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Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
2013-02-15, 15:05
Post: #1
Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
Hi all Smile
I need to boot a pre installed and pre configured windows 7 via network in ramdisk. The goal is to run graphical application, that heavily uses network.
iSCSI and AOE are not variant, because the system should not rely on network HD, all necessary data should be loaded in RAM.
Windows PE is not a variant because it does not support DirectX, and I even dont know if all needed software can be pre-configured (eg Nvidia driver's configuration).

All the info that I could find describes booting WinPE, WES7 Installation (I need already installed system), or variants with iscsi or aoe.

Is it possible to do what I need with iPXE? And what tools may I need?
Current scheme that I understand is:
client->PXE->DHCP->TFTP->iPXE->wimboot->HTTP->system image->ramdisk->boot up

Things that I cant understand are:
1. Is it possible at all?
2. Use .wim or .iso?
3. Is it possible to put installed system to .wim or .iso?

Thanks for your support Blush
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2013-02-17, 21:23
Post: #2
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
If you want to boot a .wim file, then you're stuck with what will work in a Windows PE environment. If WinPE can't run the software you want it to, then your only choice is to use either iSCSI or AoE on a fully installed system (that is, install Windows to an iSCSI/AoE volume). Be aware that Windows only supports iSCSI out of the box. For AoE you'll need a customized installation.

Are you absolutely sure that you can't get DirectX to work in Windows PE? I would think it could work, but you'll probably have to do a lot of manual work.
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2013-02-18, 07:08 (This post was last modified: 2013-02-18 07:09 by Robbin.)
Post: #3
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
Thanks for reply.
Yes I'm absolutely sure that DirectX will not work in WinPE.

Im not stuck with .wim, I can use any extension and file format.
Maybe my goal is achievable with Windows Embedded 7 Standard? But it seems too similiar to normal Windows 7.

Also I've got a suggestion from Russian forums:
Install Windows 7 on a partition, install Firadisk driver, configure Windows 7, save the partition as .vhd, then use TeraByte Unlimited, Acronis or Paragon software via network that will download and boot the image of system.

What do you think of this scenario?
Thanks.
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2013-02-18, 09:30
Post: #4
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
I've never heard of this approach, but you're more than welcome to try and report back your findings. I'm sure there are others that would like to hear about that approach too.
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2013-02-18, 12:33
Post: #5
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
there is a Grub4Dos vhd firadisk method for booting win7 in a ramdisk.

Whether that method would work if the vhd was provided via an iSCSI LUN provided by iPXE I haven;t got a clue, but it might be worthwhile testing.
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2013-02-18, 12:37
Post: #6
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
(2013-02-18 12:33)ArneLovius Wrote:  there is a Grub4Dos vhd firadisk method for booting win7 in a ramdisk.

Whether that method would work if the vhd was provided via an iSCSI LUN provided by iPXE I haven;t got a clue, but it might be worthwhile testing.

This method is described for local booting only Sad

Currently Im investigating possibilities with Acronis Snap Deploy 4 and custom Windows PE loader for Acronis.
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2013-02-18, 12:55
Post: #7
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
(2013-02-18 12:37)Robbin Wrote:  This method is described for local booting only Sad

if the vhd was on an iSCSI LUN provided by iPXE, then would it not be local?
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2013-02-19, 11:04
Post: #8
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
(2013-02-18 12:55)ArneLovius Wrote:  
(2013-02-18 12:37)Robbin Wrote:  This method is described for local booting only Sad

if the vhd was on an iSCSI LUN provided by iPXE, then would it not be local?

As long as you're in BIOS mode it would be, but once the Windows kernel has started, the drive would have to reconnect (because BIOS calls are no longer available), and for that you'd need Windows iSCSI support.
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2013-02-19, 13:28
Post: #9
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
(2013-02-19 11:04)robinsmidsrod Wrote:  
(2013-02-18 12:55)ArneLovius Wrote:  
(2013-02-18 12:37)Robbin Wrote:  This method is described for local booting only Sad

if the vhd was on an iSCSI LUN provided by iPXE, then would it not be local?

As long as you're in BIOS mode it would be, but once the Windows kernel has started, the drive would have to reconnect (because BIOS calls are no longer available), and for that you'd need Windows iSCSI support.

I think you missed the part about the RAMDISK

computer PXE boots
iPXE connects to iSCSI SAN volume
iPXE chain loads Grub4DOS
Grub4DOS loads VHD file on iSCSI SAN volume into RAMDISK then chain boots the Windows7 vhd in RAM disk

Windows 7 needs to be built in a vhd with the firadisk driver to work with the ramdisk

http://reboot.pro/topic/8804-firadisk-latest-00130/

Cheers

Arne
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2013-02-19, 14:05
Post: #10
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
ArneLovius thanks for your suggestion! I've already thought about this aproach, but did not try it yet.

Meanwhile Acronis Snap Deploy cant help me, because if I use custom Windows PE with Acronis soft and create RAM disk inside it, then download an image to this RAM disk I still have to reboot in order to boot Windows 7, and that where RAM disk vanishes Sad
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2016-05-24, 06:21
Post: #11
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
Is it possible to put installed system to .wim or .iso??????

NOOR
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2016-05-30, 04:13
Post: #12
RE: Pre-installed Win7 x64 boot to ramdisk via iPXE
Yes you can boot directly from *.wim file on the hdd only for Windows 8.1/10 in UEFI mode. It's called WIMBoot referenced in this TechNet article.

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/libr...2147217396

For WinPE with DirectX support and other components, try these projects Win7PESE, Win8PESE, Win8.1SE and Win10PESE.
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