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Boot to Windows PE 2006 (HDD -> RAM Disk)

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How do you get a machine to reboot to Windows PE 2.0 in a RAMDisk from the HDD? I've found a few sets of instructions on how to do it for Windows PE 2005, but obviously this won't work for the newest version.

If this is possible:

Will this have to be done differently if the current OS is 2000/XP and Vista?

The purpose is to boot to Windows PE in a RAM Disk to image the machine. Can I use an Autounattend.xml file that I created with Windows SIM and have Windows PE use that to locate and install the WIM?

If we get our Volume License server up and running and I setup a machine with an OS that supports it is there any reason that I should Sysprep it before I pull seeing how WIMs are hardware independent?

Its a loaded topic I know. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The main issue is getting Windows PE to boot into a RAM Disk from the HDD. The other questions are more fluffish. ;)


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The WAIK contains al the information you need to boot a WinPE wim from a harddisk. But make sure you have the RTM version, the older WAIK versions was incorrect on this subject.

Do remember that if you want to boot a WinPE 2.0 WIM file from a drive containing XP, you must switch to the NT60 bootloader using BOOTSECT before you reboot.

If the harddrive contains XP, you must built the BCD store and add the required settings to handle the WIM boot (these are in the documentation) If the harddrive contains Vista you must add to the existing BCD instead.

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I use a cut down version of WinRE. By cut down I mean simply using the WinPE image which boots to the command prompt without the recovery programs.

You have to download WinPE from the BDD or from the standalone WinPE package.

Copy the .WIM file and boot.sdi into a \WinRE\ directory on the HDD of your choice. Edit the script below with your settings.

When you boot Vista, press F8 as it boots. If everything has gone well there will be "Repair your installation" as the first option.

set drive=D:
set file=winre.wim

set RAMDISK_OPTIONS={ad6c7bc8-fa0f-11da-8ddf-0013200354d8}
set WINPE_GUID={572bcd56-ffa7-11d9-aae0-0007e994107d}

bcdedit -create %RAMDISK_OPTIONS% -d "Ramdisk Device Options" -device
bcdedit -set %RAMDISK_OPTIONS% ramdisksdidevice partition=%drive%
bcdedit -set %RAMDISK_OPTIONS% ramdisksdipath \WinRE\boot.sdi

bcdedit -create %WINPE_GUID% -d "Windows Recovery Environment" -application OSLOADER
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% device ramdisk=[%drive%]\WinRE\%file%,%RAMDISK_OPTIONS%
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% path \windows\system32\boot\winload.exe
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% osdevice ramdisk=[%drive%]\WinRE\%file%,%RAMDISK_OPTIONS%
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% systemroot \windows
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% detecthal yes
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% nx optin
bcdedit -set %WINPE_GUID% winpe yes

bcdedit.exe -set %WINPE_GUID% custom:46000010 yes
bcdedit.exe -set {default} recoverysequence %WINPE_GUID%
bcdedit.exe -set {default} recoveryenabled yes

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Thanks for the responses. I'll start in on this as soon as I get a chance and let you know how it went.

Thanks again. ;)

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