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Windows Operating Systems Software

Windows XP In Your Pocket 208

BoredStiff writes "Tom's Hardware has a review of the Bart PE Builder software utility takes Windows XP and shrinks the OS to your USB flash drive. Besides converting your mini-drive into an emergency boot disk, you can use the utility to load a Web browser, media burning software and more - to have handy anywhere you go. And by the way, it doesn't violate the Windows XP EULA." From the article: "If your PC has a relatively new motherboard, its BIOS will already include the functions necessary to support USB-attached boot media. If so, you need only make the right selections in that BIOS menu to boot from a USB flash drive. Older PCs, on the other hand, won't accept USB drives as valid boot devices. This means a BIOS update that supports USB boot options is necessary. You can find information about where to obtain such updates from your PC's (or motherboard's) user manual, on the driver CD included with the PC (or motherboard) or on the vendor's Website."
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Windows XP In Your Pocket

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  • LiveCD Windows (Score:5, Informative)

    by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:37PM (#13522929) Homepage Journal
    I've been running BartPE on machines at work and it is the best. We tried similar commercial products based on Windows PE and have found this open source tool to be the most flexible way to get a bootable Windows image customized to our corporate profile.

    But Bart's is not the officially sanctioned Windows PE: In the Technet Webcast about Windows PE a Microsoft Program Manager (not calling any names) says: "BartPE is an unlicensed version of WinPE and of Windows XP. Something to we really encourage people to stay away from because it is actually an improperly licensed version of Windows".

    "The Man" doesn't like BartPE; all the more reason to use it.
    • Gee, this is the kind of reasoning my momma warned me about: "The Man" doesn't like ______; all the more reason to use it.

      Fill in the blank...
      a) crack
      b) dirty needles
      c) pot
      d) fried food
      e) Linux

      But mom! all the cool kids are doing it!

    • Who has disk images for this? I have no idea where my original Window's discs are but would like to have a handy lil tool like this. Anyone have an image from the Flash Drive they produced this way?

      A Flash Drive image for a dual-boot Linux/Windows system would be cool too!
    • So what sort of violation are you looking at?

      DMCA violation? Copyright violation? Breaking your shrinkwrap?

      It would seem that given the illegality of this, you'd might was well not do it, and use a different OS, like NetBSD, FreeBSD or some Linux-based OS.

      The last thing I need is the BSA (Business Software Alliance) coming to my place of business with a bunch of pigs and poring over my crap to find violations and then hit me for $20K per violation.
      • Re:LiveCD Windows (Score:5, Informative)

        by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:29PM (#13523280) Homepage Journal
        So what sort of violation are you looking at? DMCA violation? Copyright violation? Breaking your shrinkwrap?

        None, no, no, and ummmm...., no.

        It would seem that given the illegality of this,

        Why? The OS is Microsoft's. The builder is Bart's. He just bypassed the WinPE, not the OS. You still have to create the LiveCD with Microsoft products and follow the EULA for their OS. The same is true for WinPE products developed commercially and with the blessing of the Borg.'d might was well not do it, and use a different OS, like NetBSD, FreeBSD or some Linux-based OS.

        Why? If my customers are using Windows, and I am trying to correct a problem in Windows, so that my customer can continue using... Windows, why would I use some *other* OS? If they were using Linux, I would use Knoppix to fix their system.

        The last thing I need is the BSA (Business Software Alliance) coming to my place of business with a bunch of pigs and poring over my crap to find violations and then hit me for $20K per violation.

        Then don't use pirated software. BartsPE is his own work, free from Microsoft's code. He just came up with a method for creating a LiveCD that is different from other companies who use Microsoft's PE software.

        • Re:LiveCD Windows (Score:4, Informative)

          by CptSkippy ( 793400 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @11:40PM (#13524405)
          Why? If my customers are using Windows, and I am trying to correct a problem in Windows, so that my customer can continue using... Windows, why would I use some *other* OS?

          I would use the best tool for the job, which isn't always an OS of the same flavor as the one you're trying to repair.

          Case in point, something happened to my XP system that caused the dreaded "Page Fault in Non Paged Area" BSOD every time I booted my system. Microsoft said it was bad memory and after swapping everything in my system out to no avail I popped the HDD in another PC to get the files off it and guess what happened when I booted it. Yep, BSOD. Odd when every HDD analysis tool said the drive was fine. Given that it is a SATA drive I booted the other PC without the HDD connected and then hot plugged it. After about 10 seconds of installing new hardware the PC gave me that ever so lovely BSOD message "Page Fault in Non Paged Area". Hrmm... threw it back in the old PC and booted off the XP install media and guess what the XP setup program did? If you guessed BSOD, you're correct. I didn't even know you could BSOD the setup program, it looks like a DOS app with it's lovely ASCIIness.

          So what's a guy to do if he can't use any Microsoft product to repair his system? Well I booted off a Knoppix disk and mounted the HDD without problem, then I copied my files over the network to another PC. Being that I know nothing about Linux and the partitioning program I found in Knoppix gave me no help and a couple errors, I booted off a Fedora Core disc I had laying around and used it's partitioning utility to zap the disk. Then I booted off the XP disc and it let me reinstall the system.

          Without a non Microsoft OS, I would have never been able to reformat my HDD or recover any of the files.
          • Similar example:

            One day, my (Dell) laptop running Win2K decided to barf, so that it would freeze part way through bootup. Nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, not even safe mode, would bring it back. So, I said, "oh, well, at least I've got a working SuSE install on here, and I can get the files off, because it mounts the Windows partition as NTFS..."

            So, I get the files off, and use it for a while.

            Then, I need Windows again. So, I throw in a Windows XP CD (the one licensed for the laptop), and it freezes if I try
    • Re:LiveCD Windows (Score:5, Informative)

      by jdigriz ( 676802 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:20PM (#13523212)
      According to Bart PE's own web page, that Program Manager is in error.
        It says "Q. "BartPE is an unlicensed version of WinPE and of Windows XP."
      A. This is not correct, BartPE is not WinPE and will never be WinPE. BartPE builds from Windows XP or Server 2003 files. BartPE is not built from any WinPE file and does not use any files that belong to Windows PE!
      Note: Previous versions of PE Builder did instruct the enduser to download certain WinPE network components from the internet when enabling the network support, but v3.0.30 and higher have built-in network support."

      From: [] under the Legal Information section.
      • Yes, this is exactly why I accuse said Microsoft employee (who now claims to be a FORMER employee - woop-de-do - NOW he tells the truth?), who posts a few posts above, of being a FUCKING LIAR.
        • Actually, he might just be mistaken.

          It's entirely possible, nay likely, that neither he nor anyone in his group checked BartPE for violations. You can be sure that Microsoft's lawyers have done their research into it, but this man himself probably did not. As such, he may assume that it's using components illegally.

          It's incredibly irresponsible to go spouting claims when you don't know if they're accurate, but it does not make him a liar--only inaccurate.

          Of course, if he /does/ know the truth, and if the
    • To run this at the telemarketing firm where I work. They have just installed brand new Dell computers with no CD-ROM or floppy drives - but they have a USB port right out front.

      Can't wait to play games and browse the web instead of taking calls!
    • No, i dont think so.

      Its something similar, but its not a 'unlicensed version'.

    • Uhm, it is my understanding that Bart pulled the original PE version he had used and built one from scratch. He discusses this very issue on his site.

      As for the files used by it, they come from your properly licensed Windows XP copy.

      Unless Microsoft is saying their fucking EULA does not permit you to move files from a hard disk to a CD, I think said Microsoft spokesmen is yet another FUCKING LIAR from Microsoft.
    • Re:LiveCD Windows (Score:5, Informative)

      by Izago909 ( 637084 ) <tauisgod @ g m a> on Friday September 09, 2005 @11:37PM (#13524395)
      When using BartPE you should know that:

      1. It is legal to make a "backup copy" of ANY files from your original Windows XP/2003 media to another media.
      2. It is legal to add any other files you wish to the backup media.
      3. It is not legal to use a BartPE CD and an installed Windows XP/2003 both at the same time under the same Windows XP/2003 EULA.
      4. It is not legal to change any binary files in the process according to the Windows XP/2003 EULA. This makes "winlogon" and "bootscreen" hacks illegal.
      5. A BartPE image is (and I quote) "not a properly licensed WinPE". This means that if you want to have a licensed WinPE, you cannot use BartPE. However, you can use a BartPE image under the license of the Windows XP/2003 EULA that came with the BartPE XP/2003 source media.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:38PM (#13522941)
    > Windows XP In Your Pocket

    So, fellow [male] Slashdotters, is that Windows XP in our pockets, or do we all just have a case of blue balls?

  • by moonbender ( 547943 ) < minus pi> on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:39PM (#13522947)
    This means a BIOS update that supports USB boot options is necessary. You can find information about where to obtain such updates from your PC's (or motherboard's) user manual, on the driver CD included with the PC (or motherboard) or on the vendor's Website.

    And to flash your updated BIOS, just boot the system to DOS using your USB boot drive! See how useful those things are!
  • mirror and comment (Score:3, Informative)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:40PM (#13522953) Homepage Journal
    All pages mirrored here [].

    Why not just boot one of the gazillion linux distros and fix it that way? You'll get a ton more tools for your capacity as well.
    • Although you could clean viruses this way (if you have Captive-NTFS, of course) you'll likely have a harder time uninstalling spyware, fixing registry entries, etc. Even cleaning viruses will be faster in PE because of the native drivers, as Captive's emulation is still just that--emulation. It's slow as heck.

      It's just a case of "right tool for the job." Linux is great at recovering files, dumping filesystems, etc. when trying to repair Windows. Windows itself is better at most of the rest of the necess
  • or perhaps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 834r9394557r011 ( 878286 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:41PM (#13522955) Homepage Journal
    you could run qemu or knoppix and have a secure os for that kind of stuff.
    • Re:or perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tbonius ( 837427 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:58PM (#13523078) Homepage

      the WindowsPE/Bart PE concept is actually pretty handy for setup and deployment of Windows based systems, as well as a great recovery tool for Windows.

      Some might reply "try !insert favorite Linux distribution here!", but as stated earlier, when you need a tool for Windows, this actually works pretty well.

      Another concept we have implemented here at my place of employment, is to create a small PE partition at the beginning of the drive.. and then install the actual production OS on the secondary partition. When any issues arise, we can remotely reboot to the first partition and run one of many different build/recovery options.

      It is interesting that an older tool such as PE is just now making news in some places.

    • Re:or perhaps (Score:3, Informative)

      by ari_j ( 90255 )
      Only if you don't want the ability to write to an NTFS filesystem. I had the same thought - Why would you want a Windows XP LiveCD? And that's the answer I came up with - to make changes to my NTFS filesystem.
      • And just in case someone comes back with "Knoppix can write to NTFS if you use the NTFS driver from windows", I've used a LOT of versions of Knoppix and I've NEVER gotten that to work correctly.
        • And just in case someone comes back with "Knoppix can write to NTFS if you use the NTFS driver from windows", I've used a LOT of versions of Knoppix and I've NEVER gotten that to work correctly.

          Me neither.

          In fact, the documentation was unchanged from 3.3 to 3.7 but in 3.7 the options they referred to were GONE. They said to click on a particular setting that was absent, they referred to nonexistent files, etc. Hopefully this was fixed in 3.8 but I don't have high hopes.
        • The 3.6 CD in "Knoppix Hacks" works fairly well.
      • Ummm... writing to NTFS under linux has been (unofficially) stable for some time now, even the older versions (=2.4). The newer (2.6) version works fine, albeit in a slightly round-about manner in some cases (there are certain file operations it cannot do straight up)
        • Re:or perhaps (Score:3, Informative)

          by ari_j ( 90255 )
          The last time I tried, you could only write to NTFS in the sense that you could change the contents of a file - you could not change the size of a file, delete a file, or create a new file, if I remember at all correctly.
    • oh, I see. How do you clean spyware and viruses with knoppix on an infected windows machine that's formatted with ntfs?

      hmmm...maybe that's why you might still have a use for a bootable CD that will run windows tools and get full read/write ntfs support.

      I'm a linux fan as much as the next guy, and I'd rather never have Windows on any computer I own or care for than have to build one of these CDs to fix them, but at the same time, I can see there's things it can do that you just can't do with a Linux live CD
  • Bart PE works great (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nerd Systems ( 912027 ) * <ben&nerdsystems,com> on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:42PM (#13522965) Homepage
    I've used Bart PE many times in my PC business, [] and it has saved the day so many times. I routinely fix computers for people that have registry errors, video issues, and more, that have me locked out of the system, not even able to get into things using safe mode...

    I'm currently running Bart PE off a CD, where I just pop the CD in, boot off it, and a few minutes later I have full access to the machine, and can repair anything that I need to get done...

    This USB method will work even better, can just load Bart PE onto my USB drive, load all the applications that I use often, such as Anti-Spyware and more, and go from there....

    I wonder if USB drives being so fast, and being read/write, if one day I could just run the entire OS off this USB drive, and pretty much have my complete system working wherever I go....

    Bart PE is great... going to try out the USB method right now as we speak...

  • Asking as a business consultant - Would you be able legally put this on a usb stick w/o another license just like you can make a back_up cassette of your CD's under the fair_use clause or would you need another license?

    This would be used as a recovery stick.
    • I assume this would be fine... i often run two or three installs of Windows on the same machine for testing purposes, all under one license. AFAIK, licenses limit the number of machines you can install on, not the number of installations you can have. So long as you only use it on one machine, or as long as that machine has an already licenses version of Windows XP on it, you should be fine.

      But, IANAL.
      • Yeah, I was thinking along the same line but wanted confirmation - even though the summary says it's okay (I have take time to read the article past the first page - it's pretty long) I learned not to trust the typical /. summaries.
  • by eander315 ( 448340 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:44PM (#13522982)
    This was covered long ago []. I fail to see how it becomes newsworthy because the goons at Tom's just discovered it. Putting it on a USB flashdrive rather than a CD doesn't really cut it either, though from RTFA, I gather that's what has gotten them breathing heavy.
  • EULA (Score:5, Funny)

    by kdark1701 ( 791894 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:47PM (#13523004) Homepage
    "And by the way, it doesn't violate the Windows XP EULA."

    Like anyone here honestly cares about that silly text file.
  • Excellent: this will come in really useful on a key-ring for those urgent recovery moments when your Windows installation is...

    Oh, wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The crazy thing is that a "full" install of WinXP (which BartPE is not) can NOT boot from USB. If you don't believe me, try it.

  • Are you happy to see me, or is that a Windows USB key in your pocket??
  • by GPS Pilot ( 3683 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:54PM (#13523054)
    I've never tried to boot from one. Since flash drives are solid-state, are they faster than a real hard drive?

    (I assume that if you're connecting it to a USB 1.0 port, the USB connection would be the bottleneck, and you'd get much faster boot times connecting to a USB 2.0 port.)
    • by KillShill ( 877105 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:22PM (#13523226)
      no. most usb thumb drives and the like have hideously lower performance than a hard drive. the so called "hi-speed" 40-60x flash memory is approximately 10-15 MB/s which compared to recent hard drives are in the 30-50 MB/s range.

      if it's cheap, you can be guaranteed that it's around 7MB/s. this is still faster than 52X cdroms (which never reach 52x in the real world). and 15MB/s is faster than 8x DVDs.

      solid state doesn't automatically make it fast or faster. it depends on the characteristics of the device in question. flash is getting faster by the year. and there are even some "dual channel" drives which combine more than one flash chip to increase throughput.

      next gen flash memory is rated at 40-60MB/s, which
      is quite a bit faster than most end-user 5400rpm hard drives and on par with high end disks. of course, you still have the problem of flash being small in storage size. and the biggest devices are no more than 4-8GBs; far too low to be of use in replacing HDs.

      still they have their uses. they run cool and take up very little space. these would be perfect for embedded devices and small form factor systems. among many other uses one can conceive of.
    • ATA/133 has a theoretical max transfer rate of 133 MB/sec. USB 2.0 has a theoretical max transfer rate of about half that (~60 MB/sec). A decent USB 2.0 flash drive will have a transfer speed of 8-10 MB/sec. Given that seek times for the HDD probably aren't going to have significant impact on overall load time, these figures suggest that booting from the flash drive will be significantly slower, although probably less than a factor of 10. Just a hunch.
    • They're the wrong kind of solid state for speed, and repeated "write" operations will wear them out far faster than a typical disk.

      They're extremely useful for occasional boot use, transferring data, and running an OS like the Knoppix live CD os that writes nothing to the bootable media itself.
  • The CD Forum has screenshots [] from various folks' BartPE builds.

    Some people are way too into this. But when you see M$ Virtual PC running from a RAMDrive, that's just pretty cool.

    We use a custom BartPE CD at work for data recovery and malware removal. Makes it easy to run SMART checks and copy off critical data from unbootable HDDs.

    And you can run Adaware, McAfee Stinger, HijackThis and other tools on a drive without waking up TSR malware.

  • by HermanAB ( 661181 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:58PM (#13523085)
    BartsPE has a limit on the number of processes you can run and it has to restart after 24 hours. Despite that, it is quite useful as an emergency Windoze especially since it cannot get infected by crapware. However, even the teenie tiny Puppy Linux has more useful features...
  • by wrecked ( 681366 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:00PM (#13523096)
    I've had to make a BartsPE [] CD so that I could use a Windows-only firmware utility. It wouldn't work in Wine, and I didn't know how to use qemu or the like, so I thought of going through the BartsPE route.

    I didn't want to pirate a copy of XP, so I downloaded the evaluation version of Windows Server 2003 [] instead (BartsPE needs at least XP or Server 2003). Although the Server 2003 evaluation version on the harddrive expired after 180 days, the BartsPE CD created from that install still works.

    I found that BartsPE was a real pain to build, because you have to hunt down all the software and drivers, and edit *.ini files.

    BartsPE is kind of cool, and is better and faster for accessing NTFS partitions than captive-ntfs, but compared to Knoppix (and its derivatives), it's not that useful.

    Knoppix has far more and useful software and networks automagically. Unlike BartsPE, you don't need to build Knoppix, you just download it and burn it to CD.
  • Okay, I'm just looking for help here, so hopefully I don't get flamed. I run both WinXP and SuSE at home, so I'm not a Microsoft fanboy.

    This is the question I'm looking to answer:

    Can I use Bart PE to carry around a LiveDVD that contains both WinXP and Visual Studio .NET? If not, is there any other way I can do this?

    • It's been a few months since I last played with Bart's, but I would say yes you could. The big problem is to create the initial Bart's disk - then you can add pretty much whatever you want to the image. Plan on wasting a weekend on it. Note that you need a proper Windows CD which is kinda costly for something that you may end up not using much. A workaround is to download the Server 2003 evalation version from MS and use that to build the system.
  • by Mr. Cancelled ( 572486 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:08PM (#13523143)
    Bart PE's been arond awhile! I came across an iso image which someone had put on the p2p networks awhile ago... I think they called it "Windows PE" at the time, but whatever... it was Bart.

    Anyways... The iso resulted in a bootable cd which allowed you to boot into a stripped down Windows client, a windows installer, partition magic, and a whole host of other useful (and obviously unlicensed ) software.

    It looked to be a very helpful "toolkit" to have, since you could basically fix any Windows boot issues, in addition to performing formats, partitions, and such, with the point and click familiarity of Windows. I remember just thinking that being able to boot into Partition Magic was a pretty neat trick, much less to have a workable system (not 100% "working", but useable).

    If I recall, BartPE walks the fine line of licensing by requiring the user to create the Windows discs, using their own personal software, so the p2p version was obviously someone's creation they chose to share with the world, but it was still very cool! At the time I remember thinking that it was more accessible than Knoppix for the avg. non-*nix person, at which this is obviously aimed.
  • From the BartPE website:

    "Q: Can BartPE boot from USB flash drives (UFD)?
    A: Maybe. Does your BIOS supports booting from UFD as if it were a harddisk? The Windows XP FAT bootsector code does not behave correctly when booting from UFD. Bart already "fixed" the FAT bootsector code. But booting from UFD is not stable at the moment. It is very dependent on what exact hardware is used. Some bioses cannot be set to the correct emulation and other systems hang or abort when the windows USB drivers are loaded. Tricky
  • USB Problems (Score:4, Informative)

    by SLOviper ( 763177 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:21PM (#13523218)
    I use this tool at work all the time - mostly for recovering files from problematic systems and for virus/adware scanning. It works great! That said, I tried putting BartPE on a USB key back about 6 months ago to no avail. It works great right up to the point that XP initializes your USB devices - then *POOF*, no more boot drive. The RAM drive is a clever workaround and I will have to give that a shot. If you're using Dell's, however, I wouldn't expect too much luck. The older Optiplex's don't support USB booting and the newest ones seem to not like the BartPE variant. I did have luck with the GX270 series, however. Just posting my experiences for others to learn from...
  • I've posted this article and others about running applications and OS's(linux) from USB drives and other portable devices on my site []. There's also a downloads section for registered users (free) to download and post such applications.
  • by kcb93x ( 562075 ) <kcbnac AT bnac DOT biz> on Friday September 09, 2005 @07:28PM (#13523272) Homepage
    I type this as 40+ machines in the same room as me use PE to launch the installer for our client's baseline system image. It installs the following:

    -Windows XP Pro
    -Drivers for the system (detects model and installs appropriate drivers, and extra software - like IBM's Rapid Restore Ultra on all IBM/Lenovo machines)
    -MS Office (I'm just a monkey here to run this site's deployment, I don't make any decisions)
    -Extra stuff used by the client (firewalls on all laptops, burning software on IBMs with burners, DVD players, etc)

    All in all, it's a rather powerful (and simple but extendable) automated Windows installer. I like it.

    In fact...I think I'll look into this tonight, and tommorow when I'm back in (Hey, overtime is enough reason for me to not play WoW and come to work, seeing as it's 10 blocks to work :D)
  • by Jety ( 882981 )
    If you're looking for Windows type rescue disks, go one step further and check out the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows - [] It is BartPE bundled with all of the most useful utils, includeing antivirus, antispyware, file manager, disk diags etc etc etc.

  •   The Subj is the Question & point of my post.

      Nothing to see here, folks. Move along...
  • You can find information about where to obtain such updates from your PC's (or motherboard's) user manual, on the driver CD included with the PC (or motherboard) or on the vendor's Website."
    yeah, right...
  • Why, oh why, would I want to allow Microsoft to be that close to my family jewels?
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Friday September 09, 2005 @10:32PM (#13524114) Homepage
    Or are you just happy to see me?
  • RAM disk version. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Macfox ( 50100 ) * on Friday September 09, 2005 @11:06PM (#13524265) Homepage
    Yes... not only can you boot from other removable media, but RAM disk too.

    There's two flavours at the moment. ISO based readonly RAM Disk and the SDI based ReadWrite version. I find the latter the better, as it you don't need a secondary RAM Disk to get things like WMI working etc. The above images ISO/SDI images can be loaded over TFTP (F12 - PXE Network boot), CD, HD, USB, or any other bootable media, for real speedy XP. Oh, once the RAM disk is loaded you can remove the boot media too. :)

    If you're interested, a good place to start is 685&st=0 [] and 1048&hl= []

    On a side note there also a SYSLINUX patch [], (Needs a bit more work) that will load SDI images. Currently only works with XPe, so not no WinPE Minint functionality, but it's almost there.


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