Adding Windows 7 to my PXE boot server…

I would have thought this would be difficult, but I found this Install Windows 7 over PXE from Linux without WAIK guide. I will document what I had to do differently (since that guide is designed for CentOS 5.3).

The first major change I needed to make was in the /etc/init.d/binl script; it called some things (e.g. /etc/sysconfig/network) which just doesn’t exist in Debian. I had to rip out all of the CentOS/Red Hat bits, and replace them with Debian ones. I also had to edit the binlsrv2.py file, since it had the tftp root path hardcoded in it.

Since tftpd-hpa was already set up (see my previous posts on the PXE boot subject), I just needed to add a remap file to /srv/tftp/windows/remap. This will cause tftpd-hpa to remap backslashes (‘\’) to slashes (‘/’). Setting up samba was pretty simple. I created the [REMINST] share as instructed, and mounted the Windows 7 x64 ISO to that share.

Importing the default boot files was straightforward, just used the wimextract tool found in the win7pxelinux.tgz distributed by the author of the ultimatedeployment.org site. I placed all of the executable files in /usr/local/bin, so I wouldn’t have to adjust my $PATH variable. I ran into an issue generating the winpe.wim Windows image (kept giving me an error that //windows/system32 couldn’t be found). To work around this problem, I added a “mkdir //windows/system32” command to the actionfile.txt, and it worked. Well, at least it didn’t give me an error.

The next step was to run a Perl script called bcdedit.pl. For this I had to install libhivex-bin, so I could run hivexsh (executed by bcdedit.pl). There was a problem, though. The hivexsh script generated a large number of errors. As far as I could figure out, hivexsh is slightly different between the Red Hat way and Debian way. In Debian, the -w option does not take an argument, whereas in Red Hat/CentOS the argument is the hive (Windows registry) file. Correcting this in bcdedit.pl was just a matter of moving the $bcd variable to the end of the command, rather than directly after the -w option.

Now was time to test it out. It looks like it launches, but it can’t seem to pull the files it needs from TFTP. It looks like it’s trying, just can’t find the files it wants:

…after some trial and error I notice that the WinPE client can’t find ‘hiberfil.sys’, a file created by Windows 7 when it hibernates. Thus the installation halts. Just touching the file isn’t enough. I can’t even make one in my Windows 7 virtual machine, since the guest firmware doesn’t support hibernation (not that it really needs to). So I’m stuck trying to figure out where I can grab that file from. I think it’s in the BCD I generated, but I don’t know where. Using the wimextract command from the toolset requires you to know where it is in the path. wimlib, which comes with an implementation of Windows’ imagex. I will have to start a new blog post for that, since I’ll have to start from scratch.

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