Creating a WIM file containing the Windows RE

Q. In Windows Vista, how do I create a Windows Imaging Format (WIM) file containing the Windows Recovery Environment (RE)?

A. The Windows RE is essentially a Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) instance that calls the Recovery Environment (recenv.exe) file at startup. You can therefore create a WIM file containing WinPE, which will run recenv.exe on initialization. To perform this you must install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), which you can download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c7d4bc6d-15f3-4284-9123-679830d629f2&DisplayLang=en#Instructions). To create the WIM file, perform these steps:

  1. Create a new folder to hold the Windows RE and a folder to mount the created RE WIM file. To do so, use the following commands:
    mkdir d:\temp\winre_image
    mkdir d:\temp\winre_mount 
    
    
  2. Extract the second image from the boot.wim of the Vista media into a new RE WIM file. The second image contains the Windows Longhorn setup version of WinPE. Use the following command to extract the image:
    C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools>imagex /export /boot "D:\OS Images\Windows Vista Final English DVD Images (x86 and x64)\boot.wim" 2 d:\temp\winre_image\winre.wim "Windows RE"
    
  3. Now mount the new RE image, by using this command:
    C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools>imagex /mountrw d:\temp\winre_image\winre.wim 1 d:\temp\winre_mount
     
  4. Navigate to the d:\temp\winre_mount\Windows\System32 folder and create a file called winpeshl.ini. In winpeshl.ini add the following text:
    \[LaunchApp\] 
    AppPath=x:\sources\recovery\recenv.exe 
    
  5. Optionally, you can add more storage drivers via the peimg command, as the following example shows:
     peimg.exe /inf= d:\temp\winre_mount\Windows 
    
  6. Dismount the imageby usinf the following command: D:\temp\winre_mount\Windows\System32>imagex /unmount /commit d:\temp\winre_mount
You now have a WIM file with the Windows RE environment, which you could use, for example, with Windows Deployment Services (WDS).
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