Installing Windows XP

One day I’ll learn that I should have nothing to do with any version of Windows. It always ends with me swearing at hardware.

As mentioned before, I’ve got a new Dell PC. Which frees up the old one to go off to university with my stepdaughter. Neither of my PCs have Windows installed, but the new PC came with a Windows XP installation disk[1] so the plan was to install the new version of XP onto my old PC.

Simple? Well, no.

I thought it would be as simple as putting the XP installation CD into the CD drive and rebooting. I thought that the PC would boot from the CD and automatically start the installation. I was wrong.

The PC found the CD and realised that it was bootable. It then tried to boot up. It got as far as saying that it was checking the hardware but then it hung. I tried this a few times. On one occasion I even left it for a few hours to see if it was just running very slowly. But no. It had just hung.

So it seemed that this installation CD didn’t like being booted on a PC that didn’t already have Windows installed. So I thought that I’d install another, older, version of Windows first and then install XP over that. And what a large number of of Windows installation media I found around the house. I tried Windows ME, Windows 98 and Windows 95. All of them failed to boot from the CD. I was beginning to think that the CD drive was faulty (even though I knew it worked fine under Linux).

And then I found the installation disk for the copy of Windows ME that originally came with that PC. And for some reason, that one worked. About half an hour later I had a copy of Windows ME installed on the the PC. I was tempted to just stop there, but I know that Windows ME is one of the flakiest versions of Windows ever, so I had to proceed to stage two and install XP.

That only took two attempts. The first attempt got to the stage when it was going to start copying files over and then informed me that it couldn’t find any of the files it needed to copy. It helpfully suggested that I put the correct installation media into the CD drive. It was, of course, already there. On rebooting, it booted from the CD and went straight into the installation routine. I still don’t understand why it didn’t do that before.

There was only one surprise left. During the system setup phase, it asked me to give the computer a name. I gave it my stepdaughter’s name as that’s the name that here previous PC had on our home network. Then when it asked me the names of the people who would use the computer I gave her name again – only to be told that user names could not be ‘Guest’, ‘Admin’ or the name of the computer!

But eventually it all worked. Well, I think it worked. It was too late to actually try anything. Now I need to get it on our network so I can connect to the internet and install all the security updates.

And then I can think about what software I need to install. There will be as little Microsoft software as possible on this PC.

[1] Well, it didn’t actually come with it. I had to phone them up and ask them to send it. They seemed surprised that anyone would actually want the installation media for the operating system.

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