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Recovery Console boot CD ?? Possible?

By Vigilante
Feb 28, 2006
  1. Hey, it's on my to-do list to try to make a boot CD that goes directly to Recovery Console. This way we don't have to go through the long process of XP setup so we can press R to get there.

    Any ideas how this could be done? Or know anybody with an ISO I can download that already has it?

    thx
     
  2. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    hey Vig...

    You ever hang around these guys?
    http://www.msfn.org/board/

    I really have picked up some cool ideas here, and might be close to what your looking for.
     
  3. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    I've been to that site, some of their sub-sites are pretty cool. But I haven't spent a ton of time browsing or anything.
    I'll search around.
     
  4. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    If you come across somthing let us know.
    Iam curious.
     
  5. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    I know it is possible to create a windows XP setup disk which contains only what the setup floppies contain, and get a recvery console theat way.

    I also know it's possible to hit F10 when setup askes you to het F6 to take you straight into the recovery console. I don't know of anything completely automated though .
     
  6. peepnklown

    peepnklown TS Rookie Posts: 126

    “You can install the Recovery Console on your computer to make it available if you cannot restart Windows. You can then select the Recovery Console option from the list of available operating systems during startup.” HERE
     
  7. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    That may actually be onto something, or maybe not.

    I know it's possibly to hack the boot options to use ntldr to boot all sorts of OSs taht are on hrd drives installed on the computer

    I know it's also possible to use NTLDR to boot an OS that's on a hard drive on the computer from floppy or CD.

    Could it be possibly to use NTLDR to boot the recovery console from CD as if it were installed as a boot option on the hard drive?
     
  8. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    I doubt if this is possible , but not comepletly sure. It doesn't matter anyway because I don't believe Vig is after this.
    Recovery console works from it's own set of Commands.It also needs about 7Mb of space.
    Unless you pre-install it to run from Ntldr , you have to do the setup thingy with a windows CD
    The site at microsoft states that the RC executable commands can access cdrom ,copy from it (Copy to Cdrom takes some config stuff)
    So why not run from it. Sysinternals does this and more.
    Running it off the CD sounds reasonable and practical.
    The gang I mentioned earlier are way into this kind of thing .(go thru some sub-links)
    I hope Vig... finds it ....I just don't have the time right now.
     
  9. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    I'm still looking into it.

    I know that when you load RC into your own hard drive with winnt32.exe /cmdcons, it creates a folder on the HDD and an entry in the boot.ini. Seems to me if you perhaps took the boot files and boot sector off the XP CD, then copied the RC files and made the boot entry, it might work?

    I'm waiting for some free time to play with it some more. And I'll try the F10 trick and see if that makes it any faster to boot.
     
  10. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    I'm afraid the f10 trick only makes it faster if you have a habit of forgetting about it and leaving the "press r" screen on for a while untill you remember to get back to it.

    I've tried exactly as you suggest with the cmdcons folder. I haven't gotten it to work, but then I've not really tried that hard either - NTLDR is already in there in the form of setupldr.bin, and so in theory, al it would take is the correct boot.ini. Still trying to work out what that would be exactly, though I wonder if it needs something special done to bootsect.dat to pull it off, if its even possible?
     
  11. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    Just an update, I spent the last 5 hours playing with this idea. Using VMWare and so on. With no luck. It would either crash, or say missing hal.dll, or some other descriptive error of the usual MS style.

    But it seems to me, from all my research, there is only this to do:

    1) Format a floppy in XP (NOT create boot disk, just full regular format)

    2) Copy ntldr, boot.ini, ntdetect.com to the floppy from your root drive

    3) Copy the recovery console files to a new CD project

    4) Edit boot.ini to point to the bootsect.dat /cmdcon in the RC folder we made

    5) Use the floppy just created to be the boot image of the new CD (to make cd bootable)

    The one issue is that, in boot.ini, how do you tell it to look in a CD? Because it's not like the DOS days, you don't use config.sys and autoexec.bat to load CD-ROM drivers, that isn't needed. And yet you DO need to know what the current drive letter is. I don't think you use ARC paths for CD-roms, nor can you use a strait drive letter.
    I tried on one or two tries to just put the RC files right on the root of the CD and call bootsect.dat with NO path or drive letter, but didn't work.
    So I'm not sure how to use the current CD-ROM drive letter in boot.ini.

    This whole thing can be done with WinISO. Like this (WinISO also has 30 day trial so plenty of time to play with it which expirementing).

    1) Create the floppy as outlined above.

    2) In WinISO, click 'Bootable CD -> Make Boot file from floppy...' Then give the file a name and save it. This will create a boot file from your floppy to be used in the next step.

    3) Click 'Bootable CD -> Load boot information from file'. Then pick the file just made. Now the project will change from non bootcd to bootable.

    4) Next add the R.C. folder to the project, located however you did it in boot.ini

    5) Give the CD a name and save the ISO. Now the ISO can be used in an EMU, or burned to CD.

    So if anybody gets a chance to play with this some more, I'm right on the cusp of knowing whether this can work or not. There may have been issues using the EMU, so I have to try it some more using a real CD and system.

    The reason this "should" work, is that I read on MS own website, that IF R.C. has been installed to your hard drive already, but somehow your own boot sector got messed up, you can still boot to R.C. by creating the floppy as I outlined, and then putting the path in the boot.ini. Simple as that. So why not take that same example and instead of make the path to the C: drive, make it to the CD-ROM? But I can't find out how for that part.
    And yes, I tried just manually USING a direct drive letter, but it's odd because in the early boot process, I don't know if the CD-ROM has been assigned a drive letter yet! I got one particular error about the path not being found, even though Windows showed the drive as drive D:, I don't think I could use that when in boot.ini.

    Getting close!
     
  12. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Wouldn't it be easier to use BartPE?
     
  13. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    I know about BartPE and corporatemodboot and all those. I've used them. But this project is about half "can it be done" and half "if it can be done, it would be handy". Because There are still some things I do in Recovery Console that I don't do in other boot disks.
    Booting to RC is fast, it "logs in" so you can control services and such, it has a few nice features.

    In any case, I still want to figure THIS out, booting strait to RC. It must be possible, and if I do it, it'll be the first one on the Internet :)
     
  14. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    A couple of issues I think are a problem with this procedure, but please correct me if I am wrong.

    "1) Format a floppy in XP (NOT create boot disk, just full regular format)"

    2)" Copy ntldr, boot.ini, ntdetect.com to the floppy from your root drive"

    >Don't these files also point to an O/S ,Command uses Autoexec.nt,config.nt to interact with hardware etc.<

    " 3) Copy the recovery console files to a new CD project"

    4)" Edit boot.ini to point to the bootsect.dat /cmdcon in the RC folder we made"

    >RC is a program not an O/S<

    5) Use the floppy just created to be the boot image of the new CD (to make cd bootable)

    " The one issue is that, in boot.ini, how do you tell it to look in a CD? Because it's not like the DOS days, you don't use config.sys and autoexec.bat to load CD-ROM drivers, that isn't needed. And yet you DO need to know what the current drive letter is. I don't think you use ARC paths for CD-roms, nor can you use a strait drive letter.
    I tried on one or two tries to just put the RC files right on the root of the CD and call bootsect.dat with NO path or drive letter, but didn't work.
    So I'm not sure how to use the current CD-ROM drive letter in boot.ini. "

    >I guess I was leaning towards having the bootable cd with enough system >to allow RC to act upon the HDD (via NTdos , etc) yet be seperate from it.

    >Or am I missing the point ?<
     
  15. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    For NT based operating systems, those three files are the ONLY files needed to boot an OS. Ya, boot.ini is the one that points to where the OS is. And by default (as per Microsoft's article), you are leaving the boot.ini INTACT. In other words, you FULL format a floppy and then copy these 3 files from YOUR hard drive. Thus boot.ini points to YOUR OS. It is the most basic boot floppy you can make.

    The RC is not an OS, but it is very similar to command.com for 9x. If you install RC to your own hard drive with winnt32.exe /cmdcons. All it does is make a folder called "cmdcon" on your C: drive, then adds an entry to your boot.ini that points to "mutli(0).....\cmdcons\bootsect.dat /cmdcon"
    Something like that. Bootsect.dat is essentially the "OS" for RC.

    No 3rd party ntfs tools should be required. It should all be contained in the RC folder itself. Bootsect.dat is the bootloader for RC and that is ALL that's needed when RC is installed to your own hdd, along with a boot.ini pointer to it.
    All I'm trying to do is make a bootable CD to where, when you boot from it, it goes directly into RC asking you which installation to log in to, etc...
    Thus bypassing minutes of time booting XP setup so I can press R to get in RC that way.

    The issue is not, "what tools does RC have that I can just use from some other boot disk". It's not about what functions RC has. It's just about booting to it faster.

    Hope that explains it a little more. This is now a project of will. I'm doing it just to see if it CAN be done. You can boot to RC from XP setup. You can boot to RC when the files are on your HDD. So why can't you boot to RC when it's stored on a CD? That's what I'm trying to figure out.
     
  16. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    I got it Vig...

    " No 3rd party ntfs tools should be required. It should all be contained in the RC folder itself. "

    This is the part I don't agree with you on ( not criticism ,just tossing ideas, right !)
    I believe that RC still has to act in conjunction with an O/S. From the CD it still builds a small drive on the HDD in order to operate and it may copy and or delete files as it works on the repair. that is from CDrom to HDD , that means atapi drivers etc.This makes me think there is some interaction to some O/S .
    Therefore ,I think in your disk RC will need at least some minimum system support.
     
  17. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    I've thought of that myself. But whatever it is, needs to come FROM the CD. In other words, loading cd-rom driver, creating a virtual hard disk. Whatever the case may be.

    As it pertains to cd-rom drivers, I don't know how to load them on an NT based boot disk. I could add autoexec.bat and config.sys, but those are just backwards compatible, not sure if XP requires them for loading drivers.

    Nevertheless, I can't find any source which explains what RC REALLY needs. Because note that even if your HDD is trashed, you can still load RC from the setup disk, it just doesn't find an install to log in to. So it should be HDD independant.

    I'm currently trying to disect the XP disk to find how it branches to RC. See if I can't copy what they do.

    But if RC needs all the junk that the setup disk loads, then might as well scrap the project. But by the same token, you can boot to RC when it's loaded on your own HDD, without going through all that hardware abstraction. So maybe it's needed, maybe it's not. Maybe RC really does contain the drivers needed to work, after all, it's 7megs of stuff besides just bootsect.dat.

    That's what I'm trying to find out.
     
  18. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    I still think it's a good idea, wish I had more time , but I am coming into my busiest season , so off I go. I will keep an eye out for whatever you come up with. And I might just stumble across something.

    Good Luck
     
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