On Mon, 2 Jul 2007 18:14:45 +1000, "Andrew McLaren"
>There's a fairly useful (if rather high-level) discussion of PE limitations,
>That might shed some light.
Thanks! The title looks familiar (tho the blue looks new)... it's
been a while since I read this (if it is indeed the same one) and I've
had more hands-on, so it's worth reading again. I'll quote as I go...
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Independent
Software Vendors (ISVs) can use Windows PE to build
customized, automated solutions for recovering and
rebuilding computers running Windows Vista. For example,
users could start their computers from Windows PE recovery
CDs or recovery partitions to automatically reformat their hard
disks and re-install Windows Vista with the original drivers,
settings, and applications."
At this point, we kinda feel we're doomed.
To most of us, "recovery" means data recovery, i.e. doing as little as
possible to put at-risk HD contents in the line of fire, and using
cautious tools that can salvage these contents.
But to OEMs with "vendor-vision", all "recovery" means is "wipe away
everything the user may have, and stamp our original factory build
back in place, thus discharging our only service obligation".
That's a bit like asking the mob to run your neighborhood watch.
"Windows PE is not a full-featured operating system"
That's a GOOD thing; neither is Bart. For safety, you want less
automatic activity and risk taking, and less exploitable surface.
But it can be hard to judge what to cut and what to include.
"Like Windows Vista, Windows PE can be contained
within a WIM file. However, when you store a Windows
Vista image in a WIM file, the only way to start Windows
Vista is to copy the image to the computer’s hard disk.
Windows PE, however, can start directly from a WIM file
without being copied to a hard disk. This functionality
enables you to create a WIM file, store it on bootable
media such as a CD or USB flash drive, and start
Windows PE directly from that medium."
That bit is worth reading again, as it implies one may be able to
generate a WinPE from a Vista installation. If so, this could greatly
simplify the integration of tools (which ranges from mildly to very
hard in Bart, and seems beyond my reach in WinPE).
One may be able to:
- install Vista
- install the tools you want
- capture the installation, setting the boot flag
- use as a WinPE maintenance OS, populated with tools
Looks too good to be true, but imagine if it was that easy?
There's a section on using PE for recovery and maintenance, but it is
strikingly shallow. It's like saying "PCs are really neat because you
can write letters in Notepad and print them out"...
"Examples of troubleshooting tasks include:
Replacing system files. You can replace corrupted files
from the original installation media.
Recovering data before reinstalling Windows. Windows
PE provides full access to both FAT and NTFS file systems.
In circumstances where you must replace or reformat a
hard disk, you can start the computer with Windows PE first,
and then copy important files to another disk
Running diagnostic and configuration tools. ( ... )
Built-in tools include:
Drvload. You use the drvload command to add device drivers
There's nothing on the stuff I have to do all the time, i.e. run
3rd-party hard drive diagnostics, data recovery tools, multiple
sequential malware scanners that work relative to the installation's
registry, and run 3rd-party integration managers.
They're still talking "pick-up sticks", copying files one at a time
from a command line.
At this point, I might sound a bit negative - but there's much to like
about WinPE 2.0; many things they got right...
- runs in RAM, allows changing of optical disks
- includes firewall
- hot-detect generic USB storage devices
- boot from USB as well as optical disks
....none of which Bart can do.
This is where I come unstuck:
"Although Windows PE is designed to be small, it contains
much of the core functionality of Windows Vista. Because
Windows PE supports Win32 (just like Microsoft Windows XP
and Windows Vista), most Windows applications will run in
Windows PE. This means that developers in your IT
department can use tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio to
create Win32 applications that run on Windows PE."
, WinPE built for Vista-64 does not run 32-bit code, and my main
problem with WinPE has been an inability to run the tools I need.
A second problem - which requires a bit more "thinking outside the
(pre-installation) box" than "look, we can copy files around!" - is
the matter of providing programs with transparent access to the HD
installation's registry hives as if they were in effect.
That takes a fair bit of thoughtful design, and Paraglider seems to
have anticipated and caterred for most of that in his RunScanner
plug-in for Bart. To replace Bart on Vista (as I would hope to do),
WinPE really needs this functionality.
Perhaps I should search the developers' parts of MS's site to look for
notes on how one could "use tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio to
create Win32 applications that run on Windows PE", as this is where
reasons why things don't work may be spelled out?
Of the limitations stated here, only this...
"Because Windows on Windows (WOW) is not supported,
16-bit applications won’t run in 32-bit versions of Windows
PE, and 32-bit applications won’t run in 64-bit versions of
....explains some of my disappointing mileage, and only for Vista-64.
It's a good article, though not rich in links. For example, I'd have
loved a link from "use tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio to create
Win32 applications that run on Windows PE" :-)
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Who is General Failure and
why is he reading my disk?
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