First of all, I'm not a computer scientist, so please don't be too harsh with me with respect to mistakes...

I've got a spectrometer which communicates via Ethernet (IPX) with a computer. Now this instrument has a software package (on a USB drive) provided by the manufacturer, which only runs on Windows XP. Furthermore, the manufacturer has supplied me with a sort of emergency system, which is essentially an installation (USB) drive that installs Windows XP as well as all the necessary software packages.

Now the computer (HP Compaq DC5800) I am supposed to use, has nothing installed on it, and I also don't have a Windows XP installation disk, whence I'm left with installing the "emergency" system from the USB drive. I've therefore booted from the USB drive and completed the installation. The problem I'm left with is, that this system (Windows XP plus the spectrometer's software package) either doesn't have or can't install the drivers necessary to use the on-board network card. I've now tried several things, which unfortunately all didn't resolve the issue: Firstly, I downloaded drivers from the HP support site and tried to install those. Secondly, I bought a new network card (UGREEN PCI express) plugged it into the motherboard and tried to install the driver from the CD provided by the manufacturer. Both things didn't work.

My next idea now would be to install a Linux distribution on the computer, and then install the "emergency" system in a virtual box: This way, the Linux system communicates with one of the two network cards and provides an interface the emergency system can cope with.

My questions would be: (a) Have I overlooked a possible solution? (b) Is the idea of doing it via a virtual machine promising, and if it is, what distribution and what VM should I use? (I've used Ubuntu and Debian Linux before, although not on a level where I could resolve driver issues, and I've never used a VM before)

I'd be really grateful for any help, as otherwise I'm left with buying a used PC that has Windows XP on it and comes with God knows what kind of problems...

  • What are the specs of your HP Compaq DC5800? Processor and number of cores? Total Memory? 64bit machine? Hard drive size? Will there be any other info or OSs on the hard drive?
    – jc__
    Jul 12, 2018 at 15:12
  • Before you go hunting for more difficult options. Are you sure that you tried installing the right drivers for your network card? support.hp.com/us-en/drivers/selfservice/… lists 9 different network drivers under windows XP 32-bit for that model (also are you sure it's 32 bit too?). Do you know which card you have? Jul 12, 2018 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


How to install a minimal linux OS with a virtual machine to run Windows XP.

This may or may not be the best solution for you...

With this setup Windows XP running in a VM, Windows will interact with the virtual hardware, not the host "bare metal" hardware. The virtual hardware is fairly generic and XP should not have too many issues with it.

I do not have a HP Compaq DC5800.


  • 2GB or more memory
  • 3GHz single core or better μProcessor. 64bit.

Built this example in VirtualBox with similar specs.

Keep your linux install lean and only install what you require.

Install Ubuntu 16.04.x LTS server from iso. Xenial Xerus

BIOS MBR disk setup. (swap partition at memory size.)

  • [Guided - use entire disk] (Not default)


  • [No automatic updates] (Do not want out VM install to break on an update. Update manually)

Software Selection: (minimal. Install the rest later)

  • [standard system utilities]
  • [OpenSSH server]


Update the OS:

  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
  • reboot

Clear your APT cache (limited disk space after all.)

  • sudo rm /var/cache/apt/archives/*.deb

Remove what you will not use:

  • sudo apt-get remove --purge snap*

Install a GUI:

  • sudo apt-get install lxde-core lxdm xorg
  • lxde-core -- lxde desktop without all the extras like office etc...
  • lxdm -- GUI login screen
  • xorg -- linux GUI base

Install the Virtual Machine Vbox

  • sudo apt-get install virtualbox virtualbox-guest-additions-iso virtualbox-qt
  • virtualbox -- Virtual machine
  • virtualbox-guest-additions-iso -- Virtual box "extras" that allow USB 2+, clipboard copy between host and client, etc...
  • virtualbox-qt -- A GUI for Virtualbox
  • reboot -- sudo shutdown -r now

Now is the time for you to setup any drivers that the Ubuntu host requires. These are specific to your hardware. Graphic card drivers (nvidia...)

Recommend to use the repo versions...

Now that you are content with the host setup, Install the OS (Windows XP) in VirtualBox.

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