The surprising difficulty of creating a Windows bootable device on Linux

  • Published 10 Nov 2020
  • Category software

This is kind of an unusual post, written out of frustration when trying to install Windows or to be more precise when trying to make a simple stupid SD card bootable.
Most of what you find on that subject on the internet is either outdated, wrong, or some stale copypastas. One would expect Microsoft, a company making a profit out of you buying and using Windows, to make it easy for you, an OS traitor, to defect.

Well not really…

πŸ‘‰tl;dr Use WoeUSB.πŸ‘ˆ

Why ?

UEFI, Filesystems limitations, and bootloader shenanigans.

The Windows 10 ISO ships with an installer file greater than 4GB so FAT32 is out of the questions, so tools like unetbootin don’t seem to work.
exFat (only supported since Linux 5.4.0) and NTFS need some special attention to make a partition bootable.

WoeUSB is the kind of awesome tool that format, partitions, copy to files and apply the above β€œfix” just by pointing to the device and the ISO. And it’s also cute1:

Woe is cute

I can claim no credit here: this incredible answer from a Rufus dev covers it all and probably more than you want to know about the hows and the whys.

  1. [1] Tools should be more friendly in general. Or at least have some personalityΒ