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Booting full Windows from USB stick/HDD

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    (XP embedded has been possible but this is regarding full xp/2003)

    Looks like it's possible with little changes for HDD case and with some work for the stick case. With flash stick there should be additional driver to redirect writes to memory, otherwise the stick life may decrease faster.

    Booting XP from USB stick directly (lengthy tutorial 3)
    usb boot slipstream tutorial (works atleast on my desktop)

    Raymond said that this is not possible. However with forcing the drivers to load differently it seems to be (previous link).

    I am myself trying to get XP recovery console to run from USB stick, but the bugger keeps complaining about missing TXTSETUP.SIF even though it is there both in root and i386. I could use some *PE with PeToUSB also but I'd rather have the Microsoft recovery console.

    There's some interesting talk about flash cycles/wear here:

    If trying to install Windows on flash stick then one should use write filter such as this to avoid quick death of the memory.

    Nice page with some technical details on CHS,LBA,MBR,partitions,FAT and NTLDR.

    Windows NT Boot Process and Hard Disk Constraints
    Boot files cannot be located beyond 8 GB?
    Diagnosing Disk-related Problems (possible causes for boot time errors)
    Examination of NTFS booting

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    androidi wrote:
    Raymond said that this is not possible. However with forcing the drivers to load differently it seems to be (previous link).

    And Raymond was right, it didn't work for both hardware and software reasons at the time he wrote it... Stuff changes.

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    I've updated the post with second "slipstream" tutorial that has less steps and which I've verified to work. There should be new tutorial coming later that should allow this to work with even more setups "universally", so watch the first link for that.

    The one I've tested works by first slipstreaming patches and then modifying the usb*.inf and few others to load those first as system bus extenders. There will be popups about unsigned drivers but that can be worked around in unattended setups.

    Possible problems:

    It has been suggested that licenses may not allow this USB installation, but the latest methods use very little modifications (inf,sif only) and there's solution in works for the signing issue.


    One thing I encountered to be troublesome was that it seems certain BIOS like the boot sector to have "16 heads" set, this seems to be one possible cause of "a disk read error occurred" during boot.. By changing this value manually to 255 everything went without problems in the target computer, however the computer that installed the boot sector still wants 16 heads.

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