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Thread: interesting way to install XP on cd-less/floppyless

  1. #21
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    Installing Windows XP from USB

    Ingredients

    You’ll be needing ample space on a USB storage device like a thumbdrive or external disk drive. 1 GB of storage will suffice. Possibly, you could access the setup files from a network share in which case you’ll only need a 256 MB thumbdrive, but I haven’t tried that.

    Personally, I booted off a 512 MB thumbdrive and put the Windows XP setup files on an external disk drive. So a combination will do just fine, but just make sure that you’ve got sufficient USB ports: all USB devices will need to be plugged in and stay plugged in while we’re booted into BartPE later on!

    You’ll also need a bunch of software, including a valid copy of Windows XP. The other software components can be downloaded freely:

    * Bart’s Preinstalled Environment (BartPE)
    * Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 1

    You will also need an already functional Windows system to prep the USB disk from. In addition, your target system (the one that needs reinstalling) should support booting from USB. Virtually all modern ones do though.

    Finally, not all cheaper USB devices properly support being booted from. The BartPE forums have a partial list of ones that don’t.

    Step One: Preparing the Windows XP Setup Files

    For this procedure to work correctly, you’ll need Windows XP to be at Service Pack 1, Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3. Many newer Windows XP CDs already have either one included.

    You can check by inserting the CD-ROM and looking at the files in the top folder. There should be a file named WIN51P.SP1, WIN51P.SP2, WIN51P.SP3. If you see either one, fast forward to step two.If there is no such file, or you’ve got a SP1 CD that you would like to update to SP3, proceed as follows:

    1. Copy the Windows XP CD-ROM to a location on your hard drive. We’ll be assuming C:\winxpcd. I strongly advise you to use such a vanilla CD. Users have reported strange happenings with custom XP distributions.
    2. Download the Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package.
    3. Unpack Windows XP SP3 by running WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe -x. Note the -x parameter that will allow you to specify a location to unpack to. We’ll be assuming C:\winxpsp3.
    4. Integrate SP3 into the setup files by running C:\winxpsp3\i386\update\update.exe /integrate:c:\winxpcd.

    If your system needs special drivers to operate, this would be the time to include them (called “slipstreaming”). Doing so isn’t exactly trivial and should only be necessary if you, say, require non-standard SATA support. The process is beyond the scope of this article, but fortunately Google is your friend.

    Step Two: Prepping BartPE

    First we’ll prep the USB drive we’ll be using for booting. This is by far the largest step in the process, though it shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to follow. It requires a functional Windows system.

    1. Install BartPE. We’ll be assuming that you install to C:\pebuilder.
    2. Unpack Windows 2003 SP1 by running WindowsServer2003-KB889101-SP1-x86-ENU.exe -x (that’s assuming that you downloaded the English version). Note the -x parameter that will allow you to specify a location to unpack to. We’ll be assuming C:\server2003sp1.
    3. Create a folder named C:\pebuilder\srsp1.
    4. Copy C:\server2003sp1\i386\setupldr.bin to C:\pebuilder\srsp1.
    5. Expand and copy ramdisk.sys by running expand -r C:\server2003sp1\i386\ramdisk.sy_ C:\pebuilder\srsp1.
    6. Start PE Builder from the Start Menu. Point “Source:” to the location of your Windows XP setup files containing SP1, SP2 or SP3.
    7. Make sure the “Output:” is set to “BartPE”. If using SP2 or SP3: go into the Plugins configuration dialog and enable “RpcSS needs to launch DComLaunch Service First - SP2 only”.
    8. Hit “Build”.
    9. When it’s done building, insert the USB drive you intend to boot from and run C:\pebuilder\pe2usb -f [drive:], replacing [drive:] with the location of your USB drive. This will destroy any data on your USB drive! The drive shouldn’t be partitioned any larger than 1 GB. If it is, then repartition it using Computer Management in the Control Panel.
    10. Copy the Windows XP setup files to the USB drive (or another USB device if you have insufficient space left). You’ll only need the i386 folder.

    If no errors occured in the process, you should now be all set to boot from USB!

    Note: it’s possible to use Windows 2003 Server as the operating system to boot from, but I don’t recommend it. Many of BartPE’s included utilities won’t work properly.

    Step Three: Configuring the BIOS

    You should now reboot and go into the BIOS configuration to boot from USB. Instructions for doing so wildly from system to system, but generally entail the following:

    1. Reboot the system.
    2. While booting (before Windows starts loading), get into the BIOS configuration screen by hitting something like F1, F2, Delete or Escape. Hotkey instructions are generally provided on the screen.
    3. Go to the section that contains your boot devices.
    4. With your USB drive plugged in, the USB drive should be listed. If it isn’t, your system might not support booting from USB. Assuming that it is supported (as is the case with virtually all modern hardware), promote your USB drive to the primary boot device.
    5. Exit from the BIOS configuration, saving all changes.

    If you’re completely new to BIOS configuration, BIOS for Beginners over at Tom’s Hardware might be a good primer. Be aware though, that you can seriously screw up your system by providing incorrect settings!

    Step Four: Booting into BartPE

    Assuming that you properly configured your BIOS and your USB device supports booting, BartPE should now load. Depending on the speed of your USB device, this may take a while.

    If it isn’t working, then double-check the following before making a scene:

    * Is your BIOS properly configured for booting from the USB disk? (Is the USB device listed and does it have top priority?)
    * Have you correctly prepared the USB disk in step two? (Restart the procedure.)
    * Does your USB stick properly support being booted from? (Try another one!)

    Step Five: Prepping the Hard Disk

    You need to make sure that your hard drive is partitioned and formatted properly. Especially if you’ve had Linux or some other operating system on it, you’ll need to repartition and format it. BartPE contains DiskPart for disk partitioning and A43 File Manager to format your drive.

    If you are sure that your hard drive is set up properly (i.e. it has only run Windows, it contains a valid FAT or NTFS partition) then you can safe yourself the hassle and skip this step.

    This procedure will destroy any data on the hard drive.

    To repartition:

    1. From the Go menu, navigate to DiskPart.
    2. Enter the commands needed to repartition your drive. For example, try the following: select disk 0 (select the first disk), clean (purges the entire drive, essentially resetting it), create partition primary (creates a single partition from the entire disk), assign (assign the partition a drive letter), exit (quits DiskPart).

    This procedure will destroy any data on the hard drive.

    To format:

    1. From the Go menu, navigate to the A43 File Manager.
    2. Right-click on the target drive (e.g. C: ) and click Format. Should be self-explanatory.

    Step Six: Launching Windows XP Setup

    With your drive all ready, you can now launch the Windows XP setup with a few custom parameters. Let’s assume that the files are available at D:\i386.

    Plugging in a device now won’t work. Remember that all USB devices will need to be plugged in right from the start while using BartPE.

    1. Run D:\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:C: /tempdrive:C: /makelocalsource. Replace C: with the drive you want to install Windows to.
    2. Proceed with the installation. When asked to convert the installation volume to NTFS, answer No. The setup program incorrectly believes that your USB drive (which is formatted as FAT) needs conversion.

    The setup program will then silently close, which might make you think that something went wrong. Don’t worry though. Reboot your system, remove the USB drive(s) and – if all went well – you can now finish setting up Windows XP. Congratulations!

  2. #22
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    I have a question. I am trying this metthod but the Windows CD I am using is Windows with SP1. My Laptop PC that I am using to install is Windows with SP3. So when I try this, I get a warning that I am installing an older version of Windows and that it is canceling the install. Is there a way to get around this?

    PS: It tells me to restart and install directly from the CD.... is there a way to do it this way also? My understanding is that if I do, it will install the laptops drivers, etc, can someone correct me?
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  3. #23
    Self proclaimed spoon feeder TruckinMP3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiJackZX1 View Post
    I have a question. I am trying this metthod but the Windows CD I am using is Windows with SP1. My Laptop PC that I am using to install is Windows with SP3. So when I try this, I get a warning that I am installing an older version of Windows and that it is canceling the install. Is there a way to get around this?

    PS: It tells me to restart and install directly from the CD.... is there a way to do it this way also? My understanding is that if I do, it will install the laptops drivers, etc, can someone correct me?
    Try fully formatting the target drive then install.
    That should remove the sp3 install indicators and allow the sp 1 install.
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  4. #24
    High Voltage blk02si's Avatar
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    Just tried it but I am getting the same error as HiJack.

    I tried it with vista though, fresh formatted 20gb laptop drive and a xp SP2 CD
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  5. #25
    Constant Bitrate kibble's Avatar
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    Hey, good information on this thread! I'll have to give this a shot myself soon!
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  6. #26
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blk02si View Post
    Just tried it but I am getting the same error as HiJack.

    I tried it with vista though, fresh formatted 20gb laptop drive and a xp SP2 CD
    Since i needed to install SP3 (My PC will not work currect with SP2 or 1). i decided to use nLite and intergrated SP3 with it. So now I have a Windows CD with built in SP3. Now my PC works nice. I also stripped it of all the language packs and stuff i didnt need. The CD ended up being 350 MB.
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  7. #27
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    Unhappy What about the speed when using a USB boot?

    Hi everyone I am trying to set a carputer without HHD, only a USB memory stick. I used XP SP2 and followed the method described here : http://www.ngine.de/index.jsp?pageid=4176
    to get the laptop to see the USB.

    The problem is that the system is extremely slow (booting time 15min!), although my usb stick has about 10Mb/2 write speed and 20Mb/s read speed. What are your speeds for boot time ? did you stripped down XP to the minimum needed using nlite or similar soft?

    thanks for your comments

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by gospeed.racer View Post
    I have a laptop that lacks a floppy and a cd rom. I wanted windows XP on it, but couldnt load it without either a floppy or cd. Here is what I did:

    1) install the hard drive as a slave in your working desktop system. I tried using a USB adaptor and it failed, i think it wants to be on an ide channel.

    2) Format the drive. I just did a quick ntsf format, doesnt seem to matter.

    3) insert your windows cd in the drive, and exit when it pops up asking what you want to do.

    4) Go to "My Computer" and look at the drive letters of the CD-rom containing the XP disk, and also the drive letter of the hard drive you are installing to.

    5) Assuming the hard drive is "D" and the XP cd is in "E:", go to the run command and type (or cut and paste):

    E:\I386\winnt32.exe /syspart: /tempdrive: /makelocalsource /noreboot

    6) setup will begin and ask you if you want to upgrade or full install, make sure it is FULL INSTALL. It will then ask you for a few more things including the CD key.

    7) When it goes back to your desktop, turn off your PC and remove the slave hard drive. It is now ready for install in the new system. It will simply continue to install windows from this point.


    I just finished it on my floppyless and cd-less laptop, and it worked awesome!

  9. #29
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    ive tried it in my laptop and it needs more files to be copied from xp disk,should i put xp on the hard drive

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