Install Windows from USB Flash

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Mardak, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #1
    Would it be possible to install Windows (7) for BootCamp from a USB Flash Drive instead of burning it to a DVDROM?

    Installing Windows (Vista) from a Flash Drive [live.com] is possible and potentially faster than installing from DVD or ethernet. I'm assuming this should work for Windows 7 as well.

    So the question that remains is if BootCamp can boot? install from? USB. (I've never tried BootCamp, so I'm not familiar with the process of even starting an install.)

    (I don't think it'll affect much, but I'm using a new Al MacBook.)
     
  2. Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Missouri
    #2
    No, I don't think BC will recognize a USB drive as a boot option.
     
  3. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    #3
    Damn. I was also hoping to install Windows 7 from a flash drive as my DVD burns have been failing (tried 5 times).

    Can anyone else confirm/deny his claim?
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 27, 2007
    Location:
    Montreal Canada
    #4
    I would like to know the answer to this as well.
     
  5. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    #5
    From what I've read, that method will work for Windows 7 on a PC/anything that allows you to boot off of USB. I'm not sure about the new Unibody Mac's, but unfortunately the old MB/P's EFI is unable to boot legacy OS's (Windows & Linux) off of USB. The same is probably true for the Unibody Mac's but it wouldn't hurt to try.

    Booting into a bootloader that allows you to boot the Windows 7 installation from a USB drive should work, this is what I'm currently trying to do to bypass the USB boot limitation on my MBP with a busted superdrive.

    As for BootCamp, it's nothing but a glorified partition editor that has nothing to do with the boot process.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    #6
    I'm not sure about Windows 7, but it's not possible on Vista and XP. I recall reading something about the USB port turning off halfway in the boot-up process, and I figure it should be the same for Windows 7.

    Your best bet (and probably your only bet) would be to burn it into a DVD.
     
  7. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    #7
    cathyy, I work in a school and we have a group of netbooks, all of which have had microsoft XP installed through a USB pen drive. We have also installed Vista with this method.

    We are currently trying to install Windows 7 in the same way, so I will let you know how it goes
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #8
    It is possible because thats how I installed Windows 7 on my Rev. A. MBP.

    First make sure that you have first made the USB flash bootable by following the instructons in Mardak's first post an copied the Windows DVD/ISO to the flash drive as instructed. I also copied the Boot Camp drivers folder on to the flash drive as well for convenience.

    You need to download and install rEFIt on your OSX drive. This allows more EFI options during the boot process, e.g. booting another operating system besides OSX off of USB drive.

    Plug in the USB flash drive, boot your Mac, hold down Option, select the rEFIt option on the boot menu then you should see the USB drive as an option to boot. You also need to do the following to allow Boot Camp to run successfully under Windows 7 - you can install the drivers manually but some options like keyboard support don't work this way.

     
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #9
    What exactly are you referring to? The USB flash should have a FAT32 partition with a GUID partition map?

    I've tried both Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and FAT on GUID, but both don't seem to work; however, with the Mac OS Extended partition, rEFIt sees the USB drive but I keep getting "Error: Unsupported while loading bootmgr.efi" when selecting the USB drive from rEFIt.
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #10
    You need to format the drive with FAT32 and MBR partition map not GUID. MBR is needed for a bootable Windows drive. GUID is used to boot OSX on Intel Macs.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #11
    I reformatted my USB Flash to MBR with a FAT32 partition for my MacBook5,1.

    I also copied the boot directory contents under /efi/microsoft directory to /boot.

    I get one of these two errors from rEFIt:

    Error: Unsupported while loading bootmgr.efi
    Error: No mapping returned from cdboot.efi

    Should I be doing something from the rEFIt shell?

    (Just to clarify if it wasn't clear. I'm trying to install from a USB Flash with the contents of the Windows 7 iso -- not install Windows 7 to a USB flash and boot from it. You mentioned booting a Windows drive from FAT32, but I'm not sure if that's as important for the installer.)
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
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    London
    #12
    Do you have access to a PC running Vista? I've got a feeling OSX isn't formatting the flash drive correctly. I did the following on my flash drive in Vista - the same procedure you linked to in your first post - and it worked for me. If you don't try formatting the flash drive via Disk Utility to FAT32 (MS-DOS) and MBR partition map. Then drag and drop the contents of the Windows 7 ISO directly to the root directory of the flash drive. Make sure the root directory matches that of the W7 ISO exactly.

     
  13. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #13
    I've got a machine with XP, but I had to install an unofficial Microsoft virtual CD tool to mount the ISO. Now when I boot up in rEFIt, it gives an option..

    Boot Windows from USBCARD

    But when I select it..

    Starting legacy loader
    Using load options 'USB'
    Error: Not Found returned from legacy loader

    The firmware refused to boot from the selected volume. Note that external hard drives are not well-supported by Apple's firmware for legacy OS booting.

    Perhaps it's something with the newest unibody MacBooks.
     
  14. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #14
    Have you got Fusion or Parallels? Or try burning the ISO to DVD. Maybe the ISO is corrupt but if it boots in Fusion or Parallels you know it's OK.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #15
    The ISO for the 64bit was fine. The md5 and sha1 both matched up.

    I also tried the 32bit version, and I ran into the same problem of "legacy boot firmware issues."

    However, I just tried the 32bit version on my USB flash on my 6 year old PC, and it's booting just fine after I select the USB boot option. So I guess it's just something rEFIt + unibody MacBook doesn't support.
     
  16. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    #16
    Same here,

    funkymunky, you're the only person I've heard of so far who managed to do this,


    It's this problem: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=510030&page=9


    I'm on MBPC2D on Leopard with MBP21.00A5.B08, 1.14f5, rEFIt 0.12

    I've tried this several times now, even with a firewire drive, and it still gives the same problem,



    Starting legacy loader
    Using load option 'USB'
    Error: Not Found returned from legacy loader
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Not Found returned from LocateDevicePath
    Error: Load Error while (re)opening our installation volume

    The firmware refused to boot from the selected volume. Note that external
    hard drives are not well-supported by Apple's firmware for legacy OS booting.

    * Hit any key to continue *
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #17
    I thought for a minute that it might be the 64-bit version of W7 as this has a problem with efi booting as listed for Vista here.

    Mardak, you say you've tried 32-bit and that also failed, correct? I've installed on a Rev. A. MBP 15-inch with 32-bit W7.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    #18
    That's correct. I tried the 32bit one and it gave the same legacy boot problem, but it works fine on my Dell desktop.

    Curious, what option in rEFIt did you select?
     
  19. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #19
    The boot from USB drive option, far right.
     
  20. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    South Texas
    #20
    So if I follow this instructions here, I'll be able to install any Windows OS into my Intel Macbook (4,1 I believe) through a USB drive or USB pen drive? My Macbook's superdrive is busted...
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #21
    Thats the theory yes. Some people are having problems though. It worked for me first time but I'm on an old(ish) Mac. Think it might have something to do with the unibody notebooks.
     
  22. macrumors 68020

    MattZani

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    Im hoping to do this too, as i have no DVD-R's. Will try tomorrow. Would be great if this worked for Snow Leopard too!
     
  23. macrumors 68020

    MattZani

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #23
    rEFIt isnt even seeing my 8Gb USB Stick Formatted to MS-DOS with the W7 ISO on, the USB is working as the light is pulsing, but rEFIt see's nothing.

    Trying 10.6 now, to see if the .iso couldnt be seen, and the .dmg can, either way i want them both installed.
     
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    #24
    Same problem as matt for me. My USB drive isn't showing up with rEFIt. Would this mean I haven't correctly copied the Win 7 files over and refit recognizes that the usb drive isn't bootable or would it show up none the less?

    edit: Rev B mba
     
  25. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    #25
    Press Option on Startup Even with rEFIt

    @ MattZani, kinkster:

    I encountered the same problem and nearly gave up until I realized that even if you have rEFIt set to 'enabled-always', it won't detect CDs or USB drives unless you press Option on startup, select rEFIt in Apple's built-in boot menu, and then you'll get the rEFIt boot screen complete with CDs and USB drives.

    Unfortunately I'm about to give up again, because I'm getting the same error message Mardak is getting:

    Code:
    Starting legacy loader
    Using load options 'USB'
    Error: Not Found returned from legacy loader
    
    The firmware refused to boot from the selected volume. Note that external
    hard drives are not well-supported by Apple's firmware for legacy OS booting.
    Although the fact that I'm on a Al MacBook too does seem to lend credence to Mardak's suggestion that it's a problem with the new MacBook, I still don't believe it. Perhaps someone with more expertise can tell us exactly what rEFIt can't find?

    Mardak, if you have any progress please post, many will be grateful. Thefunkymunky, did you actually use the instructions in the first post, or did you follow a different but seemingly equivalent tutorial? Perhaps there's some nuanced step we're all skipping.

    When I have the opportunity, I'm going to attempt to boot a PC and a crusty old white MacBook from my USB drive, which I'm pretty sure is fine. I'll report back here when I do.

    I'm trying to boot Tiny XP on a Late 2008 Aluminum "Unibody" 2.4 GHz MacBook5,1.

    Many thanks,

    Han
     

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