First thank you for having me here at MSFN.
I have spent about a day trying to learn how to create a bootable USB flash drive that will enable me to carry with me most of the tools I need on any given sunday to deal with the situation I am in.
Through the help of MSFN, google, and a few other sites I have learned quite a bit. Of course, the more I learn, the more there is to learn and my questions keep getting more and more.
I think I have wasted a lot of time reading some older posts (as that is what Google led me to) and now finding some more up to date info, I wanted to now reach out for some guidance on the best way to tackle the situation.
Basically my goal will be to created a USB stick that can do the following:
1) Boot BartPE
2) Install XP, Vista, Linux Distros
3) Hold additional data (just so I can plug it into any machine and have a drive with my tools).
4) And possibly boot to other CD based tools like EBCD, WinPE, and various Linux Live distros.
Of course this is what alot of people here are probably trying to do (or some subset of them)!
I have successfully done #1 already with the infamous PEtoUSB
I have done the Linux part of #2 using unetbootin
I have done #3 as it is really easy (just put files on the drive!)
I have tested parts of #4 through various methods (grub, boot.ini loading) - but only tinkered here.
It definitely seems that the most complicated one of all of these is installing XP (and maybe Vista? although it seems pretty easy for vista)
My first attempt at loading XP from USB was using a method similar to this here although when XP setup went into the "Loading Windows Setup" phase I would get the dreaded 0x0000007B error. Since I have read this method may not work well for larger ISOs, I decided to abandon it (although it does seem like the easiest way if it worked!).
After a few other attempts at using some deprecated software, I then found wimb's USB_MultiBoot_10 utility and used that to make a usb drive to install XP.
I had some issues there as well with 0x0000007B errors on some systems, replacing with the hacked NTDETECT.COM and ensuring that ATA mode and not AHCI was set in the BIOS got XP installed or at least until the corrupt HAL.DLL came up.
After spending a day working on this, I have decided to pull in the reigns here... There are obviously alot of knowledgeable people here at MSFN, unfortunately many of the tools made available have so many settings and options that unless you have been involved with this project from the beginning, it is difficult to know what they do. In addition many of these tools do other things, further complicating what exactly it is that you need.
Like some other posters on the forum here I am the type that likes to boil it down to essentials, and I also like to know everything that is going on. For a tool to put in additional command and options that affect my XP installation is not what I am looking for.
In other words, I would rather spend 2 hours assembling the files and setting them up myself rather than have a tool automate it in 10 minutes.
Of course the big problem is knowing what to do, what to add, what to change....the automated tools may work for the majority of people out there, but they give the man a fish instead of teaching him how to fish! I know most of the knowledge is out in these forums, but there are sooooo many posts and as a new comer I am sure your realize how daunting and convoluted (posts linked back to themselves!) the search can be.
So, at this point, since it seems the most difficult task I would like to try an conquer this XP from USB install.
Of the two options - Installing directly from USB boot vs. Booting to BartPE and then installing - it seems that booting to BartPE first is both the easiest to setup and can cause the least amount of issues. However reading through some of the posts (without actually doing all the steps in this method) it seems like many of these are also convoluted, need multiple reboots, manual formatting of the drives and copying of files. I am not sure if this is still the best method?
In short, I would like to be pointed to the most complete and up-to-date method to install XP from USB.
- I am looking to use a method that has the highest probably of working the first time on the largest number of devices out there.
- If I need to do a few extra manual tasks (like manually partition the drive) then I would prefer to do that rather than waste time troubleshooting a more fully automated method.
- I would prefer that someone does not direct me to a tool that automates all this and hides everything going on, since these tools often add alot of extraneous things and don't really make clear how things are working.
- I would like this method to allow me to easily slipstream in drivers and updates using nLite (thus hold true to working on the largest number of devices)
I am not afraid to read or learn or do, but after spending this much time already and still confused or unhappy with what "seems" to be the latest solutions, I hoped that someone here can give me some guidance as to what is current and what are still the limitations.
I appreciate any help you can give!