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Build a Window 7 PE Boot disk with WinBuilder

We use a PE disk to boot the fist machine at a remote site to set up a Ghost server from a NAS.  As we got newer machines the XP based BartPE disk was not working as well as we wanted.  So I sat out to build a Windows 7 boot disk that would make things better and hopefully load quick and have drives that we need for newer hardware.    I built a Vista PE disk that worked well but just wanted a Windows 7 one.  It turned out to be pretty easy with a guide and set of scripts that were put together.  I found them at Reboot.pro and there is a link at the bottom of the page.

There are a few things you will need but the biggest is the Windows Automation Tool Kit that is downloaded from Microsoft.  There is also the different ones, one for Vista and one for Windows 7.    Anyhow here are the files you will need to add to the Winbuilder folders to make it work.

  1. bcdedit.exe
  2. imagex.exe
  3. wimfltr.inf
  4. wimfltr.sys
  5. wimgapi.dll

Also you will need different version based on the source disk that you are using.  If you are using Window 7 with no service packs you will need the files from the Vista WAIK 6001 and if you use Windows 7 SP1 you will need the Windows 7 WAIK 6.1.  You will need only the imagex.exe and the wimgapi.dll files.  If you want you can just put them both in there and not have to worry about it later.  They are automatically renamed so they both can exist in the same folder.

This is the program I used to get everything going and it works really well.  It takes a little practice to get use to the application but for the most part it is very easy to use and as long as everything is setup right you just it play and it does the rest.  I need to add Ghost to the PE so I could image the first machine from the NAS.  There is a tab called Tools that allows you to setup scripts to add applications and executables  into the PE disk.  If you have any experience with ini files or basic configuration files you can figure out how to build a script using this tool.  It also to make this work you have to have the program files and it will add them into the script.  Here is what it looks like:

I know this one says XP but it is the same I just didn’t have this screen shot so I Googled it.  Anyhow you add the file, modify a few entries and you are set.

The programs that you can add to this boot disk can make it very big.  So I have two versions a basic trimmed down version and a big bulky version.  The difference is about a gigs worth of data.  We have some machines that only have CDROM drives so that has to be a consideration before you build the PE disk.  To setup what you want in the disk you start with just going through the set of scripts that are part of the Win7PE_SE package.  This has some options that are not checked and somethings you may not need.  So it will take some time if you are brand new to this.

Well here is what my PE looks like:

As I went through the scripts I saw a part that talked about the Hiren’s boot CD and so I added it to the PE and it has a ton of utilities that really make an administrators life better.  Here is a glimpse at some of the tools:

 

The final part that I really like is the part that allows you to add usb portable apps to you PE disk.  I installed the menus but I didn’t install any apps just to keep my image small enough to fit on a CD-R but it you want you can add them all.  Which takes this Win7 PE disk to the next level in functionality.  Just to show you I added it here is my last screen shot:

I like to put screen shots into my post just to show what is going on and to help people visualize what it can look like.  So sorry if you think this is too many.  Anyhow if you want to build a boot disk for a specific function like I did or you just want a utility disk to help you fix broken machines.  This is a very nice PE and I have no complaints.  I have also had people as me for copies so they can add it to their library for future use.  So check it out and I am sure you will like what you get.

Links:

This page has everything you will need:   http://reboot.pro/12427/

Here is a link to WinBuilder for various PE disks: http://reboot.pro/forum/22/

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