Langa Letter: A Must-Have Repair And Recovery Tool - InformationWeek
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8/4/2005
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Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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Langa Letter: A Must-Have Repair And Recovery Tool

If you ever have to recover files from an unbootable drive or try to bring a dead PC back to life, here's a free, zero-footprint tool you shouldn't be without, Fred Langa says.

Starting BartPE
When you boot a PC from the BartPE CD, the initial screen looks very familiar, reporting that "Setup is inspecting your computer's hardware configuration..."

The initial boot screens of BartPE look familiar to anyone who's booted a normal, unmodified XP setup CD.
The initial boot screens of BartPE look familiar to anyone who's booted a normal, unmodified XP setup CD.

(click image for larger view)

Soon, though, you begin to see small changes and modifications that remind you that this is not a standard XP installation.


The first onscreen reference to BartPE happens early enough in the setup process to avoid any confusion with a standard setup.

(click image for larger view)

The first onscreen reference to BartPE happens early enough in the setup process to avoid any confusion with a standard setup.

BartPE automatically sets up a temporary RAM disk and uses that as the system disk for a limited install of XP. The normal Windows start screen then appears briefly as the core operating system components load into memory.

Because BartPE isn't the whole XP system, but rather a selected subset of XP's features and functions, installation and booting proceeds very quickly, usually taking just a minute or two.
Because BartPE isn't the whole XP system, but rather a selected subset of XP's features and functions, installation and booting proceeds very quickly, usually taking just a minute or two.

(click image for larger view)

Once the core operating system functions are running, Bart's customizations begin to take over in earnest: First you see a custom splash-screen (reminiscent of the screen used in many live-CD Linux installations, such as Knoppix), followed by network option dialogs.


When the BartPE splash-screen shows, initial loading is almost done...

(click image for larger view)

When the BartPE splash-screen shows, initial loading is almost done...
Network support is optional, and can be bypassed entirely in cases where it's not needed.
Network support is optional, and can be bypassed entirely in cases where it's not needed.

(click image for larger view)

The automated network setup in BartPE can usually get itself going with little or nor user input, but it's also highly configurable, if you want or need to use a manual setup.


You can accept the network defaults, or override any setting manually.

(click image for larger view)

You can accept the network defaults, or override any setting manually.

All the important network settings are easily accessible without having to dig through menus or command prompts: The PE setup presents them to you clearly and cleanly, for you to accept or modify, as you wish.

A clear, simple graphical interface makes network setup a breeze.
A clear, simple graphical interface makes network setup a breeze.

(click image for larger view)

When BartPE is ready for use, you're presented with a very simple screen. The custom environment's features and functions are available via the "Go" button.


The minimalist desktop of BartPE makes it nearly impossible to get lost or confused. The "Go" button controls all functions and features.

(click image for larger view)

The minimalist desktop of BartPE makes it nearly impossible to get lost or confused. The

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