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I have an old laptop, a Pentium II with 96 MB.

I have had Windows 2000 on it for ages, it was slow but usable. But now I have to upgrade since I can't get my USB-wlan drivers to install (the old PCMCIA network card broke).

I would prefer to install Windows XP but I have no spare licence, but I do have a Windows Server 2003 licence.

Do you think it's possible (and usable) to squeeze in 2003 on this computer?

Unfortunately 2003 simply refuses to install on the laptop. It hangs with an error message (paraphrased)

2003 has detected a problem with your computer and has halted the installation to prevent damage. And then some error codes

This happens very early in the installation while it's copying the installation files just after I accepted the licence.

So I give up for now.

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closed as too localized by studiohack Jul 21 '12 at 22:56

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yeah, it's possible. In a cluster computing class a few years ago, we set up 8 computers running Windows XP and one computer running Server 2003, all of them well below their stated minimum RAM requirements. I think server 2003 requires 128 MB of RAM, but we were running on something like 64 or 96 MB. It wasn't zippy, but we were able to get things to run. We had SQL Server loaded on them and did some distributed query processing. It worked well. The Windows XP machines had something like 32 or 64 MB on them.

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+1 for reminding people that computers used to have 64 MB of ram. – Ian Boyd Feb 27 '10 at 15:24
+1 for having actually seen it running – Nifle Feb 27 '10 at 16:05
that was such a fun class... – Nathan DeWitt Mar 1 '10 at 21:43

Yes, it is possible to run Windows Server 2003 with only 96 MB RAM, but:

enter image description here

You'll want to tweak the living daylights out of it, get nLite and strip it to the bare minimum. You may also find Blackviper's service tweak guide helpful.

Here's another tutorial of interest to you:

How to convert your Windows Server 2003 to a Workstation!

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"How to convert your Windows Server 2003 to a workstation"? Microsoft already did that. They call it Windows XP. – Ian Boyd Feb 27 '10 at 15:18
@Ian Boyd - i think you'll have your time line wrong, windows 2003 server was released 2 years after windows xp. and XP being the desktop variant of win2k3 is a wrong assumption, it's an entirely different OS kernel (not like Windows 7 which is using the very same kernel as Vista). Win2k3 is fact the best OS in terms of speed and reliability made in Redmond as of yet ... by a far cry! it's just the $999 price tag being a real show stopper. :) – Molly7244 Feb 27 '10 at 15:25
And +1 for actually doing it. – Ian Boyd Feb 27 '10 at 15:25
@Molly. Larry Osterman's "Why do people think that a server SKU works well as a general purpose operating system?":… – Ian Boyd Feb 27 '10 at 15:26
and if you, like the OP, have a spare license, the go for it. – Molly7244 Feb 27 '10 at 15:31

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