BOOT CAMP 557 (31/12/08)

Installing XP on Netbook PCs, part 3


We’re now into the final stages of creating a slimmed-down version of Windows XP to replace the ‘toytown’ Linux supplied with some low-cost Netbook PCs. We’re using nLite, a freeware ‘pre-installation’ tool and last week we made a start by ticking all of the Windows components we want to remove from our custom installation disc, see also this week’s Top Tip. This week we’ll continue from where we left off, finish the configuration and burn the disc.


Click the Next button and nLite analyses your selection of items selected for removal. This step is important as it corrects any anomalies that might occur due to missing components. Unless you are a Windows expert the safest thing to do is click the Yes button if it asks if you want to reinstate any components.


Once that’s done, and if you followed the preliminary steps in part 2, you’ll be taken to the Unattended Installation menu screen. This stage is optional and it is where you can save yourself the bother of filling out boxes and choosing the various options that appear during the latter stages of the Windows installation.


It’s up to you how far you want to go on this one but at the very least I would enter your Windows XP Product key on the General tab, and while you are there, check ‘Turn off Hibernate’. Set the Language and keyboard selections on the Regional tab (these are now redundant in any case as we removed all of the non UK options last week). You can save yourself a little time by typing in your User Name on the Users tab, fill out the computer Name, User Name, Workgroup and Organisation boxes on the Network ID tab.


For Desktop Themes the only choice will be Windows Classic (we deleted all the others), so go with that. The Display tab lets you preset the colour depth and screen resolution and this depends on the make and model of netbook you are using. For example, a 7-inch Asus Eee PC has an 800 x 480 pixel display. This is a non-standard setting and isn’t listed on the Screen Resolution drop-down menu so you need to click the Custom button and select the values manually. Another popular Netbook, the Acer Aspire One, works well with a 1024 x 600 pixel setting and again you won’t find it on the list, so click the Custom button. On both models set Colour Depth to 32-bit (true Color) and the refresh rate should be 60Hz. However, none of this will be set in stone and you can change any of these settings once Windows has been installed and the device drivers are loaded.


At this point you can still go back and undo any changes you’ve made and for expert users there’s the option to tinker with the XP Registry in the Tweaks section. By all means have a look around, however, unless you know what you are doing I would leave this section alone. In any event changes made here won’t make much difference to the size of the installation.


You are now ready to compile the files needed to create your installation disc. Click the Yes button and the process begins. This can take up to half an hour, depending on the performance of your PC. When it has finished the dialogue box shows the size of the installation and if you have used the settings I’ve suggested it should be somewhere between 150 and 200Mb.


Click the Next button and the Bootable ISO menu appears. This is where you can create an installation disc, but before you do, you also have the opportunity to add extra files to your disc. For example, you could create folder containing all of the data files that you will need on the new PC, such as your address book, bookmarks, documents, images and so on. You can also use this facility to load installation files for any programs you’ll be using, though keep an eye on the space. A blank CD holds 650/700Mb and the Windows installation files will probably account for between a third and a half of the disc’s capacity. 


When you are ready to burn the disc check that the details for your CD/DVD writer drive are correctly displayed and there is a blank disc in the drive. You can leave all of the other settings on their defaults. Click the Next button and the burning process begins. This takes a few minutes (depending on the writing speed of your drive), but it should be more than enough time to go and make a cup of tea. If anything goes wrong or you see any error messages during or after the burn you should find the answer on the extensive FAQ and forums on the nLite website at


Next Week – Installing XP on Netbook PCs, part 4





The number of bits a computer used to specify the colour of a single pixel in a video display



The number of times each second the image on a video display is redrawn. 



The name give to a group of computers connected together to share files in a local network



You may be wondering how we are going to use a CD to install Windows on a Netbook PC that doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive? Actually it’s quite easy, and we’ll come to that next week but, I hear you ask, we don’t we just load the installation files onto a USB pen drive. Unfortunately that is easier said than done... The reason it usually fails is that throughout the installation process the PC needs to be able to access the installation files on the USB drive. However, Windows reboots the PC several times and this resets the USB port, causing it to loose its connection to the drive. Most solutions involve Linux or hacks using Window Server Service Pack files and is best left to experts, with a lot of time on their hands…


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



© R. Maybury 2008, 0301

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