Loading Win XP

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by David, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. David

    David Guest


    I have a 6 year old Sony Vaio VGN-517m laptop that has no optical drive,
    nor a hard drive.
    I have a new hard drive (100 Gb) to fit, and a Win XP cd, how do I
    install the Win XP OS, please?

    The old Sony cannot boot from USB.

    I have access to a 64-bit Win 7 home premium laptop (that can also boot
    into Ubuntu, but then sometimes the trackpad will not work and the
    screen will not dim in Ubuntu.), and a 32-bit Win 7 home premium laptop.

    Should I remove the hard drive from the 32-bit laptop and install the
    new hard drive in that, then use the optical drive in that laptop ?

    How many partitions should I format the new hard drive to ?

    Thanks for your time

    best wishes

    David, Dec 22, 2011
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  2. David

    Paul Guest

    You could do it the way I did it.

    I did this purely for fun, when I built my current WinXP computer.

    I prepared the hard drive separately. I put two FAT32 partitions on
    the disk. The first one relatively large (say, 30GB). The second
    one small (at around 1GB). You store the contents of the CD into the
    small second partition.

    In the i386 folder of the install CD, are around 5000 files or so.
    Two files of interest, are WINNT32.EXE and WINNT.EXE . One of those
    runs in Windows, the other runs in DOS. If you select the wrong one,
    it'll probably tell you the program won't run in your current environment.

    So the idea is, you need a boot environment, that will allow you
    to run the WINNT or WINNT32 installer program.

    What I used, was an MSDOS boot floppy. My floppy was prepared
    in Win98, so the version of MSDOS is new enough, that it
    understands FAT32. When the DOS prompt appeared after
    boot, I could enter "D:" at the command prompt, to
    change directories to the D: partition. Then "cd i386"
    gets me pointed at the i386 directory. Then, I typed
    in the name of the installer program, like "winnt.exe"
    and away it went.

    The first stage of the install, copies files from D: to C:.
    And since it's DOS, and the DOS I was using understands FAT32
    but not NTFS, I could not use NTFS at that time. If I wanted
    C: to be NTFS, I could do that later using the "convert"

    On the first reboot, I think you'll actually be booting from
    C:, so at that point, you'll want to verify that C: is booting.
    (Hmmm. That could be tricky if your initial boot OS is also
    on the hard drive.)

    So now the question boils down to, what practical way is there,
    to get an MSDOS boot media and boot it. Do you have a floppy
    drive ? The machine won't boot from USB, so that's out.
    You could I suppose, install a third partition on the
    hard drive (as part of the pre-install setup), but
    can you do that with DOS ? I've never installed DOS
    on a machine - I've only used the boot floppy (which
    is not a complete DOS installation by any stretch
    of the imagination).

    I optimized my boot floppy a little bit, by installing
    something which enhances file reading, but it took so
    long to set it up, it's better to just wait the half hour
    it might take to copy files from D: to C: instead. But since
    my experiments were more for fun (I wanted to try it because
    I'd just heard about the install technique), I spent the time
    anyway, to see how much faster the install would be, going
    from hard drive partition to hard drive partition. While
    it speeded up the install a little bit, I wouldn't say it
    was "jaw dropping fast". DOS is a pretty crappy environment,
    and I'm just happy it got the job done.

    So that's a basic idea of how you can do it.

    As for the drive letters of the partitions, you have to be
    careful when placing the partitions on the disk. I defined
    C: as the first partition (30GB), D: as the second partition
    (big enough to hold the contents of a 700MB install CD).
    If you were going to put DOS on the disk, it would be nice
    to make it the third partition. What I can't tell you ogg
    hand, is whether DOS would need to be within 8GB of sector 0
    to boot or not.

    So there are still a few unknowns.

    If you had a CD drive or a floppy, then you'd be able to get
    an MSDOS image off the web and boot from that. I'm just not sure
    of the details of how you'd get MSDOS on its own partition,
    and use that to boot the machine.

    Another option would be to net boot the laptop using PXE.
    Some BIOS mention a PXE option, which is a code module
    in the BIOS that will use the network interface, to
    get boot code from another computer. Again, I've never
    had to set one of those up, so can't give any details.
    Years ago, there was a protocol called "bootp" that was
    used for booting XWindow terminals, and you didn't
    need a disk in the machine, because the machine could
    instead send packets to a server to get the boot data.

    Anyway, the key point here is, you can copy the CDROM files
    onto the hard drive, and the installer programs WINNT32 or
    WINNT can be used to start an install. And the remaining
    problem to be solved, is how you can get enough of a
    Windows pre-install environment, so you can execute the
    installer. I used an MSDOS floppy, but there was also a
    six floppy set from the Microsoft site, that could be
    used to boot a computer. But this info is only of
    interest, if the laptop had a floppy interface.

    Have fun (I did :) )

    Paul, Dec 23, 2011
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  3. The HDD took a dump, so you need a new one. No trouble.

    What happened to the optical drive?

    Sony _knows_ that you will need to boot from something, and if there is no
    built-in optical drive, then it has to be capable of booting from an
    external CD, which is by definition going to be a USB-based device. If you
    cannot boot from a USB-based drive, then you have to go into the BIOS --
    typically you press ESC or DEL during boot to get the Set-up screen -- and
    make the Boot Priority to be the USB first, and the HDD second. Frankly, you
    almost never want the HDD to be the primary boot device for precisely this
    reason. If the HDD goes away, then you need to be able to boot from
    something else. If the CD has a bootable media loaded -- and how often does
    this happen in the real world? -- then you merely eject it and reboot to the
    OS. No big deal...

    If you do not have an external CD, then you will need one. They don't cost
    much. You can get them at Fry's online for really cheap, and from BestBuy
    for a little more and take it home today. If you have a Fry's near by, then
    go for a drive -- drive a little and save a lot. (You can print the Fry's ad
    and BestBuy will match it.)

    I see no point in making a partition in a 100G drive. Format it all at once
    and move on.
    Jeff Strickland, Dec 23, 2011
  4. David

    David Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you very much for your reply, and the time and trouble to give the

    The laptop does not have a floppy, but I do have a copy of Hirens boot
    disc that can boot into "mini XP", but I would need to burn an ISO of
    that to the new hard drive somewhere ?

    Thanks again , and seasons greetings

    David, Dec 23, 2011
  5. David

    David Guest

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for your reply.

    The optical drive went tits up, and a known working optical drive would
    not work after it was installed, leaving me to suspect the motherboard
    is at fault. Not that that matters, as the laptop worked fine without
    the optical drive.
    The hard drive failed in use and no data could be saved from it. Every
    time it booted over the last few months of use, more clusters went bad
    and it eventually it failed. Even using manufacturer disc repair
    programs with the hard drive in a USB caddy could not recover data.

    The old Sony cannot boot into USB, the BIOS does not give that option.

    thanks and seasons greetings

    David, Dec 23, 2011
  6. David

    Paul Guest

    Well, you understand the requirements now. Something has to go on the
    end of the disk, to function as the "Install OS" while the installer
    is running. Normally, that would come from the WinXP installer CD and
    its boot environment (CD based). In this example, I show "FreeDOS" as
    a solution, but I have no first hand experience with FreeDOS.

    |C: for WinXP (min 1.5GB) |D: for CD content (>700MB) |FreeDOS FAT16? |
    |Format FAT32 for DOS access |Format FAT32 for DOS access |Install OS |

    This looks very scary, so ignore for now. Don't get bogged down in
    the details quite yet.


    Have a look at the download site.


    There is a fdbasecd.iso . I expect that's how you
    transfer freedos to a hard drive, but I'm not sure.

    Your steps would be something like:

    1) Use a separate PC. Disconnect the regular hard drives for safety.
    Connect the laptop drive. Leave the optical drive connected. Total
    of two devices connected. This will prevent the FreeDOS CD from damaging
    anything else.

    2) Boot a Linux LiveCD, and prepare the three partitions shown. You
    could try GParted as a LiveCD, which is smaller and pretty limited.
    I don't know if it would do a good job for this project.

    3) Copy at least the WinXP installer CD into D:, including at minimum,
    the i386 folder and the 5000 files. If you're using a Linux LiveCD,
    it's possible to transfer the entire CD into RAM (TORAM=yes for Ubuntu),
    and then the CD drive can be emptied so you can fit other CDs into it.

    4) Boot the fdbasecd.iso, install FreeDOS into the last partition.

    5) Verify the disk boots to FreeDOS prompt in the "build" computer.

    6) Move the hard drive back to the laptop, and attempt to boot FreeDOS

    7) Use "D:", "cd i386", then run the ntsetup command (which ever one
    of the two will work), and start the install to C:. If the FreeDOS
    drive lettering is screwed up, it'll only take a few checks like
    "E:" and "dir" to figure out which partition contains the WinXP CD

    8) The first stage of install, will destroy the ability to boot FreeDOS
    again. On the next reboot (half way through the install), you'll be
    booting the prototype C: and the install will finish. If something
    fouls up at this point, and you want to start over again, you'll
    have to reinstall FreeDOS (to fix the MBR).

    Note: I don't know if FreeDOS has any restrictions on how far out
    on the disk it can be, and still boot. Years ago, there were CHS geometry
    based restrictions, that prevented booting above 8GB (or some lesser

    The reason I've picked a particular order for the partitions, is
    so when the WinXP install commences, you actually end up with
    C: being the Windows partition. If you use some other partition
    order, then the WinXP drive letter could end up D: or E:. I got that
    wrong when I did it, and my first attempt ended up with WinXP
    being on letter D:. So I had to do it over again.

    So that is an example of the approach I'd attempt, but I have
    no idea how hard this is going to be to set up.


    You never know, there might be some other technique for properly staging
    files into C:, effectively doing the first copy stage instead of
    letting the WinXP CD do it. Have a look around. The tricky part,
    is the WinXP installer writes the MBR and sets the boot flag, so
    the next time it boots, it's ready to go.

    When I did my "bit of fun", it took an entire day of work
    to complete the project. So don't expect this effort to be
    a ten minute job. You'll need some tools and a good CD
    collection (Linux LiveCDs or whatever), to prep things.

    To get a Linux LiveCD to run from RAM, you need a machine with
    around 1.5GB minimum RAM. That leaves 700MB of RAM to store the
    CD, plus some RAM for the runtime environment. I boot LiveCDs into
    RAM, if I expect to be running the OS for more than a few hours
    that way. It saves wear and tear on the CD drive. On Ubuntu,
    the kernel boot line has the "quiet" thing on the end of the
    line removed, and then you can put TORAM=yes there. It takes
    about three minutes to boot that way, while the entire 700MB
    CD is transferred to RAM. The only LiveCD where that isn't
    practical, is my Knoppix DVD which is over 3GB in size. That
    would take too much RAM to store entirely. But the other LiveCDs are
    small enough to do that. I even use that technique, when scanning
    my computer with a Kaspersky scanning CD, boot to RAM so I can
    pop out the CD, and the scan can proceed quietly without the
    noise of CD grindage.

    If your "build" machine has two optical drives, you don't need
    any "TORAM" stuff. You can boot the LiveCD in one optical drive,
    install the WinXP CD in the second optical drive, and copy the
    files over into the target (laptop) hard drive.

    Paul, Dec 23, 2011
  7. Sounds like you need to shop at www.frys.com for a new machine. Or, visit
    your local Costco -- which I think is actually the better option.

    If your laptop is so old as to not support USB boot devices, _and_ has a
    dead optical drive controller and a beat up HDD, it sounds as if you can get
    a far better machine that is new for not much more than you are about to
    pour into the old machine that still won't work very well after you get it
    going again.

    I completely agree with your trepidation to move to Win7, I too resist the
    call to migrate that way. I run XP Pro, and my wife has a Vista box that I
    don't even like to be in the same room with. My issue isn't even that Vista
    sucks from an operating standpoint, it sucks for me because the familiarity
    with the GUI is so changed that I cannot find my way around. Win7 is
    supposed to be more stable and therefore a better operating system, but the
    familiarity issues remain. Even with WinXP, I have the GUI set to Windows
    Jeff Strickland, Dec 23, 2011
  8. David

    Paul Guest

    I did some testing of FreeDOS in a virtual machine. I use VPC2007
    within a WinXP environment, for testing things.

    I was able to install FreeDOS, using the FreeDOS base installer.
    (In a virtual machine, you create a virtual 16GB hard drive, and
    that's what the virtual machine is installing to, not a physical
    disk as such.)

    This is my final partition configuration.


    The problem with the FreeDOS package, is it's insistence on
    creating hidden partitions, for the "non C:" partitions.

    When using the FreeDOS installer CD, there is a program called
    "xfdisk" which controls disk formatting and partitioning type
    stuff. In there, I was able to create three partitions. If the
    partitions are big enough (larger than the FAT16 2GB limit), the
    partition type will be set to FAT32. And that will undoubtedly
    help with the final WinXP partition.

    So I put up with the xfdisk initial limitation of making the
    partitions hidden. I did the install to C:, where the C: for
    FreeDOS was made the last partition. That's so WinXP can be
    placed on the first partition.

    Next, I booted into FreeDOS (from the hard drive, no CD used).
    Because the C: partition currently has the active (boot) flag,
    it's the one that boots.

    Once in FreeDOS, you can use


    and the "edit" program even accepts mouse input. You put a "#"
    character in front of the "/AUTOHIDE" line, to comment it out.
    Then save and quit. To review that the file change actually
    occurred, you can use


    and the text file will be spewed to the screen.

    Once autohide has been disabled, you can make the
    first two partitions visible. When you press F3 in XFDISK
    to quit, it will ask whether you want to update the partition
    table and you can answer yes.

    On the next reboot of FreeDOS from the hard drive, now you
    can do "C:", "D:", or "E:" to navigate to one of the three

    The only remaining mystery, is getting a CDROM driver to work.
    FreeDOS could not access the virtual CD in VPC2007. When I
    made my MSDOS diskette a few years ago, I added a CD driver
    to it, and that allowed me to use the CDROM drive. FreeDOS
    does have a driver, but it doesn't detect the virtual CDROM
    for some reason.

    That isn't a killer issue, if you have some other environment
    where you can copy the contents of the WinXP CDROM to partition
    D:. For example, I also used a Ubuntu CD, and I could copy
    files in that environment if needed.

    So it looks like FreeDOS is a step in the right direction. At
    least I got it to boot. And boot from the hard drive. Moving
    the hard drive from one machine to another, it may still
    continue to work, as long as the disk controller is using
    a standard operating mode. (Let's hope your laptop
    is old enough to not be stuck using AHCI.)

    Paul, Dec 23, 2011
  9. David

    David Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Wow. All this help.

    Thanks for this info, and the link to the FreeDos ISO.

    I thought that an installer would need to be installed to enable Win XP

    Best wishes

    David, Dec 23, 2011
  10. David

    David Guest

    Hi Jeff,

    I have two newer laptops running Win 7.

    Win 7 does not run some stuff I want to run, and whilst OracleVM can do
    it, the solution is not entirely satisfactory.

    Also, I do not want to use the newer laptops in the car recording from
    the EOBD port.

    best regards

    David, Dec 23, 2011
  11. David

    Paul Guest

    No, the idea is, the installer on the WinXP disc, can be run from Win2K
    for example.

    Say you currently have Win2K installed on a computer, and decide to buy
    an "upgrade" disc. You'd boot Win2K as normal, then navigate to the
    CD and click the WINNT32 application. And that starts the WinXP install,
    while you're still in Win2K. So the idea was, they wanted to make the installer
    work from either MSDOS or from a Windows OS, as well as using the installer
    CD as a boot disc (for computers with no OSes present).

    It's really quite flexible.

    Now, if they'd made it so you could install from Linux, they'd
    have had a winner :)

    Paul, Dec 23, 2011
  12. Why not? You can use a Netbook to do that, or a smart phone.

    I guess I don't understand the goal. I thought you wanted to make an XP
    machine, and the reason to do that is because you resist the call to
    migtrate to Win7. If you don't care about making the move to Win7, then for
    the money and time to make an old machine come alive again, you can have a
    new machine that works well. If Win7 does not run some of your stuff, then
    the stuff is old enough that you should consider upgrading.

    In any case, even if you manage to get the OS loaded into the machine, you
    still have a woefully small HDD and no CD. You may as well run a Netbook.

    People all over the country use a laptop to talk to the OBD II Data Port. It
    works well. Lots of people use a smartphone to do this, and it works well
    too, and you can use the same device to do other tasks.
    Jeff Strickland, Dec 24, 2011
  13. Same problem, and a solution, except I'd log onto the net once the
    basic windows is up and running to get the drivers and upgrades.
    some guy does this on youtube,
    Fat-Dumb and Happy, Jan 1, 2012
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