I recently debuted a project at our Las Vegas user conference I've been putting a number of hours into , one which I've been wanting to work on for several years now.
For the conference, we wanted to highlight the benefits of having Intel's remote vPro ISO boot available through Kaseya, showcasing an actual video of a remote ISO boot process and covering some real world use cases.
Remotely booting a machine to a "Live" CD for advanced system recovery purposes came to mind, and I was finally able to really sink my teeth into building a special Kaseya boot CD last month.
There are a number of Live CD projects around -- BartPe, Ultimate Boot CD, etc. I chose to look into the Make PE3 project (http://bit.ly/lrxbD1), which is based off of WinPE 3.0.
The Make PE3 project will allow you to make a recovery CD that loads into a Windows 7 GUI thanks to all of the hard work done by it's owner 'wimb' and other contributors around the world who are enhancing the Windows PE 3.0 environment.
In order to comply with Microsoft's licensing for WinPE 3.0, you need to build the bootable recovery CD on your own.
I've combined the incredible 'Make PE3' project with the power of Kaseya's Agent Procedures to allow you to do this with minimal effort.
The highlight of course, is this disc is built with a Kaseya Agent that checks in to your Kaseya server so you can boot any machine to it and Live Connect to the system from the comforts of your office.
Some screenshots to wet your palette before we move on to the instructions... Here is one of the desktop itself where you can see a list of applications, the actual host C:\ drive and the boot disks X:\ drive, custom background, and the auto-loading custom home page in Firefox4 when the CD boots:
Rescue agent checking in. Once one rescue agent shows up, additional agents show with a -1. Full audits are run so you can easily identify a computer based on it's audit data (Model, Make, Connection gateway, etc):
Live Connect to the recovery agent (desktop is set to fit to window):
Ok, back to the instructions.
First, a few people mentioned the procedure download link wasn't easy to find on this page (if you are new to the Resources section, I'll admit it isn't), so here it is:
In addition to creating a bootable ISO to burn to CD, this procedure will also create a set of files you can copy to a bootable USB stick.
Before you run the procedure, make sure you DISABLE virus scanning of your Agent temporary folder and C:\Make_PE3. Some virus scanners will incorrectly see the "Make_PE3_40.exe" file as a virus and quarantine the file, causing the procedure to fail.
You will only need a Windows 7 32-bit OS (non-home edition) with a Kaseya Agent installed and 3-4 GB of free hard disk space to serve as the build environment. The resulting boot CD of course will still work for 64-bit systems.
Existing Windows 7 32-bit agents can be identified easily through a Kaseya View - just create a view selecting Windows 7 as the OS, and input splwow64.exe as a 'missing' application:
No visible changes will be made to the OS, as it is just used as a build environment for processes that run via command line to build the boot disc.
If you don't have one handy, just grab a Windows 7 x86 download through your Windows Action Pack or MSDN subscriptions, or get a Windows 7 Enterprise 90 day evaluation download setup. The free Vmware Player can virtualize it just fine to make it easy to get started.
The procedure will prompt you for three inputs -- machine group, startup URL, and background image:
I typically just use a group called "_rescue.unnamed."
For your default URL, this could just be your own website, and if left blank, the browser that opens when the recovery CD boots will go to http://www.kaseya.com.
The last box asks for a URL to the background image that will be added to the CD and used by default. If you input nothing, the background image will come from http://files.kaseya.com/sftp/krescue/krescue.jpg. This needs to be a 1024x768 resolution image in JPG format.
The URL and image allow you to custom brand the boot environment to your business, something that I thought would be appreciated.
Once executed, the procedure will take 30-90 minutes to complete, depending on the speed of the machine you're building it on and your internet connection, as it has to download the make_PE3 EXE (40mb) and the plugins I created for it (350MB), then combine everything together and build the ISO..
When it is finished, you need to browse to the c:\make_PE3 folder on the machine, where you will be greeted with two nicely packaged zip files, complete with their own instructions and descriptions in a readme.txt file, one for making a boot CD, the other for making a bootable USB stick.
Tools the CD is loaded with - some are present with the Make PE3 project, some are plugins I created:
Most any fairly modern system should boot from the CD, even my own Macbook boots to it just fine considering it is Intel-based. The only requirement I can think of that might present some complications is the fact that you'll need at least 1GB RAM to properly boot the CD.
Next I'll probably work on a Linux-based Live CD with a Kaseya agent, perhaps focusing on smaller footprint rather than breadth of functionality.
The "reboot to safe mode" scripts pioneered and created as Kaseya originals by forum users Outfishin and Nziegler several years ago have proven to be extremely useful for a lot of our customers. This new remote recovery boot CD concept serves as another innovative tool for you to easily assess and repair problems that are preventing someone from booting into their normal OS, all from the comforts of wherever you have access to a web browser.
Could it save you having to spend time physically driving to and sitting in front a machine to fix such an OS booting problem, enough to justify keeping one of these boot CDs or USB sticks on hand at all your remote sites? I certainly think so. TRY IT!
If you have a problem with the procedure getting make_pe3_40.exe, grab the file from here: www.mediafire.com and place it in your Agent temporary folder (typically C:\kworking) and run the procedure again.
I am unable to import the script .... any advice/help?
Try opening the XML file with a text editor and pasting in the contents to your import window. Let me know if that works.
I am having the same problem as Tom. I did try both importing the XML and pasting the contents of the file into the import window with no success. Any other thoughts?
For both Tom and SK-artisnet -- check your personal agent procedure folders carefully, and you'll now see this procedure on your systems. I'm not sure exactly why you couldn't import them yourselves. I used Firefox4 myself to run the import and when pasting the contents it worked OK.
If think you did a great job! Now is possible to remotely take control of a computer even it is unbootable.. .So we downloaded your script and we 've imported in ours kaseya. We get no errors. and we start the script. After a few minutes a new folder is created in c:\make_PE3 but instead of getting the two zipped files with instructions we find a lot of unzipped folder and no istruction. So we run the make_p3.exe and we leave everything default. After some minutes a custom iso cd image is created. We burn it and we boot it.. The cd works great but:
1) many plugins created by you are missing in this cd....
2) the most important thing is KASEYA AGENT IS MISSING...
Can you let us know how to add Acronis True Image 10 plugin!|
how can you solve kasya agent problem?
Filippo, I'll get with you to see what happened. Please check your account settings either clicking your name or 'conversations' and accept my request to talk directly.
It seems as though there may have been an issue with the plugin ZIP downloading and extracting to the c:\make_pe3 folder. Once the plugins extract, even if you run the make_pe3 EXE or .CMD manually, the CD will include the plugins.
OK got the script and ran it on a 32bit Win 7 machine as it says per the instructions and ... I get the PE3 folder on the C: Drive but no nicely zipped files and instructions in that folder ... Any help here Ben? where are the files i want to grab for the USB and the CD/DVD?
Just emailed you to see what is going on, Tom.
I've tried running this on 2 different PCs, and both times come across this error, wsaying that it is missing 2 files. On one of the I copied these files across a windows install disk, which created the ISO's, but the would fail to boot. Any idea what would be causing this, or are you send me the winre.wim and boot.wim files.
Use Collected Win7 Files to make 7pe_x86 ISO - Date = Wed 18/05/2011 13:01:25
ERROR - File "C:\Make_PE3\win7pe_x86\winre.wim"
and - File "C:\Make_PE3\win7pe_x86\boot.wim" are Missing
File winre.wim Or boot.wim is needed to make Windows 7 PE
First Get Files from Windows 7 Source with option 2
Or Copy boot.wim from Windows 7 DVD and then use option 3 to Remake 7 PE
Copy file sources\boot.wim to C:\Make_PE3\win7pe_x86
Copy folder boot to C:\Make_PE3\win7pe_x86\ISO
Copy file bootmgr to C:\Make_PE3\win7pe_x86\ISO
If run on a Windows 7 32-bit machine (non-home edition), you shouldn't need to copy files from an installation disk. Are you sure you're running the procedure on the right OS? If so add me as a friend on the community and I'll contact you directly to see what's up.
Tried on my home pc and it worked OK - mustn't like something with the lenovo win7 preloads
Great to hear, Eddy!
I got in touch with anyone who commented here they had an issue and got any problems cleared up :)
Is it possible to add extra tools to the final ISO?