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Creating Bootable Vista / Windows 7 USB Flash Drive

This will walk through the steps to create a bootable USB flash drive. These instructions assume that you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7.


  • USB Flash Drive
  • Microsoft OS Disk (Vista / Windows 7)
  • A computer running Vista / Windows 7

Step 1: Format the Drive
Warning: This will erase everything on your USB drive.

  1. Open a command prompt as administrator (Right click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator” – you must do this or it may not work, displaying the message: “Could not map drive partitions to the associated volume device objects”
  2. Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:
    – diskpart
    – list disk
    The number of your USB drive will listed. You’ll need this for the next step. I’ll assume that the USB flash drive is disk 1.
  3. Format the drive by typing the next instructions into the same window. Replace the number “1” with the number of your disk below.
    – select disk 1
    – clean
    – create partition primary
    – select partition 1
    – active
    – format fs=NTFS
    – assign
    – exit
    When that is done you’ll have a formatted USB flash drive ready to be made bootable.

Step 2: Make the Drive Bootable
Next we’ll use the bootsect utility that comes on the Vista or Windows 7 disk to make the flash drive bootable. In the same command window that you were using in Step 1:

  1. Insert your Windows Vista / 7 DVD into your drive.
  2. Change directory to the DVD’s boot directory where bootsect lives:
    – d:
    – cd d:boot
  3. Use bootsect to set the USB as a bootable NTFS drive prepared for a Vista/7 image. I’m assuming that your USB flash drive has been labeled disk G: by the computer:
    – bootsect /nt60 g:

Step 3: Set your BIOS to boot from USB
This is where you’re on your own since every computer is different. Most BIOS’s allow you to hit a key at boot and select a boot option.

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Installing Backtrack 3 to a harddrive

I started with a clean drive, so you might have to manipulate your partition tables. I’m going to assume that you’re comfortable working with partition tables. If not, work on your googleing.

Here are the steps I took to install Backtrack 3 on to my laptop harddrive.

1. Boot system from Backtrack 3 CD.
2. Once booted, open a terminal and type; cfdisk
3. Re-configure your partitions. I made several; / , /boot, /var, /tmp, /home, swap. Be sure to set your / or /boot partition to be bootable.
4. When your changes are complete, use the write option and type YES to confirm the changes.
5. Reboot, booting from the Backtrack 3 CD again.
6. When the system restarts, open a terminal and enter preform the following;

bt~# mkswap /dev/sda5
bt~# swapon /dev/sda5

This formats and enables swap space. You’ll need this later
7. Create directories needed to mount up the partitions you just created. I used the following;

bt~# mkdir -p /mnt/backtrack/{boot,home,tmp,var}

8. Now format and mount the partitions you created earlier in steps 1-4. I used the following commands;

bt~# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda6
bt~# mount /dev/sda6 /mnt/backtrack/
bt~# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda7
bt~# mount /dev/sda7/mnt/backtrack/var
bt~# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda8
bt~# mount /dev/sda8 /mnt/backtrack/tmp
bt~# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda9
bt~# mount /dev/sda9 /mnt/backtrack/home

9. Once all targets are mounted, use the following command to copy the live cd to your harddrive;

cp –preserve -R /{bin,dev,pentest,root,usr,etc,lib,opt,sbin}

10. Create additional directories

bt~# mkdir /mnt/backtrack/{mnt,proc,sys,tmp}

11. Mount up /mnt/backtrack/dev

bt~# mount –bind /dev /mnt/backtrack/dev

12. Mount slash proc!

bt~# mount -t proc proc /mnt/backtrack/proc

13. Copy our Linux Kernel into place

bt~# cp /boot/vmlinuz /mnt/backtrack/boot

14. Use choot to your new Backtrack 3 installation.

bt~# chroot /mnt/backtrack /bin/bash

15. Edit /etc/lilo.conf

bt~# nano /etc/lilo.conf

and ensure both the boot and root reflect your local installation. I used options similar to the following;

boot /dev/sda
root /dev/sda5

16. When your changes are complete, write the file and exit nano.
17. Install lilo on /dev/sda

bt~# lilo -v

18. Almost done! Edit /etc/fstab to reflect your partition layout. It should be pretty simple to copy and modify existing entries. Check and double check. If this file is wrong, your system may not boot.
19. Once done, exit your chrooted environment

bt~# exit

20. Reboot! Remove the CD from the drive. If everything has gone properly, your system should boot Backtrack 3. I had to login as root and use the startx command to start KDE.

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