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Making undestroyable system for tests


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#1 Oleg_II

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 07:10 PM

All of us here are testers. And some time our tests are a bit dangerous - when you test something on a real system it is always a possibility to harm your system and lose your data. Backups are essential but restoring backups make take a lot of time and effort. And some data may be lost forever...

I'm a bit of tester too. And I'm a bit... no, maybe very lazy :cheers: so I use very ofter imaging programs to make backup images and restore them automatically.

Just thought it may be a good beginning :cheers: A free and simple solution. Not completely automatic though...

You can follow these simple steps:

1. Make at least two partition on your hard drive - first one (C: ) will be for your system and the second one (D: ) will be for your data. There could be a few more partitions if you like. I don't recommend using Acronis products for creating partitions because it has its own understanding on the subject and other tools could not work after Acronis. (Please note that I only say about manipulating with partitions, making and restoring images with Acronis should be fine.)

2. Install Windows on first partiont (disk C: ), install needed programs and move all sensitive data to disk D: (like mail store folders, Documents folder, Profile folder in Opera, bookmarks in FireFox, etc.). It usually can be done through programs settings or (in some hard cases) manually through editing their configuration files.

3. Make BootSDI project with imaging app DriveImageXML. Make image of disk C: (system partition) and save it on disk D: (you can create a folder "Backup" on D: if you wish for different systems images - why different, I'll explain later :cheers:

4. Create folder BOOT on disk C: and place there: NTDETECT.EXE and SETUPLDR.BIN (last one from Windows 2003 SP1 for booting in RAM, it was long ago and I also don't remember if I hex-edited it for path change?).

5. From BootSDI project with DriveImageXML take only BootSDI.ima file (extention doesn't metter, I just don't remember which it is...) and place it in BOOT folder.

6. Create text file WINPE.SIF and save it on disk C: . Contents of WINPE.SIF:
[SetupData] 

BootDevice = "ramdisk(0)" 

BootPath = "\I386\SYSTEM32\" 

OsLoadOptions = "/noguiboot /fastdetect /minint /rdexportashd /rdpath=\boot\WinPE.ima"

7. Place GRLDR file (withoug extention) from Grub4DOS package on disk C: too.

8. Create text file MENU.LST (not the extention) and save it on disk C: too. Contents of MENU.LST file:
color white/red black/red

default 0

timeout 10



title Start Windows 

root (hd0,0) 

chainloader +1



title WinPE

find --set-root /grldr

chainloader /boot/setupldr.bin



title Reboot

savedefault --wait=2

reboot



title Shutdown

halt

9. Add to BOOT.INI one line with "GRLDR" and change "timeout" from default 30 to, say, 5 seconds:
[boot loader]

timeout=5

default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS

[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Start Windows" /execute /fastdetect

C:\grldr="Restore"

So, what we have: every time you boot your computer, you will see boot menu with two choices: "Start Windows" and "Restore". If you don't touch anything Windows starts normally in 5 seconds. But if during these 5 seconds you choose "Restore", WindowsPE will boot in RAM. And from there you can restore any backup image from your D:\Backups folder. It can be previously installed and configured system from step 2 or you can install any system (Windows?) you want on C: , configure it, make bakup and restore any time. It means you can have Win9x, Windows 2000, WinXP, Server 2k3, etc. backup images and restore any of it any time you need to work in a specific version :cheers: And you won't violate licence because you only have one system on one computer at a time :cheers:

Now you want to test something. Ok, run your test and if something is going wrong just reboot your computer, choose "Restore", boot in PE and restore your freshy Windows ready for new tests again in a few minutes :cheers:

Well, if you are able to write scripts, you can try to automate the procedure of autorestoring backup images :)

Next guides will be for auto-resoring and auto-making images with some commercial appz like DeployCenter and Norton Ghost.

#2 wimb

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 07:59 PM

Recently an automatic way has become available.

BOOT_IMG.cmd Copies WinBuilder LiveXP BootSDI.img Image file to C-HDD or USB-Drive
and makes Entry for boot.ini Menu and GRUB4DOS menu.lst for Booting with PE from RAMDISK.

http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=5306

Booting with WinBuilder075 beta LiveXP BootSDI.img of 130 MB from HDD takes only 1 minute.

#3 Nuno Brito

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 10:26 PM

Cool tutorial.

This is an important lesson that really helps saving the time of having to reinstall windows all over again and customize it as desired after things going wrong with your tests.

The only difference is that I'm a bit more pre-historic and use DriveImageXML from the running windows host to save the windows partition image to the backup partition. Whenever required to restore the image I boot from the LiveXP CD media to apply my image.

---

Your method looks very professional and resembles what is commonly available on OEM laptops with the recovery option on boot up.. :cheers:

Recently an automatic way has become available.

And it's a 5 stars approach! :cheers:

#4 Lancelot

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 12:54 AM

Grub Install For Windows:

we made a utility to automate steps 7 8 9
oleg_II haven't written yet (and probably not need to write if decides to use this utility) but also 9th step for vista can be found in grubreadme

"Grub Install For Windows" project started with blue_life's idea of making grub4dos install as easy as a newbie can do without a problem,
i helped him both in testing and finding the way a newbie can mistaken. (still have ideas but we came to the end :>)
So now it is a very good utility for a newbie to install grub4dos both to xp/2003 and vista (not sure about 2000) (with vista even when uac enabled) (blue_life was very mad at me when creating this exe when i find new ways how a newbie mistaken :cheers: )

One should only double click "Grub Install For Windows.exe" and install, that is all.



For advanced users some info:
"Grub Install For Windows.exe" adds grub4dos in 2 ways, you can choose grldr method like its written in all web, or this program by default adds btldr, btldr.mbr and boot.lst not to interfere any previously installed grub4dos by user, by utility (ubuntu), by some vista's which use grldr (probably illegal ones, i am not sure)..... ( btldr.mbr only used with vista)
Flexibility:
"Grub Install For Windows.exe" searches for btldr, btldr.mbr, boot.lst, grldr, grldr.mbr, menu.lst in the folder its executed.
So if you want to install new version grub4dos you just add grldr and grldr.mbr to the folder where you execute "Grub Install For Windows.exe". (or as adviced newly made btldr, btldr.mbr)
Also you may want to use own made menu.lst or boot.lst put the boot.lst you want to be added by a newbie and he will have it when he installs. (oleg_II can use this utility + his new made boot.lst in a sfx file so 7 8 9 steps automated :cheers: , if he adds winnt.sif to sfx file which makes a copy to root step 6 will also be automated (ps look for step 6 warning) )


a bit correction for steps written in 1st post:
in 4th step, you dont need to create boot folder, just putting SETUPLDR.BIN (from 2k3sp1) to root is enough.
in 6th step, name of default file is winnt.sif not winpe.sif
oleg_II, you probably hexedit setupldr.bin so it searches for winpe.sif :cheers:.
Also a tip, no folder needed for disk usage, it is needed when creating cd.
also in 6th step, for livexp boot sdi writing
OsLoadOptions = "/noguiboot /fastdetect /minint /rdexportashd /rdpath=\Bootsdi.img"
in winnt.sif would be better i guess.

Extra Extra info about "Grub Install For Windows.exe":
After making this utility, we decide to put many many things to boot.lst
but not to turn root folder into a mess, we decide to put everything in a folder "BOOTBLUE"
also to avoid a kid from using vital stuff we decide to put a kurtarma.lst in the "BOOTBLUE" folder with a protection of password (pw: blue which can be read from boot.lst file).
boot.lst with kurtarma.lst will give nice ideas of usage of grub to a new user (i dont know all of them, these are we learned so far :cheers:)


to avoid misunderstanding, i put "Grub_Install For_Windows_Empty.rar" to attachment to show that "Grub Install For Windows.exe" is enough alone.
also i put "Grub_Install_For_Windows_Legal.rar", when you extract it and start "Grub Install For Windows.exe" it will copy "BOOTBLUE" to the root with other stuff written above.


"Grub Install For Windows.exe" project came to its end with small improvements missing.
Also not having find an exact solution for usb issue defined here prevented us putting usb option it it and it ended.


About the mainsubject:
in 2nd step advicing tweakui would be nice as it is freeware and small and only makes registry changes.
also showing some registry keys or using tweakui can be good for new users too.
What i do:
for step 2, i install most programs to D:\Program Files, so OS occupy less space on C:\ (as possible) which makes imaging faster.
Also most of program (like opera) put personal files to its folder. For tricky ones (i guess firefox) one should make small changes to registry so as an example firefox uses
D:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox
instead of
C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox
luckly now portable programs more popular which saves its settings in its folder and many utility ask for profile save method during install (opera asks it from its first day :>, before it asked it was using its folder)
As you should also notice, i only change the letter so making changes are more easy :cheers:
** i have a c:\ which can be formatted or can be restored with an image file at anytime so trials on realcomputer makes no harm and i restore in about 5 minutes (in which i go to bath, drink water etc)

i have a second harddisk, i created a 70gb primary active fat32 space and put dos (sys C:) in it. So when computer starts i press F8 (asus) to select to start from 2nd disk, and there i am on dos.
Than with ghost, everything fine.
I use ghost7 (it have np with vista or ntfs reading), which have no problem with raid0 or ahci :cheers:, which makes life easier (ps: ghost7 cant write images to ntfs partition). Also running dos from 2nd disk and starting operation is verry fast.
In ghost usage with full automation, one can write an autoexec.bat file to make partition->to image operation. (also it can be done by using 1 hd with a ghost.img file where ghost.exe in it with autoexec.bat )

I hope you find these useful :).


@nuno:
"Grub Install For Windows.exe" includes grldr and grldr.mbr files, also in "Grub_Install_For_Windows_Legal.rar" there is HIRENBCD.IMG which is prepared with free dos hoping these are not problem. If i am mistaken, please inform.


http://lancelot.winb...ndows_Empty.zip
http://lancelot.winb...ndows_Legal.zip

#5 Oleg_II

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 02:48 AM

wimb
Thank you! I saw your tutorial just before I wrote this one. It is a good addition to automate installation of this backup solution :cheers: But it was too late and I was too sleeppy :cheers: so I forgot to mention it :cheers:

Lancelot
Thank you too! :) In fact I use self-exracting archieve with all needed files - click mouse and you have all prepared :) And I use DeployCenter - something similar to Ghost v7 you use :) I just wanted to explain as simple as possible for a first time. But in  a next tutorial I'll give an example how to make automatic backup restoring. (Just a teaser :) you know that Ghost can create DOS floppy disk with program? And you know that Grub4DOS can boot floppy disk images directly from hard drive? You can get rid of DOS partitions now :cheers: Ghost will run from virtual floppy disk with DOS. It's only 1.4MB or 2.8MB :cheers: And you even can have a collection of floppy images with different programs on you hard disk and run them any time you need one of these programs  :)
About BOOT and BACKUPS folders - of course that's up to you if you need them. I just prefer to have things organized: all backups in one folder, all tools in another :cheers: And (you mentioned that) it is good for preventing changing or deleting needed files by kids - just make this folder system and hidden, they won't find them and won't delete them :) MENU.LST in first post is just an example, I have much longer boot up options :) And I have quite a few files in BOOT folder like a few floppy disks images, background picture for Grub4DOS (that way it's much pretty :cheers: , SETUPLDR.BIN, NTDETECT.EXE, etc. If I place all them on my system partition that won't be good - too many items on system partition may be confusing. So I place them all into BOOT folder. And you mentioned additional menues - why not to place them all in one folder too :) In fact you also has a folder - BOOTBLUE :cheers:
Hex-editing SETUPLDR.BIN - yep, I had this feeling too... It was about two years ago I started using NT loader and Grug4DOS for RAM booting. Need to check it :cheers:

Nuno Brito
Yep, the program I ment was DriveImageXML (I don't use it so I forgot its name but I can edit first post now). In fact any other backup utility can be used from BootSDI like commercial Ghost or just free archiver 7zip (archive all folders on system partition and extract them there when needed). And some cleaver person ;) can write a script that will run automatically after PE loads in RAM B)
And of course you should have a CD/DVD version also for backups with real disaster cases - in my first example I use NT loader but if it is corrupted during tests this method won't work like described and restore CD will be needed :) 

#6 was_jaclaz

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 08:03 AM

@Lancelot
If I may, you should consider:
1) Adding in the .zip archive a Readme.txt
2) Doing something to the interface

Don't take this is as a critic to your work, just as a friendly advice. :cheers:

As I see it, noone in his right mind will execute an UPX compressed Auto-it compiled script that starts presenting two buttons "XP/2003" and "Vista" and nothing else. :cheers:

And of course I protest :rant2: about the "racism" against Windows 2000! :cheers:

Moreover, I do not see the reason why (if I get it right) you "embedded" grub4dos (WHICH version? :cheers:) into it, if it can use an external grldr, there is no reason to increase the filesize with what will probably become quickly an obsolete version.

Since you are redistributing grub4dos, you should add the COPYING (GNU license) to the .zip file.

Finally, you should change the name of the app, there already exist a grubinstall, for windows also, that unlike your app, that, again if I get it right, adds a grldr entry to BOOT.INI or to the BCD store, actually installs grldr.mbr to the MBR, in order to avoid possible misunderstandings/confusion.

jaclaz

#7 Lancelot

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 04:43 PM

Oleg_II
-yep i know img/ima :cheers:
-by using ghost and probably deploy center, 2 ima files can be created to backup and restore to harddisk 1 - partition 2 for more automation to a new starter ( put a "are you sure" in case :cheers: ).
-For general usage as there are still problems about mass storage drivers for winpe1 and winpe2, i prefer to advice ghost 11 or previous (till 7 :> ).
--also maybe a freeware dos backup utility which works in a ima file can be added so at least by distrubuting these, all installation procedure is automaticly prepared. (i knew one but couldnt remember)
-we choose for folder name bootblue 'cause boot is very popular :cheers:.
-i am a tidy man on pc, but blue_life decide to make it very more tidy by puttin everything (img, iso ....) under bootblue. To make more tidy, for setupldr.bin,ntdetect.com, winnt.sif we choose to put them in a ima file (ntldr bootable) under bootblue folder so it starts an iso or img file which is under bootblue folder. (i dont use it for personal usage and not easy for a newbie to prepare but i am sure you understand what i mean :cheers: )
i hope you like kurtarma.lst and utility Oleg_II :cheers:


jacklazz:
-in the begining we were just 2 rookie buddy without having a programming background with some grub4dos knowledge who start to write this utility for a very new user. blue life learned au3 meanwhile i searched what can be done with grub4dos. Challenging part for us was adding grub menu to vista.
-i informed blue_life to add COPYING (GNU license)
-yep readme.txt is missing
-any idea for name? :cheers:
-yep i am aware it needs some improvements, program should understand automatically whether it is vista/xp/2003/2000/nt4/nt3.1/w98/w95 and automatically select turkish/english and language selection menu should be in main screen. These are rookie mistakes and we were too tired, but luckly no bug so far.
-can you confirm that this utility works with win2000 ? we have no racism about w2000 (me no racism about anything), we had no chance to test with w2000 or if ntdetect.com->boot.ini mechanism is same with w2000. Also same problem was with nt4 too. So we decided not to write w2000 or nt4 as we had no test but assuming a w2000 or nt4 (or other) user will be aware of what is going on and thinking that with some confirmations it can be added later.
-we choose to "embed" grub4dos to "Grub Install For Windows.exe" on purpose so "Grub Install For Windows.exe" can be enough alone, as i indicated in previous post. (version GRUB4DOS 0.4.3 2008-05-02). 467kb is not much even for dialup. Also, blue_life decided to embed more things and give these to his friends with a single .exe but i stopped him embedding things that might not be legal to distrubute this utility easly later, so i guess everything fine now.

As we are rookie's we are still learning, that is why we ended this for a long while to work on other things (summer time ends fast). So far only problem reported unsolved was using it on usb (as i wrote above).

2 mini question:
-is it legal to distrubite files in
http://tinyempire.co...es/ntldrusb.zip which is in website: http://tinyempire.co...drismissing.htm ?
( in ntldrusb.zip there are ntdetect.com + dos files )
-also is it legal to distrubute bootsect.exe ?

#8 pscEx

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 05:09 PM

jacklazz:

And you once complained that I called you 'Lancelote'?

Peter :cheers:

#9 Oleg_II

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 11:20 PM

Lancelot
Usually DOS Ghost and DeployCenter works fine with newest hard disks (shouldn't be any problem with massstorage drivers).
Ghost v9, 10, 12, 14 are based on PowerQuest DriveImage v7 (DOS DriveImage Pro = DeployCenter :cheers:

Sorry, I am a bit busy, will add something these two days.

#10 Lancelot

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 12:03 AM

And you once complained that I called you 'Lancelote'?

Peter :cheers:


no complain Peter, sorry for misunderstanding, call me Lancelote all time :cheers:


Oleg_II:
I met Pquest DrvImage v7 once, never met DeployCenter, I am not a pro :cheers:, all i know after ghost11 no dos anymore. Sad for us as you indicated (also me in previous post) no problem with any masstorage till now :cheers: . Only a friend reported he couldnt restore an image from a 1TB disk with ghost11 when using dos (grub4dos->ima). Nothing to worry about.

I remember the dos program name, image-for-dos but sadly i remember wrong, not freeware.

For full automation of installing from windows and making images easly, only missing thing is a freeware dos based distributable disk/partition backup/restore software. :cheers:

#11 was_jaclaz

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 07:38 AM

@Lancelot
About the name, since, as far as I can get without running the program, it DOES NOT "install" grub4dos, but rather "adds" it and configures BOOT.INI for it's use, something like "grub4dos BOOT.INI configurator" (it is IMPORTANT to always use grub4dos, as to avoid confusion with Legacy GRUB).

About embedded apps, as you might have gathered by now, I am FIERCELY against them, as they cause a greater difficulty for keeping the package up-to-date, and this is expecially true for projects like grub4dos, that is updated onn a weekly or even daily basis.

Particularly, version 2008-05-02 is one of the "buggy" releases, you should update to 2008-05-14 AT LEAST.

If you want to distribute a single file, why not using a 7-zip sfx?

This way everything is kept together, but replacing files within the sfx archive is easy and direct.

See this for a (good :cheers:) example on how 7-zip sfx can be used:
http://www.boot-land.../?showtopic=628
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=4023
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=4398

About DOS based IMAGING (NOT backup) utility, there is this app (Freeware):
http://johnson.tmfc....dos/todisk.html

jaclaz

#12 Lancelot

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 10:32 AM

jacklaz:
"grub4dos BOOT.INI configurator" is bad name, 'cause as you already noticed :cheers: it can also add lines to vista's bootmanager too (i wrote this before). Name will be changed in future to be more unique.
yep, it adds grub4dos to bootmanagers of vista and xp/2003 (and maybe 2000)
yep, i dont like embedded apps too, but anyone can make a 7sfx file with this utility+updated grub4dos files+new menulst, without embedding again (i wrote this before).

Thanks for TOdisk.




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