Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Installing the New Windows 7 RC / Formatting Mini


So the very first week I bought my Mini I was transferring files via a home network. Unknown to me was a virus lurking on the junky old dell desktop I was receiving the files from. My precious mini went down and it went down fast.

My very first piece of advice is to install an antivirus software on your netbook as soon as possible. Because of their small hard drives and tiny processers they can be taken advantage of very quickly (if you follow this tutorial with windows 7 ultimate many antivirus companies are offering free betas of their software to try it out on the new operating system).

Anyway my Mini was out of comission for a while because I didnt have the cash to go out and drop $70 or $80 an extrenal CD/DVD drive so shortly after clearing my savings for the netbook. A few weeks later I heard about the new Windows 7 Ultimate beta from a friend. Now I have to be honest with everyone out there, there is a catch. This FREE copy of windows 7 will expire in June 2010. But in my mind that is in the very distant future and gives my netbook and I many solid hours together using a free OS.

SOOOO why I am doing this. Yes you can find all this information I am giving you out there on the vast WWW but I am attempting to condense it to one place. When I installed Windows 7 this way I spent nearly a week gathering and decifering information from mutiple websites. I just want to try and put it clearly in one place.

To Install Windows 7 Ultimate on a Netbook

What you'll need

- A 4 GB or Larger flash drive (a 4gb SD card also works on netbooks with a built in reader)

- A netbook with at least 1 gig of RAM and 8gb of storage (for the 8gb netbooks I recommend a smaller OS like Mandriva Linux which can be installed using the same method as this one)

- The Windows 7 Ultimate RC image

- A working Windows PC to prepare the flash drive

Obtaining the Windows 7 Ultimate RC image

This part is the easiest step. I must warn you it is a very large file and takes a while to download so be patient.

So navigate here and select your preferred language on the 32 bit version than hit "go" to get started. You have to enter a windows live email and password which many people have, but if you don't it only takes a few minutes to set up. Once logged in you will be led to the download page. COPY DOWN THE PRODUCT KEY. You WILL need it later. And hit the download button. The file comes complete with a very useful little download manager. At this point you can either leave your computer alone or begin preparing the flash drive. During the installation of the files needed for the flash drive your computer will restart a couple of times. This is ok it will not interrupt your download. Every time the computer logs back on just click on the link to the download on your desktop and it will continue where it left off.

Creating a Bootable Flash Drive

Ok now this is the tricky part. Now there are multiple ways of doing this, but this is the technique that I found to work in MOST situations.

You will need to download three programs to make this possible.

Download and Install Daemon Tools Lite (or your favorite Virtual CD emulator)
Download and Install the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
Download and Extract MBRWizard

Once installed you may now insert your USB/Flash/thumb drive.

Launch the HP USB Storage Format Tool.
Select your USB drive for device.
Select NTFS for File system.
Check Quick Format.
Click Start to format the USB drive.

If you get an error message try going to the drive under "my computer" right clicking it and formatting it under the FAT system there. Once you have done this you still need to come back to the HP USB Storage Format Tool to format it with the NTFS file system.

Ok now this is where it gets really confusing and may take a little trial and error.

Click Start
Click Run
Enter CMD and press enter.

Once at the command prompt you must navigate to where you extracted the MBRwizard (example C:\documents and settings\family\desktop)

the easiest thing to is to place mbrwiz in your C:\ folder under "my computer" than on the command prompt type "cd\" into the prompt to make it go back to your C:\ folder

Now type (without quotes) including the space the command "mbrwiz /list" and it should bring up all the drives on your computer now if you have no other drives plugged into your computer it should list your hard drive as "Disk: 0" and the flash drive as "Disk: 1" if it says anything else you will have to interchange the numbers 0 and 1 in all the later commands with whatever it has labeled the drive on your computer.

Execute the following command exactly (without quotes) including all spaces "mbrwiz /disk=1 /active=1". If done correctly you will be prompted if you are sure. Answer with the letter "Y".

If you have gotten this far it is all downhill from here. Leave the Command prompt window open, you will need it for one more line of code after you finish preparing the image.

Hopefully your 7 Ultimate download is done by now.

If not sit back and relax until it is finished because you cant go any further without it.

Once the download is done Open up the Daemon Tools Lite you downloaded and installed earlier. It should open up a little icon in the system tray.

Right click on the Icon, Select "Virtual CD/DVD-ROM", Select an open device and click "Mount Image"
Take note of the Letter of the Device you selected (example the G in "Device 1 : [G:] no media")
Find the file Windows 7 file you downloaded and click open.
Close the Windows 7 prompt that comes up. You don't need to do anything with it.

Once the File is mounted onto the Virtual drive go back to your command prompt.

Execute the command (once again including all the spaces) "e:\boot\bootsect /nt60 D:" where you replace E is the drive letter of the Windows 7 Beta ISO that I just had you take note of and replace D with whatever letter windows has assigned your USB drive under My Computer

now if a successful notice come up go to My Computer,

right click, and explore the drive containing Windows 7.
Select all and copy the files.
Go back and open your USB drive.
Paste all files into the USB drive.

Once all the files have transferred you are down creating a bootable flash drive!

Installing Windows 7 Ultimate on a Netbook

If you have ever installed an Operating System before this part is a piece of cake.

Plug in the flash drive and start up the computer you wish to install the new OS on. If you are also formatting be sure to already have backed up all the files you wish to keep.

During the startup of your computer hit the proper key to enter the boot menu (0n my Mini it is F9 and on most Dells I think it is F12.) Once in the boot menu change the boot order so that the computer boots from the USB port before it boots from the Hard Drive.

From here you just need to follow the instructions on the screen to install your new OS.