My first guess was to remove a stick of ram. I have heard that before and I was at 4G with the 2 sticks. That did not help this time. I ran the memory tests and everything was ok. I left that second stick out while doing the rest of my tests.
I looked for the error code and I found a KB article (KB930984) that described my exact problem. It indicated that my firmware on my DVD drive was causing the issue. Either update the firmware or copy the files to the disk. I copied all the files to my C: and rebooted. I let it boot from the hard drive and ran into the same issue. I saw another site suggest that the DVD drive needed to be the slave on the IDE cable. Changing the jumper didn’t fix that either. I disconnected the DVD drive and the installer required that I had one.
I thought that was odd. I had an old DVD drive that windows would see but could not see any disk inserted. I set it up and started the install over. It still complained about the DVD drive. After placing a copy of all the files and the main disk and booting from it, the install would still look for the install files on the DVD. I still had the install disk in the drive during some of my tests. That would explain me still getting the error when I thought I had ruled the DVD drive out.
After some more searching, I found the solution. Installing Vista from Hard Disk, USB Disk or Memory Stick. I selected the repair option instead of install after reading that. Ignored the drive selection and started the command prompt. I ran the fallowing commands:
The install went smooth after that. After the install finished, I reformated and installed Vista 64 bit. I was using my 32 bit disk because its a known good one. I was having issues so I wanted to eliminate variables as much as I could.
I copied all the CD files to the C: again but it failed to boot. I booted to the DVD but droped to a command line and ran the install off the hard disk. I did not have any other issues with the rest of the install. I even did that last install with both sticks of ram.