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I have an old laptop without USB or network boot and with broken CD reader (but working floppy unit). The only method that seems to be good for me to install a fresh XP is to extract the HDD, put installation files on a dedicated partition and boot from it.

I can understand the main line of this method but I need detailed instructions on how to correctly make the partition bootable etc.

I read about similar problems around, but no-one detailed the process.
e.g. Install WinXP without CD/pendrive

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you can take out the hard drive, why not buy a cheap second hand optical drive < £10 and use that?

Otherwise, yes it is possible to do what you want.

Extract the hard drive, and partition a NTFS partition that takes up the entire drive, apart from about 1GB.

Format this 1GB partition as FAT32.

from your Windows XP disk, copy the I386 folder to the Fat32 partition.

Next, you will need a Windows 98 or XP floppy disk - I hope you have one around, if not you can download an image from many places (A good one is ).

Once booted from the floppy, type the following:


And, it has been about 10 years since I have done this... I think you have to create three boot floppys from here (I think there is a switch to skip this, but I can't remember).

Anyway, this should allow you to install Windows XP without problems!

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"I think you have to create three boot floppys from here (I think there is a switch to skip this, but I can't remember)." I've never heard of 3 boot floppies at all, maybe you're thinking of a boot floppy with 3 files on it NTLDR,boot.ini, And that win xp 3 file boot disk is not related to this though. – barlop Jun 17 '11 at 9:33
Also you haven't answered how he should partition it. What program he should use/run to do it. – barlop Jun 17 '11 at 9:33
Ok, apart form the boot floppys (are they a security measure or needed?) it will be the same setup as the cd one, right? – FiloSottile Jun 17 '11 at 9:33
@FiloSottile You have to make the i386 directory on a FAT32 partition because a Win9X boot disk cannot (naturally/natively) read NTFS, but can read FAT12(FDD)/16/32. Leave lots of space for an NTFS partition, the windows setup can create the NTFS partition. – barlop Jun 17 '11 at 9:39
@FiloSottile +1 on the question so you are a little closer to voting. – KCotreau Jun 17 '11 at 12:06

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