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Old 11. Dec 2012, 06:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Installing OS on OEM laptop

My brother has a Dell Inspiron with Windows Vista on it. It's some years old, and it has gotten a bit slow. Like it's the trend nowadays, the laptop has a separate recovery partition, and Windows can be recovered from there... but I don't like it that way.

I want to format the whole hard disk, and then reinstall the OS again... maybe install Windows XP on it. Question is can I do that... will there be any problems?

I have downloaded all the drivers for the laptop from the Dell site for both Vista and XP, and my, there were many downloads .. apart from usual network, audio, and video... loads of Dell drivers and applications. That's why I dislike these OEM stuff, they just fill your system with it, whether you need it or not.

Anyways, has anyone tried doing what I want to do, on their OEM laptops?

If I decide to go ahead, how can I backup the hard disk so that in case the format and install is not successful, I can revert back to the old setup. Imaging seems to be the way?

Any other way to go about doing it? C drive is the Windows and D is the recovery partition. Can C be formatted fully, and OS reinstalled via recovery partition... all fresh and new like it was before?
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Old 11. Dec 2012, 07:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Anupam, I have tried something similar to what you want to do various times. The real stumbling block I have come across is getting the OEM's proprietary drivers properly installed. They can be a real pain even when you download them from the OEM. I would preserve the recovery partition until I had everything working. Also, I would certainly make a system image before I started anything.

If you need to go back to Vista, using the recovery partition will reformat the C: drive as part of the recovery process and put you back in the condition that it was when new. But be aware that Vista had two service packs and you must apply these. If you have an original Vista that came before the service packs, you must apply service pack 1 before you can apply service pack 2 . Then you have to download all the security updates. There are many. I recently went through this process and it took many hours.

I wish you the best of luck!
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Old 11. Dec 2012, 07:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi Anupam. I've recently done a very similar thing to what you're planning.

I used Clonezilla to image the whole HDD including the hidden recovery partition in case things went wrong. Of course I also did a manual file backup of the personal files, bookmarks, emails etc. Plus I created backups of all the drivers using 3 separate freeware programs (Double Driver, Driver Magician Lite, DriverBackup!) just in case!

I used an XP SP2 slipstreamed CD I created a while back to perform a clean install of XP. That way I got a standard installation of XP without any of the OEM bundled software. I actually left the hidden recovery partition in place in case I want to revert back to the factory configuration in future.

The XP install disk did a pretty good job of finding drivers for the built-in laptop hardware. In fact, I think I only needed to manually install additional drivers for the sound card and graphics card in order to get full functionality back. The laptop is pretty simple by todays standards though.

Good luck, and have fun!
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Old 11. Dec 2012, 08:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sope View Post

The XP install disk did a pretty good job of finding drivers for the built-in laptop hardware. In fact, I think I only needed to manually install additional drivers for the sound card and graphics card in order to get full functionality back. The laptop is pretty simple by todays standards though.

Good luck, and have fun!
I once tried installing Windows XP from a full installation disk on an IBM Thinkpad (pre-Lenovo). The recovery partition had gotten corrupted and wouldn't work so I had to use a regular Windows install. But I never could get the built-in Intel wireless to work even after I downloaded drivers. I also had to install proprietary drivers for the USB, for the audio, and other things. I never got the thing to work properly. I finally got fed up and installed Ubuntu (Hardy Heron it was back then) and everything worked without a hitch.
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Old 11. Dec 2012, 09:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Dell driver installs

Dell support for what you want to do is better than any other vendor.

The laptop will have a Service Tag that will give you access to the full specification of the original installation including all device drivers. So you can go through the list and check that all the drivers have a Windows XP version (as I expect they will).

Both XP and Vista use the same driver framework except that Vista introduces a new display driver framework. I doubt that this will be a problem given that Dell used to have the option to install XP on their Vista laptops.

General advice on driver installs

I have done new OS installs - downgrades and upgrades - on Dell, Lenovo/IBM, HP/Compaq, NEC, Toshiba, etc and have had numerous driver problems but have always been able to resolve the problem. The first issue is determining what the unidentified devices are after Windows install has completed, the second issue is getting the correct version of the drivers.

Look for driver support from organizations in this sequence:
  • vendor e.g. Dell Dimension 2400 desktop
  • motherboard maker e.g. Dell A03 motherboard
  • chipset maker e.g. Intel 845G chipset (8245/G graphics)

Install the drivers from the lowest level devices upwards:
  • CPU and chipset
  • motherboard
  • other permanent devices e.g. graphics card, HDD, network
  • temporary and external devices

For example, it is a waste of time getting the right wireless network card driver when you don't have the correct chipset driver. Installing the correct chipset drivers should also resolve most display driver problems. If you can't find the right display driver early on then up the screen resolution on Windows generic drivers as the default will be too low.

Sometimes an older version of a driver, as a contemporary of the version of Windows you're installing, will work better than a newer version. This happens occasionally.
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Last edited by Remah; 11. Dec 2012 at 10:01 PM. Reason: Clarify last paragraph
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Old 11. Dec 2012, 10:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by v.laurie View Post
I once tried installing Windows XP from a full installation disk on an IBM Thinkpad (pre-Lenovo). The recovery partition had gotten corrupted and wouldn't work so I had to use a regular Windows install. But I never could get the built-in Intel wireless to work even after I downloaded drivers. I also had to install proprietary drivers for the USB, for the audio, and other things. I never got the thing to work properly. I finally got fed up and installed Ubuntu (Hardy Heron it was back then) and everything worked without a hitch.
Maybe I was lucky with mine and didn't realise it!
(Mine was a basic NEC laptop from 2006)
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Old 12. Dec 2012, 10:55 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Anupam are you having Dell Inspiron 4010?
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Old 12. Dec 2012, 10:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks a lot for your reply guys.

Preserving the recovery partition is a good idea. I can format C and try installing an OS on that, and if it's successful, then I can just format the whole disk.

Sope, although I have downloaded the drivers, I too was going to do that.. take backup of the drivers on the system with multiple driver backup software.

BTW, have you tried restoring drivers successfully with Driver Backup! ?

Yea Vic, reinstalling the service packs and updates will be a pain.

Another pain will be to backup the present data on the disk, and it's a lot. Have to make sure everything is backed up, before I do the format.

I will make an image of the hard drive too, but before that I will uninstall all software except the pre-installed ones, so that size of image decreases. Is cloning required, or an imaging will do.

Sope, I want to install XP, because it will be devoid of all the OEM stuff, but my brother is not too keen on that.. he likes Vista ... thinks it's more safer. Let's see if I am able to convince him otherwise.

Remah, thanks for your tips, really helpful. I generally do things in that order, whenever I reinstall any OS. Earlier though, I did miss installing chipset drivers first, and sometimes had trouble installing other drivers. Now, am careful to install that first.

Thanks guys, it will be a while before I do this, have to backup, image, etc. Will reply here to tell how it went, when I do it.
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Old 12. Dec 2012, 10:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George.J View Post
Anupam are you having Dell Inspiron 4010?
Nope... Dell Inspiron 1525
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Old 12. Dec 2012, 01:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam View Post
Sope, although I have downloaded the drivers, I too was going to do that.. take backup of the drivers on the system with multiple driver backup software.

BTW, have you tried restoring drivers successfully with Driver Backup! ?
Yup, I used 3 different driver backup programs as none of them sounded 100% foolproof. As it turned out, I didn't use any of them to restore drivers. IIRC I installed the sound card drivers by pointing Windows device manager to the relevent backup folder when it asked for the driver install disk. As for the graphics display driver, I downloaded the official installer.
In use, I think I preferred Driver Magician Lite due to the fact that it lists the non-Windows drivers in red making it easier to choose which ones you want to select or omit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anupam View Post
Sope, I want to install XP, because it will be devoid of all the OEM stuff, but my brother is not too keen on that.. he likes Vista ... thinks it's more safer. Let's see if I am able to convince him otherwise.
Surely if the PC already has a Vista license key the favourable choice would be to re-install Vista. Of course that does mean having to get hold of a standard Microsoft Vista install disk (though it's quite likely you can acquire an ISO image from somewhere?)
Also, of course time is running out on XP now.
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