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Using WinPE without a graphics card


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Hi there,

i've tried to use WinPE on a server without a graphics card. To recognize that WinPE have been booted successfully WinPE sends an email at startup. If i put in a grafics card everything works fine but without a grafics card WinPE doesn't come up. Does anyone know if its possible to use WinPE without a grafics card? If so, what have to be changed on WinPE?


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The Microsoft SAK (Storage product) support Headless systems. But not in the sense of removing the physical video card. It installs a video shim that disables the video redirect to the monitor. You will see the machine post, and the windows animated graphic.. and thats all.

As mentioned above, the motherboard you are using must support being able to boot without a graphics adapter. in most cases it will fail the post check and beep at you.

Out of curosity, why would you want to do this?


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I'm a colleague of mkeller, so let me clarify a bit until he replies ;)

@getwired: Yes, the NIC is supported and works fine. In fact, everything we want tdo with WinPE works just

fine when we simply plug in an old PCI graphics card into the same machine. Take it out, try again, it

doesn't even ping. :wacko: I verified so far that the WindowPE image actually gets loaded from our TFTP

server, so

@ChrisBaksa: yes, the hardware does support booting without a graphic card. We use the same hardware

for Linux installs, and they work fine. Just to clarify a bit: We boot a Windows PE image from an internal

TFTP Sever, using PXE boot. I can see (on the TFTP server) that - even without a display adapter installed -

the machine downloads the PE image and tries to start it. So booting without a graphic card is not a problem.

To narrow it down, I modified the autorun0network.cmd to put out some "checkpoint" messages in a log

file on C:\. Again, these are present WITH a graphics installed, and are not without one. So, that .cmd

file doesn't even get executed, which leads me to believe the error is already happing at boot time of the

PE image. Problem is: How in the world can I find out what the problem/issue/error message is, without

having a display adapter?! To add to the misery, the Motherboard doesn't support console

redirection :realmad:

As for why we have hardware without onboard graphics: We had to order this special board because it

was the only one that met all the requirements we had at the time we had to order it. We'll get other

Hardware WITH display adapters only in a few weeks time, so we somehow have to get PE running on

these boards in the mean time. Beats me how to do it, though... :} Any ideas?



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