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Running out of solutions...

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I have been attempting to install Windows XP SP2 from my Sandisk 4GB Titanium USB device, and I have run out of possible solutions. The following describes my progress:

I have a new Dell Inspiron 530 machine that came preloaded with Vista Home. The hardware inside is as follows:

- q6600 Processor

- seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 250GB HDD

- FOXCONN DG33M03 Motherboard (Standard from Dell)

- 1GB (2x512MB) Samsung PC5300

- Phoenix BIOS

I used RVM_Integrator to slipstream the post SP2 update pack, and DPs_BASE.exe to install three driverpacks:

- DP_Chipset_wnt5_x86-32_803.7z

- DP_LAN_wnt5_x86-32_8053.7z

- DP_MassStorage_wnt5_x86-32_805.7z

Then I used USB_Multiboot_10.cmd to configure my USB and copy XPSOURCE. I followed the Boot Land tutorial vividly and checked it with MSFN Install XP from USB. It worked flawlessly one computer, but I have been receiving errors on the Inspiron. At first, I would get the BAD_POOL_CALLER error, in which I researched extensively and have yet to find a working solution. Then, I attempted to integrate the drivers from the Dell website for the inspiron box using Nlite with a clean copy of XPSOURCE. I didnt add the driverpacks, or the update pack, and now I receive the corrupt or missing hal.dll error.

I reviewed the FAQ page and checked my boot.ini (on the USB disk) for errors and found none. The file reads as follows:

[Boot Loader]
[Operating Systems]
C:\btsec\XPSTP.bs="1. Begin TXT Mode Setup Windows XP, Never unplug USB-Drive Until Logon"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="2. and 3. Continue with GUI Mode Setup Windows XP + Start XP from HD 1" /FASTDETECT
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(2)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Continue GUI Setup + Start XP from HD 2, use if installing on HD2" /FASTDETECT
c:\grldr="4. Start GRUB4DOS Menu - DOS FPY IMAGES + Linux + XP Rec Cons + Vista"
C:\btsec\XATSP.bs="Attended Setup XP, Never unplug USB-Drive Until After Logon"

I am running out of things to try to make this work. I would appreciate any assistance. Thank you in advance for your input. if there is anymore information that I could add, please let me know. I appreciate the hard work put into the USB install. It is not only intriguing, but impressive as well.

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now I receive the corrupt or missing hal.dll error.

Does your Dell have a recovery partition as 1st hidden partition ?

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Maybe, every time I try the USB install, there is an 8GB Unpartitioned space even after I formatted the entire C:\ drive. If this is what you are referring to, then yes, if not then how would I find out?

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I have been attempting to install Windows XP SP2
Slipstream SP3 first.
- q6600 Processor
Goto BIOS, disable multicore support.

Install XP.

Enable multicore support.

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Success, but not sure why, and this is my reasoning...

-I used nlite to slipsteam sp3 into my XPSOURCE and then used multiboot10 to prepare the usb stick.

-I disabled the multi-core functionality, and attempted the install. Once again, hal.dll error.

-I went back into the BIOS and changed the boot priority to removable, and then changed the first boot priority to the usb stick.

-When setup went to reboot after copying the installation files, I went through text mode again, but instead of deleting the partition and deploying the a new install i quit using F3.

-Obviously, the computer rebooted and I continued into the GUI from which a successful install occurred.

My question is why did it work? There is no point in spending the time to successfully install xp sp3 from a USB device if I can't do it again. My interest is in the automation; I would like to be able to use this method, or something similar, to install an OS on any machine just by booting from the USB device. I feel as though I could determine the process of automating the partitioning and formatting of the c drive, but the whole point is to not have to tell the computer what to do. This may seem a little ridiculous, but my goal is to understand the process so that in time I might be able to apply the same methodology to multiple scenarios, in hopes of returning with valued input that the users of msfn have graciously given me.

If nothing else, I would like some direction to begin my research. Thanks again.

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Success, but not sure why, and this is my reasoning...

-When setup went to reboot after copying the installation files, I went through text mode again, but instead of deleting the partition and deploying the a new install i quit using F3.

-Obviously, the computer rebooted and I continued into the GUI from which a successful install occurred.

ALL INFO was in the Help and FAQ ;)

You should Quick Format your EXISTING C-partition, NOT Delete C-partitition and Create NEW partition.

IF you do Delete and Create partitions you have to Quit with F3 and Run first part of TXT-mode again

as described in END - Help:

There is NO NEED to Repartition, just SELECT and Quick Format Existing C-partition.


*** HELP for Using MultiBoot USB-Drive *** Read Help_USB_MultiBoot.txt File

Boot with USB-Drive plugged and Press [Delete] or F2 to Enter BIOS Setup

Change BIOS Boot Settings:

Harddisk is First Boot Device Type and USB-Drive is seen as First Harddisk

Reboot from USB-Drive and Make Selection from Boot Menu


***** HELP for Using USB-Drive for Install of Windows XP: *****

First Remove ALL Other USB-Drives ** So Harddisk in Setup gets DriveLetter C

Reboot from USB-Drive and Select 1. TXT Mode Setup Windows XP

Use Only C: Drive of Computer Harddisk as Partition for Install of Windows XP

and then Select Quick Format with NTFS FileSystem, XP Install is Automatic

***** NEVER UNPLUG USB-Drive ***** Until After First Logon of Windows XP

New Harddisk and Creating Partitions after Booting from USB-Drive:

Direct after Deleting and Creating New partitions, Quit XP Setup with F3

OR Switch OFF your Computer and Boot in any case from USB-Drive again and

Run 1. TXT Mode Setup again so that DriveLetters get their Correct Value

So in this case one Boots ** TWICE ** in the TXT-mode Setup

End Program - USB_MultiBoot.CMD will be Closed -

Edited by wimb

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...my goal is to understand the process

That's the tricky part ;)

Text mode setup is very poorly documented, on purpose or not. Most of the information is gained by experimenting.

Same dates back from the times of NT, with slight modifications, patches etc. etc. and has never been aware of USB devices of course. It sometimes fails even in mixed IDE/SATA environment, when even though SATA is set as first BIOS boot device, Text mode setup would place boot files (BOOT.INI/NTLDR/NTDETECT.COM) on the IDE disk, what to say for USB...

The logic behind this- it's my guess- IDE disks are fixed. SATA/SCSI/USB disks are considered removable with a little exceptions for SATA working in IDE compatible mode, and USB hard disks, which are seen as fixed disks too. USB sticks generally are recognized as removable, with exceptions again- there is removable bit, which returns device type. Look here for some details:


Once Setup determines the available hard disks, it will make the safest bet to ensure next stage can be completed and windows started properly- will place the boot files on the FIRST available FIXED disk/first active primary partition formated in file system, which Windows recognizes. If only removable disks are present, then order is SATA, then USB disks.

If you boot from USB stick, and there are present SATA and IDE disk, then order how drives are enumerated and consequently used as preferred boot drive changes- first becomes USB stick. Disabling the IDE channel or removing the IDE device will make SATA disk first disk and boot files will go there. Tricky, isn't it ;)

Linux and other OSes will give you options, some user knowledge is expected. MS tries to decide for you, this always has downsides.

Now the game joins the factor whether the disk is partitioned according to Text setup rules or not. If it's not, or you choose to format/partition it during Text mode, setup may place the boot files on the already seen as safe partition- on the USB stick what probably was your case your case.

It's also picky if there is a hidden partition, which if first- will give C to the USB stick and place boot files there, and give D to the first unhidden primary partition on the hard disk.

The way I do it, is to use GParted for example and prepare all partitions in advance, then launch Setup and watch what drive letter gets the internal disk/first active primary part.- if it's C then it's safe to continue. That's the reason I included it as option in WinSetupFromUSB.

Mind you that way of setting up Windows is a workaround and little cheating, which became working solution with some downsides, the initial MS way is Windows to be installed in the same disk/partition, where folders ~BT and ~LS are.

The proper MS method would be to start PE (preinstall environment) and launch Setup from there, this will place all needed files on the target hard disk, on reboot and starting from it Text mode Setup would begin from there. Mind you winnt32.exe fails in many cases to replicate setup from CD. For example it reads DOSNET.INF to know what to copy, and if you added something extra, which was not reflected in DOSNET.INF, as most integrators do, it will not be copied.

Using winnt32.exe and customized OEM disks may give you hard times too.

Wimb has started work on this already, another problem is that building PE environment, especially with SDI/RAM boot could be hard for novices even with programs such as BartPE or WinBuilder, and you also need to have all mass storage drivers integrated in that PE too. This adds an extra source for possible problems.

Instead of using winnt32, which x64 version won't start on I386 PE and vise versa, it's behaviour is copied- creating ~BT and ~LS folders and placing boot files in root.

Hope that gives you and others interested brief idea of the picture.

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Read section A-2 of USB_MultiBoot_10\Help_Info\Help_USB_MultiBoot.txt

2. ERROR Message for GUI Mode Setup of WINDOWS XP: WINDOWS\system32\hal.dll file missing

The hal Error means in fact that the WINDOWS folder is not present on the drive and partition as expected.

This is caused by BIOS and Windows XP Setup which resets these numbers and Drive Letters on Reboot.

When you delete and create partition during TXT-mode

then your NEW created partition will NOT get Drive Letter C:

and there is a change on Reboot and GUI mode will fail to find WINDOWS folder.

Running TWICE the first part of TXT-mode solves the problem

since BIOS has then Reset drive and partition number to correct value

and Windows XP Setup will give your NEW partition Drive Letter C:

If you don't Create partitions but simply Quick format the SELECTED visible C-partition

then there is no change on Reboot and GUI will run OK.

A lot of interesting Info on How GUI wants to proceed is found

in [Data] Section of file C:\WINDOWS\system32\$winnt$.inf

NEW *** Install XP from USB AFTER Booting with PE from HDD or USB ***

Tutorial USB_XP_Setup + Program USB_XP_Setup

The NEW way of Install XP from USB AFTER booting with PE does not make use of WINNT32.EXE

In fact the only thing I do is Create the XP BootFolder $WIN_NT$.~BT of only 12 MB on the Install Drive

by parsing dosnet.inf and to specify in TXTSETUP.SIF where to find the FULL XPSOURCE.

XP Setup Source Folder can be on USB-stick or on partition 1 of USB-HDD or second HDD-Drive.

The XP Source might even be on CD/DVD, but we prefer of course to Install from fast USB-stick.

So the $WIN_NT$.~LS of about 500 MB is NOT made in this NEW way of Install XP from USB,

this saves time and there is no risk of loosing files during the XP Setup process.

The advantage of the NEW technique is that there are no changes needed in the BIOS Setting.

Booting for XP Setup occurs all the time as NORMAL from the C-Install Drive.

Thus the USB-stick does not need to be bootable

and it is not needed that the motherboard supports booting from USB.

Booting with WinBuilder075 beta LiveXP BootSDI.img of 130 MB from HDD takes only 1 minute.



The advantage is that you have XP like environment where you can decide

e.g. to make first a Ghost Backup of your system or to do any other interesting task.

Read the excellent tutorial of amalux on how to create LiveXP BootSDI.img files using WinBuilder


The MassStorage DrivePack is automatically integrated in LiveXP made with WinBuilder.

For making BootSDI.img file you need XP-SP2 as Source and After First Run of WinBuilder to place

ramdisk.sys and setupldr.bin of Windows Server 2003 SP1 in <WinBuilder>Workbench\Common\BootSDI directory.

Then activate Finish > Create Image > Boot SDI and Run WinBuilder again.

Edited by wimb

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