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Problems installing OS via USB

I'm not sure if mention of unlicensed Operating Systems is against the rules here, but I've been stuck with this issue for about a week and there are no up to date sources that can help me.

I have an older PC: Dell Optiplex 170L with 2x 256 RAM sticks, 2.8gh processor, pretty sure came with XP SP3 Professional. At some point it became bogged down with malware and garbage files, I simply decided to wipe and reinstall with a smaller OS that was still XP based. I found the .ISO for the OS I wanted and used my .ISO burning software to burn it to a USB to boot at BIOS. I ran into a plethora of issues that have mostly been troubleshot and bypassed, but I cannot figure out how to get it to not BSOD as soon as the installer tries to boot.

2 different 8gb USB thumb drives

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Clarification Request
Didn't mean to hit Submit....

In reply to: Problems installing OS via USB

2 different 8gb USB Lexar Thumbdrives
3 different OS .ISO files (Rev9, Rev11, Windows XP SP3) that have been redownloaded multiple times on 2 separate PCs
3 different mounting software (Rufus, PEtoUSB, UltraISO)
Upgrade to 1x 1gb ram stick
Tweaking BIOS settings

I cannot get it to actually initiate the install. It will blue screen with "Windows Setup" and unpack everything for the install, but will BSOD as soon as it gets to the "Starting up Windows" which, I assume, will start the actual hard install of the OS onto my HDD, that has since been completely wiped and overwritten (7 passes) with random values.

Extensive internet searches have brought me to 3 solutions which either don't work, are not applicable, or I don't want to use (will elaborate).

Option 1: re-download and re-mount .ISO as files may be corrupted (tried it a dozen times through various means)

Option 2: enter BIOS settings via F2, change option in "Integrated Devices" from SATA to ACPI or IDI or something to that extent (there are no such options in my BIOS setup)

Option 3: faulty hardware (If this is my problem then I'd rather not even **** around replacing parts on a 12 year old PC, but I also find it a little hard to believe that a PC, whose hardware was perfectly fine a week ago, suddenly is malfunctioning because of the install of a new OS)

There was also a mention of BIOS virus, but I used 4 different anti-malware programs (CCleaner, Avast, Malwarebytes, Windows Defender) to scan for malware system wide and fully wiped the HDD (which I know wouldn't affect the BIOS) so there should be zero malware.

I just want ANY OS back on my PC

PS: there is no disk drive, USB is my only option.

All Answers

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Can you burn it to CD instead?

In reply to: Problems installing OS via USB

XP needs to be installed that way with all retail and OEM versions. XP also requires that any pre-installed drivers be done via floppy drive. Unless your copy is some hacked version, do it the way it was intended to be done.

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In reply to: Can you burn it to CD instead?

The disk-drive was physically broken before I even received the PC, apparently it was jammed and was pried with plyers and is damaged beyond repair. I've simply unhooked it and pulled it out until I can come across a new one, but I have limited computer knowledge and fear that the new drive will not function without the drivers that won't install because it has no OS to initiate said driver install (perhaps I'm wrong on this?). Either way, no disk drive currently, USB is my only medium.

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Looks like you have your answers and options

In reply to: No

I also see only 512 megs of RAM. That's lean for XP anyway. You will need a CD ROM drive to do this and if your hard drive is SATA, you'll need to make sure the BIOS is in legacy mode or find the SATA drivers for that model. If that's the case, you'll also need a floppy drive if you're going to do this with an MS product and not the Dell image for it. As mentioned, Linux is an option but this depends on for what purpose you intend to use this machine.

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Re: options

In reply to: Looks like you have your answers and options

Later versions of XP (I think SP2 and higher) did support SATA out of the box. But nothing can be said about cracked versions, like the OP uses.

Current versions of Linux aren't very happy with 512 MB..

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I remember this. (Pepperidge Farms remembers)

In reply to: Re: options

And even XP SP2/3 would BSOD on SATA setups without drivers or BIOS change. So "SATA support" was in name only as drivers were still required.

Big waste of everyone's time as techs learned this over and over.

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In reply to: Re: options

Puppy linux or Lubuntu should be his choice with only half a gig of RAM.

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You can ask about unlicensed OSes.

In reply to: Problems installing OS via USB

Linux is not licensed either. XP is known to fail from USB installs and with CD drives about 5 dollars it's not considered something I'd cheap out on.

So where there are lots of reasons for XP to BSOD, you started off on the wrong foot with no CD drive.

Next we have the old XP and SATA drive issues. These are legend so I'll stop here.

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quit fighting with it.

In reply to: Problems installing OS via USB

Go get Linux Mint 17.2 (the currently MOST stable Linux version of Mint, especially for LIVE USB with persistence added). The MATE desktop version is closest to Windows, but the Cinnamon desktop is also good.

Get a 32 bit system to be on safe side for that older computer. Free download and "burn image" of the ISO to a DVD.

Or can order a copy from here.

See an independent review on it.

It's what I used after I left XP.

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Requiring a title is dumb

In reply to: Problems installing OS via USB

On the screen where you have the option to choose your drive press shift+f10.

In the dos type (finishing each line by pressing enter)

list disk
select disk 0
....Now exit the dos and refresh your drive list and install

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