Skip to main content

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:
    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:
    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:
    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:
    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.    
    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:
    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.
    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:
    Nope, same result.
Attempt 19:
    Google for installing Windows 10 on this laptop model.
    Windows 10 isn't really supported on this laptop.
    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
    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.

Updated: See Creating Windows 7 Boot Media for a Lenovo Thinkpad T410 Using Only a Mac


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!
Emma Jasmine said…
Good post.

Popular posts from this blog

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;) In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3 , Erlang , and the original Lisp machine . The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts. Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within , LLVM , Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway. Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas: Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code.&quo

Haskell or Erlang?

I've coded in both Erlang and Haskell. Erlang is practical, efficient, and useful. It's got a wonderful niche in the distributed world, and it has some real success stories such as CouchDB and Haskell is elegant and beautiful. It's been successful in various programming language competitions. I have some experience in both, but I'm thinking it's time to really commit to learning one of them on a professional level. They both have good books out now, and it's probably time I read one of those books cover to cover. My question is which? Back in 2000, Perl had established a real niche for systems administration, CGI, and text processing. The syntax wasn't exactly beautiful (unless you're into that sort of thing), but it was popular and mature. Python hadn't really become popular, nor did it really have a strong niche (at least as far as I could see). I went with Python because of its elegance, but since then, I've coded both p