Friday, May 30, 2008

Starting Fresh: Day 2

After two days of wrestling with Windows installation errors and unbootable CDs, I finally got the formula down for creating a Windows XP Home Edition bootable setup disk. Like the information I found online suggested, all you need to do it is an I386 directory, which is usually always found on Dell computers. Note that the I386 folder MUST BE THE ONE AT C:\I386. There is another similar folder somewhere in the WINDOWS folder, but that one doesnt have the same stuff the one in C: has. So, here are the steps I took to make the CD.

At this point, you might want to stop here and back up all of your files, including the OS files, if you havent already. If you dont back up now and decide to back up later on, youll probably be including all the extra programs and data were about to add. If you dont plan on backing up or want to just wait it out, read on.

  1. Print out a report from Device Manager found in the Control Panel. This will help you identify missing drivers after you reinstall. This isnt required, but if youve got some extra hardware installed like graphics or sound cards, it can help out.
  2. If you dont know your CD key, download Magical Jelly Bean to find the one used when your current installation was first installed. Write it down or print it out. I also printed out the other registration keys the program found, just to make it easier on me when I reinstall everything.
  3. Create a folder in C: named XPSETUP. Now, put a copy of C:\I386 in XPSETUP. Make sure you copy the entire folder, and not just the files inside the folder, so that you now have an I386 folder inside C:\XPSETUP. I386 holds all the installation files needed by the Windows installer and is usually pretty big, so expect to wait a couple minutes while it copies.
  4. Open Notepad and type "Windows " (including the space afterwards!), then hit Enter to add a new line. Go up to File > Save As, and type "C:\XPSETUP\WIN51" (including the quotes!) in the file name box. Click save and close Notepad. Navigate back to C:\XPSETUP and make a copy of the new WIN51 file called WIN51IC.
  5. Now the tricky part begins! If you know what Service Pack came pre-installed with your computer, youll be fine. Otherwise, youll probably have to shoot-and-miss to get the disk to work correctly. If your computer didnt come with any SPs pre-installed, skip to the next step. If SP1 came with it, make a copy of WIN51IC named WIN51IC.sp1. If SP2 came with it, make two copies of WIN51IC named WIN51IC.sp1 and WIN51IC.sp2.
  6. At this point, other web sites would suggest you slipstream the newer service packs. I decided not to after getting a headache while trying to get the disk to work with the slipstream. You can look elsewhere if you want help slipstreaming, but dont ask me for it. I couldnt figure out any easy and fool-proof way of doing it.
  7. Download nLite and use it to customize the installation. This is optional, but if you dont customize, at least use it to create the ISO.
  8. Use your favorite CD burning program to open the ISO created in the previous step and burn its contents to a fresh CD. Congrats! If all went well, you are now the proud owner of a Windows XP Home Edition bootable setup and installation CD.

The next task is where the real fun begins. Reformatting and reinstalling everything. Im not looking forward to it, because Im so lazy. But, Ive come this far, so might as well continue!

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