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Run Windows 7 from RamDisk

ramdisk grub4dos firadisk windows 7 vhd

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#1 far.in.out

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 08:15 PM

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Run Windows 7 (and other NT 6.x versions of Windows) from Grub4Dos's RamDisk

UPDATED 18.04.2013
Covers installing Windows 7 to VHD, installing and configuring Grub4Dos, installing FiRaDisk driver.
Finally, describes loading VHD image into RAM and booting it.

 

New, refined videoguide... including x64 instructions and some corrections...

Combined with an updated guide here

http://tech.outcult....ials/winram/01/

it's now sort of interactive  ;)

 

 

Download guide files here.

 

WinRAM 18.04.13
Last Updated Apr 18 2013 09:09 PM

 


Edited by far.in.out, 18 April 2013 - 09:33 PM.

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#2 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 08:23 AM

Very nice work! :thumbsup:

:cheers:
Wonko

#3 misty

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:29 AM

@far.in.out
Nice guide.

I've only skimmed through it at the moment so please excuse me if this was covered (and missed by me) but does it include any tips on reducing the Windows installation size.

I have 4GB RAM on my desktop - any tips on shrinking Windows 7 to meet these RAM restrictions. Just out of curiosity, how small was your WIndows 7 installation?

Regards,

Misty

#4 far.in.out

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 01:03 PM

Thanks... No, size reduction is not a part of this particular guide. That kind of a subject would require a separate guide to be covered in detail. I may come up with something eventually if there's need. There should be enough info on the net about it I would think though...

I used RT7Lite and some extreme component removal to shrink my systems for testing purposes. Sizes were
for 32 bits system - 1.79 GB
for 64 bits system - 3.22 GB
Also used Windows Embedded Standard 7 SP 1, installed minimum configuration system - size was under 1 GB.
Win Embedded 7 is a very interesting thing for running from RAM. Hadn't the time to play more with it but looks very promising so far. Check it out.

#5 far.in.out

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 12:17 PM

uploaded a videoguide, take a look

#6 SIW2

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 01:51 PM

Great - thanks.

Your rt7lite presets download for x64_001.inf contains the x86_001.inf.

OK -it is working now - needed to repair the download - dunno what happened there.

Thanks again, looks good.

Edited by SIW2, 20 July 2012 - 01:53 PM.


#7 far.in.out

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 02:11 PM

You are welcome!
Those presets are extreme removal, you need something else for everyday use. I'll upload some more presets later.
Also, for x64 version you need to enable testsigning before installing FiraDisk driver, refer to html documentation for details.

#8 Tropy

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:28 PM

Should this not also be abel for win XP its mutch smaller i think!

 

will try at days( yes you need an win7 for the Vhd) i have

 

will play a little with this

 

 

mfg Tropy



#9 ReTokener

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:49 PM

It´s great - far.in.out

 

Thank You very much for sharing Your experience!

It is a very interesting subject!

Very good video also!

 

May I ask You some Questions?

You are starting grub4DOS from bootmgr, grub shows up to provide ~5GB RAM.

What would be provided when You install grub on blank disk? Also 5GB?

Or is it dependend on what Win7x64 can deal with?

 

The com-magazin says You gotta have 8GB RAM minimum:

 

http://www.com-magaz...html?no_cache=1

 

But isn´t 32bit OS limited to use 3,25GB?

Sounds contradictorily to me.

It would also be interesting to know if the VHD-boot option, especially VHD-booting by grub, is limited to Enterprise and Ultimate.

 

Regards T.

 


Edited by ReTokener, 21 February 2013 - 09:01 PM.


#10 far.in.out

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:18 AM

Hi. VHD boot is available on Ultimate, Professional and Enterprise editions (also Server 2008 R2 ofc). This is from hdd, native Windows VHD workflow.

When booting from RAM however you can do it with any edition i think, since you are not using VHD logic but rather booting a raw disk image from RAM...

Grub4Dos always shows the amount of accessible RAM, has nothing to do with where it is run from, blank disk or flash disk or cd rom or whatever.

You can tell Grub to only use RAM above some point in memory address space, so you can have all the accessible RAM left to Windows and the rest used for RamDisk.



#11 Robbin2

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

Hi far.in.out, thanks for great video and guide (also on forum.ru-board.com)

 

Using:

WES7

A-DATA N005 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive

 

I've got some Qs:

1. Running diskless system with USB flash drive, copy to RAM process is extremely slow, only 8MB/s, its 16 minutes for my 7680MB VHD. This is a problem in USB controller, or Flash drive, or GRUB4DOS limitations? Flash drive supports USB 3.0 (though motherboard doesn't) and shows speeds up to 70MB/s for read and write (33MB/s in USB 2.0 mode)

2. After booting in WES7 the system show that it installed RAM disk, and asks if I would like to restart system now, or later. Is there any solution to remove this pop-up window? Maybe to attach a grub4dos ram disk while native boot from VHD, so that WES7 could store information about new device, or anyhow disable this question in system?

 

 

And some tips for those who will follow the guide:

1. You can't install all described in this tutorial stuff without ANY physical HDD in system. Windows will not install itself in VHD file located on Flash drive, if the Flash drive is the only drive in the system.

2. While installing GRUB4DOS on diskless system (with flash drive) dont forget to to change the "store" with BCD file location in Install_Grldr.CMD (I had to change the C: to D:, because booted VHD was the C: drive without BCD, and D: was the flash drive with all boot stuff)



#12 far.in.out

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:58 PM

Hey Robbin2, glad to see ru-board'ers here. :)

My VHD's load from HDD like 100MB/s, so this is either a usb bus speed issue with ur hardware or grub4dos usb issue in general, but not grub4dos speed limitation...

Yes you can mount a small Ramdisk while booting from HDD and let system install that hardware, afterwards it shouldn't ask any questions.



#13 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:42 PM

And some tips for those who will follow the guide:

1. You can't install all described in this tutorial stuff without ANY physical HDD in system. Windows will not install itself in VHD file located on Flash drive, if the Flash drive is the only drive in the system.

Maybe, just maybe, this is connected with the way Windows sees the VHD and the Flashdrive, and cannot decide where to store the pagefile and/or something of the like prevents the install.

This:

http://reboot.pro/to...n-302/?p=162123

http://reboot.pro/to...-usb-hard-disk/

is worth a try.

 

:cheers:
Wonko



#14 ReTokener

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 02:08 PM

Hello

VHD boot, no problem for XP with installed Firadisk driver.

HDTune states: Transfer Rate: Average 1400MB/sec.

 

Btw. How can I post a picture here in this post? (Please excuse this question, but I can´t find the answer :cold:  )

 

Regards T.



#15 MedEvil

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 02:51 PM

I've got some Qs:
1. Running diskless system with USB flash drive, copy to RAM process is extremely slow, only 8MB/s, its 16 minutes for my 7680MB VHD. This is a problem in USB controller, or Flash drive, or GRUB4DOS limitations? Flash drive supports USB 3.0 (though motherboard doesn't) and shows speeds up to 70MB/s for read and write (33MB/s in USB 2.0 mode)
It's a problem with your BIOS.
It has a bad USB driver.
You can try using Plop. Maybe it helps.

:cheers:

#16 Robbin2

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 10:35 PM

Yes you can mount a small Ramdisk while booting from HDD and let system install that hardware, afterwards it shouldn't ask any questions.

Could you please explain how it could be done? Use ImDisk? Won't it use its own drivers, instead of Firadisk?

 

Maybe, just maybe, this is connected with the way Windows sees the VHD and the Flashdrive, and cannot decide where to store the pagefile and/or something of the like prevents the install.

This:

http://reboot.pro/to...n-302/?p=162123

http://reboot.pro/to...-usb-hard-disk/

is worth a try.

 

:cheers:
Wonko

I believe its because of Widnows' inablity to work with 2 partitions on Flash drive. Maybe if I have Windows installed on Flash Drive, and try to install another window on this drive but in VHD it stops because of this limitation. Windows Embedded Standard 7 with my template does not create pagefile by default at all.

 

It's a problem with your BIOS.
It has a bad USB driver.
You can try using Plop. Maybe it helps.

:cheers:

Im using SuperMicro SuperServer 7046GT-TRF, and I'm pretty sure it is not because of BIOS. Meanwhile, could you please provide a link on "how to" or some config for plop to upload VHD in RAM disk and boot it?



#17 sixcentgeorge

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:20 PM

i made something that is closed to your project :]

it means that i used another topic to help me build the win7-vhd .

 

i used  : Universal HDD Image files for XP and Windows 7, Boot VHD Image files with Grub4dos Menu on HDD or USB

http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=23553

 

to install the win7 x64  , i found that best size for the vhd is above 12 Go and i have set it at 16 Go . 16 Go being also the amount of ram of the mainboard . i used easeus and win7 to reduce the size of the vhd . first i compressed the ntfs partition , then shrinked and made a copy of it in a new file below the 12Go .

i skipped the "Adding bootmgr and shrinking the VHD"

and did all the "Installing FiraDisk"

 

 

i tried the reduced vhd no gziped and it booted well : http://postimage.org/image/9vtu1802v/

 

during first boot windows was returning to the prompt until i used the boot with not signed driver : firadisk . i will change that in my vhd , may be that is a missing step of your doc ?

i also would like to learn more about the TESTSIGNING_ON/TESTSIGNING_OFF commands

great tutorial , the other one i used has a tool that shrink a lot the vhd but it is too much and it makes a pewin7 . do you know something that remove unneeded files . its tools removes 8 of my 12 Go , may be 4 Go can be removed without altering win7 ? i would install a game server instead 



#18 Robbin2

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:33 PM

Meanwhile I tried different server (Dell Precision 7600) and different flash drive too, the speed is the same, 8MB/s :( seems to be a limit of GRUB4DOS.

 

By the way, is there any way to load a .VHD from network to RAM? Maybe through iSCSI or AoE? But as i know RAM disks only work with GRUB4DOS, and GRUB4DOS does not work with iSCSI or AoE, any alternatives?



#19 MedEvil

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:18 PM

Meanwhile I tried different server (Dell Precision 7600) and different flash drive too, the speed is the same, 8MB/s :( seems to be a limit of GRUB4DOS.
Really? Most of my computers boot even slower, but one does boot with the full speed the stick can provide. ~27MB/s

:cheers:

#20 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:25 PM

I believe its because of Widnows' inablity to work with 2 partitions on Flash drive. Maybe if I have Windows installed on Flash Drive, and try to install another window on this drive but in VHD it stops because of this limitation. Windows Embedded Standard 7 with my template does not create pagefile by default at all.

Just TRY the given driver and report.

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#21 sixcentgeorge

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:44 AM

i learned about the test signing and found something that seems to be a good solution : ReadyDriver Plus V1.2  http://www.citadelin...ies.net/rdp.php

the trouble is to install it in the vhd . i used EasyBCD 2.2 but it was not able to edit the command-lines [ at least in my hands...]

 

someone can make a package and a little explanation about that method



#22 iphoughton1979

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 03:29 PM

Hi, newbie here.

 

I've managed to get this to work using the video at the top of the post, however, GRUB4DOS only sees about 4.5GB of my 8GB RAM, meaning only a very lite W7 install will work.  I understand that this is because G4D needs contiguous memory,  I currently have 2x 4gb Sticks in my machine and I was thinking of buying a single 8GB stick to try and get G4D to see more of it.

 

Does anyone know if this will work before I spend the money on an 8GB RAM stick?  Has anyone managed to get G4D to see a substantial amount of RAM, 6GB+, 8GB?

 

When I did get the lite W7 to work, and did a speed check, the results where amazing..... Access Time 0.2 MS, sequential and random read of about 4GB/Sec.  I just didn't like the lite version of W7.

 

Cheers



#23 sixcentgeorge

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 04:47 PM

to create my vhd , I used this present topic and another one made for using a usb to host the vhd : http://www.911cd.net...showtopic=23553

some tools are used to reduce the size of win7 below 4 Go or even 2 Go

 

 

VHD_W7_Compact.png

 

 

VHD_W7_2.png


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#24 far.in.out

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 10:59 AM

Hi, newbie here.

 

I've managed to get this to work using the video at the top of the post, however, GRUB4DOS only sees about 4.5GB of my 8GB RAM, meaning only a very lite W7 install will work.  I understand that this is because G4D needs contiguous memory,  I currently have 2x 4gb Sticks in my machine and I was thinking of buying a single 8GB stick to try and get G4D to see more of it.

 

Does anyone know if this will work before I spend the money on an 8GB RAM stick?  Has anyone managed to get G4D to see a substantial amount of RAM, 6GB+, 8GB?

 

When I did get the lite W7 to work, and did a speed check, the results where amazing..... Access Time 0.2 MS, sequential and random read of about 4GB/Sec.  I just didn't like the lite version of W7.

 

Cheers

It doesn't matter how many sticks u have 1 or 4... The more total GBytes u have the more will be accessible. Those first 3.5GB's will be lost anyway, the rest will be accessible. So if u have 8GB's total u can use 8-3.5=4.5GB's, if u have 16GB's u can use 16-3.5=12.5GB's... Consider that...



#25 iphoughton1979

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 01:45 PM

It doesn't matter how many sticks u have 1 or 4... The more total GBytes u have the more will be accessible. Those first 3.5GB's will be lost anyway, the rest will be accessible. So if u have 8GB's total u can use 8-3.5=4.5GB's, if u have 16GB's u can use 16-3.5=12.5GB's... Consider that...

Brilliant.  Thanks for the reply .  I have ordered another 8GB, so looking forward to the results.  Then I think I'll increase it to the full 32GB that  the M'board can take.

 

Thanks again.







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