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Troubleshooting the Windows XP Professional Setup

By Jason Zandri
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This article covers Troubleshooting the Windows XP Professional Setup.

Troubleshooting the Windows XP Professional Setup
Usually when you are going about your Windows XP Professional installation, you will not run into any issues, particularly if you are sure that the installed system hardware meets the minimum Windows XP Professional hardware requirements by verifying all of the hardware is on the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) at the Microsoft website.

Windows XP Professional supports only the devices listed in the HCL. If your hardware isn't listed, contact the hardware manufacturer and request a Windows XP Professional driver or replace the hardware to avoid potential issues.

Support means that while the operating system may load and run on unsupported hardware and software, any issues that come up with the system will not be covered (i.e. supported) by Microsoft Technical Support if you should need to engage them.

If this has been done beforehand and issues do arise, there are a couple of "textbook" events that can be looked at first that will cover some of the more common problems you might encounter during installation and these will generally be what is at issue most of the time.

Common installation problems and Troubleshooting Tips
Media errors - When you are installing Windows XP Professional from a CD-ROM and run into problems, the quickest way to try to resolve the issue is to use a different CD-ROM. Even if the CD-ROM you are using has worked a dozen times before, the drive it is in at the time of the error may have trouble reading it or the disk itself may have been newly damaged by a fall or some other issue. You can attempt to clean a finger print laced CD-ROM as a troubleshoot point as well. If you should need to request a replacement CD-ROM, you can contact Microsoft or your point of purchase.

You can also try using a different computer and CD-ROM drive. If you can read the CD-ROM on a different computer, you can perform an over-the-network installation if that option is available to you.

If one of your Setup disks is not working, download a different set of Setup disks. (The ability to directly create setup floppies has been dropped from Windows XP. Setup boot disks are available only by download from Microsoft. The Setup boot disks are available so that you can run Setup on computers that do not support a bootable CD-ROM. There are six Windows XP Setup boot floppy disks. These disks contain the files and drivers that are required to access the CD-ROM drive through generic PCI drivers and begin the Setup process.

You may also find that the Windows XP Professional setup program is unable to copy files from the CD-ROM. In this event, it may be possible to either replace the drive with a supported drive (as this is usually the issue) or you can attempt your installation via a different method such as installing over the network (as mentioned above) or by copying the files to the local drive first, outside of the installation program, as sometimes the copy failure only crops up after the Windows XP Professional setup program is running.

Insufficient disk space errors - The current minimum hardware requirements for Windows XP Professional at the time of this writing is as follows:
  • 300MHZ or higher processor clock speed recommended (233 MHz minimum required, can be single or dual processor system) Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
  • 128MB of RAM or higher recommended (64MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
  • 1.5GB of available hard disk space
  • Super VGA (800 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor
  • CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
If you do not have 1.5GB of available hard disk space on a single partition, you will not be able to complete the installation in most cases.

You can use the setup program to create additional partitions that are large enough for the installation if there is enough space on the drive or you can elect to delete existing data on the current partition to make enough room for the installation.

Troubleshooting using Setup Logs
Windows XP Professional generates a number of log files during the setup routine that contain information that was logged during installation that will assist you when you are attempting to resolve problems that may have occurred during the setup.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - For the purpose of the Windows XP Exam you need not remember the exact contents of these files, they are supplied here so that you can get an overview of what would be in them commonly.

Error codes are often cryptic, whether in a log file or the system event viewer but taking the time to understand what error has occurred and why, will help you better understand and troubleshoot the system.

The list below outlines the purpose of each file, and also a portion of the file contents for you to examine.

Action Log (SETUPACT.LOG) - The action log records the actions that the Setup program performs in chronological order and is saved as SETUPACT.LOG. Click here for the sample log.

The setup log that I have available from my system is 165KB in size and too large to post here in its entirety, but I have cut a few sections out so that you can see what some of the entries look like.

(The SETUPACT.LOG can be found in the \Windows directory in a default Windows XP Professional installation)

As I mentioned before, the log file is much larger and has a lot more to it, but this cross section gives you an idea of what is there.

Error Log (SETUPERR.LOG) - The error log shows any errors that occurred during setup and their severity level. If errors do occur, the log viewer displays the error log at the end of setup.

(The SETUPERR.LOG can be found in the <DRIVE LETTER>\Windows directory in a default Windows XP Professional installation)

The log will be created even if no errors occur. (I do not have anything available to show you from the error log as mine is empty. Sorry.)

Setup also creates a number of additional logs during setup.

<DRIVE LETTER>\Windows\comsetup.log - Outlines installation for Optional Component Manager and COM+ components. A subsection of mine is here.

<DRIVE LETTER>\Windows\setupapi.log - Receives an entry each time a line from an .inf file is implemented. If an error occurs, this log describes the failure. A subsection of mine is here. (The full size was 245KB)

<DRIVE LETTER>\Windows\debug\NetSetup.log - Logs activity when computers join domains or workgroups. (This entire log was only 7KB, so I copied all of it). Click here for the sample log.

<DRIVE LETTER>\Windows\repair\setup.log - Provides information that is used by the Recovery Console. A subsection of mine is below. (The full size was 204KB)

TargetDirectory = "\WINDOWS"
TargetDevice = "\Device\Harddisk0\Partition3"
SystemPartitionDirectory = "\"
SystemPartition = "\Device\Harddisk0\Partition1"
Version = "WinNt5.1"
ntldr = "ntldr","3a7b2"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\kbdclass.sys = "kbdclass.sys","e756"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\mouclass.sys = "mouclass.sys","8cd9"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\usbuhci.sys = "usbuhci.sys","11ded"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\usbport.sys = "usbport.sys","22ffd"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\usbd.sys = "usbd.sys","40af"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\hidparse.sys = "hidparse.sys","acd7"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\hidclass.sys = "hidclass.sys","88de"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\usbhub.sys = "usbhub.sys","ee45"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\intelide.sys = "intelide.sys","dec0"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\pci.sys = "pci.sys","1a257"
\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\oprghdlr.sys = "oprghdlr.sys","b001"

(The whole remainder of the file looked as it does above, detailing drivers and path information for the whole system).

Well, that's a wrap for this week.

"Weak passwords trump strong security."

Jason Zandri

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