I want to see if there are speed improvements running Windows XP entirely from RAM, as Damn Small Linux (Would it be Damn Small Windows?).

I've seen Windows XP running from Live CDs and from Flash drives, so I guess it's possible. Anyone seen this?

  • If it is possible, you would probably need a lot of RAM. – Brad Gilbert Jul 19 '09 at 17:07
  • Same to DSL, as every single application it uses uses 250 MB, it can fit on 512 MB RAM computers an be lightning fast. I've trimmed Windows XP under 300 MB without apps (I've seen Windows 98 in 8 MB!) and I have 4 GB of memory ;) I guess anyone with 1.5GB and more could use a ram disk Windows XP. – voyager Jul 19 '09 at 17:28
  • related question: superuser.com/questions/67465/… ... deals with Win-7 and the Enhanced Write Filter (EWF RAM mode), but there's an EWF in WinXP Embedded as well. – quack quixote Feb 17 '10 at 23:20
  • @~quack: that is more about disabling the pagefile, this is more about that and having a virtual disk in memory for the OS. – voyager Feb 19 '10 at 0:53

Yes, it is possible.

To run winxp in ram (full winxp or mini is up to you) you need to make a vhd disk image which includes the winxp that you want. The winxp has been installed with winvblock driver.

You can use oracle virtualbox to creat the need vhd disk image.

After all, you will need grub4dos to load and boot the image

Summary command : grub4dos# map --mem /winxp.vhd (hd0) ...

See more detail steps and screenshot here : http://www.linuxbyexamples.net/2012/08/how-to-run-winxp-in-ram-memory.html

Hope it can help you.



Gigabyte's i-RAM drive is probably your best bet for this.

I experienced the BEST Windows interaction I have ever felt on that thing.


  • +1, but this is a hardware solution, I'm not sure it was what was meant. – Stefan Thyberg Jul 19 '09 at 17:33
  • It's interesting, but I live in Argentina, and fancy equipment like that it's hard to come by, and as costly as all my monthly expenses together. It's interesting anyway, as it's software independent. – voyager Jul 19 '09 at 18:18

I guess you could build something out of the following components:

  • CPU with hardware virtualization support
  • some trimmed down linux kernel with ramdisk
  • a virtualization software which supports hardware virtualization (KVM, Virtualbox i.e.)

Here is what it would do:

  1. PC boots linux
  2. kernel unpacks ramdisk and creates an large enough ramdisk
  3. virtual disk is copid to ramdisk
  4. software virt. boots XP in VM and switches to fullscreen

This would be a pure software solution without the need to "hack" Windows. But you would have some small overhead due to virtualization.

  • And the impossibility to use hardware acceleration, but that's more of a detail... – voyager Jul 19 '09 at 18:58
  • If you mean 3D-Hardware acceleration: Virtualbox 3 supports OpenGL 1 and 2 and limited DirectX support for Windows Guest. – Martin Jul 20 '09 at 10:41
  • Yes, sorry for the condensation of words, but it was late at night. I am aware that VirtualBox3 has some support for 3D acceleration. – voyager Jul 22 '09 at 2:57

What you're looking for is Windows PE. Download the WAIK from here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=696DD665-9F76-4177-A811-39C26D3B3B34

You can use the tools to build a WIM file that contains all the components you need to build a minimal Windows environment that does what you need. Then you can use the tools to burn the WIM to a DVD, bootable flash drive or PXE server.

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