Just moozing

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Installing Windows 7 (legally)

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I have a license for my windows 7. It came with my laptop, and since I am running Linux, I have never used it. Besides, at work we have Windows 7 Enterprise in an OEM version, so it has never been relevant.

Then my wifes laptop needed a reinstallation, and we wanted to avoid all the crapware that comes pre-installed on her Lenovo…

Challenge 1 – Getting the installation media

The laptop came only with a recovery media, so a clean install should be done using a different media.

Doing some googling, I ended up at answers.microsoft.com. You are able to download the iso files from some of the vendors that sell windows and give you a key and a iso download link. Apparently, it is ok for someone like me to download it – the company have not made an effort at publishing the links, but they are findable.

That was the first step getting the installation media – all 3 GB of it.

Challenge 2 – Tweaking it to allow the license key

I tested in a virtual machine where I used the ISO as a DVD in the virtual CD drive. It worked nicely and I was able to install windows.

Considering virtual machines; the way I read the license terms, I am allowed to install and run a copy of windows in a virtual machine on the associated physical machine. I am not sure how you do the counting when you are in a virtual environment, since you quickly end up having a lot of non-running instances…

After installing, it didn’t accept my license key. I had installed Windows 7 home basic, not Windows 7 home premium.

The solution was to tweak the iso, and make it ask which version of windows to install. I found a tool to do that here. You need the eicfg_removal_utility.

It is a windows program, that edit the ISO-file directly and marks ei.cfg as deleted. No extra space is needed, no ISO regeneration. That is a first for me. Cool stuff.

Using this tweaked media, I am asked during installation which version of windows I want to install – home basic, home premium, professional and ultimate. There are different medias for 32 and 64 bits, so download the correct one.

Challenge 3 – The actual installation

Next is to install from a USB stick. So I did the usual dd of the iso to the USB stick, but the ISO cannot be used from USB 😦

More googling and I found the winusb utility. It take the windows ISO and puts it on a USB device, so it can booted using grub. It works and windows starts – on all other PCs than the Lenovo E330 that I want to install it on. It works on desktops, new laptops, old laptops and with both UEFI on and off – but not this laptop.


  • PXE installation: There are some guides, like this one, on how to install windows 7 over PXE in a Linux environment. Let’s call it plan B…
  • Burn an actual DVD: Where do you find DVDs these days? Still, this is good option since I have an external USB DVD drive for occasions like this.

So after burning the DVD, it works and I am able to install windows. This has taken me a ridiculous amount of time. Installing Debian using a netinstall boot USB stick takes 30 minutes (including a coffee break).

In conclusion

  • Thank you to people who post utilities that actually help people.
  • Microsoft: Please make it easier to install windows legally. If I had downloaded a pirated copy from the Internet, it would have been much faster.
  • Lenovo: WTF is wrong with this BIOS?

Written by moozing

October 17, 2013 at 09:00

Posted in Tech

Tagged with , ,

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