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Installing Win2K SP4 on a very old laptop

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You can certainly format the drive as one large FAT32 partition and install to it. Then after you finish the install and configuration, go to a command prompt and run convert.exe as ToBe suggested.

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Would it be possible to simply create one big FAT32 partition on this drive and run setup on it, thus [hopefully] avoiding the booting issue?

Yes, you can - just remember that you won't be able to format it (of course).

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Would it be possible to simply create one big FAT32 partition on this drive and run setup on it, thus [hopefully] avoiding the booting issue?

It's a better solution to do as prathapml suggests:

Create one big partition for the installed OS and data

Create one small partition for the OS source files


Convert to ntfs

That way you can format/reinstall the big partition, and still have the OS's source files on the small partition for quick recovery.

I remember doing so on a friends dads 386 without a cd-rom ages ago, and I think he still uses those install files.... :blink:

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Nothing seems to be working...

I killed all partitions and formatted the whole drive as FAT32 - one big partition. Win2k files are in a directory named "/Source/i386/"

I can boot from a floppy and run the first portion of setup without difficulty. Setup then inititates a restart (requesting that I remove any bootable floppies) and the machine won't boot. I get either "invalid partition table" or "missing operating system". I assume that the first phase of setup would write the boot info to the hard drive before it tries to restart?! I have boot.ini, ntldr, and ntdetect.com files all in the root of the drive after the first restart.

Any ideas why the installer won't come back?

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very strange..

by the way this is what I used to do to install win2k from HDD:

1-wipe everything from the HDD with norton GDISK (or similar), including resetting mbr

2-create partitions (1 primary FAT, 1 logical FAT), make primary active

3-Copy installation files on 2nd partition

4-boot with win98 floppy (smartdrive enabled)

5-run winnt.exe from d:\sourcepath\i386

I used to ghost the HDD prior to stage 4 so to have a clean image of the HDD with all the installation files already on the 2nd partition, in case something went wrong

PS: first step normally solved most of the issues I've had. Fdisk couldn't fix a problem I had with IBM OEM installations which rendered some of the HDD i had to reformat unusable

hope this helps


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Ok, I got it to work. Here is the procedure for those that are interested. Bear in mind that this is for a very old laptop with little ram (40MB actually), a very small hard drive (1GB), and a non-bootable CD-Rom drive.

Get the Win2K source and run nLite on it. Remove whatever you need except upgrade support (winnt.exe + setup.exe). nLite will also provide some warnings of things not to remove for laptops.

Wipe everything from your target hard drive and destroy all existing partitions.

Repartition the drive with one partition utilizing all available space. Format as FAT32.

Copy the trimmed Win2K source to the target partition. I put my source (i386) in a folder named "source." :rolleyes: For a laptop you'll need to get a USB adapter which allows a 44 pin HD to connect over USB or a 40 to 44 pin adapter to connect the drive to an IDE channel of your main machine. USB is more convenient as it is hot swappable. The research I've done shows that RIS installations will not work with PCMCIA ethernet adapters - maybe someone can prove me wrong.

Create a bootable floppy. Make sure it has Fdisk, format, smartdrv, attrib, etc. on it (and other useful utils if you have room).

Boot the machine with the floppy disk. Run smartdrv.exe (default params work fine). Then move to the i386 folder and execute "winnt."

Now the first phase of setup will proceed. At the end you will be required to remove the boot floppy and restart. Here is where I encountered problems. If your machine does not restart and return to installer phase #2 (citing operating system not found or invalid partition table) you'll need to restart from the floppy and run Fdisk. It seems that winnt does not set the single partition on the HD as active so it is not seen at startup. Activate the partition in fdisk but don't mess with anything else. This will not harm any data on the disk.

Remove the boot floppy and restart once again. If all goes well you should boot back to Windows installer.

If it doesn't work, boot from the floppy again and check boot.ini in the root of your target hard drive. You may want to adjust the timeout value (-1 = no timer). My boot.ini file was trying to boot from the "old" operating system by default on a disactivated partition. No friggin' wonder it wouldn't boot up again! :w00t:

After modifying and saving boot.ini restart again and (cross fingers) you should get back to the installer.

After this point I had no difficulties booting the machine or working in Windows 2000. My installation takes a little under 300MB (without paging file) if I remember correctly. So I have a whopping 700MB of PIO HD to play with!

Good luck. :D

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