BOOT CAMP 556 (24/12/08)

Installing XP on Netbook PCs, part 2


Netbooks, those cute little laptops with built-in Wi-Fi are brilliant but the cheaper models are pre-installed with the Linux operating system. Now, as I said last week I’m a long-term advocate of Linux but these versions look as though they were designed for five year olds, and they make it really difficult for users to install programs.


Most netbooks use Intel processors and they will run Windows XP but straight out of the box it’s a bit too big for these machines, however, there are ways to make it smaller. In fact there is a ready-made version of XP for netbooks, (see this week’s Top Tip), but we’re going down the DIY route and this method uses a freeware utility called nLite ( You will also need a full retail Windows XP installation disc, preferably with Service Pack 2, if not, don’t worry, there there’s full details of how to ‘slipstream’ XP and SP2 in Boot Camp 428 ( By the way, it should be a licensed copy, not currently installed on another PC, as you may not be able to activate it or download security updates.


nLite is a pre-installation configuration tool and system builders use this type of software to carry out unattended installations, automatically load drivers, hotfixes, patches and so on. The features we’re most interested in removes unwanted Windows components and creates a set of files for burning a homemade installation disc. We’ll make a start by paring XP to the bone so it fits easily into the limited storage space on a typical budget netbook, like the 2 or 4Gb Asus Eee PC 700/900 or Acer Aspire One.


Load your XP installation disc and if it auto-starts click Exit. Launch nLIte, make sure English is set as the default language and press Next. Locate the drive containing your XP installation disc and create a folder on your hard drive for the install files, call it ‘xplite’ or something similar. Click Next and nLite starts copying files from the CD to the hard drive; this takes around 3 or 4 minutes.


When it has finished click Next and the Task Selection menu opens. Here you have the option to add Windows Service Packs, drivers, hotfixes and patches with your installation disc files. I would keep things simple and just use the Remove, Unattended Install features and Create ISO features. Don’t worry, it’s not fixed in stone and you can easily go back and add or remove items and create another disc if your first attempt doesn’t work out.


Click Components, Unattended Installation and Bootable ISO then Next and you will see a tree listing. Start with Applications and check the Applications you want to exclude from the installation disc. There’s a trick to save you a lot of clicking. Check the box next to each item on the tree and this selects all components for removal, so all you have to do is go through each list and uncheck the items you want to keep.  On this list you might want to keep things like Calculator and Paint but if you are going for a minimalist install then check the lot!


Next Drivers and again they can all go, though if your netbook has a built in webcam you can uncheck Cameras and Camcorders, otherwise all of the drivers you will need are on the utility disc that came with your netbook.


Under Hardware Support all you need to uncheck, to keep are AGP Filters, Battery, CPU Intel, Intel IDE PCI IDE Controller, Logical Disk Manager, MS Colour Management, Ports (COM and LPT), Printer Support, Secure Digital Host Controller, Teletext Codec, all USB entries, Video Capture and Windows Image Acquisition.


In the Keyboards and Languages section you can leave everything selected for removal except United Kingdom Keyboard and English (United Kingdom) – though obviously configure as necessary if you live outside the UK and English is not the keyboard language you want to use.


The next section is Multimedia and the items you should definitely keep (i.e. unchecked) are ACM Core Codecs, Active X, Direct X, Media Centre (if applicable), Midi audio support, Open GL Support, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Player 6.4, Windows Picture and Fax viewer and Windows Sounds.


In Network retain Active Directory Services Dial-up and VPN Support, H323 MSP, Internet Connection Wizard, Internet Explorer, IP Conferencing, MAC Bridge, Map Network Drives, MSMail and MAPI, NetShell Cmd Tool, Network Setup Wizard, Outlook Express, Share Creation Wizard, TAPI Application Support, TCP/IP version 6, and Windows Messenger, if you need it.


The Operating System options that should be unchecked are Colour Schemes, Disk Cleanup, Extra Fonts, File System Filter, Format Drive Support, Group Policy Management (if applicable), Help Engine, Input Method Editor, Internet Explorer Core, Jet Database, Local Security, Logon Notifications, MDAC, MS Agent, OOBE, RIS, Shell Media, User Account Pictures, VB5, VB6, VB Script and Zip Folders.


In Services make sure that the following are unchecked: BITS, DHCP Client, DNS Client, Event Log, HTTP SL, Kerberos, NLA, Network Provisioning, Protected Storage, Shell Services, SNMP, SENS, System Monitor, Task Scheduler, Text Services, Universal P&P, Windows Firewall/ICS, Windows Management Instrumentation, Windows Time, Wireless Configuration. Finally, check all items for removal in the Directories listing. That’s it for the moment; in part 3 we’ll tackle the Unattended Installation settings.


Next Week – Installing XP on Netbook PCs, part 3





A disc using the ISO 9660 (International Standards Organisation) filing system containing files necessary to boot a computer and run or install software



A program or data file that tells Windows how to communicate with a particular piece of hardware



Combining Windows installations files with Service Packs, updates, security patches and hotfixes




There are numerous versions of a specially pre-shrunk version of XP on the web, called Tiny XP. Some releases are less than 250Mb, and it sounds ideal for netbooks, but there are a couple of serious problems with it. This first and most obvious one is that it is pirate software and therefore illegal, moreover you will not be able to download updates and patches or install some Microsoft software. More worryingly, you have no way of knowing if the download is spiked with malware or viruses, so you could easily end up compromising the security of any personal data stored on your netbook. In short don’t do it! 


Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at



© R. Maybury 2008, 0301


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