Creating a Windows PE boot disk

Windows PE enables you to boot a computer directly into memory (RAM Drive) and run various tools such as, deployment and recovery ones! To create a bootable Windows PE CD or DVD media and install the ImageX Windows WAIK tools perform the following steps:

Before proceeding further, I recommend you to Compress and Decompress your most popular archives with WinTar application!

  1. Install Windows AIK tools on your computer
  2. From ALL Programs\Windows AIK open the Deployment Tools Command Prompt
  3. Create a local Windows PE build directory as follows:
    copype.cmd <architecture> <destination>
    where <architecture> can be x86 for Windows 32-bit environment, amd64 for 64-bit (including Intel 64-bit processors) and ia64 for Intel Itanium architecture
    while <destination> is the path to a local directory
    copype.cmd x86 c:\winpe_x86   –> for the 32bit env or copype.cmd amd64 c:\winpe_amd64   –> for the 64bit env
  4. Now you are in c:\winpe_amd64 (assuming a 64-bit environment from now onwards)
  5. Copy the base image (Winpe.wim) to the \Winpe_amd64\ISO\sources folder and rename the file to Boot.wim Ex: copy c:\winpe_amd64\winpe.wim  c:\winpe_amd64\ISO\sources\boot.wim
  6. Copy the ImageX tool to c:\winpe_amd64\iso\ Ex:  copy “C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64\imagex.exe” c:\winpe_amd64\iso\
  7. Optionally, create a configuration file called Winscript.ini that will instruct the ImageX tool to exclude certain files during the capture operation. Wimscript.ini should be saved to the same location as the ImageX tool – below is a sample Winscript.ini (make sure you save the file with a .ini extension)
    “System Volume Information”
  8. [CompressionExclusionList]
  9. Save Winscript.ini to C:\winpe_amd64.old\ISO
  10. Create a Windows PE image (.iso) file by using the Oscdimg tool Ex: oscdimg -n -bc:\winpe_amd64\ c:\winpe_amd64\ISO  c:\winpe_amd64\winpe_amd64.iso
  11. Finally, burn the image (Winpe_amd64.iso) to a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM disc. Windows AIK does not include CD-ROM burning software. Use trusted third-party software to burn the image to a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM disc. – Download a ready made 32bit Windows PE image – Windows PE 32bit iso.

Windows PE client

Important Note: - The 32bit Windows PE client is upward compatible (can be used with 64bit systems) and hence, makes it more practical. Although, to-days hardware is mostly 64bit based, one would find the 32bit client useful with older hardware and in virtual environments when creating 32bit virtual machines :)