Installing Windows XP With F6 AHCI/RAID Drivers From DVD Without Floppy Drive
Windows XP requires that drivers for AHCI/RAID disk controllers must be supplied on floppy disk (activated by F6 key during installation). However today there are many computers with USB ports and CD/DVD drive, but without floppy drive.
This article explains how to use USB thumbdrive instead of F6 floppy disk with AHCI/RAID drivers for Windows XP installation to the AHCI/RAID disk.
1. Formulation of the problem
You need to install Windows XP or Windows 2003 Server onto PC or server without floppy drive. SATA controller is in AHCI/RAID mode, so you need to use F6 floppy disk supplied by hardware vendor. Server has USB ports and DVD drive.
For some reason, you don't want to use nLite to prepare Windows XP/2003 Installation CD with integrated drivers, and you want to install from original, unmodified installation disc.
2. Solution in a nutshell
Computer will boot from FlashBoot-created USB thumbdrive and then switch boot process to CD. Windows Setup in the early Text Mode phase will access drive A: via redirected BIOS Interrupt 13h and read F6 Floppy Driver files from the image file on USB thumbdrive.
There's a freeware utility Boot CD Loader (by Alex Kopylov) to transfer boot control from floppy to CD drive, for a long time used with Emergency Boot Kit on old BIOSes which didn't support booting from CD. This time it serves different purpose: being converted to bootable USB thumbdrive with FlashBoot, it transfers boot control from USB thumbdrive to CD drive with original Windows installation disc. The difference between this boot path and normal booting from CD is that, in the former case, drive A: is mapped to the image file on the USB thumbdrive.
We use Bart BFI utility to inject F6 Floppy Driver files into the image file of floppy-to-CD boot switcher before passing it to FlashBoot for conversion.
3. Prerequisites (things to prepare in advance)
4. Step by step guide
a) Prepare image of floppy-to-CD boot switcher with integrated F6 Floppy Driver files for SATA/RAID controller
b) Convert floppy image to USB thumbdrive using FlashBoot
Choose Floppy -> USB on this page:
Open merged_floppy.img created with Floppy Image Creation Kit:
Choose the only one available scenario "Wrap bootable floppy disk":
Make sure "Map to (at boot time)" option is set to "A:"
The rest goes as usual:
c) Boot from USB thumbdrive with Windows installation disc inserted to DVD drive.
Press F6 when Windows Setup asks for it:
Choose textmode driver to load, it's done the same way as when loading from real floppy disk.
Then Windows XP / 2003 Server installation continues usual way.