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Home > Ultima VII: Serpent Isle > Useful Files > Ultima VII : Creating a Boot Disk by Copernican

Ultima VII : Creating a Boot Disk by Copernican

Ultima VII:  Part II, The Serpent Isle

System Configuration Info (includes an updated buglist)

Gameplay Help

Walkthrough (coming soon)

System Configuration Info

Serpent Isle is one of the most memory-intensive Ultimas released yet.  It took me quite a while to free up enough memory to run it properly.  I installed it with a Soundblaster-compatible sound card.  I have Windows 95 on my machine.  I tried to create a shortcut to it from my desktop, so that my machine would reboot, run the game, and then reboot back to Windows.  However, I had problems with this and eventually found it easier just to make a boot disk.  To do this, follow these steps.

Creating the Boot Disk

  1. Under Windows 95, choose Start>Programs>MS-DOS Prompt. 
  2. Insert a blank floppy disk into your A: drive.  Note:  this will not work with a floppy disk in your B: drive, if you have one.
  3. The prompt should read 'C:\Windows'.  Type 'cd command'.
  4. Type 'format a: /s'.  This will format the blank disk in the A: drive and transfer the necessary system files to the disk to allow it to boot your operating system (in this case Windows 95).
  5. After the format is complete, the program will ask you to give the disk a label.   You may call it whatever you like; I chose 'serpent'.
  6. The program will then ask you if you want to format another disk.  Type 'n' for no.
  7. The program should have stopped running.  Type 'exit'.
  8. Now go to My Computer on your desktop and open it.  Double-click on your C: drive.
  9. Find the files named 'autoexec.bat' and 'config.sys'.  Note:  In order to see the config.sys file, you may have to change the folder settings to allow you to see hidden files.
  10. Now, copy the autoexec.bat and config.sys files to your A: drive.  To do this, select the file, choose Edit>Copy.  Then go back to the My Computer screen and open your A: drive.  Choose Edit>Paste.  Repeat this process for the other file.

Modifying the Startup Files

Go to Start>Programs>Accessories>Notepad.  Choose File>Open, and navigate to your A: drive.  Select the config.sys file.

There should be a basic configuration already there.  Delete everything.  You will define new settings for this particular program.

These are the lines that you need in your config.sys file:

  • Device=C:\Windows\Himem.sys (assuming that the himem driver is installed in this location).
  • DOS=High
  • Files=30
  • Buffers=30

Choose File>Save and save the file.  Caution:  Make sure you are saving it to the A: drive; DO NOT overwrite the original files on your C: drive.

Now, choose File>Open, and open the autoexec.bat file.  Again, you will see a basic configuration.  It may be helpful to copy some of this down before deleting it.   You will also define a new configuration here.

These are the lines that you need in your autoexec.bat file:

  • SET PROMPT=$p$g
  • SET SOUND=[your sound card settings, assuming you want to play Serpent Isle with sound]   Note:  You may find the appropriate I/O, IRQ, and DMA by going in Windows 95 to My Computer and right-clicking on it; then choose Properties>Device Manager>Sound, video, and game controllers.  Then select the appropriate device and choose Properties.  Click the Resources tab.  Locate the Direct Memory Access, Interrupt Request, and Input/Output Range settings.  These are the numbers to place in this autoexec.bat line.  The format usually runs as:  A220 I5 D1, where you substitute the correct numbers.
  • SET TEMP=C:\Windows\Temp
  • C:\[location of your mouse driver]  Note:  This may be located in C:\Mouse, C:\Windows, or some other directory.  Check with your computer manufacturer for the appropriate location.  Even though you may play Serpent Isle without mouse support, I highly recommend that you do.

Rebooting Your Computer

Your boot disk should now be configured to load the correct files to run Serpent Isle.   Insert the disk into your A: drive.  Choose Start>Shut Down.  Click 'Restart', and then OK. 

Your computer will now reboot.  When it begins to reload Windows 95, it will read the files from the disk you just created and boot to an MS-DOS prompt.

From the A:\> prompt, type 'C:'.  Navigate to the directory where you installed Serpent Isle (usually C:\Serpent).  If you have not yet configured the sound settings, run 'install' from this directory and choose the setting that you found in your System properties for your sound card.  Otherwise, just type 'serpent' to begin the game.

Known Bugs and Problems

This buglist is by no means complete.  If you have encountered any bugs or problems not listed here, please let me know at and I will try to put them here.

Screen locks up when I try to begin the Silver Seed quest. -- This problem I have personally encountered.  When you double-click the Amulet of Balance while standing on a Serpent Gate, a series of video and sound effects follow as you are magically transported to the Silver Seed quest.  However, the earthquake effect seems to lock up some systems.  I have a Pentium II 450 Mhz. with a Creative Labs Graphics Blaster Riva TNT 16MB AGP card.  When I follow this procedure, the screen shakes and freezes, although sound continues.  The only thing to do is reboot, as far as I know.

Error message: 0 bytes extended memory and "serpent" in large letters. -- This problem I have also personally seen.  This is due to incorrect sound configuration.  When you try to run the game, you get a message similar to the above and you get back a prompt with huge letters.  To fix this, just fix the sound configuration by running "install" from the directory where you installed the game.  Many times, modern sound cards may come with non-default settings.  The most common are IRQ 5, DMA 1, I/O 220.  Also make sure that you have the "No sound" option selected if you either do not have a sound card or do not have appropriate DOS drivers for your card.  This is a problem in many new systems with PCI sound cards.  I myself have 2 separate cards, a newer PCI card and an older but wonderful Creative Labs SoundBlaster AWE64.

I hope that this has helped any of you with Serpent Isle memory problems.  I have a Compaq Presario 4704, with a 133 Mhz. Pentium processor and 16 MB RAM.  I can run the game with no problems.  I know that there are many different configurations available, though, so if you have any specific questions, drop me a note at  Also, if you notice any errors in this technical walkthrough, please let me know so that I can fix them.

Gaseous Dragon also maintains an excellent technical questions page for installation and configuration of Ultima VII:  The Black Gate and Ultima VII:  Part II, The Serpent Isle.

[contact Copernican at]

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