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A BartPE Live CD
Design by Bart Lagerweij
Latest release BartPE built from Windows XP SP2 or Server 2003
Platform x86
Type Live CD

BartPE (Bart's Preinstalled Environment) is a lightweight variant of Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 32bit operating systems, similar to a Windows Preinstallation Environment, which can be run from a Live CD or Live USB drive.

A BartPE system image is created using PE Builder, a freeware program created by Bart Lagerweij. It requires a legal copy of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Additional applications can be included in the image using plugins.

As a Live CD or USB, BartPE allows a user to boot Windows, even if a hardware or software fault has disabled the installed operating systems on the internal hard drive — for instance, to recover files. It can also be used to scan for and remove rootkits, viruses and spyware (that have infected boot files), or to reset a lost administrator password.


[edit] BartPE vs. Windows Preinstallation Environment

BartPE differs from Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) in several ways:

  • WinPE is an official Microsoft product. BartPE is not endorsed or supported by Microsoft.
  • The tools needed to make a BartPE installation (PE Builder) have always been free. WinPE 1.x was initially available only to Microsoft OEM partners and Microsoft Software Assurance customers. (With the release of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), WinPE 2.0 is now available as an included component at no charge.)
  • BartPE offers a wealth of user-provided custom plugins. Since WinPE 1.x was initially difficult to obtain due to strict licensing options, it does not have the same wide availability of plugins.
  • BartPE uses an XML based 'Start Menu' called nu2menu which calls up basic functions. Windows PE relies on console commands within a GUI-less, command-line environment (although the latter is also able to run GUI-based applications).

[edit] PE Builder

PE Builder

PE Builder 3.1.10a
Design by Bart Lagerweij
Latest release 3.1.10a / 2006-02-17; 1147 days ago
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Live CD creator

PE Builder (also known as Bart PE Builder) is the software used to create the BartPE system images.

[edit] Description

As with Windows Preinstallation Environment, BartPE operates by creating a RAM disk in the system memory. Thus, both operating systems require no hard drive or network access. This also allows them to be run from non-writable media such as a CD-ROM.

Since each instance of BartPE is a new installation, the BartPE "boot" disk needs original Windows setup files in order to operate. The Bart PE Builder application interprets and condenses files from a Windows setup CD to create the BartPE installation. It can build from a Windows XP Pro or Home Edition CD, or from a preinstalled Windows XP version (without a CD).[1]

Additional applications can be included in the BartPE setup through the use of "plugins". A plugin contains setup information for a specific application, so that it can be included on the media and installed along with Windows at each BartPE boot. Currently there are a few hundred plugins available in addition to the dozen-odd that are included by default with BartPE. Since BartPE represents a totally independent operating environment, the most obvious application examples involve backup, restoration, diagnosis and error-correction of systems with malfunctioning primary storage drives. Plugin programs can nominally be added to the capacity of the BartPE media.

BartPE is known to have certain incompatibilities with the Windows XP CDs shipped with most Dell PCs. The Dell versions include changes to the Windows setup files that can cause the BartPE build process to fail. Two patches are currently available to correct the known problems. BartPE cannot create Vista Live DVDs [1]

[edit] Portable applications

It is complicated to install applications on the RAM of a Live CD, and all the changes made to those programs and the installation itself will be lost once the computer is rebooted, so a good alternative is to use portable applications that can be run from either the Live CD or from a USB flash drive connected to the computer. There is even software dedicated to create those portable applications (for example, VMware ThinApp).

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^

[edit] External links

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