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I'm not looking for an emulator. I would like to install Windows from within Ubuntu so that I can boot into Windows when I restart my computer. I would install Windows normally but my USB ports are shot and I don't have any optical drives. I'd appreciate any help.

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If you install Windows, after installing Linux, the windows installation will wipe out your MBR (Master boot record). I think which ever way of install windows (after installing linux) by using a CD, USB, or PXE boot, you wont be able to restore your MBR... Which mean you will not get a ubuntu boot menu (grub or grub2 depends on your version of ubuntu), to select the OS you wish to boot into.
Now you will have to use ubuntu live cd, or some other live linux cd to boot into linux and restore grub.

But since you donot have USB or CD support. I think the only way is, if you motherboard supports PXE boot. So back to your question, to install windows without USB or CD room, follow link A, link B, link C. Then boot into linux using PXE boot again, restore grub. All the best, it looks too much of tricky work to me.

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Heh. I think pxe booting might be more feasible (and loads cheaper) than my crazy vmware idea. – djeikyb Jan 27 '11 at 7:52

The crazy vmware idea should be doable using raw hard disk access. I did the opposite thing (installing Ubuntu on HDD partition while running Windows using Virtualbox). It was crazy, highly dangerous, yet worked. Even to the point of installing grub on the linux

I will try this out, and let you know of the results. But for starters, this is how it should work :

  1. Run VBox, mount a RAW Partition using vmdk files
  2. Install Windows inside the VBox.
  3. Run grub-update, and grub-install to undo anything that Windows might have done to your MBR

I will be using Windows xp for my tests, so it might vary.

Also another option would be find a way to insert an ISO boot menu into GRUB. I've been looking around for this but it seems that BURG has that option. So, you can boot into the Windows ISO file, and install Windows from there. (Again this is untested, but it is a possibility)

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Hm. To begin with, you aren't getting anywhere without a windows iso. Hope you backed up that windows cd.

Here's a long shot possibility. Use a virtualization method that claims to be able to go from vm to physical. I think vmware offers a paid version of their software that will do this. The rest is obvious. Install windows, copy to real partition using vmware.

What will not work is using any ole vm software (like VirtualBox) and just copying the files over. For starters, I think ntldr will be broken. Secondly, a lot of the drivers will be specific to the vm, and will break once exposed to your hardware.

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I'm afraid you can't do that. While there is Wubi for the opposite situation, there's no way to boot the Windows installer other than from an optical drive or a USB disk.

(edited out, see comment)

You could connect an external (optical) drive via USB (try to use an extension card to provide you with an additional USB port).

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It's definitely not impossible without optical or usb drive. My old work place used to pxe install all our rack servers. – djeikyb Jan 27 '11 at 8:40
@djeikyb yup sorry. Forgot about that option. Although it still assumes another computer around and some spare time. I think the USB extension card option is quicker. – chris Jan 27 '11 at 9:58

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