Monday, February 23, 2009

Install Windows without disk drive

I've been searching for a long time to find an easy way to install Windows, only by booting from an USB-stick: no disk drive, no floppy disk, no pre-installed version of any OS required. Many resources talk about this on the net, but only one could do everything I needed and is really very easy to use!

The best freeware utility I could find so far is called WinSetupFromUSB. It has a very straightforward GUI and everything you need is included. It allows you to copy source files from a Windows setup image and copy them to your USB stick. Next you can easily boot from the USB stick (if supported by your PC and stick). I was able to install Windows 7 Beta from my USB stick with this nice tool.

  • multiple Windows XP/2kX sources in the same partition (up to 10). They have to be in the first partition of the disk! Existing folders ~BT and ~LS and TXTSETUP.SIF will be renamed, and SETUPLDR.BIN and SETUPDD.SYS patched against the new names. Checksum checks are also corrected. BTS OEM folders are supported and renamed accordingly.
  • BartPE/WinBulder/UBCD4Win/WinFLPC (NOT ramdisk versions) to any primary partition. Multiple BartPE for example, in the SAME partition are NOT supported. Neither is the mix of them on a single partition.
  • Vista setup to different primary partitions. Multiple Vista sources in the SAME partition are NOT supported. Place your second Vista setup in another partition. It can be placed on any primary partition.
  • GParted 0.3.4-8 and 0.3.6-7, excellent open source partition manager.
  • SyLinux bootsector, and optionally folder, containing (Linux) distro, booting off SysLinux. For example you may extract UBCD411.ISO, and point it to this folder. Entire contents will be copied and entry for SysLinux will be added to the boot menu.
  • detects UBCD4Win and uses multiboot menu for it if folder IMAGES is found. Only default UBCD4Win multiboot options are added. Edit UBCD4Win.lst to add custom ones.
  • UBCD4Win boot menu is adjusted to boot from the selected partition. It can be placed on any primary partition.
  • if Windows setup folders (~BT and ~LS) and txtsetup.sif coexist in the same partition as BartPE/WinBuilder/UNCD4Win/WinFLPC, SETUPLDR.BIN of the latter is patched not to use txtsetup.sif in root. Checksum checks are also corrected.
  • grub4dos is the main bootloader/manager. Without it's advanced features, multiple partitions will not be easily achieved.
  • Bootsector loading GRLDR is installed in the active partition of the selected disk. Hence the requirement for active partition and MBR.
  • detailed log file is created in the folder, where program is executed from. Use it for troubleshooting. Upon next execution if log file is found, it's compressed in MS cab format, removed to BACKUPS folder and renamed with current DATE/TIME stamp.
  • upon installing grub4dos bootsector, backup of MBR and bootsector with DATE/TIME stamp are placed in BACKUPS folder. Use it in case something goes wrong.
  • if in Windows source folder winnt.sif or unattend.txt are found they will be used as answer file. Section UNATTENDED will be temporarily removed, only for the Text part of setup, and before start of GUI mode it will be merged back. PRESETUP.CMD is used for this purpose.
  • option to start the prepared USB disk in QEMU for testing purposes. Use carefully at own risk, do not attempt write operations!
  • tooltips on almost every element in the GUI
  • for multi partition USB stick use the cmd files in "files\tools\MULTIpartitionUSBstick". Works for 32bits Windows only! This is not thoroughly tested option, use at your risk.
Please read the included ReadMe.txt, it should help you get started. When in doubt hold the mouse over the element, a tooltip should help you with the choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment