View Full Version : I have a plan...

July 2nd, 2009, 16:16
...To run a full copy of Windows XP right from a 4GB thumb drive, complete with drivers, programs, and all. I've been working on this dream for about 3 months now with much sucess, and it's starting to look promising.

Now, It's came to me that XP wont work because it will try to take over the thumb drive it's installed on, and will probably crash. So I looked back a little and decided to test this on an older OS for now (obviously Vista would be too big to fit on a cheap flash drive). Windows 2000 and 98 probably would do the same thing. Windows 95 would be too old to have driver support for the modern computer hardware. This left me with one choice: WinNT 4.0. It can run somewhat on newer hardware (I test ran it on a hard drive in my spare newer model and it ran sufficently.), and after some research I found it can run many Windows XP programs because it shares many of the same technologies.

I've made Windows think that the USB flash drive I want to use is a hard drive, and even formated wit with NTFS file system (wasnt an option as a removable device). I did this so I can hopefully get NT Setup to think it's a hard drive so I can choose to install onto it.

Now I have one little problem standing in the way: The driver to make the flash drive look like a hard drive only works so long as I'm in Windows XP. So If I start the computer and boot from the CD like I'm supposed to, it will detect it as a thumb drive again and it wont show on the list when I'm prompted to choose a drive to install on. And if I begin installation from Windows, it'll make me restart before actaully begining to install so I'll end up with the same problem.

Being that I'm not installing onto the disk that I'm running XP off of now, rather a secondary hard drive (or so the computer thinks it is), I dont see why it cant install from Windows. Can anyone think of a way to get around this?

I'm fairly sure I can run NT if I can figure out how to install now then I can test it.

I know how brizare this project must seem, I havnt seen a similar idea on the internet anywhere. Closest thing is a mini- XP with almost no features and usefullness.

July 2nd, 2009, 17:16
Any USB Drives are really for storage not running programs from them. To do that usually will mean you will burn out the USB controller in the drive by transferring too much data too fast. I read a post in a forums once where someone burned up the USB controller in an external drive by trying to run Flight Sim on it. I would think that by running XP from a thumb drive you would have the same problem.

Don't let this discourge you I could be wrong I have never done it. Just take this as food for thought.

July 3rd, 2009, 11:10
:icon_lol:That's a valid point I didnt think of. I guess I'm going to use an older small thumb drive I wont mind as much if it blows out.

Today I tried a little experiment. I have a desktop computer with Windows 2000. I installed Windows NT 4.0 Workstation on a seperate partion, booted back to Win2K, plugged in my flash drive, copied every file and folder from the NT pation onto it, including the boot.ini file, and restarted sdetting the BIOS to boot from the USB drive. I ended up staring at the following error:

I guess I'll post on my progess again when I have another "breakthrough"

July 13th, 2009, 17:50
Got it figured out. Just finished up with the bootloader, fired it up and it works. NT on a flashdrive to bring around and use on whatever computer I want, whenever i want :applause:

Next I'll probably try Windows 2000 or something a little more modern than an OS from 1996:icon_lol:

October 10th, 2009, 18:18
Well if you ever figure out XP you should posthow to do it in this thread. I know I would get a lot of use out of it.

October 11th, 2009, 06:03
Yup, that would be an interesting project. I think XP would have some severe problems with its hardware-based activation scheme if you set it up on a flash drive as a "portable OS".

I've got a couple Linux distros on flash drives that work pretty decent. I carry them around as emergency tools to work on computers with pooched hard drives. They work like the "live CD" concept except are much easier to carry around. Wouldn't mind having a portable WinOS too...that would be a good use for my old Win2k CD.

October 15th, 2009, 14:09
yeah, I ended up having problems with the NT disk. I THOUGHT it was booting from the drive, but actually it was booting from the NT version on my spare hard drive. The problem is the bootloader is always looking on a hard drive, and it wont look to a different type of drive such as a flash drive.