My older version XP didn't recognize big disks; XP Service Pack 1 does, and many shipping copies of XP have SP-1 built in, although some of the old ones remain in the pipeline. What I needed was one of those modernized versions of XP, but my deadline was fast approaching.

Robert Bruce Thompson suggested "slipstreaming" SP-1a. This involves copying a pre-SP1 installation disk to one directory, say XP-Root; a full copy of Service Pack 1 into another directory, say XP-SP1; and getting the Boot Track image from the original installation disk and copying that to yet another directory, say XP-Boot. That latter is a bit tricky and requires an extraction program such as ISO Buster, which you can get from http://www.smart-projects.net/isobuster/. You then apply the XP-SP1 update to the "root" version of XP, use ISO Buster to extract the boot track, and use Roxio or Nero Burning Rom to burn a bootable CD with the "Slipstreamed" Sp-1 on it. That should install just like XP only, being SP1a, it will see the full big disk, not just 128 gigabytes of it.

The full, detailed, complete with screen shots instructions for building a slipstream disk can be found at http://www.theeldergeek.com/slipstreamed_xpsp1_cd.htm.

I did all that. Then I put a new Barracuda SATA drive into Wendy, took the old one out to be reformatted some day, and rebooted with the slipstreamed disk. It booted fine, and saw the full size disk drive. Formatted fine. Went on to XP installation—and refused to accept the registration code. I carefully checked to be certain I had entered the code properly. I had. But Setup continued to inform me that I had an invalid code.

Now I know there are ways to generate registration numbers that Microsoft's setup programs will accept, and that the OS can be activated after you feed it one of those; but I have never used one, and I don't intend to do it now.

If you go to http://www.seagate.com/support/disc/utils.html you'll find Disc Wizard, which gives full instructions for making a boot floppy for installing Windows on big disks. Of course Wendy doesn't have a floppy drive. But, I discovered, the Seagate web site has both the code and the instructions for making a boot CD to accomplish the same purpose. That ought to do it, I thought, so I made one. That booted Wendy just fine: Now I had a system booted into what looks like DOS; an operating system that knew about the CD Drive, and also knew about the big hard drive. The next step would be to put the Windows installation CD into the CD drive and run setup.

On a whim, though, I put in the Windows CD and hit the reset button.

Windows XP setup started. It went out to find the hard drive. It found it—and saw that it was 160 GB. The SP1a slipstream installation had done the equivalent of an fdisk and format to the full 160 GB, and that was still operating. I let setup reformat the drive—all 160 GB—and continue, and lo! I had no problem with the registration code. Indeed I had no problems with anything.

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Copyright © 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008