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Ghost 2003 - Virtual Partition

Created: 02 Dec 2010 | 3 comments

Hey guys,

I have a number of ghost images on one of my machines created with Ghost 2003.  The hard drive has two partitions - one with the OS, and one with all of the images on it.  In trying to make all of the tests that I run on it easily automatable, I've been trying to figure out how to restore images without using the GUI.

I can't run ghost.exe, as it has to be run in DOS.

I can't figure out what NMain.exe does, other than it takes in the .nsi file and uses that somehow.

So I can't figure out how to give it a simple line meaning basically "run ghost restore of this image to this partition after reboot."

However, reading through the manual, I've discovered that ghost creates a virtual partition that it uses to run.  ( )If I could add the ghost command line to run automatically after booting into the virtual partition, I think that would work.  But yields two additional problems:

1 - Is there a way to create a virtual console using a commandline command?  The help file referenced above says:

"The Virtual Partition is created with the following files:

  • Ghreboot.exe
    This executable file lets you restart your computer back into Windows.
  • Selected driver settings
    You can select drivers to include in the Virtual Partition that will let you access external hardware.
  • DOS applications stored in the selected folder
    Any DOS applications that you provided in the selected folder are bundled and included in the Virtual Partition."

But I can't figure out how to create a partition using Ghreboot.exe - and if you run it with the help key, it just says that its used to tell the machine to no longer boot from the virtual partition - but nothing about creating one in the first place.

2 - If I can create a virtual partition from the commandline, how do I tell it to run my ghost command after boot?  It would seem that that's something that could be put into the Autoexec.bat or config.sys file (I'm not experienced with those) - but it also says that those will be modified in the folder you use to create a partition, when you do - would that delete any lines about running ghost?

Anyways, if I can't create a virtual partition without using the GUI, then I'm back to where I am now, and I may as well just use the GUI to reghost.  But..   To rephrase my questions, so they're seperated from my rambling.

1 - Is there a way to run a restore command in ghost 2003 from a command prompt, such that a virtual partition will be created, the machine will reboot into it, and run ghost to restore the image?

2 - If not, is there a way to create the virtual partition using the ghost tools through a command prompt?

3 - if so, how do I then include in the new virtual partition instructions to run a ghost command on boot?

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EdT's picture

In the past, I have found that the simplest way to restore a ghost partition from another partition, is to prepare a bootable floppy or USB key that boots you to DOS or WinPE and then have it run a batch file automatically that runs ghost with the appropriate command line arguments to restore the image from the second partition to the first.

You could also use a multi-boot setup on your hard disk so that one boot option boots your DOS environment and allows you to restore an image, then on reboot, you choose the restored partition.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

BobDDstryr's picture

Hey EdT,

Unfortunately your first suggestion won't work - I plan on running this remotely, so needing it to sometimes pay attention to a bootable floppy or USB key won't really work.

A mutli-boot setup might work - but I'm unsure how to go about installing DOS on a partition, or how to go about changing which partition to boot from on the fly..

I found instructions online for using the "Ghost Boot Wizard" to create a file that clicking on it will make the machine boot into the virtual partition - unfortunately it seems that my version of Ghost Boot Wizard is too old (2003.0.0.793) - and can only create a a "Boot Disk" on a flppy driver, and promps for Drivers A, and B. Needless to say, I have no floppy drive... Any idea where the current version of Ghost Boot Wizard can be found, or a way to trick the old version into creating a drive not on a floppy disk?

EdT's picture

It may prove a small but useful investment to source a USB floppy drive for times like this.

This would allow you to create a boot floppy with the necessary files on it. Once you have these it becomes possible to move the boot environment elsewhere, such as a hard disk or a USB key, or at least you can grab the file you need to boot into a virtual partition.

Out of interest, why do you need to do this remotely?  Is this a corporate setup?  Altiris DS offers the ability to rebuild machines from an image remotely and may be much simpler to implement than the solution you are trying to craft with an ancient version of Ghost.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.