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Windows 7: USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780

18 Apr 2017   #11
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

@dg1261

Quote:
I've no experience creating bootable PE media on flash drives
It is the same as creating a usb installation drive.

USB Windows 7 Installation Key Drive - Create - Windows 7 Help Forums


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
18 Apr 2017   #12
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10/XP multiboot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dg1261 View Post
I've no experience creating bootable PE media on flash drives
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SIW2 View Post
It is the same as creating a usb installation drive.

USB Windows 7 Installation Key Drive - Create - Windows 7 Help Forums
Well, my point really was that I can't help the OP fix it if things didn't work like they were supposed to.

There are lots of parts that have to come together exactly right to end up with a successful boot. There's the MBR boot sector, partition descriptor, active boot flag, partition boot sector, initial program loader, etc., etc. Plus, not all flash drives work the same. The fact you're supposed to be able to configure everything with a couple clicks doesn't help when it *doesn't* work right. When that happens, my experience is too limited to be familiar with what may have gone wrong and why, or how to remediate the problem.

Not that anyone should care, but I've never had a need to learn the ins and outs of creating PE-based USB media, anyway. Hence, my lack of experience doing so. It's not because I don't know how, it's because I don't need it. To install Win7 or 8 or 10, it works perfectly fine tossing the iso onto a DVD-R or DVD-RW and using an external USB DVD drive. And while the OP's aim is so he can use Acronis offline, I prefer Terabyte's Image for DOS instead, which doesn't require PE boot media.

The context of my post was just to help the OP with some of his specific questions, not to learn more about creating the media myself.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Apr 2017   #13
JohnPat

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit
 
 
More learning from JohnPat

Hello all

Think that, without the help received here I would be still working on this at Christmas. However, one of the targets I initially set myself - see first post under Software - was to learn more about the Win 7 ecosystem. Don't know if this will help other newbies like me, but should be very familiar to the experts.

Attachment 398114

Above we see what happens after the clean command. If there were partition tables in the first 446 bytes, they have all been zeroed.

Attachment 398115

After creating the primary partition (above), 0x01bf to 0x01cd are filled with partition table data.

Attachment 398116

It is the active command (above) that makes the partition bootable - the nibble at 0x01b8 now contains 80.

Attachment 398117

The format command doesn't change the range 0x01be to 0x01cd.......

Attachment 398118

..and neither dies the assign command.......

Attachment 398119

...or the loading of the bootmgr by means of bootsect.exe

So..onwards and upwards to Win PE.

Hope this helps newbies like me.

Kind regards
JohnPat
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

20 Apr 2017   #14
JohnPat

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit
 
 

Hello

Second attempt to provide feedback.

USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780-clean.png

The above image (should) shows the first sector after the diskpart 'clean command. The area of the sector reserved for the four partition tables (0x01be to 0x1fd inclusive) is zeroed, so there is no partition table data.
I have underlined the area 0x1be to 0x1cd which is the first partition table data area.

USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780-primary.png

Above we see the effect of creating the primary partition. The partition table data is present but nibble 0x01be is still zero.

USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780-active.png

Now we see the effect of making the partition active. Nibble 0x01be has been reset from 00 to 80. This is now a bootable partition,

USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780-format.png

Formatting the stick has no effect on the partition table or the bootability of the partition.......

USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780-assign.png

....and neither does the assignment command.....

USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780-bootsect.png

....or exiting diskpart and running bootsect.exe /nt60 to update the master boot code for the partition to use bootmgr.

Conclusion: Running the disk part active command makes the partition bootable.

In a state of great anticipation I then went to the standard winpe_x86 directory I had prepared using the Windows Automated Installation Kit for Win PE3.0. After copying all the files to the stick, and checking every thing was identical to the master on the HD, I then demounted the USB and went to the target machine, plugged the USB in, set the machine to boot from 'USB device' using the F12 one time boot menu key and...
received the following error message:

"
bootmgr not present
Strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility
Press F5 for onboard diagnostics
"

I then rechecked the USB stick and found in the iso directory a file called 'bootmgr' which had no extension. At this point I did what most English people would do, that is made a cup of tea, found the biscuit tin, and composed this mail.

Any further suggestions?

Regards
JohnPat


My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Apr 2017   #15
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10/XP multiboot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by JohnPat View Post
Any further suggestions?
Not from me. You're at the point where, as I explained to SIW2, "my experience [with PE material] is too limited to be familiar with what may have gone wrong and why, or how to remediate the problem."

Your screenshots and stepping through the MBR sector look good, and exactly as they should be, with the minor exception that there is no DiskID. I don't think that's causing your boot problem, though.

Since you stated your effort is to learn, I'll add just a couple clarifications to your play-by-play commentary:

"Formatting the stick has no effect on the partition table or the bootability of the partition."
Not quite true. You'll notice the "partition-type" byte at 0x01C2 changed from 06 ("FAT16") to 0C ("FAT32").

Also, to repeat myself and for the sake of accuracy, you don't format hard disks or USB sticks, you format partitions. You partition hard disks and USB sticks, and you format partitions.

The DiskID I mentioned is the four bytes at 0x01B8-0x01BB. Windows doesn't like to see all zeroes there. It doesn't matter what's there, just as long as it's not all zeroes. I doubt that's your immediate problem, though, because "bootmgr not present" suggests the OS is stalling earlier, before it ever gets to the point of looking at the DiskID.

The diskpart "assign" command is an OS-level command. Everything in the MBR sector is pre-OS, so naturally the command will change nothing in the MBR sector.

The bootsect "/nt60" switch writes boot code to the *partition* boot record (PBR), not the master boot record (MBR). So you won't find any changes to the MBR, you'll find them in the PBR.

The process is: the BIOS finds the boot disk (per your BIOS settings), loads and executes that disk's MBR code, which finds the boot partition (per the partition table and "active" flag), loads and executes that partition's PBR, which finds the OS-specific boot files and loads the operating system. In the case of Vista/7/8/10 OSes, it normally finds those per the BCD.

The "bootmgr not present" is a sign you got past the MBR stage, so you're beyond my area of expertise. (If your process had stalled before that point, you would have seen something like "no boot device" or "missing operating system".)

Maybe somebody else can help you with the PE part of the process. Perhaps it's a BCD issue or something like that. Regardless, the problem is not in your MBR sector, it's going to be in the partition boot sector or beyond. (FTR, your partition table says your partition boot sector is in LBA 2048, which is the expected and normal default location.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Apr 2017   #16
JohnPat

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit
 
 

Hello dg1621

Thank you for the detail you provided on the booting process. I will look further at the PBR starting at LBA 2048 to see what I can make of it. However, can you tell me what the letters BCD stand for please? There is a BCD file in the Boot directory of the Win PE 3.0 iso directory, but it is another file with no extension so presumably the OS doesn't know what to do with it.

I have opened this file with Notepad, and has the following alpha string:

"
regf/ / ._)U   `  t \ b c d \ h i v e s \ b i n \ p c a t _ c d b o o t \ b c d { 4 6 3 6 8 5 6 e - 5 4 0 f - 4 1 7 0 - a 1 3 0 - a 8 4 7 7 6 f 4 c 6 5 4 } vk     25Type{9devk    27Elementd*nk Oլ x   x   Description nk Oլ x  P& x   Elementsnk Oլ h!  `" x JL
"

together with numeric strings that look registry HK entries. Is this a pre-built registry data? Is this an executable or a data file? What file extension should it have to be usable?

There is one other point I'd like to understand. As I reported, the message I get says 'bootmgr not present'.
I looked at the file named 'bootmgr' with no extension in the iso directory of the Win PE build, again using Notepad. It looks like a binary file, but has within it a string containing an error message warning that 'this program cannot be run under MS-DOS'. There is also the following alpha string:

"
  S t r i n g F i l e I n f o   0 4 0 9 0 4 B 0 L   C o m p a n y N a m e M i c r o s o f t C o r p o r a t i o n B
 F i l e D e s c r i p t i o n B o o t M a n a g e r l &  F i l e V e r s i o n 6 . 1 . 7 6 0 0 . 1 6 3 8 5 ( w i n 7 _ r t m . 0 9 0 7 1 3 - 1 2 5 5 ) 8  I n t e r n a l N a m e b o o t m g r . e x e .  L e g a l C o p y r i g h t M i c r o s o f t C o r p o r a t i o n . A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d . @  O r i g i n a l F i l e n a m e b o o t m g r . e x e j %  P r o d u c t N a m e M i c r o s o f t W i n d o w s O p e r a t i n g S y s t e m B   P r o d u c t V e r s i o n 6 . 1 . 7 6 0 0 . 1 6 3 8 5 D  V a r F i l e I n f o $  T r a n s l a t i o n 
"

This suggest to me that this file it is actually an executable and is in fact the executable 'bootmgr.exe'. Why does the file not have an extension? How can it be used? What is the purpose of this?

My next step is to rename the file as 'bootmgr.exe' and try again, but I would welcome any comments from anybody before I take this step.

Kind regards
JohnPat

P.S. I will look at the Terabyte Disk management software tomorrow, thanks for the pointer to it
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Apr 2017   #17
JohnPat

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit
 
 

Hello again dg1261

Sorry I got your moniker mixed up - I'm slightly dyslexic, not great for detailed work where every character counts, I guess.

Regards
JohnPat
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Apr 2017   #18
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10/XP multiboot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by JohnPat View Post
can you tell me what the letters BCD stand for please?
See Wikipedia



Quote:
This suggest to me that this file it is actually an executable and is in fact the executable 'bootmgr.exe'. Why does the file not have an extension? How can it be used? What is the purpose of this?
Neither bootmgr nor the BCD have file extensions. Bootmgr is executable program code and the BCD is a database of configuration parameters telling bootmgr what to use. You cannot run bootmgr from the command shell, it is executed by the PBR. Study the PBR code at LBA 2048 and you should find references to bootmgr. FWIW, I think your "bootmgr not present" might mean the PBR can't find the bootmgr file for some reason. Again, I'm not qualified to diagnose why.

The BCD has to be configured correctly to tell bootmgr where the boot partition is (it need not necessarily be the same place as the bootmgr file and/or BCD) and assorted boot parameters. For more details, do some research on the various options for a BCD entry. There are also several BCD editors around, including Microsoft's command-line BCD editor.

As SIW2 implied, you shouldn't have to do all this grunt work. The method he linked to is supposed to take care of all this configuration stuff automatically. But since that didn't seem to work (or, at least, didn't seem to work the way you did it), I can't give you any guidance on what to do about it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Apr 2017   #19
JohnPat

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit
 
 

Hello all

In response to the error message 'bootmgr is missing', dg1261 suggested I look at the Partition Boot Record (PBR) starting at LBS 2048. This I have done, and the screen grab is shown below:

Attachment 398157

BOOTMGR is present at 0x016a to 0x016f. Following dg1261's lead I have looked on the internet for information about the structure of the PBR; not much is given compared with that for the MBR. Can anyone tell me whether or not this sector is correct? How does this entry come to use the extensionless file 'bootmgr' which is located in the ISO directory of the USB stick?

The directory structure on the USB stick was prepared on the 'technician' machine. and is as follows:

G:\ISO

...\boot
......\fonts
.........(5 .ttf files)
......bcd
......boot.sdi
......bootfix.bin
......etfsboot.com

...\EFI
......\microsoft
.........\boot
............\fonts
...............(same 5 .ttf files as earlier)
............bcd

...\sources
......boot.wim [Note this file is the same as winpe.wim generated in the WAIK, copied to the USB
root and then copied again to sources and renamed boot.wim, in accordance with
instructions]
...bootmgr

...\mount [Empty directory]

...etfsboot.com
...winpe.wim

dg1261 has said he doesn't have to work with Win PE so I do not expect him or her to comment on whether this structure is right, but there might be some one out there who can. I have temporarily abandoned integrating Acronis with the boot.wim file - I'm just trying to get the target machine to boot and for Win PE to present me with whatever it gives the user on the screen. This would rate a further cup of tea!!

I know there is Media Builder in Acronis. Looking back at my initial post under software, it can be seen that whilst this does seem to carry out some work - the .wim file increases from around 111 KB to around 180 KB, and the .wim file might boot (some unreliability here), it does not boot into the Acronis Disk Director product, but instead tries to start the Acronis True Image product. Since I do not have Acronis True Image the attempted boot to the application fails. There must be something wrong with the script that attempts to start the application, but I cannot locate the script despite considerable time trying

Any advice would once again be gratefully received and acted upon.

Kind regards
JohnPat
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Apr 2017   #20
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

Quote:
Can anyone tell me whether or not this sector is correct?
No, because your attachment is borked.

I am not sure why you are having so much difficulty. It is a straightforward process. NT6 diskpart or any modern partition manager will write the correct bootsector code during format. What did you use to format the partition?
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 USB stick device, made under Win 7, trying to boot a Dell Optiplex 780




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