How to Create Windows 7 Live CD/DVD/USB

cd-handA live CD or live DVD is one that contains a complete, functioning and operational operating system that can be run straight off the CD without installing on a hard disk drive first. Because a live CD typically does not alter any operating system or files on the hard drive, they are often used as a medium to carry system repair and data recovery. Nearly every flavor of Linux distributions is available in the live CD/DVD format for new users to test drive.

Previously, I showed how to create live CD of Windows XP. The live CD project was based on BartPE, but BartPE cannot create live CD of Windows Vista and 7. BartPE also hasn’t seen an update since February 2006. To replace BartPE, another project was started some three years ago called WinBuilder. WinBuilder is based on Windows Preinstallation Environment, also known as Windows PE, and supports a wide range of operating system from Windows 98, Windows 2000/XP up to Windows Vista and 7. It even supports non-windows operating system like ReactOS. This tutorial is based on WinBuilder.

First, you will need the installation disk of Windows 7. Pop it into the optical drive and copy the contents to the hard drive.

Now download WinBuilder, unzip the contents and run the WinBuilder executable.

1

Select the project you want to download – Win7PE, in this case. From the dropdown menu at the top choose ‘Complete’. Click the ‘Download’ button to commence downloading of the necessary files, which should be about 35 MB.

After the download is completed, click on the Source tab and point the ‘Source Directory’ to the folder where you copied the installation files of Windows 7.

2

At this point, your live CD is ready to build. But you might want to customize it or add third party applications to the live CD, like we did in Windows XP live CD.

Adding Applications

To add applications to the CD, head to App Scripts page and search for the applications you wish to add. If you find them, you are in luck – somebody has already created it. Download the script, which should be a couple of hundred Kilobytes in size, and ending in the extension .script. Copy the script file to this directory:

Projectswin7peAddons

The script doesn’t contain the actual application – it will be downloaded when the script is run and the program added to the CD. Under the ‘Addons’ folder you should see the application scripts you added. Depending on how the script was authored by the creator, you might get to customize the added application.

Creating your own application script is possible but is a laborious process. I haven’t even tried to learn.

Customizing Appearance and Behavior

For customizing the appearance and behavior of the live CD, click on ‘Main Configuration’. Here you can adjust the screen resolution, choose a boot skin, boot manager and language.

3

To customize Windows Explorer button size and other behavior, expand the folder ‘Shell’ and click on Explorer shell. To change the desktop wallpaper, go into the ‘App’ folder. To customizing the boot screen, expand the ‘Finalize’ and click on the ‘Create ISO’ option.

Creating Bootable USB

If you wish to create a live USB instead of the live CD, expand the ‘Finalize’ folder and check the box “Copy to USB device”.

5

Finally, click the Play button to begin building the CD. This will take time. The final live CD will be only about 250 MB in size, but you will need at least 512 MB RAM to run the live CD.

The screengrab below shows Windows 7 running entirely from a CD. Applications Opera and Microsoft Paint is open. Total memory footprint is just over 500 MB.

windows7live

Troubleshooting

It is possible you might run into some problems – I did. The script might fail to run and throw up some error message or the CD may refuse to boot. If that happens, you can go to the forums and ask about your specific problem. But there is an easier way out.

Download this pre-build package of scripts and applications that a WinBuilder user has created. It’s about 64 MB in size and comes with Opera Portable, 7-zip, DirectX, Microsoft Paint, Notepad, Wordpad and other useful programs. In addition, it enables you to apply more tweaks and customization like pin shortcuts to the taskbar and more.

6

After you have unzipped the contents of the downloaded package, fire WinBuilder and proceed from there. No additional download is necessary, unless you want to add more application. You can also uncheck any application you do not require.

This Article Has 40 Comments
  1. Jasray Reply

    Isn't there a problem with drivers? I may be able to install drivers for machine A and B and C, but what about the elusive machines D, E, F which I may encounter? Out of luck?

  2. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    The generic drivers on Windows 7 works on most machines, as far as I can tell. It's possible you might encounter machines where the live CD will not work. Then yeah, out of luck.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    I get to the stage of building the disc and an error log comes up claiming that i need all these files and i can find them on this link it provides. have no idea where to put the files and i cant locate all of them.

  4. Anonymous Reply

    Hello,

    I followed same steps as mentioned above. but when i click play button to create, error occur that you need to download some files. why this error

  5. Izzat Reply

    what is size requirement for usb drives?

  6. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    @Izzat: Anything over 250MB should do.

  7. Srinivas Reply

    Hi,

    When i am trying to build win7 1 Message is coming Message,"Error with mounting source!".

    Can you please help me…

  8. Anonymous Reply

    After creating a live USB of Win7 would it be able to detect all AHCI SATA Hard disk of new laptops?

  9. Anonymous Reply

    where do you get the files these files and where do you put them?

    First, you need to find all following files before you build.
    You can find some of them in http://ludovici.winbuilder.net, FileManager (FltMgr…) must be from xp sp3 or above.
    devcon.exe
    imagex.exe
    wimgapi.dll
    wimfltr.sys
    wimfltr.inf
    FltMgrfltlib.dll
    FltMgrfltMc.exe
    FltMgrfltmgr.inf
    FltMgrfltMgr.sys
    FltMgrwimfltr.inf
    FltMgrWimFltr.sys
    intlcfg.exe

    7z.exe
    7z.dll
    Iso-Burner.chm
    Iso-Burner.exe
    iso-burner_license.txt
    mkisofs.exe
    SetACL.exe
    upx.exe
    WimUtil.exe

  10. Anonymous Reply

    Is there anyone who can offer these CD/DVD/USB for a price and the addresses thereof

  11. Anonymous Reply

    how much you can pay?

  12. Abdul Reply

    tutorial to create windows 7 live USB can be found here:-

    http://windowsxplivecd.blogspot.com/p/windows-7-live-cd.html

  13. Anonymous Reply

    I get error saying that i need to be connected to the internet, no firewall etc, is there problem for everyone?

    Plz help

  14. Anonymous Reply

    Yes I have the same problem "You got to be connected to the Internet"

  15. dinyarr Reply

    Pls help with this error 'YOU SHOULD BE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET"

  16. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    Internet connection is necessary to download packages depending on what applications you choose.

  17. Reap3r119 Reply

    EVERYONE WITH THE "You Should Be Connected To The Internet" PROBLEM:

    Go to the proxy page, and enter your modem's DNS IP in the DNS field. You can find the DNS IP on your modem's config page (192.168.0.1), but it's usually just 192.168.0.1.

    If it still doesn't work, then change the ping setting from ICMP to HTTP. It should work then.

  18. noman malik Reply

    First, you need to find all following files before you build.
    You can find some of them in http://ludovici.winbuilder.net, FileManager (FltMgr…) must be from xp sp3 or above.
    devcon.exe
    imagex.exe
    wimgapi.dll
    wimfltr.sys
    wimfltr.inf
    FltMgrfltlib.dll
    FltMgrfltMc.exe
    FltMgrfltmgr.inf
    FltMgrfltMgr.sys
    FltMgrwimfltr.inf
    FltMgrWimFltr.sys
    intlcfg.exe

    7z.exe
    7z.dll
    Iso-Burner.chm
    Iso-Burner.exe
    iso-burner_license.txt
    mkisofs.exe
    SetACL.exe
    upx.exe
    WimUtil.exe

  19. Anonymous Reply

    what do you do with them files after you find them???!!!

  20. Anonymous Reply

    this pattern not working

  21. Anonymous Reply

    My netbook wont initiate the install process, even though the BIOS clearly states that the USB pendrive is connected and #1 in its boot hierarchy.

  22. Anonymous Reply

    This tutorial is incomplete. Author fails to mention anything about the required files to make this build. List of required files is located at ProjectsToolswin7peTools.txt. Some of these files can be found after installing "Windows Automated Installation Kit" from Microsoft.

  23. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    I have created Live USBs of Windows 7 more than once following this exact method. Unless I can recreate whatever errors you are getting, I can't help.

    Besides, I've added a troubleshooting section. Have you followed those steps?

  24. killer-email-me-at/[email protected] Reply

    I had same problem with the missing files error list to never did fix it but an easy alt that works DONT DOWNLOAD THE (win7pe.winbuilder.net/projects) but instead download the (w7pese.cwcodes.net)and follow this guide

  25. Anonymous Reply

    I keep getting the following error:

    First, you need to find all following files before you build.
    You can find some of them in http://ludovici.winbuilder.net, FileManager (FltMgr…) must be from xp sp3 or above.
    devcon.exe
    imagex.exe
    wimgapi.dll
    wimfltr.sys
    wimfltr.inf
    FltMgrfltlib.dll
    FltMgrfltMc.exe
    FltMgrfltmgr.inf
    FltMgrfltMgr.sys
    FltMgrwimfltr.inf
    FltMgrWimFltr.sys
    intlcfg.exe

    7z.exe
    7z.dll
    Iso-Burner.chm
    Iso-Burner.exe
    iso-burner_license.txt
    mkisofs.exe
    SetACL.exe
    upx.exe
    WimUtil.exe

    What I don't understand is most of them are in the download list in the beginning, but after I download them, they're gone! Somebody please help me out here…

  26. Kabubi Reply

    Hi, how add custom software? for example.. photoshop or filezilla? portable versions?

  27. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    @Kabubi: You have to make your own app scripts http://reboot.pro/forum/65-app-scripts/

  28. Unknown Reply

    Why not use Puppy Linux with VMWare and then install Windows to a Virtual Hardrive, which can be burned to a DVD afterwards? All you do then is boot to Puppy Linux, share out the entire C drive, run the VMW program, pop in the DVD or capture the ISO file of the Windows install, and you are in Windows. If you are plugged into a router, then the C drive on the actual hard drive can be seen in Networking and be adjusted from there.

  29. Anonymous Reply

    where i put the downloaded files?

  30. Anonymous Reply

    Kaushik Please create a new guide using winbuilder 082 with pics
    cause many of us are facing the this problem
    First, you need to find all following files before you build.
    You can find some of them in http://ludovici.winbuilder.net, FileManager (FltMgr…) must be from xp sp3 or above.
    devcon.exe
    imagex.exe
    wimgapi.dll
    wimfltr.sys
    wimfltr.inf
    FltMgrfltlib.dll
    FltMgrfltMc.exe
    FltMgrfltmgr.inf
    FltMgrfltMgr.sys
    FltMgrwimfltr.inf
    FltMgrWimFltr.sys
    intlcfg.exe

    7z.exe
    7z.dll
    Iso-Burner.chm
    Iso-Burner.exe
    iso-burner_license.txt
    mkisofs.exe
    SetACL.exe
    upx.exe
    WimUtil.exe

  31. Anonymous Reply

    please post link to download these, thanks

    devcon.exe
    imagex.exe
    wimgapi.dll
    wimfltr.sys
    wimfltr.inf
    FltMgrfltlib.dll
    FltMgrfltMc.exe
    FltMgrfltmgr.inf
    FltMgrfltMgr.sys
    FltMgrwimfltr.inf
    FltMgrWimFltr.sys
    intlcfg.exe

    7z.exe
    7z.dll
    Iso-Burner.chm
    Iso-Burner.exe
    iso-burner_license.txt
    mkisofs.exe
    SetACL.exe
    upx.exe
    WimUtil.exe

  32. xfatherjack Reply

    I keep getting this error..
    First, you need to find all following files before you build.
    You can find some of them in http://ludovici.winbuilder.net, FileManager (FltMgr…) must be from xp sp3 or above.
    devcon.exe .
    imagex.exe iso-burner_license
    wimgapi.dll ISO-burner licence
    wimfltr.sys ISO-burner licence
    wimfltr.inf ISO-burner licence
    FltMgrfltlib.dll .
    FltMgrfltMc.exe .
    FltMgrfltmgr.inf x
    FltMgrfltMgr.sys x
    FltMgrwimfltr.inf iso-burner_license
    FltMgrWimFltr.sys iso-burner_license
    intlcfg.exe iso-burner_license

    7z.exe .
    7z.dll .
    Iso-Burner.chm .
    Iso-Burner.exe .
    iso-burner_license.txt .
    mkisofs.exe .
    SetACL.exe .
    upx.exe .
    WimUtil.exe

    I have most of the items listed, but what to do with them!!!!!
    it's a dead END.

    • Kaushik Patowary Reply

      Have you tried the solution given in the "troubleshooting" section?

  33. S J NAIR Reply

    Can I install/add ms office package to this live cd/usb, pse help me?

  34. Jonnny Reply

    help, dont have the option burn to usb device ? it is not in finals !

  35. Unknown Reply

    I try to do a live cd xp but after processing gases not any folder or ISO image and iso. Please help

  36. Unknown Reply

    I tried to make a live CD of Windows XP but after processing program does not find the ISO image where specified. Please help me.

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