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How to crack the XP recovery CD


1 COMPUTER recovery CD How to crack the recovery CD from XP A recovery CD can only be used on the PC with which it was purchased. With a few tricks you can create a full installation CD from the recovery CD, which you can use to install Windows XP on any computer. Many complete PCs and notebooks are delivered without an installation CD for Windows XP. The enclosed data carrier only contains a preconfigured Windows version. This allows the original state of the computer and all applications to be restored. However, it does not allow a custom installation or the installation of Windows XP on another computer. The Windows license is practically married to the hardware. You don't have to put up with that: According to the Federal Court of Justice, it is legally not tenable to inseparably connect a computer and Windows. com! shows you step by step how you can free Windows XP from the hardware shackles and modify it so that it can be installed like an original version on any PC and with all setup options. Preparing the setup CD In order to create a setup CD for Windows XP from a recovery CD, some preliminary work must first be carried out. The first thing you need to do is find out what type of recovery CD you have. The next step is to create the CD structure on the hard drive. Finally, all the necessary data must be copied into the correct directories. Analyze the recovery CD First check whether a setup CD can be created from your recovery version of Windows XP. Find out which system recovery strategy is used for your recovery version. Full-fledged setup CD: Some system recovery CDs are identified as recovery CDs on the CD label. But if you start the PC with it, the normal Windows XP setup takes place. The supposed recovery CD is actually a real installation CD (Fig. A). Anyone who has such a full setup CD can install Windows XP immediately on any PC. 30 The Computer Magazine 11/2005

2 Recovery CD COMPUTER Profile: How to crack the recovery CD from XP Compact recovery CDs for Windows XP can only be used on the computer with which they were sold. With a few tricks and tools, you can use the data on the recovery CD to create a setup CD that can be installed on any computer. The self-created installation CD offers all the advantages of an original Windows CD such as user-defined installation and repair installation without first erasing the hard disk. Software overview Program Description CDimage 2.47 Unofficial command line tool that can be used to create ISO images of installation CDs for Microsoft operating systems. Isobuster 1.8 Reads almost all image files and displays all the files and folders they contain. Selected files can be extracted Vmware Workstation 5 emulator that simulates a virtual PC. All Microsoft operating systems, DOS 6 and Linux can be run in one window. All programs can be found on the booklet CD and DVD under Computer, Recovery CD. Contents page Prepare Setup CD Analyze Recovery CD p.30 Create directories p.31 Show hidden files p.31 Find system directory p.32 Create important files p.32 Adjust files p.32 Update system files Load service pack p.33 Service pack Integrate p.33 Create autorun file p.33 Create installation CD Obtain boot sector p.34 Create CD image p.34 Test CD image p.35 Burn installation CD p.35 Box: Important setup files p.34 More information Boot images for Windows XP Modified setup CD: With a modified setup CD, a stripped-down operating system starts from the CD. This can be used to repair or reinstall Windows XP. However, both during the repair installation and when reinstalling Windows XP, all data that the user has created is deleted. The chances are good that a setup CD can be made from this type of recovery CD. The folder with the necessary installation files of the I386 folder is usually located in a subdirectory on the CD or DVD. Setup CD on the hard drive: With this recovery strategy, the user does not receive an external data carrier when purchasing his computer. All the data needed for the recovery is located in a folder named I386. The folder is on C: \ or on C: \ Windows or on a separate partition on the hard drive (Fig. B). The I386 folder is usually at least 420 Mbytes in size. A full installation CD can also be produced from this recovery variant. Setup CD as image: Here the recovery CD only contains an image of the system partition. In most cases, however, the images cannot be opened by conventional image programs such as Drive Image or Ghost. The data is therefore not easily accessible. Creating a full installation CD from the image is as good as impossible. Even if the image of the system partition is in a known format, it is usually not accessible: on the recovery CD of a test notebook, for example, it was with the Drive Image program. Setup CD: Although almost all manufacturers have theirs Designating CDs as recovery CDs, some of them are full installation CDs (Fig. A), an image protected with a password that was nowhere documented. A setup CD can only be created from such a CD if the recovery CD also creates a system directory with the name I386 on the PC. Creating directories If you own a recovery version from which a setup CD can be created, the first step is to create the working directory for the file and folder structure of the future CD. Create the working directory X: \ xprec on a partition with at least 1 to 2 GB of storage space. The drive letter X stands for the partition used. Change to the directory and create a subfolder with the name X: \ xprec \ bootimg. It will later record the boot sector for the installation CD. Show hidden files By default, Windows Explorer hides hidden files and system files. So that you don't miss any files while copying, configure Windows Explorer so that it displays all files. To do this, open Windows Explorer with Start, All Programs, Accessories, Windows Explorer. Then click on Tools, Folder Options and switch to the View tab. Uncheck Hide extensions for known file types and Hide protected system files (recommended). Confirm the warning 31

3 COMPUTER Recovery CD message with Yes. Scroll down and enable the Show hidden files and folders option under Hidden files and folders. Click Apply, OK. Finding the system directory Look for a folder with the designation I386 on the hard disk and on the data carriers supplied. To do this, open Windows Explorer and click the Search button. Under What should be searched for? the Files and Folders option. Enter i386 under all or part of the file name. Scroll down. Under Look in: open the pull-down menu and mark the selection Local hard drives. Start the search by clicking on Search. Multiple directories are found on most computers. You need the folder in which the two files Winnt.exe and winnt32.exe are located. It is usually at least 420 MB in size. Highlight the folder. Right-click and select Copy from the context menu. Change to the X: \ xprec directory and right-click on a free space. Select the Paste item in the context menu. Creating important files To ensure that the installation runs smoothly later, three files must be created in the root directory of the CD structure. The easiest way to create the files is to right-click on a free space in the directory I386: The folder with the setup files is usually under C: \ or C: \ Windows (Fig. B) Windows version: In In the system properties you will find detailed information on the Windows version used (Fig. C) click on drawing X: \ xprec. From the context menu, choose New, Text Document. The names of the files are WIN51, WIN51XX and WIN51XX.SP2. Replace XX with the version of Windows XP you are using. For example, if you are using an OEM version of Windows XP Professional, use the letters IP instead of XX. If your Windows XP is an OEM version of the Home Edition, the two XX must be replaced by IC. The Important Setup Files box on page 34 provides an overview of how the Windows versions are abbreviated. If you do not know which Windows version is running on your PC, open the system properties with the key combination [Windows Pause] . On the General tab (Fig. C) in the System section you can see whether Windows XP Professional or the Home Edition is installed on the computer. Under the heading Registered for: it is indicated whether it is a retail or an OEM version. Windows informs you that the file may become unusable if you change the file name extension. Confirm these queries for the three Win51 files with Yes Adapt files Now modify the three Win51 files: To prevent Windows XP from requesting a diskette with Service Pack 2 that does not exist during the installation and then aborting the installation , you have to make special entries. Edit the files WIN51, WIN51XX and WIN51XX.SP2 with the Windows own editor. To do this, choose Start, Run. In the command line, type notepad and click OK. Then use the key combination [Windows E] to open Windows Explorer. Navigate to the working directory X: \ xprec. Select the WIN51 file and drag it into the opened editor window. Type Windows followed by a space and press Enter. Save the changes with [Ctrl S]. Select the WIN51XX file and drag it into the Notepad window. Again, type Windows followed by a space and press Enter. Save the changes with [Ctrl S]. Perform the same steps for the WIN51XX.SP2 file. Change to the X: \ xprec \ i386 directory. Look for the 32nd

4 Recovery CD COMPUTER file TXTSETUP.SIF and mark it. Start Notepad: Click Start, Run, type notepad and click OK. Drag the TXTSETUP. SIF in the editor window. Look for the entry [SetupData]. Below that is the SetupSourcePath line. Check whether it is followed by "\". Otherwise change the parameter accordingly. Apply the changes with [Ctrl S] (Illus. D). Updating system files As a rule, a recovery CD cannot be updated with patches and service packs, since the structure of the CD is different from that of an installation CD. However, if you create a regular installation CD from the recovery CD, it is advisable to include the latest patches at the same time. If you have an older version of Windows XP, you should integrate at least Service Pack 2. But even with new recovery versions of Windows XP that already contain Service Pack 2, you should use the correct path specification: Only if the path specification SetupSourcePath = "\" is correct, all files will be found during installation (Fig. D) Service Pack 2 again integrate. Only then will a setup file be created in the base directory of your future installation CD, with which the installation and various maintenance work can be conveniently and partly controlled under Windows just like with an original Windows XP CD. Download Service Pack Download Service Pack 2 for Windows XP from the Microsoft website security / servicepacks.mspx. There, select the Windows Products (Client and Server), Windows XP section and click the Download network installation package for IT experts and developers link. On the following page, click the Download button to start the download process. Save the file in the X: \ SP2 directory. Caution: The service pack is around 271 MB in size. If you only access the Internet with the 56k modem or ISDN adapter, it is better to have someone you know with a DSL connection download the service pack, or you can have the service pack CD sent to you by Microsoft. Information on this is available at dowsxp / sp2 / users / bezug.mspx. The file on the Microsoft CD is called XPSP2.EXE. Copy the file into the X: \ SP2 directory. Integrating the Service Pack Start Windows Explorer via Start, All Programs, Accessories, Windows Explorer. Change to the X: \ SP2 directory. Rename the downloaded file Windows XP-KB SP2-DEU.exe to XPSP2.exe. If you are using the file from the Microsoft CD, you do not need to rename the file (Illus. E). Close Windows Explorer. Open a command line window: Click Start, Run, type in the cmd command and click OK. Then change to the location of the service pack with cd c: \ sp2. Start the integration with xpsp2 / integrate: c: \ xpcd. The process will end after a few minutes. Bring the command line window to the front, type exit and press Enter to close the window. How to include patches released after Service Pack 2 on the installation CD can be found in com! 10/2005 from page 16. Service Pack 2 from the Microsoft CD: The SP2 file does not have to be renamed (Fig. E) Creating the autorun file Now create the autorun file Autorun.inf. Later, after inserting the setup CD, it will automatically start the installation dialog. Right-click on a free space in the X: \ xprec directory and select Text Document from the context menu. Name the file autorun.inf. A message that the file may be unusable if you use the file name extension 33

5 Change COMPUTER recovery CD change, confirm with Yes. Open the file with the Windows editor. Enter the following three lines in the file: 1 [AutoRun] 2 open = setup.exe 3 icon = setup.exe, 0 Save these changes with [Ctrl S]. Creating the installation CD In this step, you create an image of the installation CD. The ISO image of the CD can later be written to a CD with any burning program. Even users with little writing experience can create a CD from an ISO image: As a rule, the file is only opened with a burning program and then the burn command is given. There is no complicated handling of directories and boot sectors. In addition, the ISO image can be used to check the runnability of the CD before burning, which saves time and often a few blanks. Get boot sector So that the PC can later boot from the updated XP setup CD, it needs a boot sector that starts Windows XP. It is a special boot image and not an ordinary boot disk as known from DOS times. You can choose between two options for obtaining the boot image: Extract: If you have a friend who has a full Windows XP installation CD, you can extract the boot image from this CD. Important setup files Each Windows XP setup CD requires three WIN51 files for a smooth installation: WIN51, WIN51XX and WIN51XX.SP2. The string XX stands for the Windows version. File name WIN51 WIN51IP WIN51IC WIN51IP.SP2 WIN51IC.SP2 Windows version All versions Windows XP Professional OEM Windows XP Home Edition OEM Windows XP Professional OEM with Service Pack 2 Windows XP Home Edition OEM with Service Pack 2 Boot sector: With Isobuster the boot sector of a Extract the original installation CD (Fig. F) The easiest way to do this is with the Isobuster program (free of charge). You will find the software on the booklet CD and DVD under the heading Computer, Recovery CD. Install and launch the software. When asked whether you only want to use the free functions, confirm with a click on OK. Put your friend's installation CD in the drive. The data structure of the CD appears. Select the Bootable CD entry in the left half of the window and then the Microsoft Corporation.img file in the right half of the window. Right-click the marker and select Extract Microsoft Corporation.img (Illus. F). Save the image in the X: \ xprec \ bootimg directory. Close Isobuster. Start Windows Explorer via Start, All Programs, Accessories, Windows Explorer or press the key combination [Windows E]. Navigate to the X: \ xprec \ bootimg directory. Rename the Microsoft Corporation.img file to xpboot.img. Close Windows Explorer. Download: If you don't have a friend from whom you can borrow the installation CD, you can find boot images on the Internet. For example, the computer center at the University of Freiburg offers boot images for Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition. Call up the website Scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the heading Links you will find the download addresses for the boot images. Select your version of Windows XP, start the download and save the file in the X: \ xprec \ bootimg directory. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder in which you saved the file. Unzip the ZIP archive.Make sure that the packer does not create a new subdirectory and that the xpboot.img file is really located under X: \ xprec \ bootimg later. Close Windows Explorer. Creating a CD image You can test the functionality of the later setup CD in advance using an ISO image of the CD. In this way, possible burning problems can be excluded. The unofficial Microsoft tool CDimage (, free) can help you create an image of the Windows XP bootable installation CD. You will find the software on the booklet CD and DVD under the heading Computer, Recovery CD. Save the file under X: \, where X stands for the drive on which you set up the working directory for creating the CD. Open the command line environment with Start, Run, input cmd and OK. Use x: and press Enter to jump to the drive on which the working directory is located. Type in the following command chain 1 cdimage.exe lwxp_rec t09 / 01 / 2005,14: 00: 00 h j1 m bx: \ xprec \ bootimg \ xpboot.img X: \ xprec X: \ WinXP_Rec.iso Make sure to match the drive letter X the drive letter on your computer. Confirm by pressing the Enter key. Depending on the performance of the PC, it may take a few minutes to get a working image of the fully functional under X: \

6 Recovery CD COMPUTER term installation CD for Windows XP is located (Fig. G). Testing the CD image To ensure that the future Setup CD for Windows XP really contains all the necessary data, test the CD image before burning. This is very easy with the emulation software Vmware Workstation (, 189 dollars). With this utility, ISO images can be used like normal drives. If you register, you can download a 54 MB version that can be used for 30 days. That's enough for the test. Install Vmware with a double click and follow the instructions of the wizard. Start the program via Start, All Programs, Vmware, Vmware Workstation. Create a virtual PC: Click on New Virtual Machine in the main screen and then on Next. In the window that opens, leave the default setting on Typical and click Next. In the next window select the operating system. Activate Microsoft Windows and expand the pull-down menu. Choose your version of Windows XP and click Next. Name the virtual PC Windows XP and click Next. In the Network Type window, accept the default setting with Next. Accept the default setting in the following dialog by clicking on Next. Activate the Windows XP tab in the main window. The hardware components of the virtual computer are listed under the heading Devices. Double-click the CD-ROM (IDE 1: 0) icon to start the configuration dialog. Activate the Use ISO image item in the Connection section (Illus. H). Click the Browse button and navigate to the location where the image of the updated Windows XP installation CD is located. Highlight the image and click Open. Confirm the settings with OK. Boot the virtual computer by clicking with the mouse pointer on the green play button in the menu bar. Click with the mouse in the following black window and press the [Esc] key to open the boot menu. In the boot menu, use the arrow keys to navigate to CD-ROM. Press the Enter key. Use the key combination [Ctrl Alt] to release the mouse pointer again. If the Windows setup then starts, your bootable Windows XP installation CD has succeeded. Nevertheless, you should also carry out a complete Windows installation on the virtual PC to test whether all the files required for an installation are available on the setup CD. Integrate image: The virtual PC in Vmware can also be booted from a CD image (Illus. H) Burn installation CD If the installation process was successful, burn the setup CD. To do this, insert an empty blank CD. For example, start the Nero Burning ROM burning software via Start, All Programs, Nero, Nero 6, Nero Burning ROM. In the New Compilation window click on Cancel. Select the menu item File, Open. Navigate to C: \. Open the pull-down menu for Files of type and select Image files (* .nrg; * .iso; * .cue). Highlight the ISO image you created and click Open. Activate the Burn tab. Open the write method pull-down menu and select Disc-At-Once. Start the burning process by clicking on Burn. Finally, the updated Windows XP installation CD is already burned in the drive tray. Caution: In order to install Windows XP in the future using the setup CD you have created yourself, you will need the product key on the label, which is usually on the housing of the PC or notebook that came with the recovery CD. Create image: CDimage creates an image of the installation CD from the working directory (Image G) Oliver Ehm 35