by April 5, 2004 0 comments

A live CD contains an OS configured to run directly off the CD, ie, it need not be installed on the system. Just pop the CD into the system’s drive, boot from it and the OS will be up and running, without tampering with the OS loaded on your system’s hard drive. This can be a very handy tool for network administrators for tasks such as, recovering data from crashed desktops or doing other troubleshooting tasks. Companies that want to demonstrate their software products to clients could also use it. They would, however, need to integrate their product with the OS that is running on the live CD. Similarly, educational institutes could use it to provide training to students, or even cyber cafes could get diskless workstations, boot them off a live OS and provide Internet access. As we can see, there are plenty of uses for a live CD. Most live CDs till now had been based on Linux, with the most popular one being Knoppix. (This month, we’ve also talked about another based on Slackware in our Linux section.) But, now there’s a live CD that runs Win XP. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can create one. 

Applies to PC users
Usp Access crashed Win XP systems
Links,  http://oss.netfarm.

The first thing you need to create a live Win XP CD is a licensed copy of Win XP. Next, you need a tool called Bart’s PE-Builder v3, which is free and a substitute for WinPE (a tool from Microsoft that also creates Win XP live CDs). You can download this tool from It comes as a zip file, and there’s a wizard that takes you through the building process when you unzip and run it. First the wizard will ask you for the path of your Win XP installer CD.

Next, it will give you a plug-in list from where you need to select programs that you want to put on the live CD. There are 
some very useful programs for system recovery, such as Nero for burning CDs, Ghost, Snapshot, DOS 16-bit support and Easy Recovery Pro. 

Besides the default plug-ins that come with PE-Builder, you can also download your own from www., .php. These are available in .cab form. To add a downloaded plug-in to the list, simply click the Add button on the Plug-ins list window and provide the path where you’ve downloaded it. After that, it will automatically appear in the list, and you just have to enable/disable it. 

Finally, after you’ve chosen all the plug-ins, you’re ready to create an ISO image of your live Win XP CD. Click on Next, and you’ll be asked to provide a path where the program will dump all files temporarily. Tick the ‘Create ISO Image’ option and give the path and ISO file name to be created. It will start creating the content for the live CD in the output folder. If the content is created successfully, it will also automatically create an ISO image. Now you just have to use any burning software such as Nero and burn the image on a CD.

Lastly, when you boot from this CD, you won’t get the familiar Win XP Start menu. Instead, you’ll get the NU menu. In the next issue, we’ll talk about how you can replace it with the standard Win XP Start menu. 

Sanjay Majumder

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