Sim-Ex™ Tutorial for A+ : Operating Systems

2. Installation, Configuration, and Upgrading

2.1 Identify the procedures for installing Windows 9x/Me, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows XP, and bringing the operating system to a basic operational level.

  • Verify hardware compatibility and minimum requirements
  • Determine OS installation options
    • Installation type (typical, custom, other)
    • Network configuration
    • File system type
    • Dual Boot Support
  • Disk preparation order (conceptual disk preparation)
    • Start the installation
    • Partition
    • Format drive
  • Run appropriate set up utility
    • Setup
    • Winnt
  • Installation methods
    • Bootable CD
    • Boot floppy
    • Network installation
    • Drive Imaging
  • Device Driver Configuration
    • Load default drivers
    • Find updated drivers
  • Restore user data files (if applicable)
  • Identify common symptoms and problems

Note: We discuss installation or diagnosis using Windows XP or Windows 2000 for simplicity, and convenience. It is beyond the scope of our tutorial to discuss various operating systems, and installation methods exhaustively.

Verify hardware compatibility and minimum requirements

Earlier days, hardware was very expensive and it is felt that the hardware requirements for installing modern Windows Operating Systems such as Windows XP or Vista were very demanding. However, things have changed since then and the prices for hardware have shrunk. Therefore, for a relatively newly purchased PC compatible, you don't have to worry about minimum hardware requirements. You may still have to take care of compatibility issues, specifically, if you buying an unbranded computer. For this purpose, a Hardware Compatible List (HCL) is provided by modern Windows Operating systems. Check HCL before proceeding with installation or upgrade of OS. You may need to check for compatibility not only for the OS but also for applications that you may intend to run on the computer.

Determine OS installation options

  • Installation type (typical, custom, other)
  • Network configuration
  • File system type
  • Dual Boot Support

1. Installation type: You need to determine whether you require a standard installation or a custom installation. Usually, standard installation will install all standard components as specified in the installation screens. For stand-alone computer installations this is normally the preferred method of OS installation. If your computer is going to work in any network environment, ask your network administrator for suitable option.

2. Network configuration: You can configure network options during installation of the Operating System itself. Remember that you can also configure after the OS installation is completed. It is preferred to install any network components that are not automatically detected during installation, be installed after the completion of OS installation.

3. File system type: If you are installing Windows 9x, you may need to choose between FAT and FAT32. Usually, FAT32 is recommended because of several advantages available with FAT32, such as large disk support. If you are installing Windows XP or Windows 2000 or later OS, you have additional option of choosing NTFS. What I recommend is to choose FAT32 during installation, and convert a given directory to NTFS at a later date depending on your specific requirements. Though NTFS is not recognised by Windows 9x computers, it has additional advantages of file encryption, and security. Compatibility is the most important aspect that you need to consider before upgrading any existing FAT32 partition.

4. Dual Boot Options: Many a times, we use multiple Operating Systems on a single desk top computer. It is possible to use two or more (up to four?) Operating Systems on a computer. For example, you can have both Windows 9x as well as Windows XP on the same computer. This is called dual boot environment. A boot menu at the start up asks you which Operating System you want to boot. Note that you can't switch from one OS to another without shutting down the computer.

Note the following important points while preparing a computer for dual-boot:

Normally, a dual boot system can contain one of:

  • Windows 9x (Windows 95 or Windows 98)
  • Windows ME

Any number of:

  • Windows NT 4
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP (Home or Professional)

Windows 9x or ME must be installed on the 'C' drive as these require DOS files resident on the system drive.

Each NT, 2000 or XP operating system should be installed on a different disk partition (different drive). The disk partition can be on the same or different physical disk.

Disk preparation order (conceptual disk preparation)

  • Pre-installation checklist
  • Start the installation
  • Partition
  • Format drive

1. Pre-installation checklist:

a. Have your Windows XP CD, and the Product Key ready. Usually, the product key is written on the CD cover. It is a good idea to write it on the CD itself (write it on the label side of the CD). We often end-up searching for the CD cover while the installation is in progress!

b. Ensure that all the computer hardware is integrated, and ensure that you have connected your keyboard, mouse, CD drive properly.

c. Ensure that the XP drivers for your hardware (Motherboard, keyboard, monitor, mouse, etc) is available. The computer vendor supplies the driver software when you buy the computer. It is very important that this software is available for the motherboard, and CDROM drive. Usually, the keyboard, and mouse are recognized automatically, and doesn't require separate driver installation.

Note: If you are re-installing, back-up all your data if you are re-installing Windows XP. All your data will be lost during the installation process.

2. Start the Installation, Partition, and Format

Usually, if you are installing from scratch, it starts in text mode. Important text mode screens are discussed below. This part of installation corresponds to partitioning the hard drive, and formatting it. It is recommended that you plan your hard disk partition before proceeding with the installation. It is highly recommended that you make at least two partitions (C: and D:).

Tip: Never install the Operating System on the entire hard disk, using single partition. If you are a serious user of computer, many a times you come across broken Operating System. Your only option may be to re-install. Keeping ALL of your data on second partition (say D) will save you from lot of work.

1. Insert the Windows XP CD into CDROM drive and restart your computer.

2. You will be prompted to "Press any key to boot from the CD", then press SPACEBAR. If you miss the prompt, restart the and try again.

3. Windows XP Setup begins. On the "Welcome to Setup" page, press ENTER.

4. On the Windows XP Licensing Agreement page, press the PAGE DOWN key to scroll to the bottom of the agreement, and press F8.

5. This screen enables you to select the hard disk partition on which Windows XP will be installed. For a re-install, it is very important that you have a recent backup copy of your data before proceeding with hard disk partitioning.. Choose appropriate option in this screen to have atleast two partitions (C and D). and choose partition C for installation of the Operating System.

6. Press ENTER to select Unpartitioned space.

7. Choose FAT or NTFS format by using up/down keys. The default format option is NTFS.

8. Windows XP erases the chosen hard disk drive, formats, and and then copies the setup files. This process may take up to 20 minutes.

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