Installing Windows 7 on a Skull Canon NUC (NUC6i7KYK)


Unfortunately, Skull Canon NUC hardware only provides external USB 3.0 ports. An internal header exists on the Skull Canon motherboard. With the right header cable, one can gain access to a USB 2.0 port but access is inconvenient. Here is a supplier for the special Skull Canon NUC, USB 2.0 cable. Use at your own risk. For those not willing to disassemble the Skull Canon NUC (to install Windows 7), read on.

Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK Skull Canyon Internal Common IO Header DF1.25mm 20 Pin

Windows 7 does not contain the necessary USB 3.0 or NVMe storage drivers for the Skull Canon NUC. The Windows 7 installation media also lacks the LAN, WiFi, graphics and Intel chipset drivers. These issues shouldn’t be a complete shock given the age of Windows 7 .vs Skull Canon NUC.

 

It is possible to install Windows 10 (or Ubuntu 16.04) on the new Skull Canon NUC hardware without adding drivers to the OS installation media but then our “State of the Art”, Intel NUC would have Microsoft’s latest over priced, ad infested, spyware, bug fest installed that has not completed Microsoft’s standard, multi-year, “General Public”, testing cycle. At least, Linux OS distributions are labeled “Open Source”. Users of “Open Source” understand new software may not be ready for prime time but I digress.

Installing Windows 7 on a new Skull Canon NUC requires adding at least USB 3.0 drivers and when using NVMe storage, requires adding NVMe drivers. This allows attachment of a keyboard, mouse and NVMe storage with standard VGA graphics. These are the necessary basics to install W7 and allow additional drivers to be added after the OS install.

Intel has created a utility to aid the process – Windows 7 USB 3.0 Creator Utility v3.  It modifies the Windows 7 USB installation media. This does steps 5-22 of the instructions. Intel has also published instructions.

Preparation

1. Download or have your Windows 7 ISO image at hand. I used the image: en_windows_7_professional_with_sp1_x64_dvd_u_676939

2. Download and install Windows USB/DVD Download Tool.

3. Plug in your USB stick to the other computer – not the NUC. The other computer should be running Windows 7 or 8.

4. Use USB/DVD Download Tool to make a bootable USB using the ISO image you downloaded. The program is really straightforward to use. You should have no trouble with this.

5. Create a new folder for the installation image manipulation. In this instruction we assume it is “wim” in the root of your c: drive (c:\wim).

6. Create two directories inside that directory: mount and usb3.

Create folders under wim

7. Download USB3 drivers for Intel NUC.

8. Copy the folders HCSwitch and Win7 that are located inside the zip file you just downloaded (these folders are under folder Drivers) to c:\wim\usb3

2_copy_files

9. Now both these folders contain 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the drivers. Because I was installing 64-bit Windows, I deleted the folder x86 under both of these folders (x86 = 32-bit drivers, x64 = 64-bit drivers). Probably not absolutely necessary, but I wanted to only add the drivers I definitely need.

10.Then copy install.wim and boot.wim from the sources folder on your USB stick to the wim folder.

Your wim folder should look like this now. usb3 folder contains your drivers and mount is empty.

3_wim_ready

USB 3.0 Drivers

11. Open command line as administrator (Click Start menu open on Windows 7 or press Windows key on Windows 8, type in “cmd” and then right click on the cmd application and choose Run as Administrator).

A command line prompt will appear.

12. Change directory to your wim directory. In our case it should be \wim on c: drive.

C:\WINDOWS\system32>cd \wim

13. Mount the install.wim image. Note that number after parameter index depends on the Windows 7 version that you are installing! Choose the number according to the list below.

  1. Windows 7 Home Basic
  2. Windows 7 Home Premium
  3. Windows 7 Professional
  4. Windows 7 Ultimate

 

C:\wim>dism /mount-wim /wimfile:"install.wim" /index:3 /mountdir:"mount"

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Mounting image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

14. Then add the drivers into the mounted image. You should see 3 drivers being added if you completed the above steps correctly.

C:\wim>dism /image:"mount" /add-driver /driver:"usb3" /recurse

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385

Searching for driver packages to install...
Found 3 driver package(s) to install.
Installing 1 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3hcs.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
Installing 2 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3hub.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
Installing 3 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3xhc.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
The operation completed successfully.

15. And finally write your changes.

C:\wim>dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:"mount" /commit

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Image File : C:\wim\install.wim
Image Index : 3
Saving image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
Unmounting image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

16. Next we modify the boot.wim file as well. Mount the image. Do not change the index here!

C:\wim>dism /mount-wim /wimfile:"boot.wim" /index:1 /mountdir:"mount"

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Mounting image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

17. Add the drivers into the mounted image.

C:\wim>dism /image:"mount" /add-driver /driver:"usb3" /recurse

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385

Searching for driver packages to install...
Found 3 driver package(s) to install.
Installing 1 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3hcs.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
Installing 2 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3hub.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
Installing 3 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3xhc.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
The operation completed successfully.

18. Save the changes into the image.

C:\wim>dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:"mount" /commit

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Image File : C:\wim\boot.wim
Image Index : 1
Saving image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
Unmounting image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

19. We modify the second index in the same boot.wim. Do not change the index here!

C:\wim>dism /mount-wim /wimfile:"boot.wim" /index:2 /mountdir:"mount"

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Mounting image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

20. Add the drivers.

C:\wim>dism /image:"mount" /add-driver /driver:"usb3" /recurse

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Image Version: 6.1.7600.16385

Searching for driver packages to install...
Found 3 driver package(s) to install.
Installing 1 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3hcs.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
Installing 2 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3hub.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
Installing 3 of 3 - C:\wim\usb3\x64\iusb3xhc.inf: The driver package was successfully installed.
The operation completed successfully.

21. And commit the changes.

C:\wim>dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:"mount" /commit

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Image File : C:\wim\boot.wim
Image Index : 2
Saving image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
Unmounting image
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

22. Now copy the install.wim and boot.wim from your wim folder back to the folder sources on your USB stick. Overwrite the existing ones.

23. Eject your USB stick safely.

Windows 7 Installation

24. Insert the USB stick into the USB port of your NUC.

25. Boot your NUC and enter BIOS.

26. Disabled UEFI boot so NUC is booting in legacy mode. Make sure that Windows 7 is chosen on the Boot configuration page. Otherwise you’ll get a blue screen during the installation.

Samsung 950 PRO NVMe Drivers

27. On another USB Flash Disk, place the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe drivers for Windows 7. These drivers allow the Samgsung 950 Pro to be the Skull Canon boot device. BTW – Not important but here is the official Samsung 950 PRO Driversfrom the Samsung website. The format provided is an installation program. Sadly, this format won’t work with the Windows 7 install media. This prevents the Samgsung 950 Pro from being used as the boot device for the Skull Canon.

28. Save settings and boot from the Windows 7 USB stick (if your NUC does not boot from USB, you can press F10 at the boot to choose the boot device). Press the F7 key to enter the Windows 7 boot options menu

29. Once you are at the drive/partition selection screen, notice the list is empty. Now insert the 2nd USB Flash Disk which contains the Samsung 950 PRO drivers

30. BROWSE and select the Samsung NVMe Driver folder

31. The NVMe drive will now appear in the partition selection screen, do not hit enter YET. The SSD maybe initialized as a GPT device and early versions of Windows 7 didn’t support GPT devices. To be safe, let’s convert the SSD to an MBR device

32. Press SHIFT + F10 to pull up the command prompt window, then type the following:

DISKPART
LIST DISK
SELECT DISK X (where X corresponds to the drive letter of your Samsung 950 PRO SSD, usually it is 0)
CLEAN

33. Return to Partition selection window and select the refresh icon

34. The NVMe SSD unpartitioned will be displayed. Create a partition leaving approx 20% unpartitioned space for over provisioning, multiply the total capacity of your SSD in GB by 0.8

Example for my 512GB 950 PRO is: 512GB x 0.8 = 409GB so I choose a 400GB as I don’t like to have such a weird number as a 409GB partition

so what I do is: 409.1*1024 = 409704 MB

the reason I put 0.1 is without the 0.1, a 400.0 GB partition will appear as 399.9 GB in Windows so I gave it that extra 0.1GB to have an exact 400 GB partition

35. Start the Windows 7 installation. If during the installation the file copy progress freezes, remove the USB Flash Disk and reinsert. The progress should continue.

36. Follow the below guide to complete the installation and know which Windows Updates to hide

Windows 7 Clean Installation Guide

Updates to hide to prevent Windows 10 Upgrade / Disable Telemetry

37. Once you are in Windows, install the Windows6.1-KB2990941-v3-x64 (NVME Hotfix)

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