Creating an OpenIndiana USB boot stick under Windows 7

The OpenIndiana project is an enterprise operating system based on the illumos kernel, which is a fork of the OpenSolaris project. OpenIndiana is open source, free, and community driven, and because it is based on the OpenSolaris kernel, it supports my favorite file system – ZFS.

The project provides a USB image that will allow you to install the OS from a USB stick, which is great for an optical drive-less server. It is easiest to “burn” the image to a flash drive on a linux system, but it can be done on Windows as well.

This was supposed to be as easy as running the tool in step 9, but I found Windows 7 will not let it write out to an active volume. Here’s how to get it done:

  1. Plug in the flash drive you will use. Note: all data on this device will be destroyed by this process.
  2. Open an administrative command prompt: Start -> cmd -> right click -> Run as administrator.
  3. Run ‘diskpart’
  4. Figure out which volume is your flash drive using the ‘list volume’ command.
  5. Select the volume using ‘select volume #’ where # is the number of your volume as determined in step 4.
  6. Just to double check you have the right volume selected, run the ‘list partition’ command.
  7. Then run ‘delete volume’ and exit diskpart.
  8. Download the OpenIndiana USB install image from
  9. Download the OpenSolaris Live USB creator from
  10. Extract it, run it, point it at your USB stick and the USB image, and let it rip.

7 thoughts on “Creating an OpenIndiana USB boot stick under Windows 7”

  1. I followed the above instructions and now my USB stick is unuseable. Am I suppose to format it? I’ve downloaded Image and creator files to my harddrive when I try to extract I get an error message that the system is unable to create the directory. If I try to double click on the USB drive, it tells me to insert a disk. I also downloaded Virtual Box, but not sure how it’s suppose to work with OpenIndiana? Your input is appreciated, I’m a new user and lost. running Windows7.


    1. Chris,
      No, you do not need to format it. The OpenSolaris Live USB Creator takes care of all the formatting. Steps 1-7 are needed to prepare the USB stick though.
      Is your ultimate goal to use OpenIndiana in a VirtualBox VM? If so, you don’t need to go through this whole USB stick process. Instead, install VirtualBox and download the ISO for OpenIndiana. Then create a new VM in VirtualBox and mount the OpenIndiana ISO as the CD-ROM. Then you’ll be able to start the VM and install OpenIndiana.
      Let me know if you have other questions!

  2. Thanks, that did the trick!! Just wandering.. is it advisable to install on a USB key? Would like to save on a drive if feasible.. Thanks!

    1. I believe I read somewhere that the OpenIndiana creators don’t recommend installing on a USB key, but I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work. I’ve run plenty of OSes off a USB stick without issue and don’t see why this one would be different.

  3. Thank you. I was wondering why it didn’t work the first time. As you did, i realize that the USB installer was too fast. Once i removed the partition it worked. Thanks a lot!!

  4. Thxs it was much faster to rip the image before but when I deleted the volume its now more slowly to fill progress bar! 😀

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