Every so often I need to install Win XP on a machine that has a SATA drive and have to go through the whole mess of finding a floppy drive for the AHCI drivers and hitting F6 during setup, or slipstreaming them onto the Windows XP installation media.

I realise I could put the drive in IDE compatibility mode in the BIOS but I prefer to try and run with AHCI if possible.

With laptops these days, many have an option in the boot order of the BIOS to boot from a USB floppy drive and that got me thinking...

Is there a way to reconfigure a USB stick so that it appears to the system as a USB floppy drive?
If the BIOS believes it's a USB floppy drive, then Win XP setup should think there's a floppy disk attached and all I need to do is drop the AHCI drivers onto a USB stick!

Anyone know if anything like that is possible?

I've tried creating a single partition on a USB stick of 1.44MB and formatting as FAT12 but Win XP setup wouldn't recognise this.

I assume there's some sort of hardware "bit" that defines what class a USB device belongs to. Which is how Windows often can tell the difference between a removable USB stick or an external hard drive. And I think there might be a way to classify a USB device as a USB floppy drive.

Anyone ever been down this road and had any success? It's annoying having to slipstream the drivers onto Win XP setup CDs.


Use driver packs to slipstream "Mass storage" drivers into the XP CD.

Driver packs tutorial, read carefully.


Download software "Driverpacks Base"


You can install other driver packs besides the "Mass Storage", but this will bloat the size of the XP install to DVD size, The only driver packs I suggest to slipstream are

Mass Storage, Chipset, Lan, CPU

This will keep it a size to fit on a CD. If you want All the drivers slipstreamed it will require a DVD burner to make the DVD and a DVD drive on the target installation PC.

I don't change any of the default settings when using the software, just pick the driver packs you want to slipstream and create the ISO image.

If you use other customizing software for other reasons than drivers such as Nlite, use Nlite first then driver packs Last or install problems will result. Only use DP to slip drivers, do not use Nlite for this task.

Start with clean unmodified Installation files when using DP for best results

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  • Ah ok - this looks like the best method. My WinXP install CD is already Nlited with SP3. So the Mass Storage DriverPack should contain my AHCI drivers so I don't need to press F6 during XP setup? – batfastad Jun 24 '11 at 12:46
  • Yes, correct... – Moab Jun 24 '11 at 14:14
  • Went with the DriverPack in the end and just slipstreamed all the Mass Storage drivers so I should be covered for a wide range of systems now. Used RyanVM instead of nLite so now I have an up to date disc as well. RyanVM Integrator was much easier than nLite as well, I remember hating the last time I had to do this but it was pretty painless. Cheers for the tip! – batfastad Jun 24 '11 at 22:48

at least with my netbook (an Acer Aspire), the trick is to make the MBR (master boot record) look enough like that of a floppy drive to fool the BIOS into treating it as USB-FDD. I was able to accomplish that by downloading fdboot.img from http://freedos.org/, and "burning" it onto the USB stick using dd if=~/downloads/fdboot.img of=/dev/sdc (make absolutely sure you use the right device node for your USB stick: don't overwrite your hard drive MBR!)

after that, I rebooted with the USB drive inserted and this time it was recognized as a USB-FDD instead of USB-HDD.

and from Linux, I could mount the USB stick using mount /dev/sdc /mnt, and copy files onto it.

if I figure out exactly what parts are vital to the deception I'll try to remember to update this answer with more detail.

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Some older USB flash drives were recognized as a floppy disk, but most now are not. While I don't think their is a way to do that, you could slipstream the drivers into Windows XP disc along with SP3 while your at it and then make your USB Flash drive a XP Install Disk, you can then just save that USB Flash Drive like you would a CD.



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There are a number of such programs:



Google "virtual floppy usb" (minus the quotes) for more results.

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  • This would be great if the XP Setup recognized a USB flash drive. Short of finding a flash drive that has a floppy chipset. – ThatGuyInIT Jun 23 '11 at 19:02

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