Windows To Go: Served Fresh Anytime, Anywhere (The Unofficial Way)

November 19, 2014 2 comments

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog on how to install and run Windows 7 from a USB flash drive; doable, but it sure was quite a challenge. It reaped both success and failure to those who tried the procedure.

Today, with the advent of Windows 8.x, it is out-of-the-box possible to install and run the OS from a USB flash drive via Windows-To-Go but with certain conditions:

  1. You can only use Windows 8.x Enterprise Edition.
  2. You have to use a certified Windows-To-Go compatible USB flash drive.

You can read more about the official Windows-To-Go HERE.

What we are about to do is an unofficial version of Windows-To-Go using an non-certified USB flash drive therefore is unsupported by Microsoft and that you will be doing this at your own risk and pleasure .

There are a number of scenarios where this version of Windows-To-Go can be used but let me just cite two that I consider essential:

  1. You can recover data from a corrupted or damaged Windows machine without removing the hard drive prior to reinstallation or if you do the “Insane” method, from a MacBook Pro.
  2. You can effectively purge your existing Windows machine of malware by running the anti-virus application from Windows-To-Go.

Two methods will be presented here; “Sane” and “Insane”.

SANE METHOD

What you need:

  1. A host computer that supports booting from a USB drive with a working Windows 8.x environment (am using 8.1 Enterprise).
  2. Windows 8.0 Enterprise install DVD or ISO. You can download the evaluation ISO from Microsoft; click HERE.
    Why not Windows 8.1 Enterprise? Because it does not readily support this procedure. By the way, it’s best that you use the 32-Bit version so you can use it on most Windows 8.x compliant 32 and 64-Bit computers.
  3. At least a 16GB USB Flash drive (I used a SanDisk Cruzer Blade 16GB that I got for less than P500.00) – I’d recommend 32GB though so you will have extra space to install more apps you need (e.g. system tools or utilities). You can by the way use an External USB HDD but it’s too bulky and more importantly, does not have the AWESOMENESS and WOW effect of a flash drive .
  4. Tons of Patience – especially if you use a USB 2.0 flash drive; installation will be very slooooooowww.

Flash Drive Preparation

  1. Plug in the flash drive to your computer if you haven’t done it yet.
  2. Launch the Command Prompt as Administrator. Sorry, I haven’t tried doing this as non-Admin.
  3. In the Command Prompt, follow the command sequence shown below:

Windows 8.0 Enterprise Installation

  1. Load the Windows 8.0 Enterprise install DVD or locate and mount the ISO file (simply right-click the file and select Mount from the context menu).
    Take note of the drive letter assigned to the mounted ISO file; in my case, it’s Drive K:.
  2. Go back to the Command Prompt and follow the command sequence shown below:

    If all goes well, you’re ready to test drive your newly created Windows-To-Go.

Windows-To-Go Test Drive

  1. Reboot your computer and configure it to boot first from the USB if you haven’t done so.
    Depending on the USB type of your computer, it will take some time for the newly installed OS to fully load.
  2. The Setup Wizard will present you with the Licensing Terms page.
    Tick the only checkbox and click Accept.
  3. Key-in your desired PC name and click Next in the Personalize page.
  4. In the Settings page, click Use express settings to speed up the process.
  5. Key-in your desired User Name, Password and Password hint then click Finish.
    You will eventually be presented with the Start Screen.
  6. Pressing Ctrl + D brings you to the Desktop.
    You are basically done. But if you want to fully personalize this OS, you will need to activate it.
    Two things are required to get this done:

    1. An active Internet connection.
    2. A valid Product Key.

    If requirements are met, proceed to the next steps.

  7. Launch the Command Prompt as Administrator.
  8. Type the command slui 3 and hit Enter.
    You will be presented with the Windows Activation page.
  9. Key-in your Product Key.
  10. Click Activate.
    If the activation is successful, you will see something like this:
  11. Click Close.
  12. Launch the System Properties to verify activation.
    You will see something like this:

That’s it, you’re done. Congratulations!

INSANE METHOD

This method is different in the USB flash drive preparation plus a little extra for the MacBook Pro daredevils.

What you need:

  1. Windows 8.1 Enterprise or Windows 10 Enterprise Technical Preview install DVD/ISO.
    The good news is, you can download Windows 10 Enterprise TP direct from Microsoft; click HERE.
  2. At least a 16GB USB Flash drive

Flash Drive Prep

  1. Convert USB flash drive to Local Disk. Here’s a YouTube video you can follow.
    The advantage of doing this is the fact that some motherboard firmware or an OS like Windows will read your flash drive as a local disk instead; it could be possible that you would be enable to install non-enterprise editions of Windows 8.x and 10 or perhaps Windows 7.
  2. When done with the conversion, simply go through the “Sane Method”.

You’re done. Congratulations!

For MacBook Pro Daredevils

  1. Prepare your Win2GO flash drive with a virtual machine running Windows 8.x if you don’t have a physical Windows machine following the “Sane Method”. I used Oracle VirtualBox on OSX.
  2. Download the appropriate Boot Camp Support Software for your machine from Apple. To know more about Boot Camp, click HERE.
    If the machine you’re using is in this list, download Boot Camp Support Software 5.1.5621

    MacBook Air (11-inch & 13-inch, Mid 2011)
    MacBook Air (11-inch & 13-inch, Mid 2012)
    MacBook Pro (15-inch & 17-inch, Mid 2010)
    MacBook Pro (13-inch, & 15-inch, Early 2011)
    MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011)
    MacBook Pro (13-inch,15-inch & 17-inch Late 2011)
    MacBook Pro (13-inch & 15-inch, Mid 2012)
    MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012)
    MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012)
    MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch & 15-inch Early 2013)
    Mac Pro (Early 2009)
    Mac Pro (Mid 2010)
    Mac Pro (Mid 2012)
    Mac mini (Mid 2011)
    Mac mini (Late 2012)
    iMac (27-inch, Mid 2010)
    iMac (21.5-inch & 27-inch, Mid 2011)
    iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2011)
    iMac (21.5-inch & 27-inch, Late 2012)

    If the machine you’re using is in this list, download Boot Camp Support Software 5.1.5640

    MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013)
    MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013)
    MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013)
    MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013)
    Mac Pro (Late 2013)
    iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013)
    iMac (27-inch, Late 2013)
    iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013)

  3. After the download, extract the ZIP file to a folder.
  4. Plug in your flash drive and copy the extracted folder.
  5. When done, shutdown your MacBook Pro.
  6. Press the option key (continue pressing the key) and turn on the machine.
  7. Release the option key when the boot disk selection is presented.
    You will see something like this:
    Macbook_boot_option
  8. Select your flash drive and hit return.
    The next process will take some time but just be patient and wait.
  9. Login.
  10. Open File Explorer then locate and open your Boot Camp folder.
  11. Inside the folder, you will see a folder named BootCamp. Open it.
  12. Right-click (assuming you’re using a mouse because 2-finger tap does not yet) setup.exe then select Run as administrator from the context menu to launch the Boot Camp installation.
    Just follow on-screen instructions.
    Again, your patience will be tested.
  13. When the installation is complete, shutdown the machine.
    The reason we do this is that often, we miss pressing the option key at reboot.
  14. Press the option key and turn on the machine.
  15. Select the flash drive and hit return.
  16. Login.
  17. The Boot Camp service is now running at the background.
    You can configure Boot Camp via the icon you see in the System Tray.
    Go ahead and explore.

Enjoy your fully MacbookPro-compatible Win2Go…

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Categories: PHIWUG, Windows 10, Windows 8

Thank You CavSU

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Although this comes late, it never has been forgotten. It was indeed an honor and privilege to be part of a historic event at the Cavite State University – Silang Campus, particularly in the Department of Information Technology. The 22nd of September 2014 marked the first D.I.T. Convention, themed “DIT in Facing Global Technological Revolution”. I was invited as one of the resource speaker where I shared “Windows 8 To Go”. Below are few captured historic moments of the event:

The Event tarp

Me preparing for the Prezo

The Full House (between 400 and 500 students)

Department of I.T. – Head (Madam Beverly Malabag) introducing me.

Presention Proper 1 (Introducing PHIWUG)

Presentation Proper 2

Pre-Demo. Just showing where I placed the laptop’s HDD

The Demo. Showing the laptop running Windows 8 without HDD

Question and Answer 1

Question and Answer 2

Awarding of Certificate with DIT-Head Beverly Malabag and Instructor Brylle Samson

I sure had fun and the audience was truly aswesome

Hope it wasn’t the first and last. ‘Til next time…

THANK YOU, CavSU!!!

Categories: PHIWUG, TechTalk, Windows 8

PHIWUG at Manila Central University

April 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Last February 27, I had the privilege of doing an event again with MVP John Delizo at the Manila Central University. The event was attended by graduating students of the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from the College of Computer Studies. Students were tensed at first perhaps because John started with his usual “shock then awe” approach. He demoed Windows Deployment with MDT as his finale. I was next giving the students a technical overview of Windows 8 To Go then end the presentation with a blast showing the audience my Hard-Disk-less laptop; disk drive bay open for them to see. I was running the entire presentation by way of a 32GB Flash Drive; it was my unofficial version of Windows 8 To Go. Using an unsupported Transcend 32GB flash drive, I used ImageX to install Windows 8 Enterprise and installed PowerPoint 2007 thereafter.

Thank you Manila Central University for the speaking opportunity and thank you Microsoft for the giveaways.

Few snapshots of the event.

Here’s John doing a demo on MDT

Me presenting the Technical Overview of Windows 8 To Go

John and me answering questions during the Q and A

Awarding of Certificates

PHIWUG invite

Categories: PHIWUG, TechTalk, Windows 8

Virtualbox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter Not Working in Windows 8.1

March 17, 2014 Leave a comment


After upgrading from Windows 8.0 Enterprise Edition to Windows 8.1 Enterprise Edition, the Virtualbox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter stopped working. Even after uninstalling Virtualbox and installing the latest version, the problem still persists. What I did to resolve the issue was as follows:

  1. From the Device Manager, uninstall the problematic Virtualbox driver.
  2. In the Device Manager, right-click your computer name and select Add legacy hardware from the context menu. Like this:
    This will launch the Add Hardware wizard.
  3. Click Next to continue.
  4. Select the second option and click Next.
  5. From the list of hardware types, select Network Adapters and click Next.
  6. Click Have a disk.
    The Install From Disk dialog will popup.
  7. Click Browse and locate the driver. Something like this:
  8. Double-click the driver.
    This will bring you back to the Install From Disk dialog.
  9. Click OK.
    This will bring you back to the Add Hardware wizard.
  10. Click Next and another Next.
  11. Click Finish to dismiss the wizard.

If successful, you should see something like this:

Hope this helps

Categories: VirtualBox, Windows 8

How to run the New Cisco Networking Academy RS Introduction to Networking Offline

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Google indeed does not have all the answers! So here you go:

  1. Download the offline material (it’s a zip file) from http://netacad.com using your academy instructor account or if you’re a student, request a copy from your academy instructor.
  2. Extract the zip file; Windows would usually offer to create an extraction folder so just accept it.
  3. Enable IIS 8 (Control Panel >> Programs and Features >> Turn Windows features on or off >> Internet Information Services).
  4. Copy the extraction folder to C:\inetpub\wwwroot.
  5. Launch your favorite browser and key-in http://localhost/the_extraction_folder_name (e.g. http://localhost/CCNA-R-S_ITN/)

Hope this helps…

From Windows 7 to Windows 8: The Transition

June 1, 2013 2 comments

After a long and anguishing struggle, I now finally transitioned to Windows 8. NO! It’s not the “bloody UI” like most of the rants you’d hear or read about; it’s primarily the drivers and hardware vendor enhancement apps that perfectly worked on Windows 7 that failed to work on Windows 8. For those going through a similar fate, here is how I did the transition:

 

THE SPECIMEN

Lenovo IdeaPad Y460p
  CPU: Intel Core i7 @ 2.0GHz
  RAM: 4GB
  OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
  HDD: WDC 750GB
   Partitions
    C: – OS partiton
    D: – OEM pre-defined partition with all the bundled enchiladas

Windows 8 Enterprise – got it from… Oops! Sorry, have to comply with the NDA

 

SETTING THE STAGE

Before you install Windows 8, make sure you don’t have any driver problems in Windows 7. You can verify this from the Device Manager. If you have incompatibility issues in Windows 7, you bet it’ll be more so in Windows 8.

 

PHASE 1: WINDOWS INSTALL

  1. If possible, do an in-place upgrade; you probably would have a smoother transition than I did
    In my case though, I can’t, it’s because upgrade from Windows 7 Ultimate to Windows 8 Enterprise is not possible. Refer to this Windows 8 upgrade path just to be sure.
  2. For those with similar scenario, do a fresh install via DVD or USB.
    IMPORTANT: Do not format or remove your Windows 7 partition. Windows 8 will save everything related to Windows 7 in a folder named Windows.old.

 

PHASE 2: DEVICE DRIVER WORKAROUND

  1. After installing Windows 8, immediately check the Device Manager for unknown devices and update each driver. Begin the update by right-clicking on the device in question then select the Browse my computer for driver software option when the Update Driver Software – Unknown Device wizard appears.
  2. In the Search for driver software in this location field, type c:\Windows.old\Windows and make sure to select Include subfolders; very essential I should say. Click Next.

Chances are, Windows 8 would be able to use the drivers and you’re good to go. My previous attempts of the installation was a pain until I thought of this workaround. Unfortunately for me, the driver that worked on Windows 7 for the Belkin F5U409 didn’t work; I have this error:

This to me is an essential tool to configure Cisco devices via the Console. Even using the driver from Magic Control Technology Corporation didn’t work…

Another issue I had was installing the laptop’s enhanced features but I’ll get back to this later.

Now, these perhaps are vendor support issues but hypothetically, drivers written for Windows 7 should work since Windows 8, according to a Microsoft Technical Marketing team, is 70% Windows 7. Hmmmmm…

Hopefully, you’re doing well with the drivers on your end.

 

PHASE 3: RESTORING THE QUICK LAUNCH TOOLBAR

Didn’t I say the UI was not a problem? It’s because I had the Quick Launch toolbar working. I did it the same way I did in Windows 7; view post here. After restoring the toolbar, I arranged all the apps I needed in folders and moved the folders into the toolbar. I then opened the Taskbar Properties and set it like this:

By the way, don’t for forget to click OK to save the settings and dismiss the dialog. Here’s what I have thereafter:

The proverbial Windows orb is missing but just like in Windows 7, I seldom use it. Now, who needs the Start Screen?

 

PHASE 4: LENOVO IdeaPad Y460p EXCLUSIVE

This particular model has a number of features but what I really liked is the Slide Navigator. One fancy thing you can do is to zip/unzip the laptop screen. Anyway, the Slide Navigator didn’t work after the Windows 8 install. Here’s what I did to make it work:

  1. If you still have the Lenovo partition (drive D: in may case), you already have what you need but if not, download the following from Lenovo support:
    * Synaptics Touchpad Driver – Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
    * Lenovo Energy Management Software
    * Lenovo slidaNav 2.0 tool – there are two packages available. I used IN8STW20WW5.exe.

     

  2. Install the packages in this order:

      a. Synaptics Touchpad
      b. Lenovo Energy Management Software – a reboot will be required
      When you log in after the reboot, the Program Compatibility Assistant will appear.

      Just tick Don’t show this message again and click Close.
      c. Lenovo Slide Navigator

     

  3. If for some reason the Slide Navigator still doesn’t work, download and install:

    1. Lenovo MuteSync Second Display Control Driver – Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
    2. Intel Management Engine Interface driver – Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)

The Slide Navigator should work fine except for the One Key Theater system which I didn’t install; nothing against it, just a preference.

 

PHASE 5: ADDING AUTHENTICITY

Apart from using the Lenovo images for wallpaper and lockscreen background, launching System Properties shows you this:

Notice something under the System section? Here’s how I did it:

Find the Lenovo logo and other images somewhere in C:\Windows.old\Windows\System32\oobe\. At least this is where I got it from.

Well, that’s all folks!

Overall, my infatile Windows 8 Enterprise life (3 weeks now) is good thus far; hoping it will get better with the advent of Windows 8.1 (a.k.a SP1 much like Windows XP Reloaded with SP2) especially resolving incompatibility issues with hardware and apps making the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8 painless.

Hope this helps…

Install BackupPC on CentOS 6.3

October 18, 2012 26 comments

Last week, my boss asked me to install BackupPC on CentOS 6.3. Why CentOS? I actually have the same question–sorry, am used to Debian; regardless, my quest begun but I have to confess, it was not as easy as it seemed since there were fewer How To’s, Tips, and references for CentOS, especially 6 or 6.3 for that matter. This is reason enough for me to blog the steps I undertook to successfully install BackupPC on CentOS 6.3 and make it work after a week of “trial and error”–I may be a Debian user but am not a Linux geek. I am instead part of this group . Without further ado, let’s get it on!

  1. You need to have a running CentOS 6.3. I installed it with minimal components on a VM via Hyper-V 2; “lean but mean” so to say.

  2. Using Putty, connect to your CentOS box and install these useful tools:
    • wget – an easy-to-use CLI download tool.
    • nano – a file editor for humans.
    • screen – I like this tool because it allows you to have different screens for every task you to do; very useful, it enhances your Putty experience
    • man – your dependable CLI technical support.

    Use this command yum -y install man nano screen wget

  3. You need to add two special repositories, EPEL and REMI. A number of the packages we need for this endeavor is not part of the Red Hat / CentOS package manifest.
    wget -c http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/6/x86_64/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm
    wget -c http://rpms.famillecollet.com/enterprise/remi-release-6.rpm
    rpm -Uvh remi-release-6*.rpm epel-release-6*.rpm

  4. Enable the REMI repository.
    nano /etc/yum.repos.d/remi.repo

    Edit and save the above file to reflect this:

    name=Les RPM de remi pour Enterprise Linux $releasever – $basearch
    #baseurl=http://rpms.famillecollet.com/enterprise/$releasever/remi/$basearch/
    mirrorlist=http://rpms.famillecollet.com/enterprise/$releasever/remi/mirror
    enabled=1
    gpgcheck=1
    gpgkey=file:///etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-remi
    failovermethod=priority

  5. Install the BackupPC pre-requisites.
    yum -y install perl-Compress-Zlib perl-Archive-Zip perl-File-RsyncP perl-suidperl openssh-clients expect

  6. Do an update, then upgrade, to make sure everything is up-to-date.
    yum -y update
    yum -y upgrade

  7. We need to create the user account that BackupPC will use and assign a password for it.
    adduser backuppc
    passwd backuppc

    You will be prompted to key-in your desired password. Remember this password ’cause you will need it later.

  8. And now folks, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the BackupPC installation!
    yum -y install BackupPC

    I wish the command was longer or better yet, extremely complex but that’s just it…

  9. After the package installation, two biggies are now in place, Apache and BackupPC. Verify that these services are listed in the startup script.
    chkconfig –list backuppc
    chkconfig –list httpd

    Notice that both are turned off.

  10. We need to make these two services start at startup. Do this:
    chkconfig backuppc on
    chkconfig httpd on

  11. You’re probably guessing what’s Apache got to do with BackupPC; well, it runs the web interface but we need to do some tasks before we can use it. We first need to create the access file.
    htpasswd -c /etc/BackupPC/apache.users backuppc

    You will be prompted for a password; just key-in the password you assigned the backuppc user awhile back.

  12. Edit and save the BackupPC configuration file for Apache.
    nano /etc/httpd/conf.d/BackupPC.conf

    Your changes should reflect something like this:
    order deny,allow
    deny from all
    #allow from 127.0.0.1
    #allow from ::1
    allow from all
    AuthType Basic
    AuthUserFile /etc/BackupPC/apache.users
    AuthName “backuppc”

  13. As a safety precaution, make a duplicate of the BackupPC main configuration file.
    cp /etc/BackupPC/config.pl /etc/BackupPC/config.pl.ORIG

  14. We’ll use screen to help us accomplish this next task.
    screen
    nano /etc/BackupPC/config.pl

    In nano, press CTRL + W; this will invoke the search facility. Search for this parameter $Conf\{ServerMesgSecret\}.

    Now, press CTRL + A + C; this will open another screen. Run this command:
    mkpasswd -l 32 -d 16

    Highlight the output then press CTRL + A + P; this will bring you back to the previous screen. Right-click your mouse to paste the output between the single quotes of the aforementioned configuration parameter. You should have something like this:
    $Conf{ServerMesgSecret} = ‘7687nR848l39etpm7812w1f-pj3iEpb7’;

    Next, search for this parameter $Conf{CgiAdminUsers} and add backuppc. You should have something like this:
    $Conf{CgiAdminUsers} = ‘backuppc’;

  15. This time, edit the Apache configuration file.
    nano /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

    Changes should reflect these changes:
    User backuppc
    Group apache
    ServerName actual_server_hostname_or_IP_Address:80
    (e.g. ServerName 172.27.10.25:80)

  16. Now, the secret that made the BackupPC web interface work:
    iptables -I INPUT -p tcp –dport 80 -j ACCEPT
    /sbin/service iptables save

    Just to make sure the firewall entry was saved, we verify.
    cat /etc/sysconfig/iptables. Result below:

    # Generated by iptables-save v1.4.7 on Mon Oct 15 15:57:49 2012
    *filter
    :INPUT ACCEPT [0:0]
    :FORWARD ACCEPT [0:0]
    :OUTPUT ACCEPT [4:464]
    -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp –dport 80 -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -m state –state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -p icmp -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -p tcp -m state –state NEW -m tcp –dport 22 -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -j REJECT –reject-with icmp-host-prohibited
    -A FORWARD -j REJECT –reject-with icmp-host-prohibited
    COMMIT
    # Completed on Mon Oct 17 15:57:49 2012

  17. We now are nearing completion, let’s start the services.
    service httpd start
    service backuppc start

  18. The finale, access the BackupPC web interface.
    http://backuppc_server_hostname/BackupPC

Whew, I sure am glad we’re done.

Now give yourself a pat on back for a job well done…

Hope this helps