Ubuntu Linux rescues Windows XP Embedded

This being summer, we’re back on the Windows XP Embedded kick. After generating an image, the question was..how do we get this on to our target machine?

We wasted a lot of time on this one. As recommended in the docs, we installed “regular” Windows XP on the target machine to make sure that it would run Embedded. No problem there, it installed without problems from CD. We ran the Target Analyzer, to get our device.pmq. Copied device.pmq back to the development machine and generated the image.

At this point, we started fiddling with a second partition on the target machine. We created and formatted this using Acronis Disk Doctor, which comes on a bootable CD. Our plan was to install our target image on this partition, change the ARC listing in boot.ini to point to the second partition as the boot partition. We spent a day fooling with this, including changing the drive letters, hiding the partition, moving stuff around. Didn’t work.

Finally, we reformatted the hard drive on the target machine. Now you’d think that Microsoft would have something like a “LiveCD” for this purpose, which would boot a version of Windows enough to allow copying to an existing hard drive. It doesn’t, but Ubuntu, Suse, and Fedora Linux all have this, and Ubuntu had drivers that would read the USB drive where we stored the image, as well as the NTFS formatted hard drive.

A quick drag and drop, and we’re done!

Have they no shame? (Microsoft that is…) There is a Community Technology Preview out for a new version of Embedded…let’s hope this issue might be addressed with a couple of extra tools.

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