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Windows Thread, Customisable Boot Partition(s)? in Technical; Hi all, I was just wondering if it was possible to create your own boot partition, such as the one ...
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    bandgeekmafia78's Avatar
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    Customisable Boot Partition(s)?

    Hi all,

    I was just wondering if it was possible to create your own boot partition, such as the one that comes hidden when you get your computer on the hard drive and not on a CD or DVD. I want to be able to keep everything in one place and have it custom made, so if I have any problems at all, I just press F11 at start up and then the reimaging from the hard drive starts up. I know I can do this from a CD/DVD using Acronis True Image and Norton Ghost, but I want to eliminate the added extra CD's that I would have to scrounge up from some place I put it and it would definitely speed up the reimaging time.

    This is just more of a curiousity thing rather and would make building computers for someone much easier if they ever come into any problems.

    I would be interested in adding the Hiren's applications into a boot partition, in particular for Universal TCP/IP Network (with Ghost).

    Many thanks!

    Alan
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    Re: Customisable Boot Partition(s)?

    This is exactly the system I use for reimaging our school machines. I install SystemRescueCD (a small Linux distribution containing handy tools to do system restore/fixing stuff) on a small partition on the harddrive, then use the Grub bootloader to decide at boot-time which system (Windows or reimaging partition) to load up.

    SystemRescueCD comes with instructions on how to install itself on a harddrive. The system is being actively updated and patched - a patch to fix a boot problem with our brand new Dell Vostro 200's was out within a day of me needing it (might want to make sure you use the very latest "beta" version, as that will have the newest updates on).

    Our system restores images from the network, but you can just make your restore partition a bit bigger and store the system image on there too. A basic Windows XP image with no applications makes a 2.5GB or so disk image. The program you want to do imaging is called Partimage - just type "partimage" in SystemRescueCD to start it.

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    Re: Customisable Boot Partition(s)?

    Cheers David,

    Going to give this a try. Thanks for your advice!

    Alan

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    Re: Customisable Boot Partition(s)?

    Something I've thought about but never tried is to use a mix of PXE boot and Ghost Gdisk or similar.

    Sequence would be:

    F12 - boots from network, loads DOS and runs GDisk to "unhide" the partition containing DOS, Ghost and a copy of the image. finally, reboots.

    Machine now boots to DOS from hard disc, runs Ghost which copies image from the current boot partition to the Windows partition. finally, runs GDISK to hide the DOS partition and unhide the Windows partition and reboots to Windows.

    Why do all this rather than just boot from the disc using (say) Linux as above? My thinking is that the PXE boot process could automagically copy in a new image if it's needed or do other clever things but I'm not sure what they would be :-)

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    Re: Customisable Boot Partition(s)?

    I think they idea of a hidden recovery partition is a very good idea. Particularly if the image in the recovery parition can be updated with new apps and patches.

    At the moment I think the easiest way to achieve that is using WinPE in XP or WinRE in Vista. Unfortunately both are only available to software assurance customers so a more accessible way to accomplish this would be really handy. Like the ideas brought forward by dhicks. Anyone got any other suggestions ? Or examples of how they are doing it at the moment.

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    Re: Customisable Boot Partition(s)?

    A restore-from-network system could operate via PXE boot. Install Windows (or whatever you want) on the harddrive of your machine (no need for separate, hidden partitions). Then install a PXE boot loader, so when the computer boots it loads an OS image from the network. Have a server on the network that provides OS images via TFTP, depending on the mac address of a machine - i.e. when the server sees machine X start up, it knows to give it OS image Y.

    Make the default PXE-provided OS something simple that just passes control over to the locally installed OS. So, by default, the PC boots, spends a second or two loading a very small OS from the network, which then promptly passes control back to the local machine.

    Then, when you want to reimage a machine, simply instruct the server that when it sees machine X boot, give it an OS image like SystemRescueCD that can reimage a machine.

    Probably an idea to have a nice GUI for the server-side part of things, so you just have a list of machines that you can pick to be reimaged.

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