Windows XP Installation Quirk

July 18th, 2006 by Andrew

After fixing my problem with leaky capacitors on my motherboard, I wanted to install Windows XP Professional. After selecting a 40 GiB hard drive from the few I had lying around, I popped in the Windows installation CD and booted from it. The first thing I saw when the CD booted up was

"Setup is inspecting your computer's hardware configuration..."

then it went to a blank screen. This was where the problem came, since it never got past the black screen. Since I had just fixed my motherboard, I had suspected something went wrong with my soldering. The motherboard was quickly ruled out, as I had just successfully installed Fedora Core 5 on another hard drive.

Some searching around revealed that the Windows installation will freeze there if you’re using a hard drive that was formatted for Linux. Well, that’s all I had lying around that I was willing to use for Windows. I did try to boot the installation while using my storage drive (a 160GiB NTFS formatted drive), and the Windows Installation seemed to be happy with that. So now I knew what the problem was, and what I needed to do to fix it.

The easiest way to format it I thought, was to boot up Linux and attach the future Windows drive as the slave. Once in FC5, I could run fdisk, and format the drive as NTFS. It didn’t turn out as easy as I had thought. FC5 would boot up fine and let me login, but once it finished loading the GUI it would freeze. Weird. It would only do it with the 40GiB drive attached.

So, I pulled out an old Red Hat 8.0 CD, and booted up with that. This was the last installation CD I had that actually allowed a person to use fdisk to format their drive for installation, rather than disk druid, or an automatic partitioner. I wiped the partition tables on the disk, and saved the changes. I once again tried an installation of Windows XP on the newly cleaned drive, and it all worked out as planned.

Long story short, when installing Windows, make sure the drive you’re using is either wiped of its partitions, or is formatted for Windows.

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