Last Saturday, my cousin asked me to fix her EEE PC. I said, sure, even though I have no idea what I’m supposed to fix.
I have always been “playing around” with computers since the first time I touched one (more than 15 years ago, in fact). I finally got to own a PC in 2000, and through its lifetime, I’ve done all sorts of things, like upgrading from ME to XP, partitioning the hard drive into multiple partitions, installing a multi-OS machine, creating and implementing security policies (I’m extremely proud of my time-based login system many years ago) and others. Of course, once in a while, my PC encounters very serious problems, making it seriously unusable. Unending safe modes and BSOD’s on ME, and much nastier BSOD’s on XP. There were seven of such instances throughout the machine’s lifetime. For the record, it has never occured for the past three years, and I think it has something to do with the installation of the Service Packs. Recently, most of my PC’s problems have something to do with virus, spyware or trojan infections, and, at one time, an Internet problem, where my machine can connect to the ISP but couldn’t perform any online functionalities. (I was unable to pinpoint the problem, and I ended up reformatting my system)
For the record, I have also fixed other people’s computers. Booting problems were the most common, but most recent jobs simply involved cleaning infected systems. I never charged for my services, the payments I received were mostly on a donation basis. Also, while fixing software-related problems were, for the most part, pieces of cake, the same cannot be said of hardware-related problems. The most I can do is identify and sometimes remove the ailing component, or tighten any loose hardware. Otherwise, I would just recommend replacing the hardware. Manually fixing erratic hardware is never my thing.
Which leads to this one. The only time I touched the innards of a PC was when I attached some hardware, such as hard disk, RAM, graphics card or NIC, and then there’s my uncle’s PC which reports hardware failures on a random basis. Never a laptop. I was about to suggest sending it to a service center, after all, it’s still within its warranty period. Furthermore, there’s got to have some AutoRecovery option in there somewhere, in case of a software problem, like my sister’s Acer. But my cousin was just too adamant and I decided that there’s no point in rejecting the job anyway.
There’s no problem in the hardware, thankfully. Same with the OS. As it turns out, there wasn’t any problem at all. The laptop runs on Linux, and she wants to have Windows installed instead. Okay, it all finally made sense now.
Installing XP would have been straightforward and easy, if not for two problems:
- The EEE PC’s contain only 4GB of flash storage, which will be easily consumed by the core OS files and Office too.
- There were no extra hardware for booting, except for USB slots. My external combo drive would have came in handy, but it’s nowhere to be found. The only thing I could use, therefore, was a bootable USB flash disk.
I have already worked on a bootable USB disk, having previously created a BartPE boot disk. It’s not easy, mind you. Making a bootable USB takes hours, and the steps in preparing it requires a careful attention to details (not to mention downloading a 350MB file just to get two files). In most case, if you made a mistake, you have to start from the beginning all over again. Of course, I won’t be using BartPE this time.
Like always, I did some Googling to look for information and found two relevant pages:
- http://asuseeehacks.blogspot.com/2007/11/installing-windows-fundamentals-on-asus.html (link) = using nLite to create a lite bootable XP installer. This is a necessity, because it only includes the bare necessities. Of course, nLite can also be used to create custom installers with integrated Service Packs and even extra software such as antiviruses, Office, media players, file utilities, etc.
- http://www.eeeguides.com/2007/11/installing-windows-xp-from-usb-thumb.html (link) = creating a bootable USB disk that also installs XP.
- Even though the offline games (Pinball, MineSweeper and Solitaire) were marked for exclusion, I unmarked them. Wala lang.
- It’s better off creating an image file rather than burning the installer directly to a CD. nLite’s built-in burner is slow. You’d better off using Nero or some other software instead.
- Do not delete the XP installation files that you copied to the hard disk. You’ll be needing the folder during the creation of the bootable USB drive. Also, if you haven’t burned the image previously created (in reality, you really don’t need to), you can just mount it to a virtual drive via Daemon Tools.
- In the PE2USB window, put the XP folder in the “Source Path…” prompt. Then in the USBCMD window, point to where your customized XP CD is mounted or placed. This is not the XP folder you copied to your hard disk.
- On the EEE, from the BIOS, set up the USB as your primary disk. I remember also that you have to toggle an option somewhere to OS > Install.
- On one of the successful installs, I was stumped because instead of the familiar GUI setup, all I see was a black screen. AS it turns out, before proceeding to [1: GUI Setup], you need to run [2: Text Setup] twice.
Installing XP didn’t go seamlessly at all. In addition to the aforementioned “blank screen,” I have also encountered corrupt installation files, file-not-found errors and even a “blue screen of death.” But for the record, I finished it in due time. I started on Saturday night. (I also repaired another PC earlier) and finished it the next morning. They were supposed to leave that afternoon. I was paid, though not that much (just enough to buy another Internet card, actually). I didn’t really mind. I’m just proud of this accomplishment.