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Windows 7: How to Repair/Reinstall Windows 7 from a bootable Linux flash drive?

24 Sep 2012   #1

windows 7 home
How to Repair/Reinstall Windows 7 from a bootable Linux flash drive?


Acer Aspire One notebook, running Windows 7 Home edition, 1gb ram. Hard drive partitioned into C: for windows and D: for most of my data.

After a message saying no printers were found on my computer, Malwarebytes found a Trojan Ransom virus. After attempting to remove it, it told me to reboot. When I did, I couldn't use the keyboard or the mousepad and couldn't enter my password.

I set up the AVG rescue cd and rebooted from a flash drive. After updating and running, it found no infection. Even so, I still couldn't use the keyboard or mouse when I rebooted in windows safe mode.

I set up Linux (Parted Magic) on a bootable flash drive and removed all needed files from my windows C: drive.

I am sending this message from the netbook itself which now runs under Linux, and the keyboard and mouse finger pad work perfectly indicating it's not a hardware problem.

I would now like to repair or reinstall windows 7 but don't know how to do it from Linux.

Another problem is that I have neither my windows installation serial number nor a windows cd. It came installed on the computer. The number is on a sticker on the bottom of my notebook, but it's so worn I can't read it. (See attached image). Normally, I'd use a keyfinder programme to access it on my computer, but I'm not running windows so I'm not sure how to access the registry to find the encrypted serial number, and then how to read it.

So, bottom line:
My notepad will boot windows 7 until the password screen. This happens in safe or normal mode. At that point, both the keyboard and mouse are disabled, but both work in Linux
I have a legal copy of Windows but can't read the serial number.
I need to repair or reinstall windows, or I have to find a way of making the hardware work again in windows.
I then need to get rid of the virus, if it's still there, on my notebook.

I'd be grateful for any help you can give.

Attached Images
How to Repair/Reinstall Windows 7 from a bootable Linux flash drive?-dsc03587.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Sep 2012   #2
Microsoft MVP


Unfortunately even if you could audit the installed key it will not work because it's the Factory mass-activation key which is different than the COA sticker Product Key used to Clean Reinstall. Your choices are therefore to order Factory Recovery disks or extract and reinstall the OEM-SLP activation file which these forums do not support any further due to piracy concerns.

So I would try everything possible to Troubleshoot Windows 7 Failure to Boot which is included in the blue link.

If you end up needing to Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 we have many reports that MS phone activation will replace the key if you convince them that it is simply worn off the sticker.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Sep 2012   #3

7 x64

Have you tried connecting an external keyboard and mouse?
Have you tried booting to the Recovery system, if one was included on the drive originally and you haven't removed it during your partitioning?

Why on earth didn't you create a System Restore disk when the system was first turned on when new?

Other then those options your only option now is to contact Acer and get a Re-Install disk or buy Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

25 Sep 2012   #4

windows 7 home

Thanks for the helpful replies.

Edwar: It's a notebook computer and doesn't have a DVD drive, so I couldn't create a system restore disk, and I wasn't supplied with a windows 7 disk. My computer knowledge was not so hot 3 years ago, and things I did then I wouldn't do now. It was also a time when 'diskless' computers were not that common and I had several problems installing software. An Acer reinstall disk is probably not an option either for the same reason, but I'll see what they say.

I've now tried an external keyboard and mouse, after your suggestion, but that doesn't work either. This Trojan seems to have run amok internally. I think it came in with an 'alleged' update to a set of themes I'd previously downloaded and checked for viruses/malware before I installed them. They got me the second time, I recognised the name and just clicked ok to the update. Not completely certain that's what it was, but it's the only thing I can remember installing before it went haywire. We live and learn.

I've entered the bios and the D2D recovery option is enabled. However, I don't appear to have an option to boot to a recovery system. I've tried all the F keys when booting, but only F2 to enter the bios and F12 to change the boot order, respond. Nothing about a recovery system, but thanks for the idea.

Gregrocker: Thanks for the info, it will save me a lot of time. I'll try the boot troubleshooter as you suggested. Then, I'll either go down the hacking route (it is my computer after all), or more likely I'll try to charm MS. It's why I included the image of the worn sticker on the base of the computer with my original post, to show that I've a genuine copy of windows installed.

Thanks again for the suggestions guys. I'll let you know if I can find a solution in case it helps others, otherwise it's phone calls to Acer and MS, and if that fails it's a Linux install and the joys of using unfamiliar software, or I'll use the notebook as a paperweight.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Sep 2012   #5
Microsoft MVP


The installer is provided in both of the tutorials I provided for repair and reinstall.

Did you attempt to run Recovery using Acer's published procedure? Acer Support: Frequently Asked Questions list for Recovery media and Restoring a system to factory load
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to Repair/Reinstall Windows 7 from a bootable Linux flash drive?

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