Saturday, May 14, 2011

Preparing a Bootable USB to Install Windows 7 on Asus 1215B

Asus 1215B perhaps put the components together around Fusion APU the best way. Great design, brushed aluminum finish and quality components. However, with 12" form factor it could not house an optical drive. It's the typical problem of notebooks with sizes below 13". So, if the product ships without any OS preinstalled you are left with just two options - 1. try installing an OS using a borrowed/bought USB optical drive, and 2. prepare a bootable USB with the OS of your choice.

I don't have a USB optical drive, and none around me has the same. Bootable USB was the way to go. Had it been installing Linux I could have done that either using plain dd command or unetbootin tool. But from what I see this gadget still doesn't have out-of-the-box support in Linux land. I am sure things will improve with kernel 2.6.38. Meanwhile Windows 7 is the best OS for this notebook. But, creating a bootable Windows 7 usb on a linux machine demands you to get dirty with the commandline.

I did try packing Windows 7 iso image into a USB drive using dd (the most common disk copy method, what I did was "dd if=/home/msahu/Window7Ult.iso of=/dev/sdb1"). The installation started but got stuck mid-way. Then I followed the old tried/tested formula, and it worked like a charm. Here is the rundown of the same:

1. blanked the usb drive
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 bs=446 count=1

2. ran fdisk
fdisk /dev/sdb1

3. removed all the partition of that usb drive, created just one primary partition and turned on the boot flag

4. converted the usb filesystem to ntfs
mkfs.ntfs /dev/sdb1

5. finally extracted the contents of Windows 7 iso image to the usb drive and booted Asus 1215B using that drive

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