Friday, October 16, 2009

Using AHCI to install XP on new computers

I have a retail copy of Windows XP Home (Service Pack 2) which I use to run my home-made Home Theatre PC (HTPC). With my latest build I ran into a new problem -- it wouldn't install! Instead I kept getting a BSOD. Eventually I realized that the new motherboard probably wasn't recognized by the old (circa 2005?) OS. Fortunately, there was a solution, though it took me a while to make it work.

I knew that my new motherboard AND my new SATA drives were configured for the newer 'AHCI' drive-mode. The existing SATA drivers on my XP-SP2 disc didn't support AHCI. So my first thought was to use the F6 boot-option to include the new drivers. But despite attempts to load various versions of the 'Intel Storage Matrix Manager' drivers it continued to either hang or BSOD.

Ultimately the solution was to slipstream the drivers into the CD image. While I was at it, I also added the SP3 update. (Actually, the first thing I tried was slipstreaming SP3 in the hopes that it included the AHCI support; it didn't.) I already knew how to slipstream SP3 but had no idea how to added the Intel drivers. Fortunately, this web page explained how to use a nifty utility called 'nLite" which automated it.

So, in summary, what did not work:
- using WinXP Service Pack 3
- using F6 with Intel drivers on a floppy

What did work:
- using nLite to slipstream both SP3 and the Intel drivers onto a new CD

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