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I have a dell inspiron mini 10. It boots from an external CD-ROM drive and goes through the first part of the windows XP home install with no problem, but on reboot it loses the CD-Rom drive when it goes into sysprep.

Any ideas on how to get around this to complete the install?

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Short of creating a bootable partition using alternative means, and then copying the i386 folder to the drive to install it that way, no idea at all. I imagine the problem is that the XP boot loader does not include a driver for external CD-ROM. –  user3463 Jun 16 '10 at 16:30
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I was in a similar situation with a netbook and concluded that the problem was a driver issue during sysprep. I gave up and instead sought a solution by installing Windows XP from a USB stick rather than an external USB CD/DVD drive. In particular, I used this guide to get me started:

http://www.eeeguides.com/2007/11/installing-windows-xp-from-usb-thumb.html

Of course, this assumes you can boot from USB. If you're not sure, plug in a USB stick and turn on the laptop, then access your BIOS and check the "Boot Priority" (or similar name) settings. I recommend plugging in a USB stick as I had a computer that didn't show USB in the boot priority settings unless it detected a USB stick prior to entering the BIOS.

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