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So I'm fairly certain my SSD failed as it seems to have in the past. In two computers the BIOS won't recognize it as a boot option. I RMA'd the same model before and getting a new one worked for a while.

At this point I somehow don't have any of my Windows discs. I'm wondering what kind of Linux Live distro I would need to be able to connect to the Microsoft site and download an .iso as well as burn it. Never used Linux Live. I know there are CD and USB options, but don't know what I need to put on the disc/USB. I figure I just need one with network and DVD drivers.

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Microsoft won't let most consumers download an iso at all. You have to be an enterprise customer or a developer. – Joel Coehoorn Oct 24 '12 at 13:34
I'm confused. How would you download the Live CD ISO if you can't download the Windows ISO? – Dennis Oct 24 '12 at 13:35
You can download a Windows .iso file from the Microsoft site if you bought Windows through any of their supported methods. I downloaded it last night, but that computer won't burn so I want to do USB. – Alan Marshall Oct 24 '12 at 13:37
Which version of windows? – Journeyman Geek Oct 24 '12 at 13:47
@JoelCoehoorn: Microsoft made all of their Windows 7 SP1 ISOs (except Enterprise) available on Digital River. – David Schwartz Oct 24 '12 at 14:23
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Wait... this is a chicken and the egg problem.

You want to... connect to a Microsoft website, download a Windows ISO, and burn it to CD/DVD.

To do that, you are proposing to connect to a Linux distribution's website, download a Linux distro ISO, and burn it to CD/DVD.

Do you see the problem?

If you already have a computer, likely the one you're sitting at typing out your question, which contains a CD/DVD burner, then I don't understand why you can't skip the intermediate step of booting up Linux, and just directly download the ISO from Microsoft...?

Anyway, in case you really want to take an extra step for some silly reason:

Almost any recent Linux live CD released in the past couple of years should suffice, although your user experience will be better or worse depending on:

  • Whether it supports your graphics hardware. If not, you'll have a hard time getting to the GUI environment. Newer distros are much more likely to support your hardware.
  • Whether it supports your networking hardware (WiFi or ethernet). If not, you'll have a hard time tacking on support via a third-party driver without having networking to download said driver!

Other questions, such as whether it supports your DVD burner, are practically "non-questions" and are all but guaranteed to be trivially supported.

Also, there is no such product named "Linux Live". You don't just download "Linux"; Linux is a kernel. You download an entire operating system distribution (distro) which contains both the kernel as well as userspace utilities, system programs, and a desktop.

My "short list" of recommended OSes that you can try:

  • Ubuntu 12.04 (stable) or 12.10 (new release, may be less stable)
  • Fedora 17 (not as stable as Ubuntu, but newer drivers may provide hardware support that other distros lack)
  • OpenSUSE 12.2 (also stable)

The user experience, i.e. the exact steps to take, in order to burn the ISO will vary, but in general you just fire up the file manager application, fire up Firefox, "do your thing" in Firefox in order to download the ISO, download it, then right-click on the downloaded ISO in the Downloads folder in your home directory and there should be an option to burn it to CD. This should work on most GNOME based distros as well as Unity, so that covers Fedora, Ubuntu, and OpenSUSE/Gnome out of the box.

Also note that Microsoft doesn't just give away the ISOs for Windows. You will have to have a valid digital purchase of Windows from the Microsoft Store in order to legally download an ISO version of Windows. If you bought a boxed copy of Windows in a store or ordered (only) the box online, you may not be able to download the ISO. Note that the download might be marked as a ".udf" file, but the process to burn it to a CD/DVD should be exactly the same.

Edit in response to your clarifications in the comments: I don't think you can put the Windows installation CD on a USB drive. I know there's a way to do it with Windows 8, but not Windows 7 or earlier. You can indeed put Linux on a USB drive from a computer that does not have a CD burner, but you'll need to run a special program such as UNetBootin to write the boot sector correctly and make it bootable.

Hey, this could actually work:

Step 1: Use UNetBootin to format a USB memory stick as a Linux bootable disk.

Step 2: Move the memory stick from the computer without CD burning capabilities, over to the computer with CD burning capabilities.

Step 3: Boot up Linux on the computer with CD burning capabilities.

Step 4: Download Windows.

Step 5: Burn.

Step 6: Install Windows from the CD/DVD.

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Holy shit assumptions Batman! I do have a CD key and did already download a Windows .iso, but the burner was screwy though USB works fine. Thanks for the tips though. All I really needed though was that pretty much any distro will support what I need so Ubuntu 12.04 it is :) – Alan Marshall Oct 24 '12 at 13:47
You can expect assumptions when you don't fully state your problem and what you've tried. – allquixotic Oct 24 '12 at 13:58
Heh yeah, I suppose. I only supplied the relevant information without asking a specific question. Thanks though. Wish I could choose multiple answers, but you wrote more :) – Alan Marshall Oct 24 '12 at 14:20

Pretty much any Desktop Live CD should do. I'd recommend the Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop Live CD. Ubuntu is fairly easy to use, and the newest version (12.10) is known to cause some issues with certain graphics cards.


  1. (optional) Download the ISO from here.
  2. Download and install Universal USB Installer to install the ISO on your flash drive.
  3. Click the Network icon in the upper right corner and configure your internet connection.
  4. Open Firefox from the Unity bar (left) and download the Windows ISO.
  5. Press the Super (Win) key, type brasero and open the Brasero Disc Burner.
  6. Select Burn image. You can locate the ISO by entering the Downloads folder in the left tab.
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