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Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

Windows 7 on ThinkPads
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myxomop
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Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#1 Post by myxomop » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:44 pm

Hello TPSC,

I've just acquired a lot of 4x thinkpads from a university surplus auction (X1 Carbon, X41 Tablet, T440s, T420). They are without hard drives or power supplies. While I determine whether or not to put in the time and $ to turn these into ready-to-go, usable machines with replaced/upgraded hardware/software/BIOS, I'm curious to know if there is a particular windows version (or any OS for that matter) which can be run from a bootable flash drive and on a wide variety of ThinkPads, so as to be able to run diagnostics and determine each machine's specs.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

-myxomop
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

axur-delmeria
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Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#2 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:10 pm

myxomop wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:44 pm
Hello TPSC,

I've just acquired a lot of 4x thinkpads from a university surplus auction (X1 Carbon, X41 Tablet, T440s, T420). They are without hard drives or power supplies. While I determine whether or not to put in the time and $ to turn these into ready-to-go, usable machines with replaced/upgraded hardware/software/BIOS, I'm curious to know if there is a particular windows version (or any OS for that matter) which can be run from a bootable flash drive and on a wide variety of ThinkPads, so as to be able to run diagnostics and determine each machine's specs.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

-myxomop
I haven't tried this, but you could check out Hiren's BootCD PE.

Personally, I use a portable SSD (M.2 2242 SATA SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure), with Debian Linux installed, though it's currently for BIOS/legacy boot only as I haven't experimented with UEFI boot yet.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
:cry:

myxomop
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Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#3 Post by myxomop » Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:42 pm

Why go to the trouble of an SSD in a USB enclosure as opposed to a straightforward flash drive?
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

axur-delmeria
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Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#4 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Sep 12, 2021 11:30 pm

myxomop wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:42 pm
Why go to the trouble of an SSD in a USB enclosure as opposed to a straightforward flash drive?
An SSD in a USB enclosure is much much faster than any USB 3.0 flash drive.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
:cry:

myxomop
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Location: Newport, Virginia
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Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#5 Post by myxomop » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:30 am

fair enough, though probably not an issue for the purposes described above, I would assume. unless we're talking night and day differences, with the slower option being excruciatingly, unusably slow...

i'm far, far more familiar with windows (and windows diagnostic tools) than linux. currently thinking of doing something like this: https://www.diskpart.com/windows-7/port ... 7-usb.html

thoughts?
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

dr_st
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Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#6 Post by dr_st » Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:20 am

There's also another thing I learned a while ago. Windows treats USB flash drives differently than hard drives (or SSD) connected via USB. From Windows POV, a flash drive is removable storage, and by default it refuses to run from it (there are workarounds). Note that I am not talking about running the installer, but running an installed OS.

However, a USB hard drive is seen as a fixed drive still, and Windows will happily run from it.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad

myxomop
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Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#7 Post by myxomop » Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:31 am

good to know. looks like I might as well go with that option instead, at least to avoid possible the future headache of a machine "not liking" the fact that the OS is on a flash drive versus an external SSD/HDD.

any particular M.2 to USB enclosures and M.2 SSDs you recommend?

also still interested in suggestions for windows versions which will be most friendly with most ThinkPad models when run portably.

EDIT: I'm thinking I may just use my hard drive docking station with whatever form factor of old, unused hdds/ssds i have lying around...
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

axur-delmeria
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Posts: 3049
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:49 am
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#8 Post by axur-delmeria » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:01 am

myxomop wrote:
Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:30 am
fair enough, though probably not an issue for the purposes described above, I would assume. unless we're talking night and day differences, with the slower option being excruciatingly, unusably slow...

i'm far, far more familiar with windows (and windows diagnostic tools) than linux. currently thinking of doing something like this: https://www.diskpart.com/windows-7/port ... 7-usb.html

thoughts?
My experience with a bootable USB 3.0 flash drive (with Debian live CD/USB): excruciatingly slow (takes minutes to boot), and sluggish response overall. SSDs are superior to flash drives because they have very fast access times (0.2 millisecond) and better random read/write performance.

Haven't tried Windows ToGo (though maybe I should).
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
:cry:

myxomop
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Posts: 53
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 12:43 am
Location: Newport, Virginia
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Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#9 Post by myxomop » Sat Sep 18, 2021 2:36 pm

just found this:

https://www.passmark.com/support/burnin ... uilder.php
https://www.passmark.com/downloads/BIT_WinPE.pdf

Wondering how well this would work, and if it's worth the trouble (and money)...
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

myxomop
Freshman Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 12:43 am
Location: Newport, Virginia
Contact:

Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#10 Post by myxomop » Tue Sep 21, 2021 7:48 pm

Turns out the X1 has its own BIOS-based diagnostics utility. That was easy...

Installed BurnInTest+WinPE to a flash drive, tested (but not particularly needed) it on the X1, and it was more than fast enough. The M.2 + enclosure option would be overkill for this, I think, since I'm just running a diagnostics utility, not an entire OS. I'll be using this BIT+WinPE option on the rest of the machines, unless there's some excellent reason I shouldn't...
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

myxomop
Freshman Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 12:43 am
Location: Newport, Virginia
Contact:

Re: Bootable USB/Flash OS for Misc. Thinkpads

#11 Post by myxomop » Mon Sep 27, 2021 11:21 am

I'm surprised no one spoke up to offer the native Lenovo Diagnostics UEFI utility at any point in this thread...

...needless to say, I found it. It works wonderfully on the X1C5, it is stalling at the beginning of the CPU test (no matter the test length) on the X41T. I wonder if this has something to do with it running from a flash drive, prepared using these instructions: https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/soluti ... iagnostics
ThinkPad X230 w/ IPS Display (LEN40E2)
Intel Core i7 3520M @ 2.90GHz Ivy Bridge
8GB Single-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
180GB Intel SSD Pro 1500
Win7Ultimate x64 SP1

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