How To Create A Windows USB Installation Disk With WinUSB [Linux]

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windows usb installation diskCopy the Windows installation DVD to a bootable USB key, from within Linux. It only takes a few clicks and works with all Windows Vista and Windows 7 disks thanks to a program called WinUSB.

We’ve shown you how to install Windows 7 from a USB drive, but the process assumes you have access to a Windows computer to begin with. That’s not always the case, particularly if you’re the kind of person who regularly tries out different operating systems. Also, there are more than a few IT professionals who work on Windows computers but primarily use Linux themselves. This tool is perfect for them, and any Linux user who occasionally helps Windows users.

So whether your want to replace Linux on your netbook with Windows or just create a Windows boot disk from your Linux setup, WinUSB is useful to you.

Using WinUSB

Launch this program and you’ll see an interface not unlike UNetBootin, a similar tool for creating Linux bootable USB drives. You’ll need to pick your source and your destination.

windows usb installation disk

Your source can be an actual DVD or an ISO file ripped from your DVD; it doesn’t matter. Your destination should be a flash drive with, ideally, 4GB of space on it. You’re going to want to clear space on the drive before you go through with this, so back up anything on your drive and delete it all from the flash drive.

Once you’re ready, you can start the creation process.

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windows usb installation cd

This will take a while, so be patient. Once your disk is done being created you’ve got your installation disk, assuming no errors came up. Using this should be simple, but you will need to enter the boot menu of your device and pick the USB drive.

Once you get that going, you should see the Windows 7 installation tool:

windows usb installation disk

Not bad, eh? You can now install Windows 7 on your optical-free computer. Enjoy!

If you’ve never installed Windows before, don’t panic. It’s much  easier than it used to be. Just follow the prompts and you’ll be fine, but know that deleting your existing partitions means you will lose your operating system entirely.

Get WinUSB

Ready to give this app a spin? You can download WinUSB for Linux here. Or, if you’re using Ubuntu, you can install it from a PPA using these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:colingille/freshlight

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install winusb

The first command adds the PPA; the second command updates your repositories; the third command installs WinUSB.

Conclusion

Not everyone will need this application, of course, but it’s ready for you when you need it. Linux purists would believe that no one ever switches from Linux to Windows, but let’s face it, this happens. I’m glad there are tools out there for making this easy, because there are plenty of great tools for going the other way.

Even if you’re not switching from Linux to Windows, though, this tool is useful. You can use your Linux computer to reinstall Windows for friends, or generally become a better repair wizard.

What will you be using this software for? As always, I’m an extremely curious guy, so please share your ideas in the comments below. Thanks!

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Comments (28)
  • Juannn

    Great Tool, it’s exactly what i needed. I had a legal windows 7 dvd not being used and wanted to install it on my new desktop pc without dvd burner. Soooo, i took the dvd image directly from the dvd itself (duh) on to the usb stick. Now i’ve got to see if it works on installing the os in the new computer. Wish me luck!

  • Gabriel

    I’ll be using this for me, for continuing my quest to have as many OSes as possible even though I can’t boot from a CD drive (currently will have Ubuntu, Fedora, Windows 7, XP, – and maybe OS X…..shhhhhh)

    I knew how to make Linux LiveUSBs, but not Windows. Thank you very much!

  • Bert Roberts

    Nice tool, except that I get a ‘no boot manager’ error when booting from the USB stick when trying to install XP or Windows PE.

    • Justin Pot

      That’s too bad. I ran into this problem once, and found the problem was my drive: it wasn’t formatted for MBR. Could that be your problem?

    • Bert Roberts

      Thanks, Justin. But, I did install a mbr on the USB key using Lilo -M, which is the switch for installing a NTFS/Win7 mbr. But, shouldn’t WinUSB do this itself? You would think that if it was fully automated one would not have to manually confiugure the partition and install a mbr.

    • Justin Pot

      I forgot that WinUSB formats the drive. You’re right: it should do this on its own. Some computers don’t support booting from USB, unfortunately: my media center does the same thing. In those situations you’re stuck with using a CD. What kind of computer are you using?

    • Bert Roberts

      It’s a Dell. But, the TSST CD stopped working long ago. Guess Dell only buys from the lowest bidder. But, like most boxes made over the last 10 years, it does support booting from USB. The way I see it is that you can get a USB stick to boot with GRUB or syslinux then mount an iso from within and install from this. The big problem with that though is that xp, which is what I want to install, has at least one reboot from what I remember, during the install process. This is likely where you will error out. I suspect that using WinPE 3 and loading my xp iso on the USB stick will work. But, to run that utility to make PE stick you need Windows. The workaround seems to be to use WINE. But, WINE will not recognize a USB drive. However, there is a hack for this on the WINEHQ site that may do the trick.

    • Bert Roberts

      It’s a Dell. But, the TSST CD stopped working long ago. Guess Dell only buys from the lowest bidder. But, like most boxes made over the last 10 years, it does support booting from USB. The way I see it is that you can get a USB stick to boot with GRUB or syslinux then mount an iso from within and install from this. The big problem with that though is that xp, which is what I want to install, has at least one reboot from what I remember, during the install process. This is likely where you will error out. I suspect that using WinPE 3 and loading my xp iso on the USB stick will work. But, to run that utility to make PE stick you need Windows. The workaround seems to be to use WINE. But, WINE will not recognize a USB drive. However, there is a hack for this on the WINEHQ site that may do the trick.

    • Bert Roberts

      It’s a Dell. But, the TSST CD stopped working long ago. Guess Dell only buys from the lowest bidder. But, like most boxes made over the last 10 years, it does support booting from USB. The way I see it is that you can get a USB stick to boot with GRUB or syslinux then mount an iso from within and install from this. The big problem with that though is that xp, which is what I want to install, has at least one reboot from what I remember, during the install process. This is likely where you will error out. I suspect that using WinPE 3 and loading my xp iso on the USB stick will work. But, to run that utility to make PE stick you need Windows. The workaround seems to be to use WINE. But, WINE will not recognize a USB drive. However, there is a hack for this on the WINEHQ site that may do the trick.

    • Bert Roberts

      It’s a Dell. But, the TSST CD stopped working long ago. Guess Dell only buys from the lowest bidder. But, like most boxes made over the last 10 years, it does support booting from USB. The way I see it is that you can get a USB stick to boot with GRUB or syslinux then mount an iso from within and install from this. The big problem with that though is that xp, which is what I want to install, has at least one reboot from what I remember, during the install process. This is likely where you will error out. I suspect that using WinPE 3 and loading my xp iso on the USB stick will work. But, to run that utility to make PE stick you need Windows. The workaround seems to be to use WINE. But, WINE will not recognize a USB drive. However, there is a hack for this on the WINEHQ site that may do the trick.

    • Justin Pot

      If that doesn’t work, buying beer for a friend with a Windows machine should.

  • discount windows 7

    I used to be suggested this website by means of my cousin. I’m now not sure whether this post is written via him as nobody else understand such certain about my problem. You are incredible! Thank you!

  • Asha

    Thankyou for this post. I have been looking all over the internet to find a way to make a bootable windows usb.This really is encouraging that I dont have to keep on using linux when I want to use windows. Thankyou.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.