Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rainy-Day Placeholder Linkage: It’s a PE 2.0/VistaPE thing…


Rain is coming down pretty heavy here on the Texas Gulf Coast.

I had the day off in remembrance of Veteran’s Day.  I met my Dad last night in Houston and took him out for dinner at a local bar-b-que joint. My treat as he is a Vietnam vet and it seemed like as good an excuse as any for trying to convince him not to grab the check.

Tonight, in honor of the rain, I’m getting ready to put on a pot of homemade potato soup. At some point in the past Lavie was the family soup maker and we had some recipes we used. Now I’ve made this particular blend so often that I just make it from scratch using recipe-reckoning.  And I found some a loaf of fresh roasted-garlic artesian bread to serve on the side.  Yummers.

So anyway, I’ve been working on a technical side project at work and making some progress. Basically it has two elements…the first I seem to have overcome, the second has me stopped at the moment.

We are now getting ready to deploy whole-disk file-encryption to all our computer systems.  This is a great idea and a long time coming. It should greatly help secure our data in case any of our desktop/laptop systems walk off.

This does add a layer of complexity to our IT jobs, however, as each system will be encrypted at the boot level, using a “LiveCD” to boot and troubleshoot the system/files would be impossible.  Two primary workarounds do exist; first to use the vendor’s “LiveCD” to boot the system and enter the access-code to get on to the system, or use the vendor’s “LiveCD” to to decrypt the entire drive before working on it.  The first only provides a limited set of tools, the second could take hours (4+) to process.

I did discover a third option, and that is a method to inject the encryption drivers into a Win PE 1.0 or 2.0 boot disk.  By running a command to execute the encryption filter service along with the password, the entire disk’s files can be manipulated, user-data extracted immediately, or other “normal” off-line technical service to the system.  Perfect.

I use a customized VistaPE (Win PE 2.0) so after a bit of effort, I was able to successfully inject these specialized encryption system filter drivers into my PE disk. Worked like a charm. I was so happy.  (Will post about this later once I have everything worked out.)

However, turns out that I’m still having issues with these crazy Dell Optiplex 755 systems.  They are pure USB connectors now (no legacy PS2) and while the USB keyboard/mouse works just fine with a “pure” Win PE 2.0 WAIK built disk, the keyboard refuses to work under my VistaPE build.

To further complicate things, the Dell USB keyboard is an “enhanced” multi-media keyboard with additional USB ports on the back of it.  Now I’m not certain but I really think that is the real issue.  I suspect the VistaPE hardware detection is picking up the keyboard as a USB hub and not as a keyboard.  If that’s true, and I can find that driver, it might take care of the keyboard issue.

I do have a PS2 –> USB adapter.  I might also try using that to use a different “standard” keyboard and see if that is sensed by VistaPE better.

I’ve discovered that during the building process, not all of the drivers from the WAIK .wim file are installed in the VistaPE wim file, it is much smaller in size.  Also, from what I can tell, either the USB keyboard driver isn’t getting loaded in the VistaPE build OR there is a USB root hub controller driver that isn’t getting properly loaded.  To compound things, Win PE 2.0 is build on Vista so I’m having to look for Vista drivers for this thing…fortunately they seem to be in the Win PE 2.0 wim so I just need to identify the specific ones I need and either try to “inject” them into the VistaPE wim or load them during the VistaPE wim building process.  So, I know the drivers I need are present in the Win PE 2.0 boot.wim file, and (they?) are missing in the VistaPE wim file.  Sigh.

Miles (from TinyApps Blog) posted a tip over on another post that might have some bearing as well: PC Accessories Issues when USB Legacy Support is Disabled so I’m going to see if the Dell 755 BIOS has a setting for this.  If so, that might make things simpler. But I’m now determined to figure out how this works so I can master a new skill in the VistaPE building process.

I’ve signed up for the Boot-Land forums and am waiting to be approved by an administrator so I can post a few questions there as well.

In the meantime, I’m dumping all the links I’ve been bookmarking and referring to here for quick reference.

Most won’t probably mean anything to anyone but me, but if they help…bonus!

VistaPE — Downloads – VistaPE now at a v12 RC1 release.  I’m using v11 beta 3 and I’m not sure if the new version will help me or not.  Will be trying that as well.

HOW TO: inject drivers into Microsoft’s free OS, Windows PE 2.0 – APC Mag

How To Inject Drivers into Win PE 2.0 – Commodore.ca post

DriverView: List all device drivers currently loaded on your Windows – NirSoft utility

Windows Preinstallation Environment & BartPE Tools – PGP technical guide (PDF) and zip files. Note the PDF document seems to have quite a few typos and other technical errors in it. Took me a while to work through them all.  Will post those as well once I get my bigger fish caught and mounted.

Oscdimg Command-Line Options – Microsoft TechNet

Wpeutil Command-Line Options – Microsoft TechNet

PEImg Command-Line Options – Microsoft TechNet

Toss DOS, Install Vista with Free WinPE – ITsVISTA

cd c:\program files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\

oscdimg –n –m -bc:\winpe_x86\etfsboot.com c:\winpe_x86\ISO c:\winpe_x86\winpe_x86.iso

WinPe with Dell Optiplex 755 - MSFN Forums

v12RC1: RAID driver not loaded (even though included in SATA script) - Boot Land – Although I don’t have this specific issue, the discussion seemed to touch on related issues.

Adding Drivers for Unsupported Hardware – MudCrab’s VistaPE WinBuilder script looks like it could save me (and others) time in trying to “inject” drivers into the wim by installing them via the VistaPE building process.  Still not sure which drivers I want to be adding to get the stupid USB keyboard/hub working.

Driver Installer For VistaPE - Boot Land. Another thread on drivers and VistaPE.

[App Scripts Guide] Creating a new app script - Boot Land. I’m feeling like I need to take my knowledgebase for VistaPE up to a new level by understanding the foundations of how it works and script-building.  This guide by Nuno Brito looks to be excellent.

VistaPE - Boot Land. Primary forum for VistaPE issues and discussions.

PC Accessories - Issues when USB Legacy Support is Disabled – Intel tip from Miles with USB support and BIOS settings.

Wish me focus, patience and a measure of luck.

Oh yeah, I still have my “normal” work duties to stay focused on while I work this one out.  Very hard to do once I get focused on trying to resolve a technical issue that is just outside my fingertips!

Now…on to that soup!

--Claus V.


DM said...

Claus, did you find any way to easily/generically get the USB Keyboard/Mouse driver(s) working?

Claus said...

@ DM - Why yes. Yes I did!

See this post for all the background links that led me to success.

Custom WinPE Building: Post-Script and PE 3.0

Basically what I recognized was that the VistaPE project build for some reason had some adjustments in it that caused the USB hub/HID driver to not load.

However I could strip out the "sexy" parts of that project, then mount a base WinPE build and add them back in. I made an adjustment to the custom device driver loader package as well that I ported over from Vista PE. Then I committed the changes and it worked great.

It sounds like a lot of work but in the end it was a lot simpler than it sounds.

Hit the link above and work your way through to get an understanding of the issue and solution.

I did some extra stuff along the way such as injecting PGP-WDE driver support. Cool but optional.

That was WinPE 2.0 but then I also tested under WinPE 3.0 (Win7) and it worked perfectly as well.

Good luck.

--Claus V.