Sunday, March 2, 2008

Windows XP on ASUS EEE PC without a CD Drive

A couple of days ago I decided to buy a new EEE PC. It comes out of the box with Linux preloaded.

However, I wanted to install Office 2007 and Windows XP. My machine only has 4GB of internal flash hard drive but I can plug in an external SD card to give extra space as drive D: I have also upgraded the RAM in my machine to 1GB before I started.

After spending a long time reading the forums, I have found lots of really good tweaks. However, the tweaks are not all in one place - so I decided that it would be a good idea to make a log of how I configured my machine for the optimal performance and space.

Step 1 - Make an nLite iso file

Follow the instructions at
HOWEVER - DO NOT remove the "Manual Install" feature of Windows XP. This is under the "Operating System Options" tab. You need this if you are going to install off a USB memory stick. So DON'T tick this box.

When you are finished, you should have an iso file saved on your desktop (or elsewhere on your hard drive)

Step 2 - Load Virtual CD

I use Microsoft's Virtual CD driver - but you can use anything that can mount an iso image as a drive letter.

Here is the link for the Microsoft file

Check out the readme file for instructions on how to install it. Once it is installed, mount your iso file to a drive letter (mine was y:)

Step 3 - Make a USB boot disk with Windows XP

Follow the instructions on this page to make a bootable usb drive.

When you are asked to select the Windows XP Setup Source path, select the drive letter that was assigned to your iso file when you mounted it in step 2

Step 4 - Boot the USB stick in your EEE PC

Before you start installing Windows XP, go into the BIOS and change the BIOS setting for the "OS Installation" to started. You will also need to change the system bios on the EEE PC to boot from the USB stick.

Once you have done this, select the second option (text mode) to start the setup process.

From this point on it is just like any other windows XP installation delete/recreate the primary partition on your EEE pc and format it using NTFS. Make sure you delete ALL partitions on the internal drive. You should create a single partition or you will get the hal.dll error message. (Make sure you dont delete the partition on your USB stick though)

Once the text mode portion of setup is complete it will boot into the GUI mode (you can press enter after the reboot if your too excited to wait the 30 seconds)

Once the GUI portion of setup is complete you will again have to boot into GUI mode this will complete the XP installation and you will end up at you XP desktop. It is very important that you DO NOT REMOVE THE USB STICK before this point. Once you can see your start menu it is safe to remove the usb stick and reboot your pc to make sure everything worked.

I have 1.82GB free at this point (from 3.72GB)

Step 5 - Install the required ASUS drivers

Now is a good time to change your BIOS setting for the "OS Installation" to finished. This will speed up your USB 2.0 ports.

If you dont have an external CD drive, the files from the driver CD can be copied to a memory stick and can be installed manually. You may need to reboot after each driver is installed.

Don't install the Touchpad driver - As at 27th Jan 2008, it doesnt work and you are better off using the Windows default driver.

Install ACPI from the \drivers\acpi\setup.exe file

Install the Chipset drivers from \driver\Chipset\Intel\Inf\setup.exe

Install the Video Driver from \drivers\vga\setup.exe
After rebooting, I like to change my resolution to 800 x 600

Install the Wireless adapter from \driver\Wireless\Install_CD\setup.exe
I only install the Driver and not the client software. I like to use Windows to manage my wireless networks.

Install the Lan (plugin) driver from \driver\lan\Attansic\setup.exe

Install the sound driver from \driver\Audio\driver\setup.exe

Step 6 - Disable Page File (and remove it)

To do this, right click on My Computer. Select Properties and the Advanced tab. Select the Settings button in the Performance section and go to the Advanced Tab.

Now select the Change button and choose the "No paging file" and click Set and OK. You will need to reboot before you can delete the pagefile (if it exists)

Note : You also may need to untick the option "Hide protected operating system files" to be able to see the pagefile.sys file. You can find this option by selecting the

Tools > Folder Options > View tab

and scrolling down the list. The Tools option is at the top of the "My Computer" windows when you open it.

I have 3.17GB !!! free space at this point (out of 3.72GB)

If you havent activated Windows yet, now is probably a good time.

Before downloading the patches from Microsoft, it is a good idea to optimize your internet connection. Have a read of

My internet throughput increased by over 20%

Step 7 - Download patches

Use Windows Update to install the latest security updates

I have 2.91GB free at this point (out of 3.72GB)

Step 8 - Install Office 2007

To install Office 2007 without a CD drive, I simply share the cd drive on my desktop computer and insert the CD. The EEE PC can see the shared CD drive for the installation.

My free space is down to 2.04GB (out of 3.72GB)

Step 9 - Download patches

Use Windows Update (again) to install the latest security updates for Office 2007

Now I only have 1.35GB left (out of 3.72GB)

To get some of the space back, delete the following files and folders :


Free space is back up to 1.96GB

Step 10 - Format the removable SD card as NTFS

This makes the access speeds on the SD Ram card much faster and allows you to have it in NTFS format. You should do this before moving "My Documents" (or any other files) to the removable card.

Go into Control Panel > System > Hardware Tab > Device Manager

Expand the "Disk Drives" part of the tree and right click on the "USB2.0 Card Reader SD0" device. Go into Properties. Select the Policies tab. And active the "Optimize for performance" option

Now you can close all the Windows and go to My Computer to format the removable drive D:

You will find that you have an NTFS option

After it was formatted, I turned off the Indexing Service by going back into the Properties of the newly formatted NTFS drive. You can also compress the drive if you wish (I didnt).

If you leave the Optimize performance option turned on, you need to make sure you "Safely remove" the drive before ejecting it from your machine at any time in the future. Note : You dont have to leave the option turned on to keep using the NTFS formatted card. It only has to be on to actually format the card.

Interesting Note : This appears to make the whole machine run quicker. My experience is that formatting your SD Ram card as NTFS instead of Fat32 make everything run 100% faster (if not more)

Step 11 - Move My Documents

Before you can move your Document files to the removable drive, you need to re-enable right clicking on the start menu

I wanted to be able to right click on the start menu

> right click on the task bar on desktop
> select properties
> select start menu tab
> click customize
> click on the advanced tab
> tick the "Enable dragging and dropping" box and that should fix it.

Now that you have done that, you can right click on "My Documents" on the start menu. Select "Properties" and use the "Move" button to move your documents to D: drive.

Step 14 - Compress the hard drive and turn off indexing

To turn off indexing, go to My Computer and right click on your Local Disk C. Go into properties and untick the "Allow Indexing Service" tick box. Click Apply and apply the changes to all folders and sub folders of C.

To compress the hard drive, tick the "Compress drive to save space" box on the same page. Click apply to start compressing your files. This may take some time.

Step 15 - Install other software

Other programs I installed were Adobe Acrobat and AVG Antivirus.

I now have 2.13GB free (out of 3.72GB). That means Windows XP, IE7 with Office 2007, all patches and a couple of other programs takes all of 1.58GB

Step 16 - Setting Up 800x600 scaled video

To get 800x600 or 1280x760 on the EEE PC, follow the instructions on this thread

After you have downloaded the required files, uninstall the old video driver by using the "Add/Remove" programs option in the control panel. When Windows restarts, cancel all of the attempts to automatically reinstall the video driver.

Once Windows has restarted (you should be in 800x480 mode), install the new driver by running the SETUP.EXE file

When you reboot the computer, you may be asked if the various EXE files can be loaded into memory. Because the installed driver files are unsigned, you will need to untick the checkbox in the dialog that asks if the files can be loaded in future.

Now you need to setup the screen to display 1280x768 (Even if you are not going to display that high a res). To do this, go into the Control Panel and select the "System" icon. Choose the Hardware tab and click on Device Manager.

Expand the "Monitors" section of the tree and right click each monitor (there are probably more than one) and select "Update Driver". Choice the "Advanced" option and click next. Now select the "Don't Search" option and click next again. You will need to untick the box that says "Show compatible hardware" and you can then select the Digital Flat Panel (1280x768). You need to do this for all of the monitors.

The last thing to do is to create a startup shortcut. The best way to do this is to right click on the desktop and create a new shortcut. Browse to find the EEEPC_RESV1.EXE file and click next and then click finish. Once the icon is sitting on your Desktop, go back into the properties of the icon and change the Target to

EEEPC_RESV1.EXE 1 800 600 32

You can test your new icon by double clicking on it. The screen should change to a scaled 800x600 mode.

If the icon works properly, it is safe to move it to

C:\Documents and Settings\All users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

and it will run every time you start your computer up.

[Update : I was getting an error with PersistWndName when I shutdown my machine. I fixed the problem by opening REGEDIT and looking for the key \HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run and removing the key "Persistance" which had the value "C:\WINDOWS\system32\igfxper.exe"]

Other things to try

I've still got to test out using a RAM drive for temp files and internet cache files

[Update : I installed a 128MB RAM drive. I have changed Internet Explorer to use the RAM drive for its temporary files and have also changed Windows TEMP and TMP enviromental variable settings. The good thing is that the temp files are deleted every time I reboot and they dont take any space on my C: drive]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. Thanks very much for listing all this information. Mark