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 Newcomer's Tutorial - LiveXP, W7PEX & ppApps!, Read the TUTORIAL here!
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post Mar 8 2008, 07:48 AM
Post #1
amalux
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Group: Tutorial Writer

  Joined: 1-February 07 From: California

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Newcomer's Tutorial - LiveXP, W7PEX & ppApps!


LiveXP is a stable, highly configurable booting platform; based on Windows XP and uses your Windows installation CD or folder as source. This tutorial features builds with WimBoot, BootSDI (run from RAM) which ensures maximum performance from your boot disk. Fast booting, very quick response time, readily customizable, simple to add/remove programs, drivers etc. LiveXP is also a great way to launch portable apps, allowing for even greater flexibility and performance! Bootable from any media, including USB/UFD; with or without multi-boot options. Fully suited for 'newcomers' and advanced users alike. I personally use these boot disks daily in my work and at home. I'm hoping this tutorial helps get you started enjoying these great tools and that you will post your questions and suggestions here in the forum for others to learn from as well.

To get started, you should copy the contents of your Windows Install CD to a folder on your hard drive and use that as your source. Best results with XP SP2 and with some limitations, W2003 (mount image with IMDisk and copy contents to folder on hard drive). Please don't change any settings or options in the pre-configured builds below; just define your source in the WinBuilder main menu and press 'Play'. After a successful run or two you can begin to experiment and try other options. If you have any questions, by all means, ask! wink.gif

Here's a look at some things you can do in LiveXP:

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Have fun and happy booting!


Download project and save it to your desktop...

lx78sp6cxw Latest offering with updated programs, Winbuilder 78rc6, dipe autorun, WimBoot etc. - ~161MB (see note at end of first section below)

lx77rc2cxw Last stable build utilizing Winbuilder 77rc2 with BootSDI+WimBoot - ~149MB (archived projects here.)

Note: These projects are customized and 'frozen' for stability and additional functionality; don't update or change anything (until you know what you are doing or have at least one successful build with the default settings). This project can not be updated the 'normal' way i.e. re-downloading from the server. If you would prefer to not use this tutorial and instead download the latest, official updated projects, there's plenty of information to help you with that; see Lancelot's tutorial here, here and here to get you started. Also, if you have issues with the project or questions on this tutorial in general, please post them here. Have fun!
smile.gif

Once the archive is downloaded, install it to the root of any drive.
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Note: Don't rename or change anything in this directory or the build won't work!

Winbuilder starts automatically after extraction and a shortcut is placed on your desktop for convenience.
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Click on the Source tab and choose your source path - This will be either your install CD or the folder you copied its contents to on your hard drive (recommended).
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Now, sit back, relax and hit the big blue PLAY button. Build times can vary depending on your computer (allow at least 15-20 minutes). Good luck and if all goes well, you should see a desktop like this when your LiveXP boots up:
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Except, it'll be your wallpaper, not mine wink.gif

Note: Qemu is extremely slow!! (can take 3-5 minutes for desktop to fully load). Increasingly, I disable it in my projects and just use ISO's to test the build; in many ways a better and much faster test than virtual. See further on in the tutorial how to boot directly from ISO on your hard drive (currently XP only). If you have VMware or VBox etc. installed you can boot the ISO that way (still slow but faster than Qemu) or, of course, burning the ISO to CD (option given at end of build) still works fine. For this reason, depending on which project you choose, Qemu may be unchecked; if you wish to use it, you'll need to select it in the script tree before running the build:
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If you choose this option, only use it to confirm your build boots without errors. When you're done checking in Qemu, close the window and wait for ImgBurn prompt. If you don't want to burn the disc now, choose no or close ImgBurn and wait for the build to finish; you can burn it later from the ISO, automatically saved for you, in %BaseDir%/ISO directory.

When the build is done, you can view the final results in the WinBuilder Log window (opens automatically if any errors present) or open the HTML version automatically saved for you in the build folder (requires internet connection).
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If you do have any errors or warnings in the log, zip up* a copy of your log.html (auto-saved in your base directory) and post this, along with your question in the forum here. The information saved in this log will help us to know what went wrong and, hopefully, how to help you correct it. If no errors, you're ready to try a real boot by re-starting the PC with your LiveXP media inserted and hitting any key at 'Boot to CD' prompt (if you don't see it, check your BIOS boot order).

*Note: The log (and most other doc's, files etc.) must first be archived (compressed) before attaching them in the forum; you can use any good tool for this like WinRAR or 7-Zip (free).
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Notes on making changes and running projects again
If changes are required or for general testing purposes; save the original, pre-run project folder (or the SFX archive you downloaded) to use as a starting point for new builds. Start fresh with this same folder at your root drive (C:) and make any changes needed before running the project again; in this way changes/updates are better controlled. Keep notes and backups of everything you do and only when you're sure of successful results with adding scripts or making other changes should you use that, updated, project as your base for further testing. You can make a backup of the current project state by running Winbuilder and choosing 'Backup Current Base' from the main window. Note: All temporary files, including current ISO and USB boot files (HddBoot) will be deleted as part of this process. If wanted, you can save these files (in build folder "baseDir\ISO" before starting the backup process.


Notes on lx78sp6cxw build (top) and lx78sp6cbw ('Portable' section, below): These builds incorporate new ways of importing NIC, multi-media and some other drivers! Look in LiveXP's 'script tree' under 'Drivers --> 6 Other --> Driver Import PE' for options:
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Auto Driver Import Looks for packed (archived) drivers (DriverPacks or any *.7z, *.zip) in "?:\Drivers" or unpacked (individual driver folders containing *.inf, *.sys etc.) in "?:\Drivers\Loose". The folder directory can reside at the root of any drive, fixed or removable, regardless of drive letter; as long as present at boot or when dipe autosearch is run (can be run manually, after startup, from Start menu). If no driver source is found, there's no error or pop-up, it just doesn't load those additional drivers, that's all (so autosearch can be enabled at all times w/out issue). There is also an option to include Smart Driver Import (auto-imports drivers installed on host machine) in the search but this requires a little more experimentation to dial in so is unchecked by default, feel free to play with it later when you're comfortable with setting up LiveXP. Oh, don't worry about 'Hide Command Windows' option, scripting support is included by default wink.gif

I've included a few 'common' NIC drivers (mainly for my own usage) and there are a couple 'NET drivers' scripts you can try but these will not suffice for newer machines and they add significantly to the build time and size of your boot disk, usually without helping, so disabled by default.
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By far the best solution is to supply the latest LAN and/or WLAN DriverPacks for XP/2003 (this is LiveXP after all) and hope that dipe is capable of handling these drivers (does a pretty good job but not 100% NIC supported). Dipe searches through these DPs very quickly looking for the correct drivers and, if found, installs them automatically. You'll know this worked if able to connect to the internet; you don't need to run PENetwork again, it's all done for you at startup.

If above options fail, try the Smart Driver Import option but be prepared for some trial and error as this will attempt to install ALL drivers from your host (bad idea!) unless told otherwise, M$ and most printer drivers (another bad idea) are disabled by default but you need to work this through with some experimentation. More on this later...



Additional Options

Screen resolution settings, I've set the default to 1024x768; this is the resolution LiveXP will default to when booted in real hardware and best displays GUI elements on most monitors but if you want to change this setting, it's easy to do. To get to these options, expand the tree view under 'XP Live CD' on the left side of the WinBuilder interface, go to Basic - Tweaks - Display Properties and choose a different screen resolution**. You can confirm if the resolution setting is appropriate for your needs in Qemu before burning to a disc if wanted.
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**SetResolution, in the tree view above, also allows for changing defaults in LiveXP and lets you choose virtual boot resolution settings independent of real hardware. This is a nice option but, in my experience, still has some issues to be worked out. Because Qemu is disabled in most of my projects now, using SetResolution is really unnecessary and therefore unchecked as well. There are some additional benefits to using it, like hot keys to change resolution if booted to black screen (unlikely); so if you want it included, make sure to select it before building your project. Any changes like this must be done prior to running the build for the options to take effect. Of course, you can also change resolution after booting (rt-click desktop - Properties - Settings) but this setting change will be lost at each restart.

Adding additional files to your build, There is an option in BootSDI script to 'Include' user defined files at the root of your boot disk. Just point to a directory on your host machine and all files, including sub-folders, will be included for easy, portable access from PE! This means image files for use with backup tools (like Acronis, Ghost etc.); DriverPacks and source folders etc. This allows for easy, unattended installs, universal restore solutions etc. The beauty of this option is that it allows you to carry all your files on one disc and doesn't increase the size of the BootSDI image! i.e. the files that load to RAM and boot your PC are the same, regardless of how many files you 'include' on your disc so it doesn't increase load times or the demand on limited RAM resources. You get to this option by expanding the tree view on the left, under 'XP Live CD'; browse to Finish - Create Image - BootSDI and highlight the script to see its options panel (script UI):
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In the Include section above, browse to the directory you've setup on your host machine containing any files, folders and sub-folders you want to include on your boot disk. You are limited by the size of your media, so subtract the size of your boot image (usually ~100-200MB) from the total capacity of your media (CD=~700MB; DVD=~4.7GB; DVD/DL=~8.5GB etc.) to determine how much space you have available for these files. This option is best suited for 'single disc' setups where everything must fit on a single CD/DVD. The limitation of including these files on non-writable media like CD/DVD is that the files are included in the ISO image and can only be updated or changed with an ISO editor (or rebuilding the project from scratch) and then re-burning the new ISO to disc again. I have found it a far better solution to use a removable drive (USB-HD, UFD etc.) for storing these extra files, along with many additional tools and programs and accessing them all directly in LiveXP. To learn more, see the section further on in the tutorial titled 'Adding Portable Apps to LiveXP'.

Add-Remove Programs, Drivers Etc. You can add your own, favorite program scripts to any 'base' build and have them included in your boot disk! Obviously, removing ones you don't want is just as easy and in this way you customize your boot environment the way you want it. First, get the scripts! You can download scripts from many sources; you're looking for scripts that purport to be compatible with LiveXP (or nativeEx); here's a few places to get you started: LiveXP (official), Thunn (good alternate source) and for some of my own scripts, check here. Of course, you can also download directly through WinBuilder's interface to get the latest updates included in any given project and then pick and choose what you need from there. Wherever you get them, check a couple things before adding them to your build; open the script in Notepad++ (free) or any good text editor and confirm in the top, [Main] section of the script, the following values (if different, change them): Level=5 (for Programs); =6 (for Drivers); =10 (for Tools). These are the most common types of scripts you'll be adding or removing in your build. You can look at one other item in this same section, Selected=True (this means it's selected to run in the build); this refers to the check-box of the script in WinBuilder's tree view; =False means box with NO check (NOT selected to run in build) and =None means NO BOX at all!, only used for Tools that run independently of the build. The directories where you'll add-remove these scripts is "%BaseDir%\Projects\LiveXP\Apps", for programs; "\\LiveXP\Drivers", for drivers and "\\LiveXP\Tools" for tools. Under Apps you'll find sub-folders for each category of program; these folders often contain more than one program and are used for organizing the different types of scripts rather than as individual 'Program Folders' (although a single program or program group can have it's own folder). These folders will also affect how the program is listed in the LiveXP, Start Menu if no other Start menu sub-folder is specified in the script.
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Just add new driver scripts, virtual or hardware, to the appropriate folder (see above, should be self-explanatory but if confused, just ask); check in the driver script's [Main] section that Level=6 in all of them and make sure that they're checked in WinBuilder's tree view (Selected=True) so that they'll be included in the build. With both drivers and programs, you need to confirm that the scripts are compatible with your project; the tried and true method is to run the project with a few new scripts and see which ones work. Just because a script says that it's compatible doesn't mean it's going to work in every build; run it and see is the only way to know for sure. If you get some errors in your log, try to track down what lines in the script are causing trouble and if needed, post your zipped HTML log and question in the forum for help. This should be enough to get you started customizing the build the way you want it and allow for adding or removing scripts as needed.


_ _

More Advanced Options

Setting up a UFD boot disk - In addition to the usual CD and DVD boot media; if your machine allows it, you can also boot from a 'UFD' (USB Flash Drive); these are the little 'Key' drives that look more like a key chain ornament than a boot disk. They come in different sizes from a few MB's to 32Gig's or more. For a LiveXP bootable, your going to need a minimum 256-512MB, depending on the size of your build. Larger is better, it's nice to have the extra space available for backup images; drivers etc.

By far, the easiest way to do this is with wimb's wonderful, MAKE_USB tool; part of his U_XP_SET package available in the tutorial here. Just download the latest package and copy two files, ramdisk.sys and setupldr.bin (in your project's "\\Workbench\Common\BootSDI" folder) to "U_XP_SET\USB_XP_Setup\makebt\srsp1". Now your ready to start MAKE_USB.exe (either direct or from the launcher) and setup your options. It's so simple, a screen-shot says it all but read more about it in his tutorial rolleyes.gif - and have fun!
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For those that want to do it the 'old fashioned' way; you'll need PeToUSB tool for this, run it from Windows after your LiveXP project has completed. You'll need the 'Target' folder created in your base directory as the source files for this tool to setup your device. Plug in your UFD (don't use an extension hub) and make sure it's recognized by Windows (you should see it in My Computer). Note: all data will be lost when you format the drive with PeToUSB, you must format with LBA (FAT16X) enabled for most computers to boot from this type of disk:
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Setup your options as above, make sure your UFD is listed as Destination; browse to your %BaseDir%\Target\LiveXP folder as Source and hit Start. After PeToUSB completes, open your UFD in My Computer and make sure your files look correct:
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One of the files above, ntdetect.com, needs a little 'modification' (easy to do); you'll need a special hex editor, like TinyHexer (free) and the simple instructions provided here (thanks to ilko and, of course, Dietmar St?ng!). Just highlight all the text within the code box (on the web page), rt-click and Save. Now open your ntdetect.com file in TinyHexer by selecting File, Open and Browse to ntdetect in your UFD device's root directory (not in sub-folder!).
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Rt-click anywhere in the text, choose Select All and hit Backspace to clear all text; should look like this:

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Now, rt-click in the empty field and choose Paste to enter the new text you saved from the web-page; choose Save and check the box for 'Hex text' in the 'Select data format' pop-up, then exit; confirm your new file is exactly 47,596 Bytes in rt-click properties (just confirms you entered the correct text) and you're done. If your PC won't recognize the UFD as a boot device, it either means your PC doesn't support USB booting or you need to make some changes in your BIOS settings. Specifically required for this are USB Emulation toggled ON and HDD Sequence set to USB Device. Remember, the UFD must be plugged in for these options to appear in your BIOS setup!
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Setting up an external USB HD

New Method - With the advent of WimBoot builds, this has become very simple; when a project completes, you will find a folder named ISO in your build directory; this is the folder containing your finished ISO (used to burn CD or boot from directly on hdd/ufd etc.) but it also contains a folder named HddBoot which contains all the files you need to boot an external, USB hard drive! Save your data, format the drive (NTFS) and copy the files to the new primary, active partition on your USB HD.
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That's it, you're done, boot it!

If you have any trouble, make sure your computer supports booting from USB, try hitting F10 at startup to get your Windows boot menu; if USB HD not listed, you may need to fiddle with BIOS settings (only if you feel comfortable), make sure you know how to reset your BIOS to default settings before changing anything or things could get ugly.


--
Old Method - This requires a different setup and PeToUSB will not work here. You need to gather files and folders from a NON-BootSDI build; the same project you used for your BootSDI build is fine but needs to be re-run with a few changes. First, un-check BootSDI and instead, check CreateISO script below it in the list:

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Also, if not checked already, check the option in the same script above for 'Add Win 2k3sp1 ...' files.

One more item, in the ImgBurnISO script below, change the last part of 'command line switch' to LiveXP.iso instead of LiveXP_RAM.iso like this:
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That's it, now re-run the project and you'll be ready for the next step below wink.gif
- -

You should have a USB 2.0 hard drive with the first, bootable partition formatted FAT (max 2GB), Primary/Active; just use Windows Computer Management (rt-click My Computer - Manage - Disk Management) to create/format the new FAT partition and mark it Active - if you have questions, ask in the forum. The remainder of the hard drive can be NTFS (or anything you want) for storing portable apps, source folders, backup images etc. The following files/folders must be copied from the NON-BootSDI build you just made to the new primary partition on your USB HD; all are found in your [build folder]\Target\LiveXP:

I386 (copy entire folder and rename it to minint)
Program Files (copy entire folder as is)
Windows (copy entire folder, only if present)
ProjectInfo.ini
ModelRam.exe
(leave the BOOT and bootsect.bin, you don't need them)

plus:
ntdetect.com = Dietmar's mod from ilko's post here and finally
SETUPLDR.BIN (from the source folder you used for WinBuilder) renamed to NTLDR without any file extension! That's it!

Remember, the first five items listed above must be from a NON-BootSDI, LiveXP CD (or mounted ISO). These first five go together for any given build, so when you want to update the build on your USB drive, get all five of these together from your new/updated, non-bootsdi LiveXP and replace the existing ones on the drive. The modded ntdetect.com and NTLDR are interchangeable across projects and can be left as is from one project to the next for ease of setup.
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Mini-Tutorial: Booting LiveXP (and W7PEX) from Hard Drive (or UFD)!

Assuming you are running XP on your machine, it's very simple.

1) Build a working, LiveXP and/or W7PEX (read about it in the next section) from any of the projects in this tutorial and copy just the ISO(s) to the root of your boot drive (C:).

2) Go to 'Start -> Run' and enter this code to make your boot.ini file visible (assumes C: drive): attrib -h -s -r c:\boot.ini (attrib +h +s +r c:\boot.ini to undo) and save a backup of this file somewhere.

Option: Download and run this SFX which contains all the files you need (except the ISO's) and install it to the XP boot partition (C:). This eliminates the need for steps 3-6 below, however, you may still need to edit the menu.lst to match your specific needs. The default setup is for two ISO's, one named LiveXP and the other W7PEX. Having extra entries in the list doesn't harm anything but you'll be told there is no such file when selecting it from the list; you can leave it in for now or #comment it out as in the examples below.

3) Add this last line to your boot.ini file at root of boot drive (assumes C: drive): C:\grldr="LiveXP ISO Rescue Boot"

4) Download latest grub4dos from here or direct link here. Extract files and put (only) grldr file at root of your boot drive (C:).

5) Make a new text file with notepad and paste the following text (everything between the ---'s), name it menu.lst (uncheck 'Hide extensions...' in Tool -> Folder Options -> View):
---
color blue/black yellow/black white/black black/magenta
timeout 10
default 0

title LiveXP -> RAM
find --set-root --ignore-floppies /LiveXP.iso
map --mem /LiveXP.iso (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
chainloader (0xff)
---

6) Place menu.lst along with grldr, modded boot.ini and LiveXP.iso at the root of your boot drive (C:). When you re-boot your PC, you'll see a menu that allows normal boot (default) or "LiveXP ISO Rescue Boot" option which takes you to grub4dos menu with a list of ISO's to boot from (in this case only one).

This setup will work for any build in the tutorial, above is setup for a LiveXP (and W7PEX) ISO but you can change this if wanted. You can add additional ISO's to boot from and include them in your menu by adding additional title sections like this (the last two are #commented out so they won't appear in the list):

...
title LiveXP RAM
find --set-root --ignore-floppies /LiveXP.iso
map /LiveXP.iso (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
chainloader (0xff)

title W7PEX RAM
find --set-root --ignore-floppies --ignore-cd /W7PEX.ISO
uuid ()
map /W7PEX.ISO (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
chainloader (0xff)

### LiveXP RAM ISO - needs to be contiguous.
# title Boot LiveXP_RAM.iso - ISO from USB-stick
# find --set-root --ignore-floppies /LiveXP_RAM.iso
# map /LiveXP_RAM.iso (0xff)
# map --hook
# root (0xff)
# chainloader (0xff)

### LiveXP_RAM ISO - uses more RAM but ISO does NOT need to be contiguous.
# title Boot LiveXP_RAM.iso - ISO from RAM
# map --mem /LiveXP_RAM.iso (0xff)
# map --hook
# root (0xff)
# chainloader (0xff)
---

The above setup is only for RAM loading ISO's like in the tutorial but many other image types can be mounted this way - look for more info in this forum or download a sample menu.lst here. Check out wimb's great U-XP-SET tools for more ideas.


In addition to booting multiple ISO's from your hard drive, you can similarly multi-boot ISO's from a UFD (USB flash drive). Save any existing data on the UFD and format it clean (NTFS) for a trouble free installation. You can use wimb's Make_USB tool for this, get a portable version here and use 'Target USB Drive' section to format your drive. Now download and install this SFX containing all the files you need except the ISO's which you'll have to copy in separately. You can also use wimb's tools or my ISO\UFD script in W7PEX (more on that in the next section) to automate the process. Enjoy!
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Adding Portable Apps to Your PE - LiveXP and W7PEX!

All you need to know is this is the best way to use PE!! The following section is mainly technical stuff on how to setup your own portable applications - skip it for now! I've done all the work for you, just go to the downloads section below and grab the build and packages you need to get going! Start with the lx78sp6cbw build and the ppApps_Base!. Remember to use an XP SP2 source, whenever possible, for best results. If you like it (you will), there's more here. If you have a USB drive to put your ppApps on, great, this is the best for speed and portability but any writable drive will do; put them on your hard drive for now, just to see how this all works, remember, they're portable! smiling9.gif

If you prefer a Win7 (PE3x) type build, there's one here that supports ppApps! This build requires a full Win7 source but installation of WAIK is not needed and it builds equally well from an XP or W7 host. Some of the ppApps (the ones with SetupS.cmd) require modifications for full functionality in W7PEX (see 'Quick note on W7 ppApps' further on in tutorial for more info) which makes your ppApps 'universal' in the sense that, the same ppApps will install in either W7* or XP based PE's smart.gif .

These modifications will be added to the tutorial in time but for now just look at the examples here (coming soon). This project has many unique features, including interactive driver import at boot, options for Multi-boot UFD and of course ppAppsGen support!

Just build and go...
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Have fun! cool.gif

*ppApps work in this build due to its utilization of PECMD which gives us unprecedented control over the final boot disk but sadly, there is no current method of getting this function in other W7 type projects. If you want the many wonderful advantages of ppApps in your W7 build, you need to use W7PEX (at least for now). A special thanks to my friend maanu for helping me with the original build modified by khauyeung without which W7PEX would not be possible worship.gif

--
Now, back to the tutorial...

This is a great way of adding additional tools and programs to the build without having them pre-loaded to RAM on boot; this means faster boot time to desktop and less demands on system resources. It also means you have the ability to add or remove programs and make improvements without having to rebuild your LiveXP from scratch! The programs we'll be adding are for the most part indistinguishable from script versions of the same programs. I've made lots of scripts and I can tell you, the only difference with scripts is that they're harder to update, test and customize and any real changes made require a complete rebuild of your boot disk! It's crazy I used to think this was acceptable; I've added hundreds of high quality, upgradeable, customizable programs without the need to rebuild once and without adding even a Mb to the size of my lean, fast booting PE. There are a number of ways to include these 'portable' app's in your build which will be discussed in the tutorial and, of course, how to create new ones on your own. Once you learn to add programs in this fashion, I'm certain you'll agree it's preferable to rebuilding LiveXP every-time you make a change or update some program, just about anything that can be done by adding new scripts and rebuilding can be done easier, faster and without the need to rebuild using the methods discussed here, so let's get started!

The most common portable apps are also the easiest to include, there are hundreds of great programs that can be made portable and work exactly as they would in a full install. The trick is finding the good ones or knowing how to make your own, all this is covered in the tutorial; with a truly portable program, all you need is a single file added for detection and inclusion in PE's Start menu. If the program requires additional support files, registry data and the like, this is also easily accomplished and will be discussed in detail in the following section. The PE registry can be directed to wherever your program resides (even where the drive letter isn't known until after boot!) so that your PE knows exactly where to point for file associations, context menu options etc. just as if the program was installed on your system drive! All this (and much more) can be accomplished using the tools and examples that follow in the tutorial, so read on.

Though many types of applications can be run in PE; they all start from the same place, your ppApps 'Base' folder, which contains your programs, support files etc. This folder can reside at the root of any drive, fixed or removable. I recommend a small USB hard drive for its speed, capacity and shirt pocket portability but any internal/external drive, UFD, CD/DVD will do, you can even place ppApps at the root of your boot disk for an 'all-in-one' disk solution but you will lose the speed and added memory capacity of other options. The PE Start menu shortcuts and required registry keys will be created automatically at start up, regardless of which drive letter is assigned at boot. I've put together a script (v07-112909), included in the LiveXP projects below, with all the support options you need:
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The 'Optional System Support' section allows you to add additional support files to the build which are not specific to any one program. Portable apps tend to require the same support files i.e. all 'portable' apps created with VMWare's Thinstall application require the same files (included in the script already). Most support files are already included but this is an easy way of adding additional support to your PE as future needs arise. Of course, these extra support files can also be added in the portable programs themselves so no need to re-build LiveXP, it's just nice to have the option. All types of portable apps are supported by the same script and all programs reside in the same folder. There are none of the limitations normally associated with portable programs when it comes to PE, the only difference between a program included as a script and the ones included by this setup is that the programs are removable from the build and new ones can be added with ease without re-building LiveXP from scratch. If the program folder is present in your base folder, it's included automatically, just that simple. You can add or remove additional programs as needed at any time, no need to even reboot, let alone rebuild. The programs work the same as if they'd been 'built in'; better, because they can be configured and updated in PE and the changes or improvements made are permanent!

Either of the LiveXP builds with ppApps support (see download links below) also works fine on its own as a lite, fast, emergency boot disk, though you will find its listing of programs somewhat limited, it still has all you need for basic maintenance, repair, restore and setup. To really see the boot disk 'come alive' with a full compliment of programs, tools and options, include your ppApps folder for detection; this can be done without rebooting, just plug in your removable drive and click the refresh button in PE, that's it! For all this to work and ppAppsGen to find your apps, they must be setup in a certain way (see download links for pre-setup packages). Each program needs to be in it's own folder with an included 'ppApp.ini' file which includes the following information (see download packages for more examples):
CODE
<Title>
Title of the application or program package

<Flags>
MakeInRoot = 0
MakeStart = 1
MakeSendTo = 0
MakeDesktop = 0
MakeQuickLaunch = 0
    
<StartMenuSourcePath>
Start menu folder\Sub Folder (if any)    
    
<ppApp>
CommandLine = "Program.exe"
ShortcutName = "Program Name"
Description = "Brief description of what program does"
CommandLine = "2nd Program.exe" (optional)
ShortcutName = "2nd Program Name"
Description = "Brief description of what 2nd program does"

<End>
The Flags section determines where the shortcuts will go, any or all locations can be selected. MakeInRoot, 'pins' the shortcut(s) created to the top of your Start menu (above the Programs folder), MakeStart adds shortcut(s) to the Start menu programs list. MakeDesktop (as you might expect) creates shortcuts to your desktop and so on. 0 for NO, 1 for YES. StartMenuSourcePath lets you specify the name of the Start menu folder and sub-folder (if any) to put the shortcuts in (if not existing, the folder will be created). If this section is left blank, the shortcuts will appear in the start menu 'loose' - outside of any defining folder, not recommended for organizational purposes but will work nonetheless. You can have as many shortcuts created as needed from each program folder, including multiple exe's, help doc's etc. All of your individual program folders, regardless of setup, need to be inside the base (master) folder named 'ppApps' at the root of a (portable) drive. This is the folder ppAppsGen looks for (searching the root of every drive) to recursively scan for folders containing ppApp.ini files. In theory, you could have all your apps in one folder listed in one .ini file but they would all end up in the same folder in your Start menu. To have control over each program's Start menu destination, each program (or set of shortcuts associated with that program) needs its own ppApp.ini file. Here's an example of what your master ppApps base folder should look like (I'll explain the _ppax and _sfx stuff a bit later):

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Setting up your own programs:

As mentioned, there are a number of ways to setup the individual programs to include in your base folder. The simplest and by far the most common is to use programs that have been made fully portable; these programs are readily available on the internet and can be downloaded in collections known as 'Pen-Suites' because they usually launch from 'pen drives'; of course, the whole collection can be accessed in PE via a menu launcher as in the case of ASuite (discussed later) but to get the individual programs listed in your Start menu requires a special setup. With a program that is truly portable, no support files or registry data need be imported, so the only thing ppAppsGen does is create the programs shortcuts in your PE's Start menu. In this case the setup is very simple, just include a ppApp.ini file in the program folder (edit its content accordingly), alongside the portable program's executable. An SFX works fine for this, many portable programs are actually self extracting archives that launch the program after unpacking its files. An obvious advantage is that large programs like media players don't require system memory if run from an off-system folder like this and more importantly, they don't get loaded as part of the boot image! Normally, to have a multi-media player in your build requires an additional 20+ Mb loading to RAM on every boot regardless of whether the program is used. Now you can have as many players, editors, media creators and burners as you want without adding a single Mb to the size of your build and without overburdening the boot disk's resources.

Another type of setup, called ppax, is a program that can be added or removed as easily as a portable, yet works within the PE's system for enhanced functionality, like file associations created in the registry so when you click on a supported file type it opens seamlessly in that program, context menu options, program file icons etc. The benefits of using programs like this instead of including scripts are as follows: Faster, more efficient boot disks (programs are not part of the boot image), easy updating/upgrading of programs, adding plug-ins, custom skins etc. Re-direction of temp-cache away from system drive, portability and easy addition or removal of programs without the need to re-build!

The desktop and quicklaunch scuts below are added by ppAppsGen automatically at boot-up, any shortcut can be placed anywhere and changed anytime you want. The two programs running in system tray below are launched by ppAppsGen as well, these options are determined by individual ppApp.ini and cmd settings in the relevant program folders and can be customized to suit your needs. Any program can be auto-started and these options can be made available in the Start menu for convenience (see Sysinternal's BGInfo for an example).
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The ppApps desktop shortcut is auto-generated and allows easy access to your base folder, regardless of drive letter. You can also directly access any program folder from the rt-click menu option 'Find Target' for deeper configuration changes and any updates made, like renaming folders or adding shortcuts, directories, files etc. even personalized settings and program configurations are all retained in future boot-ups, try that in a 'scripts only' build. Update: The new 'ZX-Patch' update (available in downloads section -- 'Updates, fixes and new stuff here!' below) places a 'My Documents' shortcut on your PE desktop, complete with My Pictures, Music and Video sub-folders, which points to a non-RAM location in ppApps folder so your saved doc's, pictures etc. are there at each boot.


Getting Started (enough hype):

So let's say all your portable app needs is a bit of registry data added to the PE to get it working the way you want; depending on the program, registry settings can control desktop placement, interface settings and tweaks, options and configuration, default file locations etc. The registry changes made during install or setup of the program are what we want ppAppsGen to import here. These changes are best determined by taking a snapshot of the registry immediately before and after the program install/setup; there are a number of good utilities which can do this; I use ART (Advanced Reg-Tracer) because its easy to save a 're-do' file which contains the needed changes, Reg-Shot can essentially do the same thing. Fortunately, the registry in XP and LiveXP are compatible, so you can capture these changes in either PE or on an XP host. Most simple programs save their registry data in "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software" and/or "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE" and can be manually exported to file(s) and combined easily to a single setups.reg but be careful doing anything with the registry of your host machine unless you know what your doing and have a full hard drive backup as you should. Stick with saving changes in your PE registry where you can't do much harm. To have the reg file which contains these changes run at startup, all you need do is name it 'setups.reg' and include it in the program folder along with its matching ppApp.ini file. The reg file must be named SetupS.reg (not case sensitive) to be auto-run by ppAppsGen at startup and there must be a ppApp.ini file present for detection. A simple setup will look like this:
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In the above example, all the reg data does is set window placement but the principle is the same for more advanced setups as you will see.

Another easy setup is a portable SFX (with a twist), normally a portable SFX unpacks to system temp, launches the unpacked app and then deletes the temp files when the app closes. That's fine if you have lots of extra system memory but can be a problem in a memory lean PE. You can either add lots of extra free space in BootSDI setup which will allow you to use 'normal' SFX setups (and increase boot loading time) OR you can keep your build lite and fast by either re-packing the SFX with different options or just leave the files un-packed in their current folder and run them from there as in the first example. If you want to setup the SFX correctly, you need a program like WinRAR that has options for this and some special files for deleting the extracted program when done (see below). If you have WinRAR, great, I'll be using it in some of my examples; if not, stick with just unpacking the archive with one of the many free tools available. Here is a typical SFX setup:
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The cmd script is integral to this type of setup, it starts the program and waits until the program is closed to continue running commands, RD (remove directory) deletes the program folder; DEL, deletes the .js file and then deletes itself, leaving the folder as it started with just the SFX and ppApp.ini ready for the next run. The little .js script just hides the cmd window so you don't see it in the background while the program is running. So the order is this, ppAppsGen generates shortcut(s) to the SFX. WinRAR allows choosing an icon, so the generated scuts have this icon, otherwise we have to use a different cmd tool, xlink, to do it - more on that later, the SFX, after unpacking its files to the current folder, runs fsv.js (WinRAR lets you run a file after extraction) which hides and runs fsv.cmd which starts the program and deletes the temp files when done -- now we're back to where we started. Examples like this and more are in the download packages so no need to post the actual text here, just nice to see it all layed out visually.

Another way to create shortcuts, complete with icons of choice, custom descriptions etc. is with a free cmd tool included in the ppA' script called xlink, it's placed in your system32 folder and can be used in any cmd or bat like this:
CODE
md "%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User\Start Menu\Programs\MultiMedia\ISO Tools"
xlink "%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User\Start Menu\Programs\MultiMedia\ISO Tools\UltraISO.lnk" "%CD%\UltraISO_SFX.exe" "" "%CD%" "UltraISO is an ISO blah blah..." "" "icon.ico"

I can't get it to make its own directories so MD (make directory) does that and the icon at the end is optional, if empty will keep icon of object your creating the shortcut to. Very useful as ppAppsGen apparently lacks this function and you often need a custom icon if linking to a cmd or script file. There's other ways of doing this but none as strait forward and easy, works every-time, I've even tried it with custom variables and it works! See DrWebAV in download package for an example.

Full syntax xlink:

xlink spath opath [ arg [ wdir [ desc [ mode [ icon[:n] ]]]]]

spath path of the shortcut (.lnk added as needed)
opath path of the object represented by the shortcut
arg argument string (use quotes with space)
wdir path of the working directory (for "Start in")
desc description string (shown in shortcut's Properties)
mode display mode (1:Normal [default], 3:Maximized, 7:Minimized)
icon[:n] icon file [with optional icon index value n]

/p prompts before action
/q no output when successful (quiet)
/e checks error condition strictly

More info on xlink (xxmklink): http://www.xxcopy.com/xxcopy38.htm

--
Here's another ppax setup which allows for path-specific registry entries:
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The program files are in a folder named 'Atlantis', same as if they were in Program Files installed on your host (sub-folders can be included as well). With the help of setups.cmd and %~dp0 (variable extracts path to batch) we can link these files with the PE registry just as if they were in "%ProgramFiles%" on the system drive. "%~dp0Atlantis\Templates\Normal.rtf" in the example above translates to "L:\ppApps\Atlantis162_ppax\ Atlantis\Templates\Normal.rtf". Note: there is no \ needed between %~dp0 and the next folder in the path, Atlantis, it's included automatically.

We learned about setups.reg in the first example, here setups.cmd works the same way, for ppAppsGen to auto-run reg or cmd files, they must be named SetupS (case insensitive). Also, there must be a ppApp.ini file present (even if blank in this case) for ppA' to find and run anything in the folder (tag file). So the cmd is auto-run at startup, creates Start menu folder (with MD, MakeDir) and generates shortcut(s) with xlink. Regedit runs (/s for silent) 'aw.reg' to import all NON path-specific registry info to PE and reg add for each path-specific entry and you've got a fully 'installed', yet 'portable' program, complete with file associations, context menus and custom icons. Just like an included script but no program files on the system drive to increase load and response times or increase image size, nice.

Of course, some programs install additional files (and folders) other than just 'Program Files' and for this you need a tracking program (similar to the registry comparison tools discussed above) for finding these files and there correct directories. Though it is too slow for registry tracing, I find the free program, 'What Changed' ideal for this task in most cases. It takes a snapshot of your system (host only) prior to install of a program and after, creates a folder (complete with directories) of all files added during setup. These directories and files can then be included in your ppax package for use in PE (and linked to registry if needed). As said, it's too slow for registry so un-check those options and make sure to check the option for 'Copy Modified Files to Directory'. These will be in a folder at the root of your scanned drive (C:\_WhatChanged_COPY). Note: This works best on a lean, clean XP (SP2) 'test' machine with as little unnecessary stuff on the drive as possible, remember, What Changed has to look through every file on your boot disk each time it scans! This gets into a whole other discussion on why it's best to keep your 'My Documents' on a separate partition, oh well, another time... tongue.gif
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BTW, have you noticed, none of these examples so far are 'portable apps'? One, FSViewer, was portabilized by me but none of them started out as true portable apps. It's amazing how many regular programs can be made portable and that's what this is all about; how to take any program and make it self contained (at least in PE). The PE environment really helps, you don't need a fully portable app because you have an, albeit limited, OS as a support base for the program to run. Most 'portable' apps are not truly portable anyway, they need some support files from somewhere and that includes all Thinstall created portables of which there are many now. A good test of a portable is if it can run from a UFD or CD with no host OS installed and for this test, ALL of these programs pass, as long as you have LiveXP on that same disk (easy to do).


"Batches? We don't need no stinking batches!"

Sure we do, they're at the heart of many of these setups and are a lot of fun to put together! Here's a 'trick' for hiding shortcuts until needed i.e. anti-virus scanners included in the base package are not usable until def files are present; you would get cryptic errors (not very user friendly) if attempting to launch the GUI's before downloading (first use or after clean up). I've setup the batches to check for existing def files and create shortcuts accordingly:
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so if def files not there, you only have options to update (auto starts scanner when update completes) but if files present, additional options appear:

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Quick note on W7 ppApps:
In order for some ppApps setups to work in both W7PEX and LiveXP, they must be able to distinguish which PE type they are installing to. This requires a few system variables to be set before files are imported, shortcuts are created etc. The following example of a popular partition and file recovery suite will give a good example of this new setup which can be used as a template for other programs. I will hopefully get around to updating the whole tutorial section but in the mean time, here's a look at the revised 'universal' setup that will install ppApps in LiveXP and/or W7PEX interchangeably. This means you can have one set of ppApps at the root of any drive which is automatically detected and installed in either W7 or XP based PE's! This is very handy, especially where multi-boot PE options are available (see ISO\UFD script in W7PEX for more on this very useful option).

CODE
Set Recovery=Partition Recovery is a data recovery software used to restore accidentally deleted partitions from Windows environment.
Set Description=File Recovery is a data recovery software used to restore accidentally deleted files and folders located on existing drives, and even on deleted/damaged partitions.
if exist %SystemDrive%\i386 goto runXP
if exist %SystemDrive%\Users goto runW7

:runXP
Set Start=%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User\Start Menu\Programs
Set Local=%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User\Application Data\Local Settings\Application Data
Set Quick=%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
Set Desktop=%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User\Desktop
goto setup

:runW7
Set Start=%SystemDrive%\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
Set Local=%SystemDrive%\Users\Default\AppData\Local
Set Desktop=%SystemDrive%\Users\Default\Desktop
goto setup

:setup
md "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@"
xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\File Recovery 7.1" "%CD%\PMR\FileRecovery.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "%Description%" "" ""
xlink "%Quick%\File Recovery 7.1" "%CD%\PMR\FileRecovery.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "%Description%" "" ""
xlink "%Desktop%\File Recovery 7.1" "%CD%\PMR\FileRecovery.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "%Description%" "" ""

xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\File Recovery Help" "%CD%\PMR\FileRecovery.chm" "" "%CD%\PMR" "File Recovery Help documentation." "" ""
xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\Partition Recovery 5.1" "%CD%\PMR\PartRecovery.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "%Recovery%" "" ""
xlink "%Quick%\Partition Recovery 5.1" "%CD%\PMR\PartRecovery.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "%Recovery%" "" ""
xlink "%Desktop%\Partition Recovery 5.1" "%CD%\PMR\PartRecovery.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "%Recovery%" "" ""

xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\PR DOS Boot CD-ROM Maker" "%CD%\PMR\IsoBurner.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "Create bootable CD with DOS version of Partition Recovery." "" "PMR\cd.ico"
xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\PR DOS Boot Floppy or USB" "%CD%\PMR\PR-BDC.exe" "" "%CD%\PMR" "Create bootable Floppy or USB with DOS version of Partition Recovery." "" ""
xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\Partition Recovery Guide" "%CD%\PMR\pr_guide.pdf" "" "%CD%\PMR" "Partition Recovery Users Guide." "" ""
xlink "%Start%\DriveTools\Active@\Partition Recovery Help" "%CD%\PMR\PartRecovery.chm" "" "%CD%\PMR" "Partition Recovery Help Documentation." "" ""
regedit /s re.reg



_ _
OK, I think you get the general idea; now let's do a simple walk-thru to clear up the details. Download this example of Batch Rename Utility ppax setup (included in ppApps Base), so you can see the files and follow along. This is a simple ppax with a path-specific set of reg entries which add right click, context menu options. I used What Changed to isolate the program's files for import and ART to capture the registry changes. A note on the registry file, there is always a number of keys saved that you don't need. Any key containing \\ShellNoRoam\BagMRU or MUICache or \\Microsoft\Cryptography\RNG you can safely dump and keys with references to 'Uninstall', 'Session Information' or 'Start menu' are also OK to cut, as well as any references to local directories on your host (like where the program.exe was launched from etc.). The keys beginning with HKEY_USERS\ can usually be removed but may include keys with registration information or other user specific data so look carefully (if not sure, leave them in). Wherever you have duplicate sets of HKEY_USERS i.e. HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT and HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-18*, you probably only need to keep the .DEFAULT entries. *If you need to import user specific keys captured from your host, be sure to change any user ID's to default, so \S-1-5-XX-xxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxx-xxxx\ becomes simply \S-1-5-18\. If not sure about certain keys, you can do a little investigative work in PE, manually importing them to see how they affect the program. You should always test the final reg file(s) in PE by manually importing the data (dbl-click reg files and accept prompt) to make sure there isn't some conflict (you'll get an error message if there is). Never make changes or tests like this on your host registry!! Any changes made are only in exported reg files and imported only to your PE's registry.

If you're still using notepad, please download and install Notepad++, it's free and has many advantages, such as finding and replacing all occurrences of text you search for in one shot and highlighting batch text in a way that makes it more understandable.

In the example you downloaded, you'll find the following:

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The registry file containing the data I saved from ART with the above mentioned fluff stripped out. The program files (BRU) I got from What Changed, in this case just the Program files are needed; the other files saved, like pre-fetch and Start menu shortcuts are unnecessary. Usually files created in System32, Program Files (and Common Files) are all that you need.

Setups.cmd is run at startup by ppAppsGen and ppApp.ini supplies the shortcut and folder info for Start menu setup. Open setups.cmd with notepad++ and you'll see the following:
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The regedit line imports bru.reg, what's left of the original reg file (saved with ART), with all the fluff removed (see above) and, in this case, the three path-specific entries removed for inclusion in the setups.cmd (see below for full explanation and ppApps base for more advanced examples). The reason we use setups.cmd to import path-specific reg entries is because we can; there's no way to do this in a reg file afaik. In a batch command we can use a special variable, %~dp0 which extracts the path to the folder containing the batch (setups.cmd); an unknown until post-boot as the ppApps folder can be placed anywhere at anytime or even changed without re-boot. Once we have the path to this folder, the rest is known and thus we have a complete path for PE reg to find the files it needs for associations, context menus, icons etc. Here is the BRU reg file before and after so you can see what I mean.

First bru.reg with entries containing Cryptography\RNG; Uninstall; MenuOrder\Start Menu; ShellNoRoam\MUICache and HKEY_USERS stripped out:
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Yellow hilites are path-specific to be removed from reg file and added in setups.cmd; blue markers show what will stay to be imported as final reg file below.

Final bru.reg with path-specific entries stripped out:
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This is run first and then setups.cmd fills in the missing path-specific entries for a complete setup.

Setups.cmd uses reg add to import variable, path-specific entries to PE registry:
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The three path-specific entries are converted (manually) to reg add entries. The section hilited in blue, following reg add, is the first registry key (taken from the reg file); followed by the /v (valueName) in green, in this case '@' but any value can be typed here (see base ppax packages for more examples) and finally, the /d (data), in orange, to assign to the valueName being added, usually path to folder\file, icon info etc. (see examples). Type reg add /? into any cmd console for more info on reg add switches and usage. The most important part, the only part that can't be added with a regular reg file, is the path (unknown prior to boot); "%~dp0BRU\Bulk Rename Utility.exe" can be split into two parts, first the unknown, %~dp0 = path to folder containing setups.cmd and the known, path from that folder to target (file or folder). So, in this case, the full path is "L:\ppApps\BRU271_ppax\BRU\Bulk Rename Utility.exe".

The rest of the reg add string may include an icon index ,0 means default but an exe or dll can have many icons to choose from; command arguments like /p (print), /pt (printto) or others; placeholders like %1, "%2" etc. You don't need to know what each of these means but you do need to 'translate' them correctly from the reg key to the reg add line. This just takes a little getting used to, note that quotes around text in the reg add string don't translate to quotes in the actual reg entry (anymore than quotes in the reg file do), they're just needed to enclose any text containing spaces. Examples:
CODE
reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\.rar\ShellNew /v FileName /d "%~dp0WinRAR\rarnew.dat" /f

would translate to:
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whereas, adding the appropriate escapes \"like this\":
CODE
reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\.rar\ShellNew /v FileName /d "\"%~dp0WinRAR\rarnew.dat\"" /f

reveals this result (note the added quotes):

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Also, where you have variables in the reg data, like %1, %2 etc. escape the % with another % i.e. %%1.
To put quotes around it in the reg entry, you need to have escaped quotes like this: \"%%1\"

Lastly, if you need a different reg-data type, add the /t (dataType) switch like this:
CODE
reg add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Atlantis.Document\shell\print\command /v Test /t REG_MULTI_SZ /d "\"%~dp0Atlantis\Atlantis.exe\" /p \"%%1\"" /f >NUL

to get a new entry like this:

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I think you get the idea. Look at all my ppax examples and reg add /? for more ideas.

---
I offer these examples to show what can be done using these simple tools and to serve as templates for setting up your own programs. I'll be creating new setups and adding more program examples as time allows, there seems to be no end to programs that can be added in this way. There's much more that can be done, so have fun! biggrin.gif

_ _
Builds with ppAppGen Support: "Now WimPacked for extra flavor!"

The latest project, lx78sp6cbw utilizes Winbuilder 78 SP6, DIPE Autorun, WimBoot and the latest ppAppsGenPE - Have fun!

The last, stable build, lx77rc2cbw (010210), used Winbuilder 77 RC2.

The LiveXP builds should be kept lite but fully functional on there own, so if you don't have access or just don't want to plug in your external media with ppApps, they will still serve as an emergency repair/restore boot disk. The project above is now recommended and should build fine from any retail XP source, XP SP2 (English only) works best. Older builds with wb76 are still available here.


- -
ppApps Base and AddOn Packages:

ppApps_Base! (120609) - Download this package first and extract it to the root of any drive, a USB hard drive is best for speed and portability but any drive will do. The folder is named 'ppApps' and should not be renamed but can be moved to the root of any drive. At startup, your LiveXP with ppA' support will find the folder and process any apps inside, placing shortcuts in your Start menu as needed. Additional tools and programs can be downloaded in the form of add-on packs (see below), which should be extracted to the same drive root* containing your base folder. The new apps will be added to the base folder and included automatically the next time ppAppGen runs (at startup or by hitting the ppAppsGen refresh button in PE). *I've setup the new add-ons, updates etc. to install to the same location you installed your original base to i.e. if you installed the base to F:\ (Destination folder) than install any subsequent packages and updates to F:\ as well; if you install to F:\ppApps, you'll end up with an extra ppApps sub-folder which won't be recognised by ppAppsGen.


AddOn Packages (extract to same directory as base - see note above):

ppApps_Extras1 (120609) - Additional programs and support tools for your ppApps base.
ppApps_Extras2 (120609) - Additional programs and support tools for your ppApps base.
ppApps_Extras3 (120609) - Additional programs and support tools for your ppApps base.
ppApps_Extras4 (120609) - Additional programs and support tools for your ppApps base.
ppApps_Extras5 (120609) - Additional programs and support tools for your ppApps base.
ppApps_Media (100809) - A collection of multi-media players and editors, most require a media support build.


Updates, fixes and new stuff here!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ASuite for ppApps AddOn Package:

The ASuite menu launcher is an alternate way of accessing portable apps in PE and can also be used together with ppApps if desired (optional) , an updated package for use with ppAppsGen is here (062609) (no longer requires LODR-Pack support script or tag/cmd files). Just like with any other 'program' (in this case the menu launcher itself), add your ppApp.ini to the ASuite folder (pre-setup in the above package) and extract the ASuite folder inside your ppApps base folder i.e. to same location you extracted the base package (see note above):
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Here, I've setup the ppApp.ini like this:
CODE
<Title>
ASuite Launcher

<Flags>
MakeInRoot = 0
MakeStart = 1
MakeSendTo = 0
MakeDesktop = 0
MakeQuickLaunch = 0
    
<StartMenuSourcePath>
System\Support    
    
<ppApp>
CommandLine = "Start.exe"
ShortcutName = "ASuite Menu"
Description = "Launches ASuite Portable Apps Menu in System Tray"

<End>


All this does is put a shortcut to the ASuite menu launcher in your Start menu but setups.cmd allows for auto-starting the launcher icon in system tray (see below) and setups.reg takes care of registry support needed by some apps. ASuite doesn't really allow for for importing registry data, however, you can include a registry file containing all program entries and have it imported at boot up as a setups.reg in the ASuite folder (just like any other program) or you can have it included in the build through the ppAppsGen script option (or both). Any reg file (containing multiple entries for all your programs) can be included as a setups.reg or browsed to and included in your build for portable apps support (either way works fine), an example of this type of file is included in the package so you can get a better idea of what I mean.

Just to be clear, the ASuite launcher is not required. The ASuite launcher is a separate way of launching portable apps in a self-contained menu accessible from the system tray.

Attached Image


Each method has potential advantages and dis-advantages over the other and so it's nice to be able to choose or combine these options as needed. Personally, I prefer the shortcuts in my Start menu and there are increasing reasons to prefer this option over the menu launcher as described in the above sections but the choice is yours. Remember, the LiveXP build stays the same, capable of recognizing either type of setup or both. If 'ppApps' are present at boot (or when refreshed in PE), those shortcuts will be created in PE's Start menu; if ASuite is included in your base folder than ASuite launcher will be started in system tray. If both are present than both setups will occur simultaneously but work independently of each other. Note: ppAppsGen will recognize more than one ppApps folder! i.e. if you have E:\ppApps and J:\ppApps, each with different (or same) programs; they will all be loaded at startup so be aware of where your storing your apps!

I hope the advantages represented here by these new methods are clear because it represents a better way of using LiveXP imho. Apps can be added, removed or updated anytime, even while in PE; builds can be customized with different sets of tools included for each situation, all these changes are done on the fly, using the same LiveXP boot disk, no need to add different scripts for programs when needed or updated and no need to rebuild the LiveXP from scratch each time! This could be the last LiveXP you ever need to build! wink.gif


-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
A note on LODR-Pack Support and switching to ppAppsGenPE method

I find the ppA' solution easier to work with and more adaptable than the LODR support script method for creating shortcuts. Also, the 'LODR' packs never really appealed to me (too difficult to setup) and I've yet to find an LODR program that can't be made portable and therefore compatible with ppAppsGen. I've included part of the original tutorial below as a courtesy to those who might prefer that method or see an important use for LODR-Packs in the future. Also, it contains a better description of ASuite and some of its advantages. ASuite works the same whether using LODR or New, ppA' method; the only difference is whether you include ppApp.ini or Start.tag and Start.cmd. Additional advantages to using ppAppsGen include, options for importing registry data with setups.reg and build customization through setups.cmd.


_ _
More about ASuite Portable Apps and LODR-Packs support: (from original tutorial)

The ASuite package consists of your apps, documents and media storage folders and a menu launcher for easy access and organization. There are a number of good launchers that could be used but I have found ASuite to be the best for this purpose. For the PE shortcut creation, your build needs to include the LODR support script and the corresponding 'tag' files added to the package (included). The launcher auto-start (adds icon to system tray for easy access) is handled by the AS-Tray script included in the sample builds here and a lighter version here for testing.

I've setup an ASuite package here with some great portable apps, many from the Lupo PenSuite collection and all working well in PE. A lite version is available here for quicker download and testing. The support builds and ASuite packages are interchangeable so any ASuite package works with any LiveXP with included support.

Of course, the ASuite packages also work alone in normal Windows and can be used as is without booting in LiveXP. This independent setup is very useful, the LiveXP works on its own and is setup with a minimal compliment of tools as needed; any programs that don't lend themselves to full portability can be included as part of the PE build. The portable package can be plugged in when needed or used independently as a normal PenSuite. Neither need the other but compliment and enhance each other when used together. You can't beat a full, LiveXP GUI to launch your portable apps in!

This is what the Start menu and application launcher look like in LiveXP
Attached Image


Attached Image


Attached Image


The Start menu shortcuts are generated by Galapo's LODR support script which is setup as follows
Attached Image


The two files needed for auto-detection and shortcut creation are 'start.cmd' and 'start.tag' (included)
Attached Image


with the following text in start.cmd
CODE
start "ASuite" "%~DP0\Start.exe"
EXIT

[LODR]
Shortcut_number=1
Shortcut1="ASuite Launcher"
Shortcut_Parameters1=
Icon1=Start.exe
Autostart1=False

Note! - The Autostart1=True option does not work for me, I've included a script in the above builds (AS-Tray) for auto-starting ASuite in the system tray. Galapo has reported success with command option alone so feel free to try this by changing Autostart1=True and unchecking Autorun launcher at startup option in the AS-Tray script.

In addition to portable apps, LODR's work here as well, just place your LODR packages in the supplied folder and they'll be detected automatically and added to your LiveXP Start menu. Personally I don't use LODR's much as I find them less convenient than traditional portable app's but in some cases they may be useful so I've included an example of an LODR pack made by Galapo (IZArc 3.81) which will give you an idea of how these work.

This is now my preferred method to use LiveXP! Use a lite, fast booting build with minimum tools so it can work on its own when nothing more is required and rely on portable apps for everything else. You have access to hundreds of MB's (GB's if needed) worth of tools that don't need to be loaded in system memory, big downloads like AV updates no longer require add'l free space in RAM! You can pick and choose the tools needed 'on site' w/out the hassle of rebuilding or even making scripts etc. - I feel like I finally 'get it', this is how it's supposed to work! I know others have done or suggested similar but none have really worked for me until now. I love the freedom of picking and choosing from all available tools without having to think ahead which tools to include in the build and which ones will fit. I also find it easier to get portable apps working in PE than scripts, programs can be tweaked, files added etc. in 'real time' while booted in PE and these changes will stay for the next boot!

Adding new programs to the ASuite package and menu is as simple as 'drag and drop'; from Windows or PE, browse to the ASuite package and add your portable program to the Apps folder. Drag the file (.exe, .cmd etc.) you want to add a link for into the open ASuite menu.
Attached Image


If you want a new folder to contain multiple shortcuts, rt-click in the ASuite menu and choose 'Add catagory'.
Attached Image


Enter a name and browse to an icon source in the package, then just drag the program links you want into this new directory. The whole directory can be dragged into another if wanted.
Attached Image


Save your new list (rt-click tray icon - 'Save list') and it will be there next time you boot up LiveXP or start the ASuite menu, easy wink.gif

--
A really nice feature of using this method is the ability to setup a UFD stick with your LiveXP image to boot from and all your portable apps, launcher, XP sources etc. on board. The ASuite launcher, with all your programs, tools, documents etc. is there waiting for you in the system tray when LiveXP boots up and you still enjoy all the benefits of a fast, lite weight, RAM loaded LiveXP, how cool is that? For more ideas and great tools, including setting up a UFD with LiveXP as described above, automation of multi-boot, USB/UFD setup and booting LiveXP images from internal hard drives, please see the excellent tutorial by wimb here. Have fun cool.gif


--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX


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post Mar 12 2008, 08:36 PM
Post #2
amalux
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QUOTE (ispy @ Mar 12 2008, 11:25 AM) *
Hi all biggrin.gif ,

Yes doveman is far to clever for the starters section! (I'm trying not to say/type "Newbie" as it is derogatory term, darn it I've gone & done it again - thats another pound for the swear-box LOL!)

Observation: doveman is what we would call a ringer in UK, all the appearances of a "N" by title, but in fact very advanced!

Good on ya matey, wish I was like you!

Regards,

ispy

Changed to 'Newcomer's Tutorial' biggrin.gif

We aim to pleeeeez cheers.gif


--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX
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post Mar 17 2008, 02:11 AM
Post #3
amalux
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  Joined: 1-February 07 From: California

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Tutorial has been updated, including new method for building stable, pre-configured build!

Hope it helps thumbsup.gif


--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX
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post Jul 21 2008, 01:30 PM
Post #4
was_jaclaz
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SERVICE POST

Due to the great popularity of this thread, it had little by little become an "Everything here" thread, making it difficult to read/understand.

I have splitted the thread in THREE more ones:

Newcomer's Tutorial - LiveXP with Optional BootSDI!
Thank you's and suggestions thread

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showtopic=5225
If you just want to say thank you to Amalux for his work and/or give some suggestions for improvements, post here.

Newcomer's Tutorial - LiveXP with Optional BootSDI!
Bug reports and troubleshooting thread

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showtopic=5226
If you have any problem STRICTLY related to Amalux's Tutorial, post here.

LiveXP Troubleshooting
Various questions and answers

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showtopic=5224
If you have any problem that is not STRICTLY related to Amalux's Tutorial, but rather more general and peculiar to the LiveXP project, post here or start a new thread in the appropriate Forum section:
http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showforum=52

Please (exception made for Amalux, of course wink.gif) DO NOT POST in the present thread, use one of the other ones linked above.

cheers.gif

jaclaz


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7 user(s) said "Thank you!" to jaclaz for this fantastic post:
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post Mar 30 2009, 01:24 AM
Post #5
amalux
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Updated with new section on 'Adding Portable Apps and LODR-Packs to LiveXP' - Have fun cool.gif


--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX
1 user(s) said "Thank you!" to amalux for this fantastic post:
wimb
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post Apr 22 2009, 08:00 AM
Post #6
amalux
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'Adding Portable Apps to LiveXP' section updated again to include new ppAppsGenPE load method - Thank you Soporific for this wonderful utility! worship.gif


--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX
2 user(s) said "Thank you!" to amalux for this fantastic post:
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post Jun 27 2009, 10:32 AM
Post #7
amalux
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Portable apps section updated again biggrin.gif



--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX
1 user(s) said "Thank you!" to amalux for this fantastic post:
wimb
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post Aug 11 2009, 08:17 AM
Post #8
amalux
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OK, final!? update to 'Portable Apps...' section, simplified setup instruction and many improvements. The ppax setups now run from their own folders on removable drive with full PE registry recognition! No need to import program files to system drive (no system memory used), PE registry will find the programs for file association, program icons, context menu options etc. regardless of where the programs reside, even if the drive letter is changed (removable drive is moved) after start-up without need to re-boot. As always, adding/removing programs as simple as drag and drop; updating/upgrading and customizing programs (and everything else) retained between boots and no need to re-build LiveXP from scratch.. ever cool.gif


--------------------
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right." Henry Ford

LiveXP w/BootSDI Tutorial - My Scripts - My Builds - Portable-ppAX
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