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Must the drivers for Recovery Console be provided via a floppy diskette, or can I provide them via a USB drive?

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You can not add drivers via USB, but you can pre-integrate them so you do not need to add any drivers. See my answer below. –  cybernard Apr 11 '13 at 22:42
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2 Answers

Try nLite.

You will need a Windows XP CD or ISO. You can integrate drivers using nLite. Then you have to make have nLite make a new ISO file.

Then use Unetbootin to transfer the ISO to make a bootable USB stick with your new drivers pre-integrated.

There is a manual way but it is very time consuming compare to nLite.

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Yes, they must. If the machine lacks an inbuilt floppy drive, there are USB versions available, which if I recall correctly will work for this purpose.

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Yes, I know of USB floppy drives. In my case, I don't have any kind of floppy drive or diskette, so I'm wondering if an ordinary thumb drive would work. –  mcandre Apr 12 '13 at 12:00
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