Sunday, March 9, 2008

SSC #56 How to get rid of Vista

    So you just went out and bought yourself a new computer, only to find that instead of the comfortable and familiar Windows XP that you've spent the last several years getting used to, your new machine has come pre-installed with Windows Vista.
    After a little fiddling around, you have decided that you really don't like it and this brand new computer doesn't seem to run any faster than your old one did.  Now what?
    Many people who are installing their old copies of Windows XP on new machines, especially laptops, are running into major problems finding drivers for their brand new hardware.  The computer ships with a disk that has all the drivers for Vista, but not for XP.  Without proper drivers your hardware won't run right, or won't run at all. 
    In some cases, the new computers are using new SATA harddrives.  SATA drives didn't exist when Windows XP came out, and people are finding that they can't install XP at all since XP can't detect a single harddrive to install to.  There is an option to press F6 during the beginning of the install if you happen to have the SATA drivers on a floppy disk, but many new machines are being built without floppy drives.  So without means to install the drivers, there is no apparent way to install Windows XP.

    Fear not, there is a solution. gives a guide on how to customize Windows XP install CD's.  By following this guide and using a great application called nLite  which you can find at you can incorporate your SATA drivers into the Windows XP installation CD and your drives will be detected. 
    But why stop there?  Using nLite you can do all kinds of awesome things to IMPROVE Windows XP beyond what you are used to.

    You can incorporate ALL of your drivers for your hardware so that it is all recognized automatically. 

    You can completely remove Windows components.  You use Firefox?  You can take Internet Explorer completely out.  Use Pidgin for your instant messaging?  Just click a box and MSN Messenger never gets installed in the first place.

    You can even incorporate your CD Key and the new installation CD won't even ask you for it!

    This weekend I customized a Windows XP install CD for a friend of mine who was having trouble with the aforementioned SATA issue.  After taking out all of the bloat that is normally installed with Windows, and replacing it with Open Source alternatives, his new Windows XP installation is the fastest booting operating system I have ever seen.  I even timed it.  From hitting the power to having the desktop fully loaded up and ready was 35 seconds.  By comparison, an Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon installation on the same hardware took 109 seconds to boot up.  I was flabbergasted. 
    So if you're struggling to get your new computer back to the familiar ground of Windows XP, just gather your drivers together and then head on over and grab a copy of nLite.  Windows XP actually is a pretty good operating system.  So long as you are the one in charge of it.  Not Microsoft.

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