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I intend to learn Linux in-depth and I'd like to start with a "clean" machine (Microsoft free).

I just need to know if I can put my factory installed Windows XP on disc for later use (spare parts build etc.) since my Ubuntu Linux experience will be learning/hobbyist rather than just trying to make stuff work.

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closed as off topic by Eliah Kagan, Eric Carvalho, James Jan 21 '13 at 2:12

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I assume you don't still have the original XP installation disc? – DaimyoKirby Jan 12 '13 at 4:57
correct, sorry to omit info, i just wasn't thinking. – user121651 Jan 12 '13 at 5:01
In the root directory of your primary hard drive (likely something like "C:"), is there a folder called "I386"? – DaimyoKirby Jan 12 '13 at 5:02
Yes, i've located it – user121651 Jan 12 '13 at 5:07
Can you also locate your Windows License key? You won't get very far into a re-installation without it, if/when you ever go back to Windows. – DaimyoKirby Jan 12 '13 at 5:12

2 Answers 2

If you would like to read the original instructions, click here. The steps it outlines should leave you with a factory-settings bootable Windows XP Home/Professional setup disk. Below is a slightly abridged version of those instructions.

NOTES: This tutorial is meant to be done from Windows XP, not Ubuntu. As far as I know, it will only work for installations of Windows XP, not any newer versions of Windows (Vista, 7, etc.)

Additionally, there are No Guarantees with this procedure. It may not work if, for example, your vendor deleted some essential file in the I386 folder, causing your installation to fail at some crucial point.

Creating a backup of your entire system, and knowing how to restore to it, is highly suggested.

Since you have both the C:\I386 folder and a Windows License Key, you should be able to create a new installation disk. There are a few other prerequisites and considerations as well:

  • CD/DVD Burning Software; this tutorial will be using ImgBurn, and assumes that you are using ImgBurn as well.
  • Windows Setup CD Boot Sector; The easiest way to get this is to download the file "" from one of the links on, and save it on your desktop for later use.
  • You may want to either ensure you have all your hardware drivers on disks/backed-up somewhere, or be comfortable enough with obtaining and installing them later.

Once you have collected/located all these things, we can begin with the rest of the setup. Please excuse the wall of text.

  1. Create a folder at C:\ called XPSETUP. This folder, C:\XPSETUP, is where you will create the CDROM directory structure.
  2. Copy the entire C:\I386 to C:\XPSETUP. Notice that you are to copy, not move, the original I386 folder; if you make any mistakes, you will want to have a clean copy of the folder and its contents to work with. After the folder completely copies to XPSETUP, you will want to verify that the contents of the copy are identical to that of the original.
  3. Create a text file called "WIN51" (including quotes, to prevent Notepad from adding a .txt extension to the end of the filename) in C:\XPSETUP. Inside it, write the word Windows (make sure the first "w" is capital), add a space after it, and press the return (enter) key.
  4. If your computer originally came with XP Home Edition, make a copy of WIN51 and call is "WIN51IC" (once again including quotes). If it originally came with XP Home Service Pack 1 installed (SP1), the make an additional copy of "WIN51", and call it "WIN51IC.SP1". Likewise, if it originally came with XP Home Service Pack 2 installed (SP2), then make a third copy of "WIN51", and name it "WIN51IC.SP2". If your computer originally came with some version of XP Professional (original, SP1, SP2), then create the exact same files as above, instead naming them "WIN51IP" "WIN51IP.SP1", etc. This is an important step that you must be careful with - I suggest you read Step 3 of the original tutorial to make sure you understand it all clearly.
  5. If you want to customize your install disk to have it include SP2, read Step 4 in the original tutorial. I'm not going to include this since it isn't necessary to the creation of an installation disk.
  6. Open the "" file that you downloaded earlier. In the "cds" folder, you'll want to open either the "winxphome" or "winxppro", depending on whether you have Windows XP Home or Professional, respectively. Copy w2ksect.bin from the "files" folder into C:\

Following this, you now should have all the files organized and assembled correctly. The following steps outline the burning of these files to a CD/DVD. Remember, these instructions are ImgBurn-specific.

  1. In Notepad, paste the text from this pastebin: Save it somewhere on your desktop, as "XPSETUP.ibb" (remember, include the quotes to prevent .txt from being added to the end).
  2. In ImgBurn, select Mode -> Build from the menu
  3. Select File -> Load Project from the menu. In the dialog box that opens, select XPSETUP.ibb from where you saved it in the previous step, and click Open.
  4. Click the "Labels" tab on the right side of the screen; change the label in the ISO9660 field to one of the following, depending on what type of bootable setup CD you're making: enter image description here
  5. Click the "Write" icon at the bottom of the window. If you are unsure of which is the write button, hover you mouse over each icon, as a tooltip should appear to indicate what each button is. Depending on the version of ImgBurn, the icon may read "Build" instead of "Write".
  6. If you get a pop-up window that reads something like:

You've only selected 1 folder! C:\XPSETUP. Does the 'XPSETUP' folder represent the root directory for the image content? (Otherwise the 'XPSETUP' folder will be visible in the root directory of the image.)

Click "yes" to this. You'll want the contents of the XPSETUP folder to be what you see when you view the CD's root directory.

If you get an error message from ImgBurn regarding "c:\w2ksect.bin", it means you missed the w2ksect.bin step from above. Go back and complete this step before continuing.

Following this point, you should have a bootable Windows setup disk. To use it, place it in your CD drive, and then boot into it when you restart your computer.

If something doesn't work right, or you want to try doing things such as creating a cd that doesn't require you to reactivate Windows after installing, I would suggest looking at the FAQ.

If you have any questions about the above outlined steps, I suggest reading the original instructions first, since they go a bit more in-depth into the whys and hows than my abridged version.

I hope this helps answer your question!

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make a copy of your windows partition by some imaging software like clonezilla or some windows-based programs like Norton-Ghost and keep it seperately on an external disk/DVD. Then play with Linux to your heart's content. In case you need Windows you can always copy that image back. Best would be to dual-install both Linux and WinXp Regards Shrinivas

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