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How to install Windows Vista on a FAT32 partition

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How to install Windows Vista on a FAT32 partition


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Tutorial 8 for Windows Vista

How to install Vista on a Fat32 partition

Author: Dietmar Stolting, 9. August 2006



1. Install two physical hard drives in your computer. Each at least 40GB in size. Disk0 will be for XP. Disk1 will be for Vista. ( If you have a version of XP on a USB Drive and only one Hard drive then go to step 4.)

2. Format Disk0 into 2 Partitions. FAT32, 18GB Partition0 and a NTFS Partition1 of at least 20GB (for temp storage in step 8) and then install XP. XP can format the Disk as well.

3. Format Disk1 NTFS. Shutdown & Disconnect Disk0

4. Install Vista on Disk1, Formatted NTFS. Don’t install anything else, No drivers, programs or updates in this Vista OS. Because Microsoft then inserts Machine key numbers, that cant be copied with the Explorer (but can be copied with Winhex Ha Ha.. . I also used an IDE hard disk, Disk1

4. Shutdown the Computer. Reconnect Disk0 and boot into XP.

5. Get a copy of XXCopy Pro. It will copy any file Protected or not. XXCOPY Pro is available for a 60-day trial for free without obligation: http://www.xxcopy.com/download/xxcopy.zip. Install it in XP.

6. In folder options, Set all the system files as visible. Note the exact size of all the Vista files and folders. Highlight all Vista Files and right click and select properties. WRITE the size down. Copy all the files and folders from that Vista installation to a folder called Vista32 using XXCopy. Using XP’s Copy function will generate errors and not make a complete copy. DO NOT copy the Vista32 folder on the partition with Vista, Drive1, because this partition/drive is deleted later!

Do not copy hiberfil.sys, pagefile.sys & System Volume Information.

7. If you get a message, that a file cant be copied, use the program “Beyond Compare 2” to look,

what has happened. You will have to copy or create them manually.

When you found that file or folder that cant be copied, build this file or folder by hand and let it empty, (I found 3. for example: "Server")

8. Make a backup of your original Vista installation. I used “Winhex” to create a Byte by Byte cop[y of the installations hard disk including the boot sector to a file called vista32.dat.

Acronis True Image and HyperOS should also work.

Copy Vista32.dat.to Disk0 NTFS Partition1.

Remember, that on a FAT32 partition no single file can be larger than 4.10GB.

Vista32.dat can stay on the Vista NTFS partition if you only have one Hard Drive. It is about 20GB in size.

I tested this image and it works.

9. Notice the exact size of this partition, before you delete the Vista partition. Use Partition Magic 8 to Delete the Vista Partition. Create build a new FAT32 partition in the same place and the same size as the deleted NTFS Partition. Set this partition to be it “active”.

10. Now copy all the files and folders back from the Vista32 folder to that empty Fat32 partition.

Copy the Boot folder first and the Windows folder last.

11. Disconnect your USB XP and/or any other hard disk.

Only the hard disk with the new FAT32 partition and the files and folders of Vista on it stays.

12. When you try to start from that hard disk you get a message like no OS found.

13. Put the Vista DVD in and hit any key to boot from DVD.

14. Chose install Vista, but at the next Menu, choose "System Repair".

15. Select a keyboard layout (USA). If asked.

16. Hit CONTROL-ALT-DEL and then choose no. (Means no restart of Vista)

17. Hit "next", and then choose Command Prompt.

18. Type cd and then the letter of your DVD drive that has the Vista DVD in it,

For me it is E: .

19. Type there cd E:\boot .

20. Then type there bootsect /nt60 C:

A message is shown, that a new boot sector for FAT32 is written!

21. Remove the Vista DVD and shut the computer down.

Your next Boot will be Very Long. The hard disk seems to sleep about 2 minutes.

But then the boot process begins. There is Vista on a FAT32 Partition.

hiberfil.sys, pagefile.sys & System Volume Information have also been now rebuilt build new.

22. Create A restore point.

23. Install your Drivers with a restore point created before each one you install.

24. Create A restore point and download your updates.

Good luck


Improved and translated to English by MRGCAV@Gmail.com

PS: Please write, whether you have success with this procedure. It is easy.

For all of you who are still searching for the files "ultra.inf", "ultra.cat" and "ultra.sys" download this file:


Vista can run on FAT32, I've made some progress Feb 26 2006


Since the EFI can only see Apple and FAT partitions (no NTFS) this means that ultimately we can get vista going without worying about an NTFS driver. The catch is its tricky to get vista onto a FAT32 drive....

-Install Vista normally on a PC in an NTFS formatted drive

-Remove the Hard Drive and hook it up to a USB enclosure

-Connect the drive to the iMac via USB and copy the contents to a directory in OSX (I personally could not get windows to copy the hard drive contents as I kept getting access denied errors).

-Connect the USB Drive to a PC and reformat as FAT32.

-Connect the drive back up to the iMac and transfer the files from the directory you put the hard drive contents in back onto the newly formatted FAT32 Drive.

-Remove the drive from the enclosure and hook back up to the PC

-Startup from the Vista install DVD and run the recovery tools from the main install screen.

-Run the repair utility and reboot (you may have to start the DVD again, go to the repair tools, start a console, and run bootsect.exe in the boot dir of the install DVD to fix the bootsector)

If all went well you'll have a fully functional vista install on a FAT32 drive which the EFI can see if hooked back up to the imac. Of course tweaking that install to run on the imac is another story...

Also I am now at the same point that NAK managed where he could access the Vista boot menu and try and boot into safe mode. Just as in his case I reached the point where crcdisk.sys loads and vista is supposed to boot into the desktop but instead the iMac reboots entirely. I'm gonna try to run sysprep on the vista install and see if that helps any.

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I guess it's neat that you devoted so much time to this... but I don't understand why you would want to do this. Did you also convert your new Honda Accord to run on a carborator?

People complain about security, installing Vista on Fat32 instead of NTFS is like leaving your doors unlocked at night.

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yeah i agree with you. do u have any problem running vista on NTFS? no? then y to do this ?

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...and why would someone want to do this again???

I don't understand why people are trying to shoehorn Vista on FAT32 partitions and 256 meg systems.

Is this some science experiment?

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I don't understand why people are trying to shoehorn Vista ...... 256 meg systems.

its like , if u have diabetics and u want to eat sweets, then sugarless sweets is only option for u, even knowing that there is no test in it. ;).

same here for vista on 256 mb RAM. :thumbup

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I'll try to explain.

Back when the blue part of the original post was written (It's copied from www.insanelymac.com) there was no bootcamp. (Apple's solution of running Windows on your Intel-Mac) One of the problems was that Apple's 'BIOS' (EFI) didn't have NTFS boot support, so you couldn't install Vista because EFI doesn't like to boot NTFS drives. The first, and obvious solution was to make Vista run from an FAT32 drive, because EFI does support booting a FAT32 partition.

A second reason you might want to have it as FAT32 is that MAC OS X doesn't have a Write/Read driver for NTFS filesystems. So if you boot into Mac OS X, you can't move files to your Windows Partition. (And all windows versions CAN'T read HFS+ filesystems, the filesystem Apple uses for her OS, so you can't do it the other way around also.)

So again, the solution is make it a FAT32 filesystem, because Mac OS X does have write/read support for that.

Although nowadays, there is indeed a port of some Linux workaround for writing to NTFS drives for Mac OS X, but it's still slow as it mounts the NTFS drive as a network volume.

But as you can see, it's mostly a solution for Mac-users. (and/or Linux users?)

- zizou

(sorry for 'bump'?)

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