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Creating Windows 10 Boot Media for a Lenovo Thinkpad T410 Using Only a Mac and a Linux Machine

TL;DR: Giovanni and I struggled trying to get Windows 10 installed on the Lenovo Thinkpad T410. We struggled a lot trying to create the installation media because we only had a Mac and a Linux machine to work with. Everytime we tried to boot the USB thumb drive, it just showed us a blinking cursor. At the end, we finally realized that Windows 10 wasn't supported on this laptop :-/

I've heard that it took Thomas Edison 100 tries to figure out the right material to use as a lightbulb filament. Well, I'm no Thomas Edison, but I thought it might be noteworthy to document our attempts at getting it to boot off a USB thumb drive:

Download the ISO.
Attempt 1:
    Use Etcher.
    Etcher says it doesn't work for Windows.
Attempt 2:
    Use Boot Camp Assistant.
    It doesn't have that feature anymore.
Attempt 3:
    Use Disk Utility on a Mac.
    Erase a USB thumb drive:
        Format: ExFAT
        Scheme: GUID Partition Map
    Mount the ISO.
    Copy everything from the ISO to the USB thumb drive.
    The laptop wouldn't actually boot it.
Attempt 4:
    See: https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/how-make-a-windows-10-usb-using-your-mac-build-a-bootable-iso-from-your-macs-terminal/
    diskutil list
    I found: /dev/disk2
    diskutil eraseDisk MS-DOS "WIN10" GPT /dev/disk2
    hdiutil mount ~/Downloads/Win10_1909_English_x64.iso
    cp -rf /Volumes/CCCOMA_X64FRE_EN-US_DV9/* /Volumes/WIN10
    Hmm, it didn't unmount, and it seems like the same approach :-/
    It still doesn't seem bootable.
Attempt 5:
    See: https://www.top-password.com/blog/create-windows-10-bootable-usb-from-iso-on-mac/
    It's basically the same as attempt 4.
Attempt 6:
    Let's do attempt 3 again, but use a MBR instead of a GUID Partition Map.
    It may be that the older hardware doesn't understand the GUID Partition Map.
    It didn't really boot it.
Attempt 7:
    See: https://itsfoss.com/bootable-windows-usb-linux/
    Do it from Linux.
    Looks like basically the same thing.
Attempt 8:
    Use Etcher despite the warning.
    It ended up booting Linux instead.
Attempt 9:
    Do the same thing as attemp 6, but let it boot for a few minutes.
Attempt 10:
    Download the ISO again in case that's the problem.
Attempt 11:
    See: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/windows-10-usb-boot-drive/
    That's only for Windows.
Attempt 12:
    Use VMware Fusion on my Mac to use the Windows Media Creation Tool.
    For some reason, VMware Fusion won't let me access the USB drive.
    I wonder if IT disabled kernel extensions or something like that.
Attempt 13:
    Use unetbootin.    
    See: https://www.wdiaz.org/how-to-create-a-bootable-windows-usb/
    This tutorial gave me a hint that the problem might be that this older laptop simply doesn't support ExFAT.
    So many of the tutorials are based on the system being able to read installation off of an ExFAT-formatted USB drive.
    It behaved the same way.
    It didn't boot.
    It just showed a blinking cursor.
Attempt 14:
    Try to download the original rescue disk.
    You need Windows to create the rescue disk.
Attempt 15:
    Download a Windows 7 ISO.
    You need a license.
    The license sticker is missing from the bottom of the laptop.
Attempt 16:    
    Try to copy things onto a FAT32-formatted USB.
    The file is too large for the destination.
Attempt 17:
    Study the comments in that earlier post: https://www.wdiaz.org/how-to-create-a-bootable-windows-usb/
    I need to format the USB drive using NTFS.
    To do that on a Mac, I would need to install this software called Paragon.
Attempt 18:
    Create an NTFS-formatted USB thumb drive and copy the files from Linux.
    See: https://tecadmin.net/format-usb-in-linux/
    df -h
    sudo umount /dev/sdb1
    sudo mkfs.ntfs -f /dev/sdb1
    Note, using -f makes it go *way* faster.
    But since it's skipping the bad sector checking, it might cause problems later.
    I did it the fast way, but then used diff to check to make sure the copy matched.
    Transferred the ISO from my laptop to Giovanni's:
        My laptop: python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000
        Figured out my IP in another tab: ifconfig
        His laptop: http://192.168.1.199:8000
    Nope, same result.
Attempt 19:
    Google for installing Windows 10 on this laptop model.
    Windows 10 isn't really supported on this laptop.
    See: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/insider/forum/all/lenovo-thinkpad-t410-not-compatible-with-windows/5d17c838-7f0c-4e32-b47d-a68a16e8fc7d
    Even if you can get it installed, a bunch of drivers are missing.
    We decided it's better to stick with Ubuntu.
Attempt 20:
    Using with Windows key under the battery, download Windows 7 from Microsoft.
    Microsoft won't let me because it's an OEM license.
Attempt 21:
    Use the Lenovo Recovery USB creation tool using a Windows VM on my Mac.
    Lenovo won't recognize the serial number; this model is too old.
Attempt 22:
    Download it from pcsupport.lenovo.com.
    They don't have anything older than T420.
Attempt 23:
    Download the Rescue and Recovery app.
    It won't run on my Windows 10 VM.

Comments

CK said…
Re: attempt 15
Did you remove the battery to see if the sticker with the license is below it? It was there in my T430.
jjinux said…
CK, you're right! Thanks!

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