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I have a laptop with a busted monitor (I can only see the leftmost inch of the screen). I need to reinstall Vista on this computer. However, the external monitor is a function of the video card drivers; it is not hardware.

Option 1: Install Vista with a regular disc Outcome: Cannot see the screen to select options

Option 2: Use WAIK to create a sysprepped image with an unattended answer file. Connect laptop hard drive to desktop to apply image, then put laptop hard drive back in laptop and start up Outcome: Arrives at login screen. I type in the password (without seeing anything, mind you), press enter. The computer then does a full restart. I have no idea why, I cannot diagnose, since the monitor isnt working yet (Video drivers havent been installed)

Option 3: Use vLite to create an unattended Vista disc with drivers pre-loaded. Outcome: During testing (Virtual PC), the first thing the disc does is prompt me for hard drive partitioning.

It looks like I need to figure out how to install video drivers with sysprep (to fix Option 2) or automatically partition/format the drive in a vLite DVD (Option 3)

Any other options?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Here is another thing to try while you wait for a better solution. Since you stated you have another computer I am assuming this is possible.

  1. Download VirtualBox
  2. Install it on your Desktop computer
  3. Create a new Virtual Machine
  4. Create an ISO of your Vista installation media
  5. Mount the ISO inside the virtual machine and insert the Vista disc into the laptop
  6. Start up both the Laptop and the Virtual Machine

Since you are going through the same setup on both machines you can see on the virtual machine what the current step is and how many times you need to click tab for instance to get to certain option. The virtual machine will give you an idea of what is on the screen of the laptop. You will be able to tell when the laptop is waiting for input as there will be no Hard Drive activity and hopefully the little bit of the screen that you can see will give you more hints. After install you will also be able to use the Vista virtual machine to figure out what commands and keys have to be pressed to enable remote desktop on the laptop. That way after installation you will be able to control the laptop through the network.

After you are done you can just delete the virtual machine and even get rid of VirtualBox if you don't see yourself using it in the future. Also when you are installing on the virtual machine make sure that you don't allow it to have a network adapter. That way you can type in the product key and it won't count as being used as it will never verify it with Microsoft.

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I currently use Hyper-V virtualization. I'll try the tabbing stuff tomorrow after work (I gotta pull a 24 hour shift today) to see if that works... – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 10:56

Would Remote Desktop from another machine work. I once even connected via remote registry to activate Remote Desktop

If the monitor is 'busted' what's the plan for the new installation?

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I had this idea after I asked the question. I don't think the network card drivers are installed though. Need to log in to the cable/dsl router and see if its pulling an IP address. Money limitations prevent replacing the monitor right away (see above comment) – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 11:00

Are you 100% sure about the external monitor being a feature of a driver - I have not personally seen this in a good few years. You can usually force the external monitor on by pressing FN/Function+F? where ? is a picture of a monitor on a F key... Just keep pressing it as sometimes you need to press it 3 or 4 times to cycle.

Apart from that, I would've done everything you have said... if your image was a generic one, there shouldn't have been a problem where as if it was setup for the other machine, you may need to do a sysprep / generalise to clear the hardware profiles.

Next, if it is a BSOD restart, you may want to use Bluescreenview and target the minidump / crash log files on the other hard drive as this can help you diagnose the problem.

Anyway, option 2 is what I would've chosen, if it isn't working (and you are following my advise or something similar) it must be another error, if it is a standard screen, you may just want to get a replacement as they are not that expensive and quite easy to fit.

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I am sure. The hotkey does not work at all. It worked on the computer before, but only after going into windows. Now it won't work (I'm assuming because I havent installed drivers yet) The image has already been sysprepped. Its not a BSOD, just a spontaneous reboot Its about 300$ for a new screen but I cant afford it at the moment, we're saving for some other things. – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 10:59
out of curiosity, what is the graphics card/chip in the laptop? – William Hilsum Nov 16 '09 at 11:04
Compal IFL-90 is the laptop I beleive its 512MB NVIDA 8600GT GPU... I may have installed something else in there, possibly the 1GB one. – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 20:18

another option is a KVM over IP switch (not the cheapest solution though).

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Good idea, but I do not have the money – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 10:56
And, I forgot, need network card drivers to do this (I included them in the vLite disc, but alas, see above issues – Mike Christiansen Nov 16 '09 at 10:57

All those responses are great. I ended up solving it by using my vLite disc with video drivers slipstreamed in, getting a Virtual PC and my computer going with the same disc, and following along, tabbing and enterring where necessary.

Thanks for your help!

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