This is what I've managed to accomplish so far:
- I created a 4GB FAT32 partition on a separate HDD.
- Using HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and MS-DOS files I prepared a DOS bootable Flash Drive with the following files:
COMMAND.COM FORMAT.COM IO.SYS MSDOS.SYS
- I booted from it and used FORMAT.COM to format the 4GB FAT32 partition (D:) in order to make it bootable:
format d: /q /s
- After booting back to Windows I copied the I386 folder to the 4GB partition. I also added SMARTDRV.EXE, HIMEM.SYS and CONFIG.SYS with the appropriate settings:
- I created AUTOEXEC.BAT with the following lines:
SMARTDRV.EXE C:\I386\WINNT.EXE /S:C:\I386 /U:C:\I386\WINNT.SIF
The WINNT.SIF was of course prepared in advance.
- In the end the partition contained the following files and folders:
I386 SMARTDRV.EXE COMMAND.COM AUTOEXEC.BAT CONFIG.SYS HIMEM.SYS IO.SYS MSDOS.SYS
- I booted to the partition and the system setup was started automatically. Just in case I disabled / disconnected all other HDDs. When selecting the partition (I wanted to install the system on the same 4GB one) I could choose whether to convert it to NTFS or not.
- The setup continued normally. After everything finished I could remove the I386 folder as it was not required any more.
That's basically everything I did. In the beginning it didn't work so smoothly but after trial & error testing it seems to work fine. There are some things to be careful about like filenames which don't follow the 8.3 name format as the DOS based part of the installer won't be able to copy them. Overall the installation itself is pretty fast and you don't need to use any other devices after the HDD is made bootable (step 3).
What I'd like to ask is whether this method could be improved. I'd especially like to make a bootable DOS partition without having to use a USB flash disk (step 2 & 3). In other words, is there any simple way to use the DOS' format.com under Windows or maybe are there any alternative tools to use instead of it?
This post has been edited by tomasz86: 18 September 2012 - 03:42 PM