Windows XP on an external USB Disk

Hello Readers,

So a couple weeks ago my XYL (significant other for you non-HAMs) broke her hand, and needed a way to take notes during class. Personally, I think she was jealous of my EEE PC and needed an excuse to get herself one. Anyway, she went out and bought herself one. She quickly figured out that she wanted to put windows on it since she’s more used to it, and liked some random software that made equation entry easy. (No the linux alternatives I offered weren’t good enough for her, I tried that.) So we embarked on a journey to get Windows on the Asus. I was against the idea from the get-go as Windows on any sort of flash drive gives me the heebie-jeebies. Unfortunately Beth is kind of persistent in the sense that she wants what isn’t easy to get.
Well, she looked around on the internet for ways she could install it herself as I wanted nothing to do with it. Eventually she ran into a dead end, and I cracked and decided to help her. She found an article that helped us convince Windows XP to be able to boot off of a USB disk. The problem stems from the fact that Windows doesn’t load USB drivers right away. If you follow those instructions carefully it will work. We both ended up doing it, because when she was trying for the n-th time where ‘n’ is greater than her patience threshold I had to prove to her that it is possible.
I used a no-name USB enclosure for a 120GB laptop harddrive with a WriteMaster DVDRW in another no-name USB enclosure, and she used a WesternDigital 250GB Passport with a USB LaCie DVDRW. Both worked without any problems. Make sure to disable the internal SSD in the Bios. Windows will still detect it, but I think it won’t write to it. Maybe it’s just my paranoia. Also during several of the many reboots, the screen may be blank for a while, this is normal, I mean you *are* installing Windows XP. We used Windows XP with SP1a just like the guy had, but I’m fairly certain it would work with others. Just make sure it’s the Professional version.
The advantage of installing on an external drive (besides not eventually brick-ing your Asus), is that you can have Xandros or whatever other OS you want still installed on your Asus EEE PC.
So go ahead, give it a shot! Making the CD is the hardest part. Installing windows is just waiting for all those Sleep() and NOP instructions to finish. 😀
Fekete András

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2 thoughts on “Windows XP on an external USB Disk

  1. I am about to install win XP Pro on an external USB My Book drive. Can I use Mac Drive software to ease the pain?

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about this Mac Drive software. From what I’ve quickly looked into, it just seems like a windows application to mount a Mac formatted partition. So if you’re going to put Mac OS X on the USB drive aswell, then you can use that Mac Drive software to access the OSX partition. Otherwise it’s really up to you whether you use it or not.

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