Halfwalker

How to boot/install from USB key ?

486 posts in this topic

Hey -

I've done some digging around, and I can only find one comment on booting to install XP Pro from a USB key. That's on the http://www.experts-exchange.com forum, which is a PAY for information one ... As Stallman says, information should be free :)

Given that CDs only hold around 700meg, maybe 800, and that 2G USB keys are now common, I would like to set up an XP Pro installation on a USB key. Pop in the key rather than a CD, set to boot from USB-HDD, and install away, with more room for apps etc.

Note - this is not actually running XP from the key - I've seen lots of examples of that. This is basically emulating a normal CD install, just sourcing it from a USB key rather than CD.

Any ideas ?

D.

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Yup - I've seen that page. Actually booting from the USB key is not the problem. It's setting up the files, boot image etc, on the key that's the hiccup.

The CD normally boots via the Microsoft Corporation.img bootimage. That's a tiny program that then loads up setup.exe, which in turn is only 1.3k in size. I'm guessing that Microsoft Corporation.img also does the "press any key to boot from CD" msg ...

It's a pity that syslinux doesn't support cluster sizes greater than 16K, which limits it to 1G filesystems. That would be ideal to have a generic installation USB key, able to install XP Pro, Linux etc, all right from one device.

D.

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You might consider putting WinPE (or bartPE) on the USB key to kick off the installations - that might be a better road to take than installing directly from the USB key. From the PE you could format the hard disk(s), copy the files to the disk, and start the installation using your unattended file.

Edited by cluberti
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Note - this is not actually running XP from the key - I've seen lots of examples of that.

Oh, yeah, can I ask you where? :w00t:

As far as I know, the ONLY project that ever succeeded in booting XP from a USB key/drive is Dietmar Stoelting's one, published first time at the end of October 2005, still VERY experimental:

http://home.graffiti.net/jaclaz:graffiti.n...SB/USBfaqs.html

http://www.911cd.net/forums//index.php?showtopic=14181

However as I see it, the easiest way to achieve what you want is to install some kind of DOS/Win9x OS on the stick then run the 16 bit install program WINNT.EXE.

There are some known problems using it if you use nlite with it and there could be some problems about drive lettering also, but it shoul be possible to find some workarounds for these latter ones.

Using a BartPE install on the USB pendrive and using the 32 bit install program WINNT32.EXE has no known problems, but you will need enough space for the BartPE install and it's booting will be slow.

jaclaz

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So how exactly is the CD starting the install ? It doesn't need any 32bit OR 16bit environment ... The Microsoft Corporation.img loader comes up and starts up setup.exe. There must be an emulation for the MasterBootRecord of the USB drive that can hold and properly load up in the same way ...

If syslinux could handle larger than 16k clusters, it would work fine. Use memdisk, and point the initrd at Microsoft Corporation.img. memdisk requires diskette images, so it may not work that way, so perhaps isolinux - that takes no-emulation boot records.

Heh, I take back the lots - I did see Dietmar's page, and a few others as I recall. All via google and a couple of hours of digging around. But definitely more than one. I skimmed them looking for examples of installing via USB drive, but no luck.

D.

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Setup.exe is a 32 bit program and is not used when booting from a CD. Microsoft Corporation.img loads setupldr.bin. Setupldr.bin does the text mode setup based on txtsetup.sif and winnt.sif.

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Setup.exe is a 32 bit program and is not used when booting from a CD. Microsoft Corporation.img loads setupldr.bin. Setupldr.bin does the text mode setup based on txtsetup.sif and winnt.sif.

....and as you can rename setupldr.bin to NTLDR as when building a WinPE/BartPE:

http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/

http://www.prime-expert.com/flashboot/down...s/UserGuide.pdf

....or rename NTLDR to setupldr.bin as seen here:

http://daniweb.com/techtalkforums/showthread.php?t=4644

...you should have a good start.

Also, have a look at this, seemingly completely unrelated but useful if you want to make a multi-install hard-disk (as the multi-install DVD depicted):

http://www.magiciso.com/tutorials/miso-cre...multi-os-cd.htm

Just for the record, the answers on the "pay for site" you mentioned can be viewed, at least at the moment, here:

http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:2c_1H..._21475584.htmla

It seems like you got same or better answers here for free....;)

jaclaz

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If the USB device in question supports booting from it, it would have come with a utility to make it bootable including selecting emulation ( usb : floppy, hdd, cdrom, zip, ls-120 or what ever else your bios might support), the boot image & all the files you want on it. If you do this & manage to boot from it all you have to do is to select the option of copying the installation files to the HDD & you are all set.

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Isn't there a way to transfer the boot sector from the cd onto a usb flashdisk, without getting into BartPE?

I'm looking for a way in essence to install xp from a usb stick with the absolute same look and feel as if it were being done from cd.

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Isn't there a way to transfer the boot sector from the cd onto a usb flashdisk, without getting into BartPE?

I'm looking for a way in essence to install xp from a usb stick with the absolute same look and feel as if it were being done from cd.

Look here:

http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=81537

http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=81788

jaclaz

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I've done some digging around, and I can only find one comment on booting to install XP Pro from a USB key. That's on the http://www.experts-exchange.com forum, which is a PAY for information one ... As Stallman says, information should be free :)
Just scroll down... :lol: I always wonder if that site was purposely setup to see how many lusers would actually pay for the equivalent of scrolling down... :D
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