Use a Mac to install Windows on a formerly Linux nettop box
December 30, 2012 10:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I make a bootable Windows USB flash drive using a Mac?

I'm trying to install Windows 7 (or 8) on a Acer AspireRevo nettop (with the Atom 230 processor). The processor is supposed to be 64-bit compatible, so that's the version I'm trying to install.

My copy of Windows 7 (and 8) is completely valid and legal, as it is through a university program. I download the .iso file and am supposed to burn it onto a CD. Neither my (Mac) laptop nor the nettop has an optical drive so I would like to install it using a USB drive.

I have read numerous instructions and cannot seem to get it to work.

* I have a 4G Cruzer and a Kingston 16G flash drive. I've tried both. The .iso image is about 3.7G.

* I have tried flashing a copy of XBMC onto the USB drive, which also does not work.

* I have tried using unetbootin, for Mac, which did not work.

* I have tried using the Disk Utility + 'dd' command, which did not work. I tried both GUID and MBR for Disk Utility options (and formatting it as free space or as exFat). I tried 'dd' both to /dev/diskN and to /dev/rdiskN.

* I have tried using a SD card instead of a USB. It also does not recognize the operating system on it.

* The computer BIOS is set to load from the USB, and indeed recognizes that there is a USB device / SDCard on bootup. (e.g. It allows me to select "Cruzer ..." if that's the one I have inserted.)

* I have wiped the harddisk of the nettop so I can't restore Windows XP from it. It is running a broken version of XBMCUbuntu. (Broken X system, which means I can't even login properly, not even with alt+F3/4/5/etc because the monitor keeps refreshing.)

I work with computers, but this is frustrating the **** out of me. It's a belated Christmas present for my little sister. If anyone has a proven-to-work instruction set for how to use a Mac (macbook air, to be specific) to flash a USB for Windows bootup, please let me know.

If no good solutions turn up, I will try to borrow a friend's Windows machine, but I fail to see why Windows should be able to do something that the Mac can't (even with command lines).
posted by ethidda to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Sorry if I'm repeating things you already know ir have tried, but the ISO will not run directly off a USB/SD/etc without changing it to universal disk image format. There are some pretty detailed instructions here:
posted by camcgee at 11:01 PM on December 30, 2012

try using unetbootin. make sure your flash drive is formatted as fat32.
posted by raihan_ at 11:17 PM on December 30, 2012

First turn the disk into a .iso using Disk Utility to create an image; use Image Format "CD/DVD master" - this will make a .cdr file but it is really a .iso.


$ hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o image.img image.iso
$ dd if=image.img of=/dev/rdiskX bs=1m # this is the USB key - replace X with dev number

then eject it and you are good.
posted by joshu at 2:04 AM on December 31, 2012

I once had the same problem, and for reasons that I still do not understand using an external USB cd-rom drive with burned media got me around it.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:14 AM on December 31, 2012

I've tried to do this on my Macbook multiple times (including using the method joshu describes) and have never had any luck, even though this works fine for, say, Linux ISOs. I've only ever succeeded by using the Windows 7 USB download tool on an actual Windows machine.

Burning the ISO to a DVD on the Mac should work fine, though.
posted by neckro23 at 12:14 PM on December 31, 2012

I ended up using a Windows computer with the Windows 7 USB download tool. But because I was making a 64bit Windows bootable disk on a 32bit machine, I had to manually download and run the bootsect after all. But then it worked.
posted by ethidda at 2:34 PM on January 1, 2013

By the way, the [in hindsight obvious] way I got around this when I didn't have a Windows computer was to install Windows on a virtual machine using virtual box and then use neckro's program to create a USB tool.

Also like Neckro, nothing else has ever worked for me (and man did I try a lot of other options first.)
posted by !Jim at 8:16 PM on January 3, 2013

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