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I am trying to install Windows XP on a Compact Flash of 2 GB. I get errors during instalation of WIndows, after installing, almost never the same. My feeling is that the problem has to do with the speed of the compact flash. Does any have any ideea of this kind of problem? I used 2 or 3 compact flash and the same result. The errors are of not being able to copy something or reading something.

This is in a very "heavy" enviroment with big vibration, and for that matter I can't use harddisks and I need to use CF's

It would have been nice to hear some of the experinces in using CF's instead of harddrives.

Michael Griffin

I was under the impression you can't run ordinary MS-Windows XP from flash. Among other problems, it will want to write to the flash regularly (as if it were a hard drive), and wear it out quickly (you can only write to flash a limited number of times). If you want to use a Microsoft OS, I believe you'll need to use one of their embedded OS versions (e.g. WinCE). This isn't cheap or easy.

Most PC/104 vendors offer a free Linux OS which is tailored to their hardware, and will run diskless. It will also fit on a much smaller flash card (saving you a lot of money). If you are creating an application for example an embedded web server, this is probably by far the easiest and cheapest way to go.

Tomy Zacharia

Dear John,

An idea. You'll have to test the viability. Install XP on a normal HDD of say 2 GB. Afterwards Ghost it to the flash drive. Try and have ample RAM say about 3 maybe 4 GB. Boot using windows 98. Create a RAM-disk of 2 GB. Copy the XP installation to RAM disk. Start XP from RAM disk. I don't
know whether XP can be started this way (win 98 had this capability by running win at command prompt). This might result in boot times of 15-30 mins depending on speed of the flash.

Now for any data that needs long term storage, write it to a separate partition on the flash. This way, the risk of losing flash memory due to frequent read-writes can be avoided. In addition I am not aware of copyright implications, etc.

Best of luck.

Tomy Zacharia

Michael Griffin

Typical specs for a PC/104 CPU board is a maximum of 64 MB of RAM, and a 100 Mhz (fanless) CPU. The largest RAM capacity that I've seen is 512 MB. Copying the entire flash card to RAM doesn't look too promising. The estimated boot time of up to half an hour doesn't look very appealing either.

A PC/104 typically uses an x86 architecture, but is not a "PC". If the need is simply for a more conventional "PC" in a small form factor, then a mini-ITX board may be a better choice.

As I mentioned in a previous reply, many of the PC/104 manufacturers offer a compact Linux OS which is customised to their hardware, and which is suitable for embedded applications (and often includes an Apache web server). This will fit on a fairly small flash card. For example, Tri-M offers "LinuxMZ" in image sizes starting at 32 Meg, and runs in 8 Meg of RAM.