Install DOS to an hdd to make it bootable on a different machine.

By mikecole79 ·
Ok, this is bugging the bejeepers out of me. I feel like something so simple should not be challenging me this way, and getting to feel a little retarded lately, but I need some help to figure out what I'm doing wrong here.

I have a fine little cable that will plug into any IDE or SATA hdd and allow you to run it to the USB. The whole point of this cable is to be able to install a basic OS, like DOS, onto a laptop hard drive so that I can boot the laptop into something.

The laptop in question is older than dirt, and has no CD or Floppy attached to it. It's an old Compaq Armada M200, missing the base which holds the modular drives. It has no OS on the disk, or anything else for that matter. It does have a USB port, however, it will not recognize anything plugged into it at this point because the BIOS is so old that it has no support for USB. This leaves me one option. Get something onto that hard drive using one of my other computers that will allow that hdd to boot up. My original plan was to make a tiny little partition, install DOS, and then drop the Win XP setup files (checked the requirements, and yes, it will BARELY support XP, but that's what the person wants on the computer, even when I told them it would be slow, so that's what they're getting). From there, I was going to boot into DOS, then run the Win XP setup through the command line interface. I just haven't been able to find the proper documentation anywhere to tell me how to get DOS loaded onto the sucker in a way that's bootable.

If there's anyone out there that can tell me if my plan will work, if there's a better way, or give me a little direction, I would greatly appreciate it. And please, make your answer as step-by-step as possible. I've been having a difficult time with this, and it's driving me nuts.



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See if this will get you going

by Jacky Howe In reply to Install DOS to an hdd to ...

Download DOS.


Burn it to CD using Nero or similar.

Remove the Hard Drive from the Notebook. Ensure that you have an Active Partition on the Drive and it is formatted FAT32.
Set your PC to Boot from CD in the BIOS. Connect your USB HD and turn on the PC. Insert the DOS CD that you created and follow the prompts to install it to the USB Drive. When you have finished installing DOS shutdown the PC and reconnect the Hard Drive.

Restart the PC and reconnect the USB HD, now you will need to copy the I386 folder from your XP CD to the USB HD. When you have finished doing that, disconnect the USB HD and insert it back into the Notebook. Turn on the Notebook and you should end up with a DOS Prompt. Type in CD I386 and press enter. Type winnt.exe and press enter.

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Very Helpful!!

by mikecole79 In reply to See if this will get you ...

That worked nicely. I now have the computer booted up, and am running the install. Thank you very much. The link to DOS 7.10 was invaluable, too. The best I had managed to find so far was FreeDOS, and it was giving me some problems on the install. 7.10 didn't give me any grief at all!

The rest, as they say, is history. Thank you so much for your help!


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Glad it worked

by Jacky Howe In reply to Very Helpful!!

I forgot to mention to copy all of the Motherboard drivers and Antivirus.

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by mikecole79 In reply to Glad it worked

I ran across the error of not having an NTLDR file when I tried to reboot. I'm going to copy that over, and pull whatever drivers I need for the other machine from the internet and install those while I'm there. I think that should about cover it. I have AVG on a thumb drive, along with several other useful utilities, so I'll get that all set up and installed, too.

Thanks a million for the help. It was driving me insane!


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Also run one more exe before the new install

by IC-IT In reply to Thanks!

smartdrv.exe will greatly speed up the install time.
Should be on a DOS boot disk or can be taken from 9X CD.
Or from this search;


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Small problem....

by mikecole79 In reply to Also run one more exe bef ...

Ok, so here's a nifty problem for you. Followed the advice, which should have worked, I would have thought. It didn't. It originally returned an error of 'NTLDR not found', and upon looking, the file was there, just as it should have been. I searched and searched and tested all the troubleshooting steps online I could find, which was about 10 of them, and nothing worked.

One of those steps was to convert the FAT32 system to NTFS, which I did through DOS using the convert /fs:ntfs command. Then it booted to a blinking cursor, with nothing else around. No error messages, no prompt, just a cursor. Anyone have any problems? I can boot into DOS with no problems when I format the drive and install that. I could probably manage to boot into Ubuntu if I wanted to install that, but Windows is being the devil! Any ideas you have would be appreciated.



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Boot into DOS

by Jacky Howe In reply to Small problem....

and run these commands.

copy drive:\i386\ntldr c

copy drive:\i386\ntdetect.com c

If you are prompted to overwrite the file, type y, and then press ENTER.

NOTE: In these commands, there is a space between the ntldr and c:\, and between ntdetect.com and c.

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Leave it FAT32 for XP install

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to Small problem....

... then copy your install files to the HDD and install from there. DOS won't run on an NTFS drive all by itself.

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Thummy is right

by Jacky Howe In reply to See if this will get you ...

don't convert the drive until you have finished setting up.

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Actually, you can do it during setup, but you don't want to in this case

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to Thummy is right

XP should ask during setup if you want to convert the drive to NTFS. If you answer yes, it will wipe the drive and delete it's own setup files which have been copied to the drive. Silly thing! It hasn't learned to read our minds yet!

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