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Creating a Killer MP3 Player

  1. Select a computer
  2. Collect what you need
  3. Install hard drive
  4. Install sound card
  5. Install LAN card
  6. Install disk extender
  7. Install Windoze
  8. Modify MSDOS.SYS
  9. Create CONFIG.SYS
  10. Create AUTOEXEC.BAT
  11. Load your DOS files
  12. Set up network shares
  13. Load your MP3 files
  14. Run it, Use it and Love it
Compaq Portable 486-DX2

1.  Select a computer

The goal is to put a computer that is too old and slow to run all the latest Windoze software to good use. The ideal machine would be a Pentium 133 with 64MB of memory, a CDROM drive and a floppy drive. Most any old Pentium-class machine will do, although early 60 MHz and 75 MHz boxes may be marginal for playing high-bit-rate MP3 files.

2.  Collect what you need

Aside from the computer, you will need:

  • Large IDE hard drive (20-80 GB)
  • BIOS disk extender install floppy (supplied by drive maker) You will probably have to download this from the Web site of the drive manufacturer and create a bootable floppy by following the instruction found there.
  • Sound card (Soundblaster 16, AWE-32, AWE-64 or compatible)
  • 100 Mbit LAN card
  • Windoze driver for LAN card
  • Windoze 95, 98 or 98SE install CD

3.  Install hard drive

Unbolt the old hard drive and bolt in the new, big one. Be sure to set the jumpers as "Master".

4.  Install sound card

Plug the sound card into a spare ISA slot. There is no need to connect the CD audio to the card, but you can if you want to.

5.  Install LAN card

Plug the LAN card into a spare ISA or PCI slot, as required.

6.  Install disk extender

Boot from the disk extender floppy and follow the instruction for installing a new hard drive.

7.  Install Windoze

The preferred method of Windoze install is a personal choice. Do it whichever way makes you happy. Just be sure to boot from a DOS floppy or begin install from a CD after the disk extender is loaded and running. The best way it to proceed directly from extender install to Windoze install.

A few items will make this step go much easier:

  • Plug the LAN card into a working network node before you begin
  • Install only the LAN card driver. Forget about video, sound, etc. If windoze keeps nagging you about some peripheral needing to be installed, disable it in the Device Manager.
  • When the Windoze installer asks you to enter your password, just click <OK> to disable the logon password.
  • Go into the network settings and change Primary Network Logon to "Windows Logon".

8.  Modify MSDOS.SYS

Pop up a DOS box, change to the root directory and type ATTRIB -r -s -h MSDOS.SYS. With Notepad or some other editor, add the following two lines right under [Options]:

The first line will supress the Windoze cloud picture during boot. The second line will prevent subsequent boots from loading the GUI portion of Windoze. The computer will boot into DOS 7.

Pop up a DOS box again, change to the root directory and type ATTRIB +r +s +h MSDOS.SYS.

9.  Create CONFIG.SYS

Using Notepad or any other editor, create CONFIG.SYS in the root directory. Below is an example:


device=c:\windows\himem.sys /testmem:off /v
devicehigh=c:\windowsmm386.exe noems D=64
devicehigh=c:\drv\btccdrom.sys /D:ARP001

files = 31
The only line you should change is the path to and name of the CDROM driver.

10.  Create AUTOEXEC.BAT

Using Notepad or any other editor, create AUTOEXEC.BAT in the root directory. Below is an example:

@echo off
path c:\windows;c:\windows\command;c:\;c:\util;c:\bat
prompt $p$ -
set blaster=A220 I5 D1 H5 T6
set mp3path=c:\mp3\VBR
lh c:\windows\command\doskey
if %config%==Windoze goto bootwin
lh c:\windows\smartdrv /x a- b- /u /q 1024 1024
lh c:\windows\command\mscdex.exe /L:M /S /D:ARP001
mpr -d-vc
goto done
echo Booting Windoze...
@echo off
You will have to change the DOS and the MPR paths and the name of the CDROM (if it was changed in CONFIG.SYS). Now, the machine will boot into DOS by default and run the MP3 player. A menu will be displayed for 3 seconds, giving the option to boot into Windoze.

11.  Load your DOS files

Create a directory called UTIL (or whatever you want--just make sure it is in the path) and copy MPR.EXE into it. Copy any other DOS utilities you might need on this computer into that same directory.

12.  Set up network shares

Boot into Windoze and create any directories you will need to store your MP3 files. From Explorer, enable network sharing by right clicking on each directory and selecting <Sharing...>. Then click <Shared As>, <Full>, <Apply> and <OK>.

13.  Load your MP3 files

You should be able to boot into Windoze and copy any files you wish from any other computer on the network. Using Explorer, you can copy, move, delete or open any files on the player the same way you do on your main Windoze computer.

14.  Run it, Use it and Love it

You have created the best stand-alone, MP3-playing computer possible. You have combined the long filename and network capabilities of Windoze with the simplicity and reliability of DOS. When you want music, simply turn on the computer. It will boot and play. When you are done, hit the <Esc> key, wait for the program to exit and turn off the computer.

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