How to install Windows 7 on an IdeaPad S10 (or other netbook) without a DVD drive

How to install Windows 7 on an...
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Windows 7
Windows 7

February 9, 2009 So you want to install the Windows 7 beta on your IdeaPad S10, or another netbook without an optical drive. A Google search will turn up hundreds of guides, but we've read nearly all of them, and they either assume you have access to a Windows Vista machine, are needlessly complicated, or just plain don't work. This guide might not have pretty pictures guiding you along the way, and you'll need to deal with a command prompt, but hey - it works.

Before you get started

I can verify that this guide will get you up and running with Windows 7 on a Lenovo IdeaPad S10. It should work with other netbooks, and indeed, any machine without a DVD drive, but I can't make any promises.

Required Hardware

All you'll need is a USB DVD drive, or a 4GB (or higher) USB flash drive. The DVD drive will make things a lot easier, and renders a majority of this guide unnecessary, but a 4GB flash drive can be had for around US$10, and you might just have one lying around already.

If you do go the DVD route, the only part of this guide that will interest you is the partitioning guide which enables you to "dual-boot" Windows 7 and Windows XP.

Required Software

There's four pieces of software you'll need to get up and running, and luckily, they're all free.

GParted Live - to partition your hard drive.

WinRAR - to extract the Windows 7 ISO.

HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - to format your USB drive as NTFS.

MBRwizard! - to set your USB drive partition to Active in order to boot from it.

Determine which drive letter your USB drive is mounting as

A number of times throughout the guide I will refer to "X:" - and you'll need to substitute X with the drive letter your USB drive is mounting as. An IdeaPad S10 leaves the factory with drives C, D and (a hidden) E taken up by three partitions on the built-in hard drive, so your USB drive should be mounting as F, but it's worth double checking before you get started.

To do this, go to My Computer with the USB drive plugged in, locate the USB drive and look at the value in brackets next to the "label", or the name of the drive.

Partition your hard drive

You can skip this step if you don't want a dual-boot Windows XP/Windows 7 machine, however we highly recommend that you do so. Windows 7 is beta software, and there's a chance that a piece of software or peripheral that you rely on won't play nicely with it.

First, back up all your important data. I went the extra step and created a restore image with Lenovo OneKey Recovery. Incase you're wondering, you won't need to defragment your hard drive before starting - GParted can deal with it.

- Download GParted Live.

- Extract the files and copy them to your USB drive.

- Navigate to X:/utils/win32 and run makeboot.bat. NB: Do not run makeboot.bat from your hard drive!

- Reboot.

- If GParted doesn't boot, and you end up back at your old Windows XP installation, it looks like your USB drive doesn't support booting. Sorry, nothing I can do about this - try another one.

- If GParted does boot, it will prompt you for your language, "keymap" and screen resolution. You can safely select the defaults for all of these options.

- Once GParted is up and running, select /dev/sda1 and click "Resize/Move".

- Use the right slider to set the new size for sda1. Mine was around 100GB, and I split this into two 50GB partitions, but it's up to you how you set this up - although you'll want 20GB for your Windows 7 partition as a bare minimum.

- Apply the changes. This took about 5 minutes for me.

- Select the unallocated space we've just created, and select New from the Partition menu, or press Ctrl + N.

- Make it an NTFS partition, and set the label to windows7 so you won't forget which one it is come time to install Windows 7.

- Apply the changes.

- Reboot.

Extract the Windows 7 installation files

Locate the Windows 7 ISO, right click the file and select "Extract to 7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULFRE_EN_DVD\" from the context menu.

If you're not comfortable navigating your hard drive at the command prompt, it's best if you do this on your desktop, or move the resulting folder to your desktop after extraction. This way, you'll be able to follow this guide exactly.

Extract MBRwizard

Locate, right click the file and select "Extract to MBRWiz2.0\" from the context menu.

Much like the last step, if you're not comfortable with a command prompt, it's best you do this on your desktop, or move the resulting folder to your desktop after extraction so you can follow this guide exactly.

Prepare your USB drive

You'll need a bootable, NTFS-formatted USB drive to boot and install Windows 7. If you've already tried to format a USB drive to NTFS using Windows XP, you'll have realized that Windows XP can only format to FAT32. Fortunately, there's a way to get things to work.

- First, use the HP tool to format your USB drive to NTFS. Don't use Quick Format.

- Open a command prompt by opening the Start Menu, clicking "Run", and typing "cmd" + Enter. The prompt should read "C:\Documents and Settings\[your username]>".

- Type "cd Desktop" + Enter

- Type "cd 7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULFRE_EN_DVD" + Enter

Tip: you can just type "cd 70" and hit Tab to automatically complete a filename/directory. Provided there's no other folders starting with "70" on your desktop, you won't have to type out that monstrocity of a directory.

- Type "cd boot" + Enter

- Type "bootsect /nt60 X:" + Enter

- Type "cd ../MBRWiz2.0" + Enter

- Type "mbrwiz /list" + Enter

If you only have one hard drive in your netbook, and only one USB drive plugged in, there should only be two drives listed here, and the USB drive should be disk 1. If you used a 4GB drive, the size of disk 1 should be 3.8GB.

- Type "mbrwiz /disk=Y /active=1" (Where Y is the disk number of your USB drive)

- Don't shut the command prompt yet - there's one final step.

Copy the Windows 7 installation files to your USB drive

The finish line is in sight!

- Navigate to the directory where you extracted the Windows 7 ISO. If you've followed this guide to the letter, just type "cd ../70" + Tab + Enter.

- Type "xcopy *.* X: /e" + Enter.

This will take a while, and unfortunately, you don't get a progress bar. Go make a cup of tea, and/or smoke 'em if you got 'em.

That's it!

Reboot your machine and you'll be presented with the Windows 7 installer. There's three things to note here.

First, don't select "Upgrade" as this will install over your existing Windows XP partition, you want to select "Custom (Clean)".

Second, remember to install to the windows7 partition we labelled with GParted back at the start of the guide.

Third, when the installer reboots your computer, you'll need to unplug your USB drive, otherwise you'll end up back at the installer.

How did you go?

Was that helpful? Are you up and running or stuck somewhere along the way? Does this guide work on netbooks other than an IdeaPad S10? Let us know in the comments.

Tim Hanlon

OK...this guide *will* work if the netbook you're using already has windows installed on it...
Unfortunatly, the vast majority of netbooks sold today are linux based and this guide doesn't really help much in that aspect. I would like to install Windows 7 on my netbook, an I guess I can use *some* of the information here to help in that, but it looks like I'm on my own for the most part.
Ed web/gadget guru
Tim Hanlon
Ed - surely a gadget guru can figure out how to install a new operating system on his Linux machine? :) You could always buy (or borrow) a USB DVD drive and save yourself the headache.
PS. What gave you the impression that the vast majority of netbooks are Linux-based? Acer says they're selling 9 Windows XP for every 1 Linux, ZDNet says 8 out of 10 is Windows-based, and HP isn't even going to offer a Linux option on their Mini 1000 in Europe.
when i typed "cd 70" and then pressed tab it gave me that error sound
Unfortunately, I *hate* linux...That's why I'm looking into how to install Windows on my Dell Mini-9. True, I could figure it out, but it's not worth the trouble honestly. I have a never ending stream of problems with Linux (I'm a Windows system admin by trade) so it looks like I'll be going the USB DVD route. As for linux based netbooks...I guess I need to qualify this a little more... If your netbook has a hard drive, then it will probably be running Windows...My Dell runs a 4gb SSD drive. I put in an 8gb SD card for storage, but that's about it for my storage space...Linux's small *initial* footprint seems to be ideal! I'm running *almost* anything I need, including Open Office. Unfortunately, running ASX videos are out of the question...along with other tasks I take for granted that are easy in Windows....When you look at the Dell used netbooks that they have for sale, most of them are Linux. Also when I was in Hong Kong last September, almost all the netbooks I saw in Mong Kok were Linux (although they *did* come with a Windows disk, it was most likely boot leg) So, I should say, all of the Netbooks (granted, it was only a couple of dozen units) that I have seen were all Linux...And linux isn't that long as you don't really want to do very much... Ed web/gadget guru
Hi, Found a easy way of doing this.
1- Download Pismo from 2- Copy and Install Pismo onto netbook (Win XP) 3- Copy Windows 7 ISO to C:\... (on netbook) 4- Right click ISO and Mount 5- Once mounted just launch setup and you ready to install Windows 7 just following instructions from there.
PS I found it's better to do a custom install instead off upgrade.
MBRwiz Download and Extract it on your hard drive (Diskpart utility for Windows XP doesn't detect USB drive as Disk hence we need to use this free utility to make bootable USB drive). 1. Connect your USB Flash Drive to your computer Format USB drive 2. To Format USB Flash Drive Go to My Computer -> Right click on USB drive and select Format from context menu. 3. Now go to Start Menu->run->cmd (Open Command Prompt) and Type following command convert i: /fs:ntfs (Where "I" is your USB drive latter) 4. Mount Windows 7 iso as drive (You can use Freeware MagicDisc download from here). 5. Type Start->run->cmd Now dir to directory where you have extracted MBRWiz and run following commands mbrwiz /list (note down disk number of your USB Pen drive) mbrwiz /disk=X /active=X (X is Disk Number of your USB Drive) exit 6. Now open another command window and type following command J: (Drive letter of Windows 7 iso mounted with demon tool) CD boot bootsect /nt60 Y: (Y is drive latter of your USB drive ) 7. Now copy all files from drive where you have mount Windows 7 iso 8. Now reboot your computer and press F9 to get your BIOS screen and select USB drive as your boot drive. 9. If every thing goes fine, Your Windows 7 Installation should start from your USB drive. For More Information and help related to windows 7 issues
> Unfortunately, I *hate* linux... Unfortunately, running ASX videos > are out of the question...along with other tasks I take for granted > that are easy in Windows....
Ed, VideoLan ( has been able to play Windows format videos for quite some time. It may not be as integrated as it is in Windows, but then again, ASX/ASF is a proprietary MS format. Usually it\'s just a matter of downloading and opening the ASX file in a text editor and manually copying and pasting the link.
> ... I\'m a Windows system admin by trade ... > And linux isn\'t that long as you don\'t really want to do very much...
Quite the contrary, Ed. If you are well skilled in Unix you can actually do a lot more with it-- for FREE. Having been a Win sys admin myself, I can say it plays well with both Mac and Windows than either one of those does on its own. Trying to do some of the same tasks on Windows or Mac can be very frustrating. For example, try opening a HFS partition in Windows \"out of the box\". You can\'t. You\'d have to use a tool like HFSExplorer; which still doesn\'t actually *mount* the drive itself, but allows you to copy the contents.
Also, try mounting an NTFS partition in Mac. I don\'t think I was ever able to find a decent free solution for that.
In Linux you can easily mount different types of drives and read/write on them as if they were part of the operating system. Windows and Mac-- not without searching quite a bit and/or paying for the tools.
I have found that most of my frustration in Linux comes from proprietary formats and hardware imposed by the Windows and Mac camps. Device drivers are difficult because most of the time vendors\' hardware specifications are closed, so developers can\'t write drivers for other operating systems. Generally they only release drivers for Windows because that\'s where most of the market share is.
As a system admin, I would encourage you to give it a second look. I\'ve been able to do some pretty cool stuff with it-- among others, ghosting drives, password recovery, drive data recovery-- and save a lot of money for my company as well. It does take some patience, but it\'s well worth it.

Tom Short
I followed along and everything was working out just fine until I got to this point of the installation:
Extract the Windows 7 installation files
Locate the Windows 7 ISO, right click the file and select "Extract to 7000.0.081212-1400_client_en-us_Ultimate-GB1CULFRE_EN_DVD\" from the context menu.
If you're not comfortable navigating your hard drive at the command prompt, it's best if you do this on your desktop, or move the resulting folder to your desktop after extraction. This way, you'll be able to follow this guide exactly.
My computer is "stuck" in the GPart mode and I am unclear as to how I exit from this to extract the Windows 7 ISO. Could you advise how I do this?
Many thanks,