I have an ISO file of the Windows 7 DVD and I want to install it on my PC which currently only runs Linux. I don't have any DVD drive. I have some unpartitioned space on one disk where I want to install it in.

When I am doing this for Linux, I usually just create the partitions from the running system, format them, mount them, copy files over, chroot into it, setup the stuff and I can boot into it (or I use some of the uncountable available scripts which do exactly that automatically).

However, I have no idea how to do the same thing with Windows.

So far, I tried with VMware, i.e. I gave it direct full access to the disk where I want to install it in, installed it there, then tried to boot natively into it. The Windows logo showed up but after maybe 3 seconds or so, it crashes. Safe mode also crashes.

I already expected that this probably would exactly behave the way it does right now because I have heard that Windows is quite sensible about hardware changes (i.e. the VMware hardware and the real hardware). However, how can I fix it now that it works?

Or I could also just delete it again and try just over. But how exactly?

I also searched for ways to boot directly into an ISO file. There seem to be ways to do that via GRUB (and maybe some additional boot loader), although quite complicated. I already tried one method (GRUB: map ...iso (hdX)), however, that didn't worked. Also, even if it does work, I will get into trouble when I boot into the newly installed Windows and it requests for the DVD (because it does that at the first boot into the new system).

Seems all quite complicated. Isn't there some easy way like I would do it for Linux? Or what would be the easiest way to get what I want?


3 Answers 3


Two options:

  1. Buy or borrow a USB or internal DVD-ROM drive

  2. Alternatively, Microsoft provide an official utility to put the Windows 7 ISO onto a USB Flash Drive: Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool

  • Well, I went the first option now. I borrowed a DVD writer and a DVD, installed some burning software, burned the ISO and rebooted from the DVD. Quite annoying to go this way, though. And I wasted a DVD.
    – Albert
    Jun 18, 2010 at 15:32
  • Well, seems the first DVD is corrupt. At least I am booting now for the 5th time, everytime with some crazy errors. And it loads extremely slow. The installation in VMware took about 20 minutes. Now, to even get to the setup screen takes already 5 minutes. And each click takes ages. Maybe I burn it again. Or I need another DVD drive. I hate that... Why can't I just install it directly?
    – Albert
    Jun 18, 2010 at 18:52
  • it can take a long time sometimes, depending on the hardware. I found the 2 option from my answer to be much quicker.
    – Shevek
    Jun 19, 2010 at 8:13
  • I couldn't use the second option because I didn't had a flash driver which was big enough and I didn't had any Windows installation to use the tool. Anyway, after wasting another DVD disk and some more tries and random trial and error in the setup, I was able to finally install it.
    – Albert
    Jun 20, 2010 at 17:39

Use an USB thumb drive or a USB HDD. Extract the ISO contents there and boot from it. 10 minutes later you should have your Windows 7.

  • My USB stick only has 1GB. My USB HDD already has ReiserFS on it (and is completely full). But on the same disk where I want to install it, I have enough space to create another partition. However, when Windows 7 asks for the DVD, will it recognize that partition as the DVD?
    – Albert
    Jun 18, 2010 at 13:48
  • I have just copied the ISO now into a partition. However, GRUB fails to boot from that. Do you know what options I need to boot from it?
    – Albert
    Jun 18, 2010 at 14:22
  • Erm, usually you tell your BIOS to boot from a USB device, not the boot loader of your OS.
    – Joey
    Jun 18, 2010 at 18:46
  • he's "burned" the ISO to a partition (eg dd if=my.iso of=/dev/sda2). which is... interesting. Jun 18, 2010 at 20:10

This is only tried for Windows Vista, but this should work with Windows 7 as well.

Also it requires copying the content to an actual partition (on my machine, copying about 2-3 GB takes about 5 minutes)


  1. Create a compatible partition (FAT32 for example)
  2. Copy all of the content of the iso to that partition. (call this partition P:)
  3. Configure grub to boot from that partition: Add to /etc/grub.d/40_custom:

    menuentry 'Windows 1234 ISO' {
        # Insert modules needed
        insmod part_msdos
        insmod ntfs
        insmod ntldr
        # Set root
        # Method 1: Search by uuid.
        insmod search_fs_uuid
        search --no-floppy --set=root --fs-uuid "XXXX-XXXX"
        # Method 2: Directly set root.
        set root=(hd0,0)
        drivemap -s (hd0) $root
        ntldr /bootmgr
  4. Update grub config.

  5. (Optional) create a NTFS partition for Windows. Alternatively just leave some unallocated space and create the partition with the Window installer.
  6. Reboot.

If you get the “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing” error do the following: (tested on Windows Vista)

  1. When you see the “Windows is loading files” screen, hold the left CTRL button.  This will force a repair command prompt console.
  2. Find the partition P:.
  3. Run the following (replace the P accordingly)

    ren P:\boot\bcd bcd.old
    bcdedit /createstore P:\boot\bcd

    (as an alternative to running the last setup command it's possible to turn off the machine and on again, this time without holding the left CTRL)


  • It may be necessary to move bcd.old to bcd, and restart the installation process if the partition P: is resized.
  • bcdedit /createstore is equivalent to bcdedit /createstore C:\boot\bcd.
  • If you use GParted, it may cause the partition to be unreadable by Windows. See gParted > FAT32 formatted USB is not recognized in Windows 10 - Super User for details).
  • It's not necessary for the partition P: to be new, you can reuse an existing one.


https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-CLEAN-Install-Windows-Vista-directly-from-H/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y4JXv9r5Ug

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