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Bootable flash pen utility question

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  • Flash Media
  • Flash
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
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December 31, 2010 2:14:23 AM

i thought what i was looking for would be easy to find, but after searching, apparently it isnt. I have found plenty of utilities to make flash pens bootable, but none for what i am looking to do. my company has executable images files for the different models of systems we have. Most of the images are between 4 and 6GB (broken up into 2GB pieces i.e. model1image.exe, model1image.002, model1image.003) I am looking for a utility that i can boot from the flash drive, then access the images and run them. i cant seem to find anything that will allow me to do that. i can care less about what emulation it is, if it is one at all. ideal would be for it to come up to a menu and i select which model and it goes to the right folder with the images and starts on its own. Can anybody point me in the right direction??

More about : bootable flash pen utility question

a c 316 G Storage
December 31, 2010 1:19:27 PM

Umm, what program were the images made with? You probably have to be able to boot the device into that utility. For example, I still use Norton Ghost version 8 (a bit of an antique). It runs under DOS, so I have DOS bootable devices with some backups. Of course, DOS wants to run in a partition of 2 GB or less, so my solution doesn't work for 6 GB restores.

The point is: The images were made with some utility. You need devices that can boot into that utility. Check the utility to see if it can create bootable media. For example, my company uses Acronis True Image and my backup drive is bootable.

A comment: USB flash drives are not the best media for doing this. If you burn the backups to DVD instead, you have an image that cannot be modified. If anything nasty gets loose in your systems, you know that you can rely on the image that was burned to the DVD, but it is possible for the flash devices to get contaminated.

Regards

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Edit: Whoops, my mistake. I thought that you were using these images to re-install the OS to the machine. Now that I read your post again,you want to run the OS and your application from these gizmos, not install to the PC. The answer to that depends on which OS you are using. If you are using XP, then BartPE provides an excellent tool for creating a "live CD" that will run a subset of Windows. For Windows Vista or 7, you need something like WinBuilder. If you are using *nix, I can't help you.

It's still an awfully good idea to use a write-once medium to prevent unauthorized modification of your app.
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December 31, 2010 5:03:59 PM

no, you were right the first time. these images are to reinstall the OS with all of our programs and network settings already on it. Basically this is it. i work at a bank and do the support for the branches. when a system screws up, i just want to reimage it. The program the images are made with is Altiris RapidDeploy. They have a PXE server at our main location, but i am one of the remote outside techs and dont have access to the PXE server at my office. I could set up one at my office, but this still doesnt give me a solution for when i am onsite at the branches. As far as what i have the images on, i dont really care. they can be on DVD or USB stick. i was once using a DVD for them for an older system we had, that has floppy drives, but our new ones dont have floppy drives, plus most of the boot utilities i have tried lately dont recognize the DVD drives in our newer systems. The image files as i said are self executable, so they dont need a special boot utility to access them as .gho ghost image would. i just have to be able to get to them. Back in our Win98 days, i used to have the images on a hard drive and i would just open the system and disconnect the cdrom and connect the hard drive and boot it to dos and run them from the secondary hard drive. i could put them on a small system and take it with me to the branches and make a boot device that would see it on the network, but i would rather not have to take an extra system around with me. if i could find a utility that i can put on dvd and it automatically starts to run the .exe file from the dvd, i would love that. i dont mind running the image file manually, the running it automatically would just be an added bonus.

does that make more sense?
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December 31, 2010 5:04:43 PM

usually i am pretty good at researching and coming up with my own solutions for stuff i am trying to do, but i am really stumped on this one.
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a c 316 G Storage
December 31, 2010 8:08:10 PM

In all seriousness - have you contacted the company that makes Altiris with this question?

Also, when you have run these in the past, what OS do you boot the machines into to run these self-executable files? If they run under DOS, you need one kind of boot. If they run under XP, than anyone with experience using BartPE could probably do this for you while also taking a philosophy midterm.

I read your post to say that you were booting from floppy before, but newer machines don't have a floppy drive. If that is the case, then I have a trivial solution - buy a USB floppy drive and use the same floppies you have been using all along! (well, not a good answer, but it will work).

(what's a PXE server?)

Also, I think I see a new hint in what you wrote above - when you have done this in the past, the boot image and the self-executable backups were not on the same piece of media?

=======

Upon sober reflection, I see another possible interpretation of what you have written. The self-extracting thingummies can run under DOS. That simplifies things for me a bit, at least by reducing the number of variables.

Will this work: Buy a USB hard drive (I prefer one with a separate power supply, to ensure that there is enough juice). Make it bootable in DOS and put your self-extractors on it. You wrote, "Back in our Win98 days, i used to have the images on a hard drive and i would just open the system and disconnect the cdrom and connect the hard drive and boot it to dos and run them from the secondary hard drive." Well, nowadays you can do the same thing with a hard drive but connect it without opening the case and, with most systems made in the last four years or so, boot from said USB hard drive. If this will work, I think that it's the simplest solution for you. You won't need to worry about getting DVD drivers for all possible systems into the boot image.

I've never tried to make a bootable DOS DVD. Did it on CD once, but they are smalller. One thing that you may be able to explain to me - how do you get multiple two GB files on a partition that DOS can read? I thought that 2 GB was a hard upper limit for FAT16 filesystems, and DOS did not support FAT32. So you are already ahead of me.
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a c 316 G Storage
December 31, 2010 8:12:49 PM

Ah, here. From their documentation, with no guarantee that this doesn't require access to the PXE server:

Altiris Deployment Solution™ from Symantec User’s Guide 151
Imaging computers from USB disk on key (DOK)
devices (JumpDrives)
Deployment Solution supports imaging clients from bootable USB Disk on Key (DOK)
devices.
To image computers from USB disk on key devices
1. Format the USB DOK using HP’s USB Disk Storage Format tool as FAT and make it a
DOS startup disk.
Altiris Deployment Solution™ from Symantec User’s Guide 152
2. In Boot Disk Creator, create a new automation boot disk while creating a new
configuration.
3. Select Bootable disk-Removable disk to install on the USB Disk on Key.
4. Copy HIMEM.SYS to the device.
Copy RDeployT.exe from the <InstallPath>\eXpress\Deployment Server\RDeploy\DOS
directory to the device.
5. Copy the <Filename>.img file to the device.
6. Create an Autoexec.bat with the script and command-line option, rdeployt -md -
fc:\IMAGE.img -d2
Note
The -d2 switch is the most important part of the script, as it specifies the flash drive.
7. Create a Config.sys with the following:
DEVICE=C:\HIMEM.SYS
switches = /f
DOS=HIGH,UMB
SHELL=command.com /p /E:1024
BUFFERS=20
FILES=20
STACKS=0,0
FCBS=1,0
LASTDRIVE=Z
8. Boot from the USB Disk
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January 3, 2011 6:51:40 PM

i have not contacted altiris, because i dont use any of their products myself. only the guys at our main location do. you would think that the people who do this at our main location would help with this and get a solutions for us, but it hasnt happened yet. they pretty much just send us hard drives with the new and/or updated images for our different systems from time to time and i guess just expect us to figure out a way to get the system booted up to a point where we can run the images and get them on there. they have all these endless resources to do this stuff there and i think they forget sometimes that us outside guys have nothing.

as far as your question about how i did it in the past, i used to just boot up to a Win98 floppy disk and then pull up the secondary hard drive i connected to the system as d: and run em. about your option of getting a usb floppy and booting it from that, i have thought about that. but it's been a pain to find a boot disk with usb drivers that would see an external hard drive or flash pen or a boot disk that will see these newer dvd drives. so i kinda ruled that option out.

you seem pretty knowledgeable, you really dont know what a PXE server is???

as far as images and self executable back ups, they are one in the same. i dont technically have any "back ups". just images to reimage systems to how they are from square one for us.

the self executable images will run in a DOS environment just fine. they may work from a NTFS environment also, but i have never ran them from it, only DOS. for the sole reason that i have never found a boot utility that will do what i need it to do in a NTFS environment.

As far as your idea of getting an external hard drive and making it bootable to DOS and having the images on there, i think i have tried this before, and what it did was try to image over my external hard drive because the system saw it as the C drive. Everything i have always had my images on have been FAT32. Later versions of DOS does see FAT32 just fine. If i could somehow make a DVD that has the drivers for the dvd on it and i could run it from the DVD, that would awesome. i'd just keep a dvd for each system model. (which is only about 4 or 5). i have a Dell utility CD that i, every once in a while, can boot systems from and it loading the DVD drive successfully, but that doesnt happen very often.

i just now realized that Symantec bought Altiris, not shocking considering Symantec buys everybody. so I was looking over what you posted from the user manual. i since then have found two user manuals for Altiris Deployment and probably the same open you copy and pasted from. i do have access to that
\eXpress\Deployment Server\RDeploy\DOS folder to get that RDeployT.exe file. my road bump is going to be access to Altiris Boot Disk Creator. i dont know if that is just a add-on to the whole Deployment suite, or if that by itself can be installed on a separate system.
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a c 316 G Storage
January 3, 2011 7:21:07 PM

Well, I'm going to have to back out on this one. Thanks for letting me know about DOS and FAT32 - I'll have to play with it some time. Really - my PC is multi-boot XP, 7, and DOS.

I do know about making bootable DVD's with BartPE, but I wouldn't want to even try to guess how to set it up to handle any type of DVD drive it may encounter.

Good luck.
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January 3, 2011 9:29:37 PM

believe it or not, since i wrote earlier today. i found a newer Dell Utilities and Drivers disk that they send with these systems. It came with a Optiplex 755. It works on the Optiplex GX620, 744, 760 and 780. i just got done imaging a 755 and 760 from a USB flash pen. So i guess i will just use this route as long as i can. Maybe play around with his above stuff later. I appreciate you find that for me!
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