Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 1 USB flash drive, 1GB or larger
  2. 1 Windows XP installation disc
  3. Assorted files that I’ll describe as we go along.

Preparing the flash drive

First up, we need to prepare the flash drive.

  1. Download and unzip this file, which should contain 2 folders: 1 titled Bootsect, and the other USB_prep8.
  2. Navigate to the USB_prep8 folder and click on usb_prep8.cmd. This will bring up a Windows console window.
  3. Press any key to continue and a PeToUSB window will open.
  4. Make sure your flash drive is selected, and click start to format your flash drive.
  5. When the format is complete, click OK, but do not close the PeToUSB window or the Windows Console.
  6. Open a new console window by typing “cmd” into the run box in the Windows Start Menu.
  7. Find your Bootsect folder (if you’re not used to DOS commands, you can type “dir” to list directories and files, type “cd foldername” to navigate to a folder name – called foldername in this example, and if there’s a long folder name you can save time by typing the “cd” and just the first few letters and then hitting the Tab key to fill in the rest of the name).
  8. Once you’re in the Bootsect folder, type “bootsect.exe /nt52 g:” if “g” is the letter assigned to your flash drive. If it’s E, then change the letter to e. If it’s Z, make it z. Get it?
  9. When this is done, you should see a message letting you know that the bootcode was updated, and you can close this console window (but not the other console window).
  10. Close the PeToUSb Window, but make sure not to close the remaining console window yet
  11. You should now see a list of 8 options in the console.
  12. Select one and find the drive with your Windows installation disc.
  13. Select 2 and pick a random drive letter (but not one that’s already on your PC, since this will be a virtual drive used for copying your files).
  14. Select 3 and enter the drive letter for your USB flash drive.
  15. Select 4 and follow the rest of the on-screen directions and you should be all set.

The process should take about 15-20 minutes. When it’s done, you should have a bootable USB stick that you can use to install Windows XP the same way you would if you had a CD/DVD drive.

A few notes here. First of all, there’s a chance you may get down to step 15 and the program will tell you that it can’t create the virtual drive. This may happen if you’ve already gone through the whole process and are trying to do it again to fix problems. The solution seems to be rebooting your computer and trying again. Or at least that’s what worked for me.

Second, if you use NLite to shrink/slipstream/otherwise modify your Windows XP installation file, make sure you do not remove “manual installation files,” or your USB stick will be pretty much useless.

Installing XP on the Mini-Note

Now it’s time to load Windows XP onto your Mini-Note. If you have a USB CD/DVD drive, you probably skipped all the stuff above, and that’s fine. Most of the following steps should work as well. These instructions should work whether you’re installing Windows XP on a system that came preloaded with SUSE or Windows Vista.

  1. Insert your USB flash drive in one of the USB ports on your Mini-Note.
  2. Power on your computer and hit F9 to bring up a boot device selection window.
  3. Choose your flash drive, or if you’re using a USB optical disc drive, select that instead.
  4. Select 2 for a text-based installation.
  5. Make sure to delete all of the partitions on the hard drive. While you may have some success creating separate partitions on your hard drive using this method, I did not. If you find yourself with a Hal.dll or bootloader missing error when you’re finished, there’s a good chance it’s because you did not delete all of the partitions. Note that I will be providing instructions in the next section for partitioning your hard drive after installing Windows XP, so you can still create a Linux partition later.
  6. Create one large NTFS partition (using the quick option will save you a lot of time)
  7. Follow the on-screen directions.
  8. At least once during the install process, you will be prompted to reboot your computer. If you try to let it boot from the hard drive, you’ll get an error message. What you need to do is hit F9 again when it reboots and this time select option 1 for a GUI setup.
  9. Once you’re done installing XP, you may notice that you are unable to boot into Windows from the hard drive. If you have the USB disk installed, again hit F9, and select the GUI option again. Windows should start. You’ll need to edit the boot.ini file:
  1. Type “msconfig” into the run box in the start menu
  2. Select the BOOT.INI tab
  3. First, try the “Check All Boot Paths,” option. This may solve your problem by finding and removing the incorrect boot settings.
  4. You may also need to edit the boot.ini file manually if it doesn’t read something like ‘multi(o)disk(0)rdisk(o)partition(1)\Windows=”Windows XP Pro” /fastdetect’
  5. The most likely problem is that wrong partition is selected. It may say (0) or (2) or something like that. The steps below will show you how to backup and edit it.
  6. Open your System Properties by right-clicking on My Computer and choosing Properties. Alternately, you could type “sysdm.cpl” into the run box in the start menu
  7. Select the Advanced Tab
  8. Click the Settings option under Startup and Recovery
  9. Click the button that says Edit to open up your boot.ini file in Notepad. It’s a good idea to save a backup now by selecting Save As, and saving the file to a place where you won’t forget it.
  10. Now you can (somewhat) safely edit the boot.ini file, changing the partition number or other settings to more closely resemble the one I listed above. Save your file, and hopefully you’ll be able to reboot without your USB stick.

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