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How to make any Compact Flash card or Microdrive boot Windows XP

Picture of How to make any Compact Flash card or Microdrive boot Windows XP
This is a handy method of getting around the requirement for XP to be booted from fixed media. One of the biggest problems with building a car pc or other highly mobile device is that you really should boot from a fixed media for long life as standard hard drives are not vibration friendly.
 
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Step 1: Choosing media

For this to work, there will have to be enough room on your CF card for your install of XP plus an install of your favorite distro of Linux. With this in mind, I would recommend no less than a 4GB card. Speed is also an issue, as read and write speeds are slower than on a conventional hard drive and slower read times can lead to longer startup times. Buy the best that you can afford, as a 4GB card can be had for $10 off of ebay. Write cycles is another consideration, since all normal CF media has a limited number of write cycles. If the write cycle problem is a deal breaker, a microdrive is another good option. It has the small form factor of a CF flash drive but without the read/write limitations. The microdrive is limited to 8GB in size, but work well when coupled with a standard CF card. Note that some embedded microdrives will internally be wired as master and will not work at all in the slave position on a dual CF adapter. This will keep you from using two microdrives on the same IDE connector

Step 2: Interfacing with the computer

This is usually done with an IDE to CF adapter. Single and dual card adapters are available. If you think you will ever need two cards, get the dual adapter now save yourself the trouble later. If you do choose to use a microdrive, note that they are slightly thicker, and that adapters need to mention that they will fit the thicker microdrives.
admin5 years ago
This is a great Instructable, but you need to add a main image of the final project to the intro step. Please do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks!
rhoderik4 years ago
"sudo gparted" will work on any distro wit them installed (with sudo intalled being the user one of the sudoers and with gparted also installed)
0ldfart4 years ago
Cant get it to work. Installed XP to compact flash, rebooted, used ubuntu installer to resize, rebooted, selected grub option for windows : "ntldr is missing' reinstalled repeated process "ntldr is missing" Doesnt work.
smn368 0ldfart4 years ago
you need to down load the ntldr file and manually put it it the root of the drive and then it should work find
http://tinyempire.com/shortnotes/files/ntldr_missing.htm
ReCreate5 years ago
I highly recommend AT LEAST 5GB for windows xp,and 10 GB AT LEAST for anything else other than XP and under(win95,3.1.ect)
Let me refine that, I recommend at least 2GB for XP, 1GB for Windows 2000, 512 For Windows 98/95 and 128 for windows 3.1 and lower. Now, For anything newer than XP, I reccomend 10GB.
tinkerC5 years ago
Nice idea. Would you explain how to use the Linux in step 11?
AdHd tinkerC4 years ago
Step 11?
tinkerC AdHd4 years ago
I guess it is step 5.
The "sudo gparted" command will only work on Linux distros that are based on Debian, like Ubuntu.
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