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Bart's Preinstalled Environment (BartPE) bootable live windows CD/DVD

BartPE is Admin's best friend...
Version 3.1.10a (released on Feb 17, 2006)

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:: Introduction
:: Licensing issues
:: Getting started
:: Download
:: Support
:: Used tools/information
:: Screen shots
:: Online help
:: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
:: CD Cover
:: Storage- and network drivers
:: Firefox web browser plugin
:: Plugins and links
:: Change log
:: Additional languages
:: Commercial use of PE Builder

What is BartPE and PE Builder?

Bart's PE Builder helps you build a "BartPE" (Bart Preinstalled Environment) bootable Windows CD-Rom or DVD from the original Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 installation/setup CD, very suitable for PC maintenance tasks.

It will give you a complete Win32 environment with network support, a graphical user interface (800x600) and FAT/NTFS/CDFS filesystem support. Very handy for burn-in testing systems with no OS, rescuing files to a network share, virus scan and so on.
This will replace any Dos bootdisk in no time!

PE Builder logo (created by Henk)


PE Builder is not a Microsoft product and does not create Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment ("Windows PE"). Using PE Builder does not grant you a license to Microsoft Windows PE or to use the Windows XP or Server 2003 binaries in a manner other than stated in the End-User License Agreement included in your version of Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Microsoft has not reviewed or tested PE Builder and does not endorse its use.

Please do not contact Microsoft for support on the preinstallation environment that has been created by PE Builder!
Microsoft does not provide support for PE Builder or for the preinstallation environment created by PE Builder.

The PE Builder program (pebuilder.exe) runs on Windows 2000/XP/2003/BartPE. It does not run on Windows NT4/ME/9x.

To avoid any confusion, the bootable CD generated by PE Builder should be called by its nickname "BartPE"!

A word from the author

Hi, my name is Bart Lagerweij. I've been creating DOS based boot disks and bootable CD-Roms from Dos 3.x (not sure what year) until 2002. I have created the: Corporate Modboot, Network bootdisk, CD-Rom bootdisk, a hardware independent Dos CD-Rom driver eltorito.sys and lots of other tools needed to boot a PC the way I want it to.

As you can read above I've stopped doing that in 2002. Why? I saw a Windows PE (WinPE) bootable CD-Rom (from Microsoft) in action and I got very, very curious. I knew then as I know now, that in time PE-based solutions will be every PC technicians best friend.
Goodbye to all the good and bad dos-based NTFS utilities! Now we can boot from a CD-Rom and have full read/write access to NTFS volumes!

Here are a few things that are possible with PE and are not possible with any type of dos-based boot disk, even when using network support and ntfsdos:

While I was already thinking about what great things this could do, I noticed the end-user license agreement for Microsoft software that is included with Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) 1.2 (eula.txt). In section "1. ELIGIBILITY." it states the following:
..."You may only install and use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT if you are an active Microsoft Software Assurance Member ("SAM") for the systems product pool or servers product pool, if you currently have license coverage for Microsoft Windows operating system (OS) Upgrades via a Campus Agreement or School Agreement, or if you are a current or former participant in the Windows XP Joint Development Program, Windows XP Rapid Adoption Program, Windows .NET Server Joint Development Program, or Windows .NET Server Rapid Adoption Program. If you do not meet one or more of the requirements listed above, you may not install or use this SOFTWARE PRODUCT and you must terminate the installation of this SOFTWARE PRODUCT immediately"...

Oops, that does not include me. As a matter of fact that does not include most of us! This was very disappointing. But then I started thinking, how difficult can it be to build something similar to Windows PE from a Windows XP installation CD-Rom? A quick file compare looked like most of the needed files are on the Windows XP CD-Rom. Only because I thought building this would be easy, I started coding my own builder program. Had I known how hard it would be, I would probably never have started programming PE Builder.
This first version (v1.0.0) of PE Builder was released on April 28, 2003. Yes, version 1 was a very simple, very static, very bad and copyright violating program. And the (very friendly) people at Microsoft had every right to kick my butt. But I learned from it and in May 2003 I started on a second version. In July (three months later) v2 was ready.
Version 2 did not have the problems that version 1 had. The version 2 build engine had its own registry hive builder which was not easy to program and took about 50% of my research and coding time. It also was dynamic enough that it could build from Windows XP and Server 2003. In v2.0.1 I added a small but very powerful menu program called nu2menu, which was written by my buddy Henk de Jong. The latest 2 version (v2.0.2b) even used a new ISO filesystem called "ISO-9660:1999 (version 2)" instead of the Joliet extensions. Some non-English versions of Windows XP had filenames longer than the maximum allowed length for Joliet filenames (103 chars). I had to patch the ISO building program (mkisofs.exe) so that the Windows NT bootstrap and setup loader would boot properly. The file and directory names can now be up to 207 characters. But again this version had something bad. When comparing some INF files they looked too much like the Windows PE builder from Microsoft.

I had to change the entire INF file layout to use its own format. And on Sep 1, 2003 (almost 6 months after starting) version 3 was ready. After adding plugin support, PE Builder got very popular. People from all over the world are writing their own plugins to add the program they like and use.

BartPE vs. Windows PE?

What is the technical difference between BartPE and Windows PE?

Requirements to build:

  1. The files from your Windows Installation CD-Rom.
    Supported Windows versions are:
    • Windows XP Home Edition (must be slip streamed with Service Pack 1 or higher)
    • Windows XP Professional (must be slip streamed with Service Pack 1 or higher)
    • Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
    • Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition
    • Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition
  2. PE Builder runs on Windows 2000/XP/2003/BartPE systems.
  3. CD/DVD writer if you want to creat a bootable CD/DVD.

Why did I build PE Builder?

Microsoft only provides Windows PE to OEM and Enterprise customers. So the small companies and end users do not get Windows PE. I think this is really bad. With PE Builder they can build a Bootable XP CD-Rom (called BartPE) to use for maintaining their systems.

 Licensing issues

In order to make a BartPE installation, your must have a properly licensed copy of the operating system. BartPE does not grant users who do not have a proper Windows XP/2003 license the right to use a BartPE installation.

Also, according to the Microsoft EULA for Windows XP/2003, a user may not simultaneously use more installations of these operating systems than the user has license(s) for. This also goes for BartPE. In practice this means that the user may not use, for instance, a single license installation on one computer while simultaneously using a BartPE installation (created using that license) on another computer.

More information:

 Getting started

This page will help you create your very first BartPE CD. It assumes that you are using Windows XP.

  1. Make sure that your system has about 500MB of free disk space!

  2. Download the latest PE Builder version (self-installing package) and install it.

  3. Start PE Builder (pebuilder.exe). When you start PE Builder for the first time it will ask if you agree with the license agreement.

  4. Now PE Builder will ask to search for windows installation files. If you don't have your windows XP setup/installation files on your system you must insert the original Microsoft Windows XP installation/setup CD at this point.
    The files you have at c:\windows are not installation files. They are your already installed files!
    Click "yes" to start searching. PE Builder will now search all fixed- and CD-Rom drives for Windows installation files. This will take some time. When more than one valid location is found, a dialog will appear where you can select which location you want to use.

  5. At the main PE Builder dialog, select the "Burn to CD/DVD" option. When you are using an erasable medium, make sure that the "AutoErase RW" option is enabled. The "burn using" option should be set to "StarBurn". Select your CD writer device from the Device list.

  6. Hit the "build" button. PE Builder will now ask you to create a BartPE directory, answer with "yes".

  7. The license for your Microsoft Windows XP product is shown. Read it and agree to it to continue.

  8. PE Builder will now start building BartPE. This will take a few minutes.
    You will see a lot of files getting copied and/or decompressed, the ISO image build and the data recorded to your CD/DVD writer.
    If the data verify was correct and there where no errors reported you can boot the CD/DVD!


Latest version:
Download PE Builder v3.1.10a - self-installing package (3.15MB) - if you are unsure what you need to download, get this!
Download PE Builder v3.1.10a - zip package (3.23MB)
Post: View PE Builder v3.1.10a release postings on "The CD Forum"

Previous version(s):
Download PE Builder v3.1.10 - self-installing package (3.15MB)
Download PE Builder v3.1.10 - zip package (3.23MB)
Post: View PE Builder v3.1.10 release postings on "The CD Forum"

Download PE Builder v3.1.9 - self-installing package (3.09MB)
Download PE Builder v3.1.9 - zip package (3.12MB)
Post: View PE Builder v3.1.9 release postings on "The CD Forum"

Download PE Builder v3.1.3 - self-installing package (2.76MB)
Download PE Builder v3.1.3 zip package (2.74MB)


If you have any problems or questions about PE Builder here is where you can get more information:

Please do not contact Microsoft for support on the preinstallation environment that has been created by PE Builder!
Microsoft does not provide support for PE Builder or for the preinstallation environment created by PE Builder.


To support the development of PE Builder please consider donating some money. Just click on the button below. The actual payment is handled by PayPal, who have a SSL secured payment site. This also means that I do not get to know your credit card number, I only get the money from the payment.

If you want to donate using other payment methods, please contact me. Should you want to donate hardware or other things check the thank Bart page.

 Used tools/information

PE Builder uses the following:

Microsoft, MS-DOS, Win32, Windows, Windows NT and Windows XP are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names mentioned on this page may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Use information from this site elsewhere? Check our legal information page!
Legal information - [2015-11-28]

Copyright (c) 2000-2015 by Bart Lagerweij. All rights reserved.