Oracle expects to find the initialization file in a specific directory. On Windows, Oracle looks in the DATABASE directory underneath Oracle Home. On UNIX, Oracle8 looks in the dbs directory under Oracle Home.
If the software doesn't find the initialization file where it expects it to be, you will get an error message looking like this:
SVRMGR> startup nomount
LRM-00109: could not open parameter file
ORA-01078: failure in processing system parameters
The useful part about this error message is that Oracle8 tells you exactly which file it is trying to find and where it is looking. One solution is to move your initialization file to that directory and name it accordingly. Another solution is to use the PFILE option with the STARTUP command. Then you can explicitly point to your initialization file. For example:
STARTUP PFILE=c:\coin\initcoin.txt NOMOUNT
I try to avoid using the PFILE option because it's just one more thing that I have to remember. In an environment with multiple DBAs and multiple databases, it can quickly become a struggle for everyone to remember where the initialization files are for each database. It's easier to just place them in the normal locations, so that Oracle8 can find them on its own.