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KAPE WinPE Builder


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#1 jjjjoseph

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:48 PM

We are currently evaluating whether to release a simplified WinPE builder, and are looking for some feedback. In a nutshell, we have a GUI builder we have been using internally for a few years now, and wanted to gauge the interest level of such an app before we dedicate any time to cleaning up the interface and usability.

This GUI app essentially encapsulates the functionality of copype.cmd by building a new project folder with each new project, and creates a project level scope to mount/unmount the .wim file as the project is opened/closed in order to work inside the environment. Additionally, it will also create and manage the ISO files as well. It currently has very limited capability for customizing the contents of the WinPE environment, although it provides a simple interface for adding drivers to the .wim file.

Originally designed for internal use only, we simply wanted an easy method to create and manage our own WinPE projects. This app assists in simplifying and automating much of the basic run-around in trying to create and manage a WinPE project. It currently supports WinPE 2.x and 3.x environments.

We understand there are other apps out there to build WinPE environments, which is why we are looking for feedback on such an application. We look forward to the discussion, and welcome any constructive comments. Thank you

#2 jjjjoseph

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 04:58 PM

Hi All,

We are still looking for feedback regarding a simplified WinPE builder, which we may consider for future release. As mentioned in the original post, we are currently using a rough version of this builder for our own use, but wanted to gauge interest from the WinPE world before spending any resources on cleaning it up for release to the public as a freeware application.

Any thoughts on the subject?

#3 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 05:58 PM

I am not sure to understand the "placement" of the app. ;)

I mean, if I get it right, it is "simpler" that MS "normal" way to build a PE, but doesn't offer the amount of options a Winbuilder project like VistaPE or the various 7 based project have.

Thus, it either has a "fixed set" of features, i.e. it is a pre-assembled kind of PE, like UBCD4WIN or the LiveXP "frozen builds" or it is a fully configurable app, as I see it and "on the paper" it could result in an unneeded duplicate of the MS way or of the Winbuilder way.

If I were you I wouldn't ask too much questions, just release it "as is" and as a "Alpha" or "Beta", I doubt you will have any senceful opinion (or opinions at all :cheers:) based on the description you made, whilst if you publish it, it will surely catch the attention of a few of the more "curious and experimenting members" and you will have an answer to your doubts (either hopefully positive :ranting2: or negative :ranting2: )

:ranting2:
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#4 Lancelot

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 07:17 PM

Hi jjjjoseph,

my 2 cents,

FireSage applications, to me have a limited license saying

This software may only be distributed electronically from the official host: http://firesage.com. Distribution through other sites or in any other form without the author's permission is strictly prohibited.

which makes this applications not prefered to be used as plugins for frozen builds ( as jaclaz pointed ) or other distributions .... I have not figure out a good reason why this limitation exists for utilities to be used on PE.

To me, a Simplified WinPe builder with such a limitation is not a good thing too, unless you make something verrrrry good.

Winbuilder is a closed source, freely distributable builder, more or less working fine. You can figure out what is needed for a simplified WinPE builder by making some test builds and inspections with winbuilder projects. Personaly I would like to support an open source, good teamed builder project but as far as i see this is not the goal of FireSage applications and I do not want to see an application turning out to be commercial again after a set of support spending lots of time.

But I may be totally wrong, and you may come with verrrrry good builder (alpha etc. like written above),
I wish my best luck on your task. :ranting2:

#5 jjjjoseph

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:49 PM

I am not sure to understand the "placement" of the app. :ranting2:

I mean, if I get it right, it is "simpler" that MS "normal" way to build a PE, but doesn't offer the amount of options a Winbuilder project like VistaPE or the various 7 based project have.

Yep, spot on. We have been using this builder in one form or another for several years now, and simply wanted to share our work... which prompted the request for interest in such an application. It doesn't break any new ground, but I think it provides a simple method for creating a standard build of WinPE, which may benefit the average user.

I think releasing it as alpha/pre-beta should work well. I expect we can release a rough version within a few of days. Stay tuned.

Thanks!

#6 jjjjoseph

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 01:49 AM

FireSage applications, to me have a limited license saying
which makes this applications not prefered to be used as plugins for frozen builds ( as jaclaz pointed ) or other distributions .... I have not figure out a good reason why this limitation exists for utilities to be used on PE.

We chose to limit distribution of our apps from our domain simply for the sake of being able to track and measure the interest level of each product. While we don't plan to move toward an open source model, we place no limitations on the use of our freeware apps, and have no intention to change freeware apps to commercial... ever!

To me, a Simplified WinPe builder with such a limitation is not a good thing too, unless you make something verrrrry good. But I may be totally wrong, and you may come with verrrrry good builder (alpha etc. like written above), I wish my best luck on your task. :ranting2:

Wait, everything we make is verrrrrry good! :ranting2:
Actually, I want to make sure I clarify that our current suite of apps were created for in-house use, as the need arose, and we are simply sharing our work with the WinPE world rather than letting it sit on the shelf collecting dust. Our goal is to provide a service which this community finds valuable, but we could easily place them back on the shelf if the interest level isn't there. This explains the reason we ask for a little feedback, the apps are already in use by us, but we don't want to invest/waste time unnecessarily if the technology isn't going to help anyone.

As mentioned earlier today, we are working to clean-up the code a little and expect to provide something for review in a few days. Thanks again for the feedback.

-jjjjoseph

#7 Lancelot

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 02:09 AM

We chose to limit distribution of our apps from our domain simply for the sake of being able to track and measure the interest level of each product.

It is really limiting (to me) to anyone making a ready legal distributable pack build without being able to provide the builder itsself...... Well I hope you can find a midway solution which fullfils also your goals.

we place no limitations on the use of our freeware apps, and have no intention to change freeware apps to commercial... ever!

Good to hear that.

Wait, everything we make is verrrrrry good! :ranting2:

which I truely hope.

Actually, I want to make sure I clarify that our current suite of apps were created for in-house use, as the need arose, and we are simply sharing our work with the WinPE world rather than letting it sit on the shelf collecting dust.

I approve that.

Our goal is to provide a service which this community finds valuable, but we could easily place them back on the shelf if the interest level isn't there.

Do not worry about that. My personal philophy for such things, "If something is good, really good, people will find it on net as long as you provide, even if you use an uncommon language" :ranting2:. (but nicer to read english :ranting2: )

This explains the reason we ask for a little feedback, the apps are already in use by us, but we don't want to invest/waste time unnecessarily if the technology isn't going to help anyone.

Well, at least it would help me and you can be sure my interest on this is very real and high. Sadly there is not much things to compare. As an end user and tester (hence supporter) I had some bad experiences which I do not want to live ever again. I hope you understand my concerns & suspicions.

As mentioned earlier today, we are working to clean-up the code a little and expect to provide something for review in a few days. Thanks again for the feedback.

This will help more to figure out what is the main design and ease the support. It is very hard to talk about something that not exists and I feel I already provide good info on previous post under this conditions.

My Best Luck :ranting2:

#8 jjjjoseph

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 02:26 PM

Hi All,

We have prepared an early alpha version of KAPE, our WinPE builder, for initial testing and review. Please remember this is alpha only, some menu items or other components may not be completely functional. The following link will provide for direct download:

Download: http://firesage.com/download.php?kape

Additionally, the web pages supporting KAPE are in the early stages as well, but should provide enough information to understand the options and workings of the application. These pages are not yet linked within the site, but can be reached from the following link:

http://firesage.com/kape

As an early version of this application, we welcome any feedback on the concept, features, or functionality of the product. Thanks!

#9 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 03:24 PM

If I may, at first sight a couple of things are missing in the pages:
Sorry to seem picky, but basically I am picky :ranting2:, and I simply hate when someone says "Windows" or "WAIK" without specifying EXACTLY which version is the subject.
(compare with point #d. of the common sense advice):
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=9101

:cheers:
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#10 dog

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:05 PM

Operating system under which you are running KAPE, eg. Windows XP SP3 64 bit

Tricky :cheers:

#11 jjjjoseph

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 09:59 PM

Wow, you guys are indeed picky ball-busters around here! :ranting2: I suppose I may I deserve a little crap since I need to learn to go to bed rather than spewing web content on unfinished pages until 5 in the morning. :ranting2: I'm going back to bed.

Anyway, to clarify:
- KAPE supports both Vista/2008 and Win7 WAIKs. I have updated the reference page with this information.
- Support content changed on site to list a valid operating system.

Fwiw, we have an earlier version of KAPE which also supports WinPE 1.x, but only plan to release the version supporting Vista WAIK or newer. We don't plan to go there. :ranting2:

#12 Lancelot

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:47 PM

Hi jjjjoseph,

First of all thanks for sharing :).

kape alpha do not support hostosx64 for now, hence give this
http://lancelot.winb...00422010319.png
2 methods to fix:
kape x64 :ranting2:
kape x86 having getting access to restricted folders and registry on hostosx64

so I installed waik to a virtual machine xp32bit to test kape :smart:

Bad things:
not for people who like to have full power on building process
new package integration not possible within kape (not easly expandable)

Good things:
nicely and fastly makes the iso file :ranting2:
not tested but it is good to provide an easy to use driver integration :ranting2:
good design to ask user verification when changes made ;)
Easy to understand and use menus (%95) :ranting2: (%5 is only minor thingies, no need to mention)
After %5 we can say Kape is ready for even newbies which I feel not much time will pass :cheers: (I may start to suggest to friends after this %5)

I guess "Good things" shows the main goal of Kape, hence not providing "Bad things" is understandable. And since I now have a version to test, I can now understand why you do not want distribution freely, and for such a builder I agree this is not required.

As a result I would like to say you guys mostly reach your goals. It is a nice builder for an easy/fast/usable pe2/3x for rescue operations.

;)

#13 andriusst

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 08:32 AM

Fwiw, we have an earlier version of KAPE which also supports WinPE 1.x, but only plan to release the version supporting Vista WAIK or newer. We don't plan to go there. :mellow:


Hi jjjjoseph,

Actually I am interested in KAPE for WinPE 1.x builds. WinPE 1.x boots quicker (especially from USB drive or over LAN) in "flat file" mode and needs less resources to operate - two things that keep me from upgrading to WinPE 2 or 3. I also hate BCD tricekry versus open text boot.ini/winnt.sif approach. So to be honest I don't even see why would anyone want to upgrade as it seems to me that WinPE 1.x is no less capable than its successors.

So I would like to encourage you to share your achievements with WinPE 1.x too.

ps. Quite a few members in this community are hardcore IT pros and no offence to anyone but it is well known that that kind of people lack on communication skills (including myself). So don't get discouraged by fierce criticism as everyone in this community wishes only well and be sure that any effort/input you make is appreciated even if it's not been stated so.

Kind regards,
Andrius S

#14 skyide

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 08:43 AM

I'd be interested to try this out. You can never have too much choice :mellow: Some tools may work better for some people than other. I will try it out.

#15 steve6375

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 09:53 AM

I tried this on Win7 Ult 64bit platform and it seemed to work, but your home page says
'KAPE supports operating under all 32bit Windows operating systems starting with Windows XP. '

Is there an option to create the ISO folder structure (and unmount WIM) but not actually create the ISO. This is so that I can make a bootable flash drive using the files in the ISO folder - I do not need or want to create an actual ISO file?

It looks very useful. I will investigate further. Thanks!

#16 posbis

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 10:53 AM

Hey,

this looks as a great tool to me. It really simplyfies the process around building WinPE the Microsoft way. Up to now I used a batch file which did all the necessary stepsfor me.

And as far as I understand WinBuilder is a different story as its primary goal is not to automate the MS way of builing a WinPE but building
bootable environments out of the distribution DVDs.

Maybe you could add some options such as:

- Adding a start command which would be either injected into startnet.cmd (at the end) or using Winpeshl.ini
- An option to copy some directories (incl. subdirs) into the WinPE environment.
- The possibility to add .NET support (I know this goes into the direction of WinBuilder but as soon as .NET is part of WinPE we can develop cool tools)

Go on please ... Great workso far...

Regards,
Oliver

#17 steve6375

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 12:46 PM

I second the request above ! I would like one folder which is copied over into the boot.wim file whilst it is mounted and another folder which is copied to the final ISO folder so that it appears as folders on the DVD/flash drive. Both should be xcopy /herky commands and both should overwrite any existing files and be one of the last steps.

I too would love .NET support but I realise this may be a tall order.

I do really need it to create a DVD folder so that I can then use RMPrepUSB to copy the files to a USB flash drive. At the moment I have to mount the ISO first to do this which is a bit clumsy. Or you could integrate Bootsage into the app and have a button to launch it (or better yet RMprepUSB :mellow: ) and make a USB flash drive. Also maybe a 'burn' button for people who want to make a real DVD?

P.S. I tried Bootsage but it did not work on my Win7 Ult 64bit system running as Admin - it refused to format my 1GB USB flash drive (neither NTFS or FAT32). You also have to unplug it and then re-plug it which is not very user friendly.

cheers
S

#18 jjjjoseph

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 03:42 AM

I second the request above ! I would like one folder which is copied over into the boot.wim file whilst it is mounted and another folder which is copied to the final ISO folder so that it appears as folders on the DVD/flash drive. Both should be xcopy /herky commands and both should overwrite any existing files and be one of the last steps.

Thanks for the feedback. As a follow-up to your requests, do you see these copy processes being kicked off manually by clicking a button, or more of an automated process which runs each time the project is closed or an ISO is created?

I do really need it to create a DVD folder so that I can then use RMPrepUSB to copy the files to a USB flash drive. At the moment I have to mount the ISO first to do this which is a bit clumsy.


I'm not real clear on this request, would you please expound on the details, and how it differs from the request above?
Thanks

#19 steve6375

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 09:26 AM

do you see these copy processes being kicked off manually by clicking a button, or more of an automated process which runs each time the project is closed or an ISO is created?


A tick box (which is remembered) so that it is automatically copied across if the box is ticked.

I'm not real clear on this request, would you please expound on the details, and how it differs from the request above?

If it is my post then it is the same request (re-emphasized!).

#20 jjjjoseph

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 03:13 AM

Easy to understand and use menus (%95) :mellow: (%5 is only minor thingies, no need to mention)
After %5 we can say Kape is ready for even newbies which I feel not much time will pass :P (I may start to suggest to friends after this %5)

As a result I would like to say you guys mostly reach your goals. It is a nice builder for an easy/fast/usable pe2/3x for rescue operations.

Hi Lancelot, thanks for your detailed review! This was very positive information for us, and has inspired us to further clean up the application and add a few things from all the feedback. We feel we have a version to release as beta, which can be downloaded here: http://firesage.com/download.php?kape. Changes can be viewed here: http://firesage.com/kape/changelog.php

Thanks again, we look forward to making this a valuable application!

#21 jjjjoseph

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 11:05 AM

Maybe you could add some options such as:
- Adding a start command which would be either injected into startnet.cmd (at the end) or using Winpeshl.ini
- An option to copy some directories (incl. subdirs) into the WinPE environment.

Great feedback, thanks. We added the feature to edit the starnet.cmd and winpeshl.ini files directly from KAPE in the latest beta. If the winpeshl.ini does not yet exist, it is created with a sample of the basic syntax of the winpeshl file from here.

We have also added the option to replicate one folder (and all sub-folders) directly into the .Wim file, and another to the ISO folder (on the DVD). This process can be automated to run each time the .Wim is dismounted, or run manually with a Copy Now button.

- The possibility to add .NET support (I know this goes into the direction of WinBuilder but as soon as .NET is part of WinPE we can develop cool tools)

I have placed .NET on the list of features to be reviewed. I don't yet know the scope of such a task, or if it even belongs in KAPE, but I think it's worth visiting. Does anyone have any experience with .NET in WinPE which they would like to share?

#22 jjjjoseph

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 04:25 AM

Actually I am interested in KAPE for WinPE 1.x builds. WinPE 1.x boots quicker (especially from USB drive or over LAN) in "flat file" mode and needs less resources to operate - two things that keep me from upgrading to WinPE 2 or 3. I also hate BCD tricekry versus open text boot.ini/winnt.sif approach. So to be honest I don't even see why would anyone want to upgrade as it seems to me that WinPE 1.x is no less capable than its successors.


Hi Andrius,

We really didn't expect any interest in a WinPE 1.x builder, but decided to retrieve some of the old code from an archive and attempt to re-compile it. In a nutshell we were able to successfully build an updated pewizard.exe, even though we are using updated compilers which potentially could introduce unexpected problems. Anyway, I'm not sure what our long term plans are for PEWizard, but feel free to grab it from the following link for testing: http://firesage.com/...ad.php?pewizard

The download page says Kape, but it still links to PEWizard_test.zip. Creating a project will create the following folders:
- Build: The WinPE binaries will be stored here for successful builds
- PERoot: This WinPE build process will store the output here
- Ancillary: The files in this folder will be replicated to the PERoot folder
- Log: All log files will be stored in this location

Start by clicking on New Project, you will need to specify a new project folder, then point to the WinPE files as well as the properly matched operating system files/CD for this version of WinPE. You can also import both WinPE and OS files into the application, PEWizard will then present the various versions when creating a new project (Tools->Import Media Files).

Once created you will need to Build the project, and can modify many options tied to this instance of WinPE. I believe the Shell and Packaging options are incomplete, but can't confirm since I haven't played with this code for several years now. Mass Storage drivers can be imported from Tools->Manage Storage Drivers, and will be presented in the Mass Storage option for simplified inclusion into the current project.

Anyway, that should get you started. Let me know if you have any questions.

#23 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 10:11 AM

I have placed .NET on the list of features to be reviewed. I don't yet know the scope of such a task, or if it even belongs in KAPE, but I think it's worth visiting. Does anyone have any experience with .NET in WinPE which they would like to share?

There are some expereiences, but if I recall correctly nothing "definitive" by members joakim and wimb, the whole thing is foggy at it's best and intertwined with the new findings by vvurat/kullenen_ask, check and keep an eye on these threads:
http://www.boot-land...?...c=10250&hl=
http://www.msfn.org/...howtopic=143241
http://www.boot-land...?...c=11217&hl=


With all due respect to posbis :P, this:
but as soon as .NET is part of WinPE we can develop cool tools
seems to me like it had to be written as:

since we don't know how to write "cool tools" in all of the programming environments that already work under PE, we suggest to add some BLOATWARE to the build that we assume is needed to write "cool tools".

@posbis, in other words you are exchanging the tools with the goal.

:mellow:
Wonko

#24 dog

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 12:10 PM

joakim has some of dotnet working, maybe doesn't need MOA, not tried:
http://sanbarrow.com...e73861e1cb9a3c3

#25 jjjjoseph

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 08:55 PM

I tried this on Win7 Ult 64bit platform and it seemed to work, but your home page says
'KAPE supports operating under all 32bit Windows operating systems starting with Windows XP. '

Support for Win64 environments will be included in the next beta release later today.

Is there an option to create the ISO folder structure (and unmount WIM) but not actually create the ISO. This is so that I can make a bootable flash drive using the files in the ISO folder - I do not need or want to create an actual ISO file?

KAPE automatically builds the ISO folder structure when a new project is created, which is located at project folder\working\ISO. As long as the Wim file isn't mounted (project closed or while creating the ISO), you should be able to copy the contents of this folder directly to the bootable flash drive. Unlike Copype.cmd, KAPE saves the time and space requirements by utilizing a single boot.wim file, and is automatically placed in the ISO\sources folder when the project is created.

Furthermore, the option to execute specific commands when the Wim is dismounted is being added, which will provide a method to auto-populate your flash drive each time the wim is dismounted. This feature will also be included in the release later today.




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