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 PXE boot 45MB Stripped Down XP PE for Ghosting, Works on many systems... but chainloader is having issues...
post Sep 3 2009, 04:33 PM
Post #1
GeekToMe
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Canada


Hey all,

I have a very peculiar setup, and I have been working to on it for close to a month with varying levels of success.

I'll give you a brief overview of what I'm trying to accomplish.

I am refurbishing large numbers of notebooks (2000+ mixed models), and this requires them to be low level DoD Secure erased, and re imaged via multicast with pre-built Ghost images.

I have had numerous issues with the DOS version of Ghost and newer hardware, eg. AHCI. To overcome this I have created a stripped down, customized, and automated version of XP PE, allowing me to use Ghost32.exe and advanced networking. It works fine when booted off a USB flash drive, and I managed to create a 45MB PXE image, allowing much faster deployment. The PXE image works on many systems, while on other it comes up with a TRAP 00000006 EXCEPTION error, an issue caused by corrupted XPLOADER.BIN, a little bit on that later.

As I said, it works fine on all systems when using the USB flash drive. Here is some info on the PXE image I created and its setup:

-Created a 45MB fixed size virtual hard drive in MS VirutalPC.

-Created an active primary FAT32 partition.

-Using WinImage mount the image as a virtual drive in Windows and run grubinst and GUI from grub4dos-0.4.2, and copied over modified menu.lst and grldr.

-menu.lst:
-find --set-root /XPLOADER.BIN
-chainloader /XPLOADER.BIN

-Next I convert the VirtualPC .vhd file to a .ima using WinImage, allowing the image to be added to my syslinux PXE boot menu along with my other utilities (customized Dos Ghost floppies, DBAN, etc).

-Then I add the modified files from my stripped down Mini XP, resulting in the following directory setup:

NAME

\XP
\XP.BIN
\XP.DAT
\XPLOADER.BIN
\XP.CA_
\menu.lst
\grldr

-Once its all saves, I test it out over the PXE and on 80% of the systems it works fine.

Now here is the main issue...

On the systems that don't work, I have played around with menu.lst, trying to figure out what the issue is. I have determined that the XP files are OK, since they usually work. And by some random chance I found that it does work on the systems that normally error, while repeatedly pressing PAUSE and ENTER (my own debugging mode lol), and just after chainloader line is executed quickly pressing PAUSE and ENTER almost simultaneously causes it to boot fine. I tried adding pauses at different parts of the menu.lst, but they all still result in the exception error. I think the boot operation is being executed before the xploader.bin is completely loaded. Lots of googling has lead me to believe the error message is basically complaining about a corrupted MBR or partition and that is why it isn't loading properly.

*The loaded PXE image is located at (hd0,0)

After combing through the Grub4DOS manual I found that the chainloader command has several options, one being the EBX/EDX. I'm not quite sure how to implement it, but there are references in the exception error that have eax=00000000, ebx=00000002, ecx=00010080, edx=0031B06F, etc.

While running in debug mode I found this:

will boot NTLDR from drive=0x80, partition=0x0(hidden sectors=0x11)

I believe this is the first step of the chainloader operation, after this there is one step that shows no output and then the next step completes the chainloader operation which i assume is automatic boot command. When running the commands manually from the console prompt or in debug mode it still has the same error issue when executing boot. The only way it works is the strange physical pressing of the PAUSE key. I am hoping that someone has a way to pause or stall the chainloder operation midway through. I think that would solve the problem allowing the XPLOADER.bin to load fully.

I'm fairly green at programming and I wouldn't know where to even start recompiling Grub4DOS to add a pause in there somewhere. I know there is quite a bit of info here to digest, but I've been trying very hard... but I'm stumped, any help would be greatly appreciated. I can provide more details and even upload some files if necessary.

Thanks

Graham
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post Sep 3 2009, 04:51 PM
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was_jaclaz
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Posts: 7,226
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Italy


You seem to be grossly "out of date" (no offence intended smile.gif), grub4dos is now at release 0.4.4

First thing use 0.4.4 2009-06-20 (latest):
http://nufans.net/grub4dos/

Then, read the guide by diddy:
http://www.boot-land.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=5187

Then, take your time browsing/searching the Forum and the Board, there are a few PXE specific ones.

cheers.gif

jaclaz


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But ... then, why?
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post Sep 3 2009, 05:48 PM
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GeekToMe
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Canada


Oops... dont know how I missed the version. Could someone please point me to the latest version of grubinst_gui.exe? the link in the sticky is broken... I didnt see any mention of it in a quick scan of the installation section of diddy's Grub4dos Guide. Or does it not work with the latest version 0.4.4?
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post Sep 3 2009, 05:58 PM
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maanu
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Pakistan


here,

CODE
http://nufans.net/grub4dos/grubutil/


still works with the latest version . just copy grldr in that folder , and we also have alternative , grub4dos toolbox,.
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post Sep 3 2009, 06:23 PM
Post #5
GeekToMe
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Canada


Ok I've updated to 0.4.4, but still having the problems. Works fine on most of the systems, but still not working on the same ones as before, PAUSE+ENTER trick still works though.

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post Sep 3 2009, 06:32 PM
Post #6
GeekToMe
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Canada


I should note that there are several different types of laptops, and I dont believe it is a hardware related issue. Originally I thought it was only happening on Intel systems, but then I ran into the same issue on two AMD based units. Then I suspected memory, but in two of the units I have issues with one has 2GB and the other has 512MB.

I'm pretty sure its messing up somewhere during the chainload operation, and some properly timed PAUSE+ENTER seems to jolt it into working, but when clicking through in debug mode I belive there are 2-3 lines of code/operations that dont display any info. Is there any way to increase the verbosity of the debugging mode?
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post Sep 3 2009, 06:47 PM
Post #7
maanu
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Pakistan


well i have no idea about pxe , never used it .

do we have usb boot option ? ( hopefully u wont have to worry about a working solution for multiple systems then )

edit :

sorry read the 1st post completely .

i guess u do have another option , (im afraid of 2000 notebooks but anyhow ),

first , im not sure how u r gonna manage to image these 2000 notebook with pxe , do u have an automated method or something ? cause it ll be very hard for u to network all of these ?
and are u using darik's boot and nuke for secure erase /?

anyways , what i have in mind is , if u have usb adapter ,which connects ide ,sata hdd's to systems via usb 2.0 , u can image the gho from within ur live system after attempt erase thing first .will it speed things up ?
im sure we have some alternatives which can be used in windows env for secure data erase.

dont wanna confuse u , bt ignore this post if think it is confusing..
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post Sep 3 2009, 06:52 PM
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GeekToMe
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Canada


I do have a clone of it that works fine USB, thats actually what the image source ism a flash drive. And up till now I have been using the USB on the few systems that seem affected.

However we just got a pile of about 300 older MSI netbooks that dont have optical drives and don't support USB booting. I have dual 24 port gigabit switches so I can do them in a timely fashion, as I have been doing with larger batches in the past. Multicast ghost works wonders when it actually works lol.
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post Sep 3 2009, 07:05 PM
Post #9
maanu
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Pakistan


plz read my edited post ,

p.s just wondering if u have any experience of using winbuilder ? u might think it is offtopic , but it isn't .

u can build a 25-30 MB pe image with ghost32 and multicast on it only . without mass storage drivers .since the latest 300 notebooks batch seems old so without sata i guess.

in this way , if u ll load it as " map --mem ' , it MIGHT wont give u the above error of xploader .

(build with wimboot option ) .

let me know if u need any help..
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post Sep 3 2009, 07:12 PM
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GeekToMe
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Canada


Here is a little more... I think this is the PXE loading to RAM disk. Its a little cryptic but I can kind of make out the info its displaying. Hope this is helpful.
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