XP Setup Bootstrapping Question
October 19, 2007 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Boostrap windows XP setup on a computer that cd-rom is not working on?

Helping a friend reload the OS on his old Toshiba Satellite - the DVD drive is not apparently reading disks correctly.

I've got a usb adapter for the drive and I've got the drive pulled and hooked up to another one of my PCs. I've copied the XP setup files over to the drive, now I just need to run them. However, I'm having issues getting to a command prompt so I can actually run the setup.

I've tried to format the disk and copied boot.ini, ntdetect.com, and ntldr over to the drive in an attempt to get it to boot to a standard command line. I keep getting errors on this however. I've got a windows vista system and an xp laptop that I can fall back to. How can I format this drive so it will boot to a command line and be able to run the xp setup. I've tried to extract a couple of win98se bootdisks to the drive but I keep getting the same errors, I'm assuming it's something in the MBR that it's not finding.

Anyone had any similar scenarios? And off the wall ideas. I'm thinking the solution to this is much more simple than I'm trying to implement. How hard is it to get a simple command prompt loaded on the HDD when you're not booting off of it?

Harder than I thought
posted by unvivid to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: dir, also - apparently when the drive is hooked up to my xp machine there is no way to format it as system as with the old 98 ish machines. So that is out of the question. I'm thinking if I could just write a simple boot disk to the drive it would be fine. All of my utilities only support writing to floppies for boot disks though. I'm thinking my fix will be somewhere along those lines.
posted by unvivid at 12:36 PM on October 19, 2007

You could try the steps listed here [tomshardware.com] which gives you a bootable version of windows on a usb drive. Once you've done that hopefully you can launch regular windows setup. Probably the first thing to check is that the dead computer can be booted from USB.

Alternatively, you could pop the hard drive into one of the working PCs and start the installation off from there - once it boots into graphics mode I think you can probably get away with then moving the hard drive back to the dead PC and continuing the setup.

Good luck!
posted by samj at 12:47 PM on October 19, 2007

Well, it is harder than that, I think.. For one thing, you will have a FAT32/NTFS problem. Anyway, this thread at MSFN appears to be an effective solution.
posted by Chuckles at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2007

Harder than just bootstrapping. I wasn't commenting on samj..
posted by Chuckles at 12:52 PM on October 19, 2007

D'oh.. That thread doesn't give a complete solution, though it looks like the approach can work. Here is a thread about doing an install from one hard drive to another. And, this is how to install from the i386 directory.

You have to pick the right installer for your boot environment (winnt.exe or winnt32.exe), you have to make sure the install files are on a partition using the correct FS for your boot environment (basically FAT32 or NTFS), and for practical purposes I think you probably have to install to a blank partition. If you can meet all those requirements, it should just work.

D'oh again.. You can't install full XP to a USB hard drive. Put the thing inside the system (IDE or SATA), and it should just work.
posted by Chuckles at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2007

I've solved this in the past with:
- Get the FreeDOS ISO and burn it to a CD
- Install the drive into a PC with a working CD-ROM. I usually make it the only drive because I'm paranoid
- Boot into the FreeDOS CD
- "format /s" the harddrive from FreeDOS
- Reboot without the FreeDOS CD to make sure that it's booting off the harddrive
- Copy everything off the FreeDOS CD into a sub-directory on the harddrive
- Re-attach the normal primary drive, make the now bootable FreeDOS drive a secondary. Boot into XP, copy the i386 directory from the XP installation onto the FreeDOS drive
- Install the FreeDOS drive into the new PC, boot, run setup.exe from the i386 directory
posted by quiet at 2:11 AM on October 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

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