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Useful info for WinPEs, Wimboot and Compact installs

wimboot compact portables winpe

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#26 wimb

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 09:34 AM

The browser says PS.zip has a virus, I downloaded it anyway as I'm sure it is false positive, but Better reupload it password protected thinking in future readers trying to download it.

 

EDIT: And also will be good if you upload it on your GitHub page too, for easy find it and have all your programs together.

 

 

Done  :)

 

Download:   PS-E.zip  to launch PStart as Admin so that all programs in PStart are Run as Admin

 

PS,exe can be on desktop and when run then PS.exe Searches PStart on any drive. When found PStart is launched as admin.


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#27 alacran

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 09:49 AM

@ wimb

 

JFYI

 

Just tested new PS.exe (from the first link in post No. 23) running it from 10x86 OS, and it works very fine.

 

Once againg, thaks for this new version.

 

alacran


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#28 wimb

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 09:54 AM

 

Just tested new PS.exe (from the first link in post No. 23) running it from 10x86 OS, and it works very fine.

 

 

Thanks for testing and Good to know it is working OK  :)

 

Will make also x64 version  PS_x64.exe and Add it to System_Info can be useful.


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#29 alacran

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 10:04 AM

Will make also x64 version  PS_x64.exe and Add it to System_Info can be useful.

 

Yes, totally agree with you.

 

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#30 alacran

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 11:49 AM

JFYI

 

This info is to complement the info in my previus post No. 22

 

For people like antonino61, (PC with 64 GB of Ram), having a lot of Ram wasted, following info could be useful (not tested by me, this approach requires to be tested):

 

You could do something like the info mentioned in this post, but not using a VHD and Simple VHD Manager, and instead use a program to every boot load on Ram a folder (from a NTFS partition to let you LZX Compact the folder) located into your HD, as a virtual disk with all your portables.

 

I know antonino61 uses Primo Ramdisk (a paid program), but other free tools can also work for this task as ImDisk by Olof Lagerkvist or ImDisk Toolkit by v77, or SoftPerfect RAM Disk 3.4.8, old version that is free for home use and capable to load in Ram up to 4 GB, you can still download it from Major Geeks.

 

I don't have a PC with enought Ram to test this approach myself, so I don't know if this works fine or not, or if the loading to Ram time is very high and the result is not very practical in real life. But I have done something similar loading on Ram with SoftPerfect RAM Disk 3.4.8 every boot the FireFox Profiles folder (after running CCleaner to reduce its size before the first load on Ram) located on %LOCALAPPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles and editing the Profiles folder location in FireFox, and I can confirm it worked very fine in my tests.

 

If some user decides to test this approach, please comment here your findings, to let me and future readers know if this idea works fine or not.

 

alacran


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#31 alacran

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Posted 02 December 2021 - 04:01 AM

This is my experience of how far we can go with reduced VHDs and/or WinPE VHDs until today:

 

Mini-10x64-LZX.vhd 2 GB, from previous post boots as filedisk very fine on a 2 GB Ram PC (Free Ram 1.2 GB).

Also capable to Ramboot very fine on a 4 GB PC as I have tested since long time ago.

 

NOTE: This is a recicled 2 GB VHD, to be exact it was intentionally made of 2046 MB, not 2048 MB to be on the safe side, because of an old issue in grub4dos for UEFI, fortunately yaya solved this issue since some time ago.

 

EDIT: After recapture and reapply LXZ Compacted, numbers from previous post after first boot, are even a little better, previous number were: used space 1.59 GB and free space 404 MB.

 

Now used space is only 1.57 GB and free space is 426 MB, free Ram is 1.2 GB, about same free Ram as my normal installed 10x86 (same build) on real internal drive.

 

Please see Mini-10x64-LZX.png (last photo, just attached).

 

Mini-10x64-WB.vhd:

 

After recapture and reapply in Wimboot mode the VHD from previous posts this are the data.

 

800 MB VHD >>> 463 MB used size >>> 333 MB free size >>> 471 MB free Ram >>> Ramboots very fine on a 2 GB Ram PC.

 

VHD is 800 MB + 1.15 GB linked Wim file = 1978 MB = 1.93 GB Total required space.

 

If VHD is externally lz4 compressed vhd.lz4 file is 122 MB + 1.15 GB linked Wim file = 1300 MB = 1.27 GB Total required space.

 

Win10XPE_x64-WB.vhd:

 

From info mentioned on this post.

 

500 MB VHD >>> 174 MB used size >>> 324 MB free size >>> 550 MB free Ram >>> Ramboots very fine on a 2 GB Ram PC.

 

VHD is 500 MB + 765 MB linked Wim file = 1265 MB = 1.235 GB Total required space.

 

If VHD is externally lz4 compressed vhd.lz4 file is 47 MB + 765 MB linked Wim file = 812 MB = 0.793 GB Total required space.

 

Please see attached photos.

 

alacran

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#32 alacran

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 09:44 AM

In order to try to achieve the smaller Mini-10x64.vhd, I tested several versions, and the 20H1 or 2004 is the easier to reduce, as to start it is less bloated.

This is my very last Mini-10x64.vhd (based on 20H1 or 2004):

Single NTFS partition, boot files/folders into it, also installed: 7-zip, Sumatra PDF, Classic Shell and ImDisk Toolkit programs.

10x64-20H1-LZX.vhd >>> 2 GB >>> used size = 1.42 GB just installed >>> 586 MB free (525 to 550 MB free after boot) >>> 17468 files

10x64-20H1-WB.vhd >>> 800 MB >>> used size = 366 MB just installed >>> 430 MB free (320 to 350 MB free after boot) >>> 1.07 GB WIM file.

10x64-20H1-WB.vhd.lz4 >>> 121 MB + 1.07 GB coupled WIM file = 12617 MB or 1.19 GB required to hold it.

 

Additional comments:

 

The folder \Windows\System32\Tasks is less than a half MB, I don't see any need to delete anything into it to recover the space of disabled tasks, there is no substantial gain in doing it, also about the services disabled, the services are controled by svchost.exe (Service Host), so there is no way to recover space here.

It seems to me that we have almost reached the limit, and future further reductions will be accompanied by loss of functions.

 

alacran

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#33 alacran

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:03 AM

Forgot to comment I made new versions of Utilities folder (located into the user Documents folder), they are now 3 *.cmd scripts to let us:

  1. Only clean the OS into the VHD, (it is paused now to let the user see what it did).
  2. Clean the OS and Shutdown.
  3. Clean the OS and Reboot.

New lines added, to cover several versions, cases, so some do not apply in all 10 versions, edit it IAW your preferences.

 

You can select/use one or more IAW your preferences.

 

Please see attached Utilities New versions.7z file

 

EDIT: The *.cmd files were renamed to more appropriate names, and also updated to include new info on this post

Utilities New versions-UPDATED.7z password is my user name = alacran

alacran

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#34 wimb

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:21 AM

Apart from reducing UsedSize it might be interesting to Remove Tasks and to Disable Services.

 

I am working on a program that can do this in Online Windows.

 

The program will also Un-Install Windows Apps so that Start Menu is Free from unused entries of Removed Apps as occur in case of Win_Reduce.

 

I am working with PowerShell Scripts that are launched through New to be developed AutoIt3 program Win_Debloat_x64.exe

 

EDIT: Thanks for Utilities New versions - will be used in next version of Win_Reduce ....


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#35 antonino61

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 11:13 AM

I keep enthusing at what the 2 of u r doing and I would like to contribute my list of 0-byte files, consisting of files and/or folders windows writes to at the end of bootup. I have just run alacrán's cleanall script and saw it cleans a lot, but i can tell u I saw windows writing on many of the files and/or folders on the follouwing list:

It is only for u to check if some address or other of these is worth adding to the cleanup prog. Me I have checked that everything is ok with the zeroings (I wasn't able to do this on all the files I have found windows writing to, so I had to junction them back from ram or even leave them alone, and these instances are obviously not on the list).

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#36 alacran

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 09:59 PM

Usually a just re-captured and re-applied Mini-10x64-LZX.vhd, used size is about 130 MB bigger after first boot.

 

Note: this size may vary depending of different versions of OS and PCs, but I have found it's usually 130 MB +/- 2 MB

 

So a lot of files/folders are written to the (real or virtual) drive, not only the multimentioned LOG and ETL files, that for now we have them almost under control.

 

In order to investigate what files/folders are created just after first booting on my brand new Mini-10x64-LZX.vhd (20H1 or 2024), I made following:

  1. Made a brand new re-captured and re-applied build
  2. Booted the VHD on Ram
  3. Attached same VHD
  4. Made File_Lists of both
  5. Compare the File_Lists in notepad++

Please download and see attached Dif after boot.7z file, it's too long to paste it on the post.

 

alacran

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#37 antonino61

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:17 PM

can we stop the writing? i have placed all possible zero byte files just to prevent writing. what is its behavior when it "sees" it can't write to this, that, and the other file or folder? I saw it tries to write anyway, sometimes even to alternative files and/or folders, but it might as well be my self-suggestion. have u noticed any such thing?

plus, why does the test have to be done on ram? can it not be done on filedisk-booting?

 

btw, I checked ur differential list - are u sure it is not too optimistic? pls compare it to most of the files on my O-byte file and or folder list; I reckon about 30% more stuff than u have detected? have u checked successive writing after successive booting?

 

me, I have tested what I say I have found out by making a swiftsearch64 on the whole online filediskbooted vhd and clicking on "last written" and top of the list I find the same files and folders as well as other files and folders at later bootings, especially if I zero-byte what it has already written to. this is why I say what I say.

 

we also have to consider the impact of our simply "moving about" from one app to another on the overall "bulging" of the used space on vhd, which uncompacts several files each time we do so, so system writing to disk is not the only factor. this is why I think it is better to compact the vhd online, as offline compacting will soon be "neutralized" by ordinary operations. at least we can spare repetitious offline-online compacting and uncompacting. am I not correct?


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#38 alacran

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:46 PM

Apart from reducing UsedSize it might be interesting to Remove Tasks and to Disable Services.

 

I am working on a program that can do this in Online Windows.

 

The program will also Un-Install Windows Apps so that Start Menu is Free from unused entries of Removed Apps as occur in case of Win_Reduce.

 

I am working with PowerShell Scripts that are launched through New to be developed AutoIt3 program Win_Debloat_x64.exe

 

EDIT: Thanks for Utilities New versions - will be used in next version of Win_Reduce ....

 

Good idea, my friend.

 

Maybe some of following info could be useful for you:

 

For now I have beein using schtasks command line utility (C:\Windows\System32\schtasks.exe) works fine online and offline too if you open a command prompt as TI, (the way I tested it by means of PowerRun from the normal installed OS or  booting on Win10XPE_x64), change the working directory to attached VHD and just run schtasks (let's say W:\schtasks), and it should let you moddify and/or delete the selected tasks (even protected tasks).

 

For additional info please see:

 

schtasks change >>> https://docs.microso...schtasks-change

schtasks delete >>> https://docs.microso...schtasks-delete

 

Also previously user installed programs that may still appear as installed programs even after removing all the files/folders, icons, etc., related to them, as the info is still in the Registry they still appear as installed programs, to get rid of this undesirable entries we can do following online:

  • Open Regedit.exe (preferable as TI, as some keys could be protected)
  • If the program is/was 64 bits go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\
  • If the program is/was 32 bits go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\
  • Find desired program and delete the Key
  • If you can't find it, open one by one all the {XXXXXXX}, and read it's DisplayName untill you find the name you are looking for, and delete the Key.

Same can be done offline booting from Win10XPE_x64 and using Offline Regedit by paraglider if I remember well.

 

alacran



#39 alacran

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 12:13 AM

can we stop the writing?

 

In a simple word : NO, the OS is designed to write on the media always, it can't boot from a only readable media. Only thing we can do is mitigate it, avoiding as much as possible the ETL and LOG files.

 

And it doesn't seems to me a good idea online or offline delete ALL the files/folders created after first boot, as they will be recreated again.

 

If Rambooting, there is no reason to worry about this, as ALL this files/folders are volatile, and are not written to the physical VHD. That is exactly your case.

 

In case of Filedisk booting I assume majority of non ETL or LOG files are created only once, (requires further tests), if this is the case we could use WOF_Compress by wimb to apply Compact LZX compression to this files only once and minimize it's impact, if this is not the case then we can periodically recompress the content of the VHD to also minimize the impact of new files created.

 

But the best option with no dubt is: Avoid Filedisk booting from our Mini VHD and only Ramboot from it, and it will remain allways unchanged.

 

Optionally users could have (as I do) a Mini VHD for Filedisk booting only if required, and same vhd.lz4 compressed with lz4 compressor, only for Rambooting, that not only is loaded on Ram faster, but also at the same time is a useful backup, as just decompressing it we will have again a new unpolluted VHD.

I recommend to make the decompression on another drive and then copy the VHD file back to desired final location to avoid the VHD file fragmentation, and avoid defragmenting it in place as it may take longer, or if we want to avoid excessive wear in a USB device.

 

alacran



#40 alacran

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 02:54 AM

About 0 bytes files to avoid a folder or file to be recreated, when Filedisk booting:

 

This is the list of my 0 bytes files, only readable is required if replacing a file but not required if replacing a folder.

 

Spoiler

 

EDIT: The list was edited to inlude the new info on this post.

 

@ wimb

 

Would you please update \Win_Reduce_Trusted\Win_reduce\Custom_Command.cmd, on next version of your Win_Reduce program?

 

alacran


Edited by alacran, 09 December 2021 - 08:40 PM.

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#41 wimb

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 06:01 AM

Would you please update \Win_Reduce_Trusted\Win_reduce\Custom_Command.cmd, on next version of your Win_Reduce program?

 

 

The 2 lines with \Users\Yo\ cannot be added in general like this  in Custom_Command.cmd since they are UserName specific

 

\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader\edb.log is a file and not a folder.

 

Mat be you mean I can Add:

 

\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader


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#42 antonino61

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 06:36 AM

Thanks alacrán for the tips on the logfiles folder; I do not think I have many more zero-byte files than u, I mean those I have created. As I said earlier, my list does not show only the 0-byte files I have created, but includes those which have always been 0-byte files in their own right. as for the *.etl and log files, I do not have that much writing on the part of the system now, honestly. What I would like to ascertain, or have ascertained by anyone who has experienced it, is "apart from the already ascertained logfiles folder, which u have so neatly explained, what does the system do when it meets with a 0-byte file? you say it overwrites ex-folder zero-byte files; r u sure that it is always so? I have several cases of the kind and I have not seen a new *etl or *log right there in weeks; I see one or the other elsewhere now and then.  Still my self-suggestion?



#43 alacran

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 07:07 AM

Please read carefully, I said this:

 

 

But there is no case in doing the same on this files (located into the VHD):

\Boot\BCD.LOG
\EFI\Microsoft\Boot\BCD.LOG
\EFI\Microsoft\Recovery\BCD.LOG

As during respective boot as MBR/CSM or UEFI they will be overwritten

 

It clearly means it is related to the following 3 listed files, if not why the hell waste my time making the list and creating all the other 0 bytes files.

 

EDIT: But anyway I will change it to:

 

But there is no case in doing the same on following 3 files (located into the VHD)

 

alacran



#44 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 09:01 AM

Please read carefully, I said this:

 

 

It clearly means this, and only this, if not why the hell waste my time making the list and creating all the other 0 bytes files.

 

EDIT: But anyway I will change it to:

 

But there is no case in doing the same on this 3 following files (located into the VHD)

 

alacran

 

Maybe these or these three files would be more appropriate.

 

:duff:

Wonko



#45 alacran

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 09:29 AM

The 2 lines with \Users\Yo\ cannot be added in general like this  in Custom_Command.cmd since they are UserName specific

 

\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader\edb.log is a file and not a folder.

 

Mat be you mean I can Add:

 

\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader

 

I already changed all paths involving the user account to relative paths.

All those with extension are files not folders as you already know very well.

 

In the case of those files, there are more stuff into the same folder (respectively) so I only replaced the files manually.

 

But if my suggestion/request can't be implemented in the Custom_Command.cmd, no problem my friend.

 

alacran


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#46 alacran

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 09:31 AM

Maybe these or these three files would be more appropriate.

 

:duff:

Wonko

Thanks Wonko, I appreciate you corrected my mistake, and I will fix it right now.

 

alacran



#47 wimb

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 10:20 AM

I already changed all paths involving the user account to relative paths.

All those with extension are files not folders as you already know very well.

 

In the case of those files, there are more stuff into the same folder (respectively) so I only replaced the files manually.

 

But if my suggestion/request can't be implemented in the Custom_Command.cmd, no problem my friend.

 

 

Thanks for correction and Info. See what I can do to Update Custom_Command.cmd



#48 alacran

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 12:00 PM

New Info

 

\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader >>> related to download updates
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\WebCache >>> related to Edge and/or Internet explorer navigation cache

I deleted both folders, and rebooted without issues, so it seems it's safe to delete them.

 

alacran


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#49 wimb

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 12:02 PM

\ProgramData\Microsoft\Network\Downloader >>> related to updates

%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\WebCache >>> related to Edge and/or Internet explorer navigation

I deleted both folders, and rebooted without issues, so it seems it's safe to delete them.

 

 

Good, that can be added to Custom_Command.cmd

 

Thanks for testing  :)



#50 antonino61

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Posted 09 December 2021 - 01:17 PM

Sorry to reply so late, but I do not think we are tryng to waste our own time, never mind anybody else's. we are only trying our best for the good of everybody and ourselves, of course. 

 

I started my pc and this picture tells u what I have found in the first 2 mins after booting:

 

 

 

 

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