Problem installing XP on IBM X21 without recovery disk

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Problem installing XP on IBM X21 without recovery disk

#1 Post by dorkbot » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:53 pm

Hi all, I have an IBM X21 on which I'm trying to do a clean install of WinXP. I inherited this from a friend who wanted all the data wiped, so I reformatted the hard drive. No original disks, and no R&R backup partition left. Whoops. Now I can't get XP to install.

When I run installer, it hangs with 35 minutes remaining. This model has the CD drive and floppy on the dock, so I've been told it's likely a driver problem (system reads drive as an external device, tries to load driver, hangs because install is running off disk...). My friend had previously installed XP. If he used a recovery disk, it's been lost to antiquity.

I found this workaround ( ... cdrom.html).

But I can't boot into Recovery > Command Prompt from my XP install disk to copy over install files, so I hit a wall after the "format drive" step (i.e. step 1). I read that it might help to update BIOS as well, but I don't know how to do that without hitting the same wall.

I'm just a clever monkey, so it's quite possible this workaround is beyond my intelligence, without more NASA training or alien implants.

Plan C: Find replacement recovery disk.

* I went on the Lenovo site and found that they sell OS recovery disks for older ThinkPads. Great!!!
* I called them to buy the disks. I was told my X21 is compatible with XP. Great!!!
* Then I asked if I could buy recovery disks. Nope!!!

My machine came with Windows 2000, but they no longer sell those recovery disks. My machine is XP compatible. I have a legal copy of Windows XP. I have the CD key from my Win2000 install. And they still won't sell me the disks. The upshot: Lenovo will ONLY sell you recovery disks that have the OS that your computer came with, and they no longer sell disks for OS versions prior to XP. Which of course is also going to be phased out soon.

So my first question is, would having the ThinkPad-specific R&R recovery disk actually solve my problem?

Secondly, any other suggestions?

I'd consider taking this to a local repair professional, and there's a guy nearby that charges around $100 an hour. But I'd rather not spend $100 to install OS a computer that is only worth $200. I'm already taking a loss, as I'm donating it to a family member. Dear old Auntie Koko.

Thanks for reading. Any input appreciated.

PS: I didn't find out how much the cost of the XP replacement disks were. I was so flabbergasted at being refused, I forgot to ask! If you want to buy ThinkPad recovery disks (XP, Vista, Windows 7) you have to call Lenovo Tech Support at 800-426-7378, and "you may be charged for the call" if you aren't under warranty or a service agreement. I told the guy how stupid that was. He agreed and said he'd pass that along. Also just FYI, I had a positive experience with all 3 people I spoke to at IBM/Lenovo... they just couldn't help me.

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Re: Problem installing XP on IBM X21 without recovery disk

#2 Post by ozzymud » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:07 pm

iirc 33-35 minutes is when hardware is probed, have you tried rebooting at this point (without the cd in the drive)? Might take several tries (Windows setup will try to skip the area that caused the hang)

If that don't work, see this for a more manual approach: ... te-hiccup/
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Re: Problem installing XP on IBM X21 without recovery disk

#3 Post by rkawakami » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:11 pm

Welcome to!

I have seen this hang occur before, mostly on T2x systems. In every case it was a defective MiniPCI card. Remove it and see if that helps. You will need to take the keyboard off to gain access to the card. The Hardware Maintenance Manual has all of the details: ... UZMN7.html
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Re: Problem installing XP on IBM X21 without recovery disk

#4 Post by dorkbot » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:00 pm

Hi guys, thank you for the responses. I finally hired a guy to help me. I've passed on the links to him in hopes that he can get me the rest of the way there. I've made a note to report back our results.

UPDATE: Ray, you were right - we removed the MiniPCI network card - worked like a charm! After successful XP install, he put it back in, computer froze. Bad card. My repair guy didn't know about this issue before I shared your suggestion, so thanks very much from both of us!

Now, if I can just figure out how to get it on my WPA2 network, I'm in business...


I'm using a Linksys WPC54G wireless network adapter card as my network connection. I installed the latest Linksys driver, as well as XP SP2, and that got it working on WPA (yay!), but not WPA2 (boo!). Linksys says that hardware doesn't support WPA2; however, several people have noted success with a third party (unsupported) driver, Zyxel G-162. The file name is

I have not confirmed that this works, but If you want to try it, here are some links: ... r.0.0.html ... 41702.html

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