Re-installing Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (910) with a USB drive

Quick n dirty Guide to Re-installing Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (910)

For fun to get blood pressure to suitable level.

  1. Go to Dell website and look-up the manual for the netbook. Note they mention re-installing operating system requires a optical drive and installation media. They forgot to add “Sucks to be you if you don’t have it”.
  2. Curse Dell for not providing restoration disc or thumb drive and wasting your time.

On a separate Windows machine

  1. Download WinToFlash (
  2. Prepare a USB thumbdrive (1GB or more) and Windows XP CD-Rom (don’t have it? Borrow a suitable version that matches your netbook’s license)
  3. Unzip WinToFlash
  4. Run WinToFlash specifying your Windows XP CD Drive and USB Drive and let it transfer. Wizard mode works.

On Netbook

  1. Plug USB drive (with XP transferred) to Netbook
  2. Boot from USB Drive on Netbook
  3. Choose Option 1, run through XP setup process in text gui. Take note which your windows is going on, 1 (dell formatted) or 2 (most probably the case)?
  4. When done copying files, boot in Option 2 in graphical gui.
  5. When XP is done with setup, you might encounter a hal.dll missing error.
    • Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows root>system32hal.dll
    • Continue to boot from USB but select the debug boot “Debug boot rDisk 1 partition 2″ in boot.ini on USB drive [multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(2)WINDOWS=”Debug boot rDisk 1 partition 2” /fastdetect]
  6. Allow Windows to finish setup
  7. Fix c:boot.ini (hidden file) to set default boot to “multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)”
  8. Copy i386 from USB drive to c:
  9. Start patching and installing Dell drivers from Dell support site
  10. Curse Dell again for not providing restoration disc or thumb drive and wasting your time.


This is quick guide for me to read if I ever need to do this again (I hope not). Works for me, if it doesn’t work for you. Post questions to WinToFlash forums instead.


15 thoughts on “Re-installing Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (910) with a USB drive

  1. Feby says:

    thanks man, Works great!

    but little bit different with your given step. step no 4 to 5.

    I have to edit the boot.ini on another computer first before I can continuing the installation.

    now I’m installing the driver from

    hopes everything OK

  2. Joe says:

    So far I got it installed on my system but when I try locating c:boot.ini I can’t find it but thanks a lot for this guide it helped me more than any other instructions I got on the web

  3. Thanks dude.I tried once but i failed.I ll try again now .You know what piss me off?I m PC technician with 18 years experience.A woman gave me her dell 910 and i m trying about 4 hours to make this shit to start windows xp installation.Now think people without any experience the problems they met with this shitty awful machine.What if they are totally noob and they crash their systems rapidly?Seems they will pay lots of money to keep this crap working. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Xerocoolgr says:

    Thanks a million man. Everyone just be carefull which xp cd you are using.
    I used a clean one. Untouched.

  5. I am curently performing the SSD upgrade, using a SanDisk 16Gb USB and a KingSpec 64Gb SSD. And the file copying is taking lots of time (22% in half an hour!). What could be happening?

  6. It has worked flawlessly finally, even if it took about 3 hours to complete the file copying. Now the Mini 9 works nice and fast. Thanks a lot!!!

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