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Is there any way to install Windows XP on a notebook PC where CD drive is really faulty and only has Ubuntu installed?

No USB option is possible here, as the motherboard does not support USB boot. The computer is Acer Aspire 1640, to make it more complicated :D

I believe there is no way to achieve that, but there may be some tricky combination I've yet to hear about :)

EDIT: another option is to copy the Windows install files from an installation ISO to a small pre-formatted FAT32 partition, and then execute installation from this partition.

But how to configure GRUB so that it would be possible to somehow enter the FAT32 partition?

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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I can tell you it is possible but very difficult. Here is a rough outline of the steps you would have to take

  • Assuming you have a Windows install disk for this machine create an ISO of the install disk from another machine which has a working CD drive and save the ISO to that machine's hard drive
  • Transfer this ISO via your network connection using FTP/Windows file sharing/Samba/etc to the laptop
  • Use Gparted to resize your existing Ubuntu partitions so that you have enough free space for the contents of the iso
  • Create a fat32 partition and copy the contents of the ISO into this new partition
  • Set the partition as bootable by either installing the appropriate windows bootloader or configuring grub to boot that partition
  • Boot from that partition and go through the steps of installing the Windows OS

There are more considerations here depending on whether you are going to try and keep the Ubuntu OS you currently have, how much hard drive space your laptop has, and others but this is a rough outline that hopefully at least indicates that this is possible.

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I thought of exactly the same thing! Now I just need to learn on how to revert the GRUB after (W)installation. I need th keep that Ubuntu running, just in case. Thanks! EDIT: don't remove it. It confirms the very idea, making it sound reasonable :D –  Cyrylski Sep 2 '10 at 18:32
    
I can't claim to be original with this idea though. Dell used to provide CD's with their Server 2k3 install disks that were actually a linux live CD that did the same thing I am describing and then slipstreamed drivers and a configuration inf into the copied version of the OS install that resided in a partition. That way they didn't have to deal with the "please insert a floppy disk with your raid drivers" nonsense and not have to burn separate OS distribution disks for each hardware configuration. –  Chris Magnuson Sep 2 '10 at 19:40
    
They still do. It's the Open Manage Server Installation CDs. It's for Server OS's only though. –  Zypher Sep 29 '10 at 0:23
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I don't think it's possible. The closest you could get is installing it onto an external hard drive with another machine, then either swapping that drive in or using Ubuntu to copy it onto a formatted NTFS drive, but I believe Windows would complain about a hardware change.

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Isn't Windows "adaptable" to local conditions? I mean, if I provide it with proper drivers for the desired machine? is it possible to make it a painless process? –  Cyrylski Sep 2 '10 at 18:13
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The only thing that comes to mind would be attempting to boot a Windows XP (bootable) ISO from Grub. I've booted a number of things from Grub before and there's some Google results (search for: grub boot windows xp iso) that look promising... but I have no personal experience with trying this particular request.

It may take some syslinux magic, and even some partitioning manipulation, but would likely be worth a shot.

Grub iso boot reference.

EDIT: I would vote up ObligatoryMoniker's answer, but rep is still too low.

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