm to do so in the past 15 years. Blackstone has no qualms with deleting services that no longer meet its needs ( or paywalling records and then jacking up the price every few years (

IA's web archive is a great resource, but it always seems to be begging for money and its founder's futile campaign against book publishers isn't helping.

Spooky2344 minutes ago

Fulton History is particularly frustrating as it’s a passion project and amazing resource, but the owner is a little… mercurial.

It will absolutely die with him. Its unfortunate that when the NYS Legislature appropriated money to scan thousands (millions) of newspapers to microfiche, they did not provide any funding for digitization.

Fnoord2 hours ago

> Glad to hear people have reached out to help, but the sad thing is for every project like this there are a hundred more that die a quiet death every year.

CDROM is a terrible way to store data. Any frontend to dd could back the CDROM up 1:1. That should be the first and primary focus. After that and an upload of however long (depending on internet connection), the wisdom of the crowd could be utilized. Even if the requirement of Windows 98 is correct, any VM (perhaps even ReactOS) could access it.

pbhjpbhj51 minutes ago

IIRC, there used to be a dd-like tool, maybe cdrescue? (a Linux command-line tool), that would recheck the data extracted, and then do a "best of n" check on any spurious sectors of the disc.

It's been at least 10 years since I had a CD/DVD drive though, so it might have been a mode of one of the dd_rescue/ddrescue/dd-rescue programs??

Cthulhu_5 hours ago

I think any resource of data like this - assuming it's a noncommercial project - should have an export functionality available at all times, and an ask to any visitor to download the file, archive it, and clearly label it.

I like to believe that the best data repositories are the ones that are forgotten.

That said, I hope someone comes up with a consumer-affordable, long-term storage medium soon.

binary1322 hours ago

I find myself thinking about the conundrum of long-term digital archiving pretty often. It's a very interesting question.

Spooky2340 minutes ago

You have to actively have an archive, with archivists. The geek stuff is secondary.

bbarnett2 hours ago

I think the first biggie is non decaying storage. Outside of some paper, everything seems to decay fast, and even if stored correctly. Film goes bad in climate controlled vaults at times.

Those DVDs made of rock supposedly last a long time, but it would be nice to have something that lasts 1000s of years.

oddmiral4 hours ago

Why not to donate this data to a nearest library?

Karrot_Kream5 hours ago

> I often hear suggestions like "let Ancestry take them over" or "the Internet Archive is the solution." I have to ask: Will either be operational in 20 years, or the data on them as easily accessible as they are now?

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

tommek40777 hours ago

I don't see the discussion on Twitter as I have no account and do not see.the answers on Twitter, but don't you just need virtualbox?

CD-Roms are still there and the the underlying tech is also still the same.

notpushkin7 hours ago

Looks like it's an Access database. Perhaps convert it to SQLite and publish with something like

I think the problem is, thread author doesn't know how to rip an ISO of the CD or move the database out; looks like they are getting help already though.

dmurray4 hours ago

Yes, if the author was technical enough to rip an ISO and host (or seed) it somewhere, there would already be 3 Github projects linked in this thread extracting and visualising the data.

bilekas55 minutes ago

If they manage to get the ISO available can someone please share here ? I really don't want to sign up to Twitter just to follow along.

LeoPanthera6 hours ago

VirtualBox dropped support for 9x versions of Windows some time ago, and although it's "possible" to get it working, it works very badly.

speps4 hours ago

Just use it's updated regularly and works wonders!

noobermin6 hours ago

How is it possible to do this? Isn't all you need is to emulate is at least a 386 or 486? They removed emulation of that cpu target?????

LeoPanthera6 hours ago

Not just the CPU, but also the older chipsets that Windows 9x thinks is current. It only supports emulation of chipsets much newer than those versions of Windows.

deaddodo6 hours ago

Where did you get that idea? Windows 98 is still a default template in VirtualBox 7.0 and fully supported:

And here:

You just don't get accelerated graphics or USB sharing.

inferiorhuman4 hours ago

VirtualBox defaults to emulating a PIIX3 chipset which is absolutely Windows 95 vintage.

leed25d8 hours ago

My (late) uncle Ralph is probably in that database. Can I get a copy of the ISO? I'll help in any way that I can.

jdthedisciple6 hours ago

I think you may wanna reply on Twitter.