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Once upon a time I was trying to edit an end of semester group report for a class and I got a little sidetracked. I wanted to install Windows XP in VirtualBox using SATA. Why? Just because. As far as I can tell, there is no appreciable difference between a virtual hard drive attached to a virtual IDE controller versus a virtual SATA controller.

The hitch is that the Windows XP installer doesn’t come with built in SATA drivers for the controller VirtualBox uses, so the installer will tell you that it can’t see a hard drive to install on to. Work around:

  1. Download the Intel drivers and extract the executable (f6flpy32.exe) from the zip file
  2. Download UnZip (choose unz552xN.exe from the list) and run, this will extract a bunch of utilities, the one we want is unzip.exe (you don’t need to use UnZip if you have another program that can get files from within a self-extracting executable)
  3. Open a command prompt Window (preferably using “Run As Administrator”) and navigate to the directory that has both f6flpy32.exe and unzip.exe
  4. Type “unzip f6flpy32.exe” and hit Enter, this will extract the file F32.IMA
  5. Use the Virtual Media Manager in Virtual box to set up F32.IMA as a Floppy Image
  6. Start your Windows XP virtual machine and run the installation CD. When the blue screen prompts you, hit F6 to choose a third party driver.
  7. Choose Devices\Mount Floppy Image\Floppy Image in the VirtualBox windows to mount the image you just set up
  8. When the blue screen prompt you, hit S to find another driver on a floppy, and then Enter.
  9. Four driver options should appear in the list. The second one worked for me, and allowed me to continue with the setup process.

Sources: Intel drivers for SATA and LAN controllersHow to install Windows 2000/XP/2003 guests with SATA supportVista kernel – IDE to SATA conversion VB 1.6.0 & 1.6.2

UPDATE: Once I got XP installed, I also installed the Guest Additions, but the network still wasn’t working, because I had selected the “Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop” adapter rather than the default AMD adapter. To get this working I found and downloaded the drivers from Intel, and then set up a shared folder and mounted it as a network drive to be able to copy the driver setup file from my Vista host to my XP guest system. Once I ran the Intel driver setup, everything worked great.