1. Formulation of the problem
You need to install Windows XP or Windows 2003 Server onto PC or server without floppy drive. SATA controller is in AHCI/RAID mode, so you need to use F6 floppy disk supplied by hardware vendor. Server has USB ports and DVD drive.
For some reason, you don’t want to use nLite to prepare Windows XP/2003 Installation CD with integrated drivers, and you want to install from original, unmodified installation disc.
2. Solution in a nutshell
Computer will boot from FlashBoot-created USB thumbdrive and then switch boot process to CD. Windows Setup in the early Text Mode phase will access drive A: via redirected BIOS Interrupt 13h and read F6 Floppy Driver files from the image file on USB thumbdrive.
There’s a freeware utility Boot CD Loader (by Alex Kopylov) to transfer boot control from floppy to CD drive, for a long time used with EBCD on old BIOSes which didn’t support booting from CD. This time it serves different purpose: being converted to bootable USB thumbdrive with FlashBoot, it transfers boot control from USB thumbdrive to CD drive with original Windows installation disc. The difference between this boot path and normal booting from CD is that, in the former case, drive A: is mapped to the image file on the USB thumbdrive.
We use Bart BFI utility to inject F6 Floppy Driver files into the image file of floppy-to-CD boot switcher before passing it to FlashBoot for conversion.
3. Prerequisites (things to prepare in advance)
- USB thumbdrive
- F6 Floppy Driver files (*.sys, *.inf, *.cat, *.oem) for SATA/RAID controller from hardware vendor
- Installed FlashBoot
- Windows XP / 2003 Server installation disc
- Floppy Image Creation Kit (it includes Boot CD Loader v2.0a1, Bart BFI and helper batch file).
4. Step by step guide
a) Prepare image of floppy-to-CD boot switcher with integrated F6 Floppy Driver files for SATA/RAID controller
- Create new folder C:\create_floppy_image and extract contents of create_floppy_image.zip into it.
- Copy F6 Floppy Driver files from your hardware vendor (*.inf, *.sys, *.cat, *.oem) into C:\create_floppy_image\f6floppy
- Run C:\create_floppy_image\create_floppy_image.cmd and make sure there are no error messages. If everything is OK, new file merged_floppy.img will be created in C:\create_floppy_image.
b) Convert floppy image to USB thumbdrive using FlashBoot
Choose Floppy -> USB on this page:
Open merged_floppy.img created with Floppy Image Creation Kit:
Choose the only one available scenario "Wrap bootable floppy disk":
Make sure "Map to (at boot time)" option is set to "A:"
The rest goes as usual:
c) Boot from USB thumbdrive with Windows installation disc inserted to DVD drive.
Press F6 when Windows Setup asks for it:
Choose textmode driver to load, it’s done the same way as when loading from real floppy disk.
Then Windows XP / 2003 Server installation continues usual way.