XPe USB Boot with FP 2007

16 12 2006
Another prominent features of XPe FP07 is the capability to boot from an USB stick. This comes in handy for devices that need to updated regularly. Or, if You want to have an emergency system for field devices available on a USB storage device to minimize downtimes.
Basic requirements are USB 2.0 boot with INT 13 natively supported and of course everything related to USB should be enabled in the BIOS.
The implementation is pretty straightforward and consist of the major steps:
 
1. Format USB device using ufdprep.exe
2. Add USB Boot 2.0 component out of the Embedded Enabling Features folder in the component catalog and do a dependency check
3. Build and deploy the system
 
That is eays, isn’t it? Now it should boot from Your USB stick and FBA should begin to build the system.
If it does not, check one of the following:
 
  • Are Your BIOS settings correct e.g boot order (this changes sometimes automarically if a HD is present as well and the stick has been removed)
  • Did You really run the dependency check? - See if You have the Usb components in the image

Of course EWF is a perfect fit for such a system – so put it in. Leave some empty space for it if You want to use it in disk overlay or the partition table in RAM overlay mode.
You should be aware that some features are not supported with USB boot. HORM for example as well as power management modes such as Hibernate and Standby do not work. Additionally You cannot use a pagefile, as well. Therefore HMPro can just be used to control EWF on these devices. Attempts to activate HORM do fail. 

Some notes from the field:
USB boot is normally not faster than booting from a HD and it really depends on the write performance of Your USB stick. It should be better then 10 Mbit/s to get satisfactory results. I have seen systems using cheap sticks being so slow, I felt being transported back into time to old 386 days. :-)
Therefore a few bucks spent on a fast storage device really pay off. It also should have a minimal size of 256 MB, because that will be about the minimal image footprint You will end up with the USB boot 2.0 component.

XPe is XPe is XPe
I have heard of people trying to build overall rescue systems with the new USB boot feature on XPe. Unfortunately these attempts must fail, because an XPe system still is tailored tightly to the underlying hardware even when booting via USB. Due to this it cannot be used on system with different hardware.
If You need a very flexible OS to use with Your standard tools for device bringup on different systems, then have a look at the Windows Preinstallation Enviroment -WinPE (again, who is creating those names?)
It now is available for everybody since the VISTA release (In the past only enterprise customers could lay their hand on it). It is available as part of the free Windows Automated Installation Kit – WAIK  (who is,… OK, I give in, resignated).
WinPe is really flexible as the Swiss Army knife and a great toll for every device developer or IT-Professional.

Interested? We are offering a course on this topic: WinPE for OEM’s. Yes, I need to change the name.
What about "WinPE for everybody"?

Alexander

 

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