How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD

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how to make windows live cdLive CDs as you know allow you to boot your computer from a CD-ROM and performs various functions on your system. Such Live CDs are excellent for recovering data, fixing problems or to have a custom desktop at your disposal when you are not at your own computer.

While the Live CDs are common place in the Linux world, it’s not often that you hear about a Windows Live CD.

Here today we are going to show you how to make custom Windows Live CD

Tools Required

  • Bart PE
  • Your Windows installation CD


  1. Download and install the latest version of Bart PE. Fire up the PE Builder. This is the main screen that appears:
  2. pe builder - create windows live cd

  3. All additional functionality that you want to add is done by means of plug-ins. There are loads of them to choose from. Plug-ins are nothing but a way to add additional software to your Live CD. You can visit the Bart PE plug-in repository here.
  4. For our purposes we require a special plug-in called Windows XPE, which gives us a way to boot into a GUI environment similar to Windows as opposed to the usual command line interface. You are free to choose any other plug-ins for additional functionality that you want to add. There are plug-ins for disc recovery, office work, backups, disk imaging and so on.
  5. Now insert your Windows Installation disc and point PE Builder to the CD/DVD drive containing the Windows installation disc or the location of the copied files (great if you have a laptop and the i386 folder containing the files).
  6. Click on the plug-ins button at the bottom. This allows you to add more software and tweak the existing software/plug-ins. If you get an error here, chances are that the path you provided in source is not correct.
  7. create windows live cd

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  8. Click ‘add’ and browse to the location where you stored the Windows XPE plug-in to add it. Since we are using the XPE plug-in you can safely disable the Nu2shell, PENETCFG and A43 plugins since these offer functionality that is already included with the XPE plug-in.
  9. Click ‘close’. You can now directly burn a disc or save an ISO file for testing which you can burn later. Click ‘build’ and PE builder will get to work.
  10. If the build process completes without any errors, you have made yourself a Live CD.

Mine completed in just under 2 minutes without any errors and amounted to 270 MB with Windows XPE plug-in and 154 MB without it. Here are the screen shots from my LiveCD which I tested in VirtualBox:

There are additional hacks that you can use to customize the text that appears when loading, the wallpaper and other things. However, that required editing some files and is a little cumbersome. In any case, with or without the visual customizations, you now have a fully functional Live CD with the tools you want according to your specific requirements. There are numerous other possibilities that you can explore with such a tool. For example you can create a Live DVD with all your favorite programs and documents.

Have you ever created a custom Live CD? What PE Builder plug-ins did you use or plan to use when you created one? Do you know of some other tool that can be used tp make Windows Live CD? Why not share it in the comments?

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23 Comments - Write a Comment



What about Ultimate Boot CD for Windows? Same principle (relies on bartpe to build) but a zillion tools preloaded. Perfect tool for repairing hosed computers.


Guy Cross

@Grande – cool comment…



Very nice tutorial! I’ve been looking for something like this few days ago.

Thanks again! Regards :)



the XPE plugin was continued as reatogo which is a separate creation. Much easier way to add plugins and it works well with my portable apps.



very useful post…. is flexible and works with vista or xp as well.



I second

Windows LiveCD is excellent tool but can be somewhat time-consuming to prepare and keep updated.



Finally, Windows comes to Linux way…



O great dear,s.



Definitely wanna try this out, i wanna make a personal recovery live CD, and if possible include my video card driver, so i can work with 100Hz cuz 60Hz really hurts my eyes
(yes i still have a CRT monitor)

I already have such a thing from a friend, i was wondering if i could re-edit that ? seeing as it doesn’t boot on my machine.


Yogesh Malik

Great Article, i need to keep a count on how many live operating systems can i have?



Er…my Vista Ultimate Installation disk doesn’t appear to have an i386 folder. Am I on the right page here ?



cant think no one mentioned Hiren’s Boot CD? I think its better than UBCD 4 Win



Ultimate tool when system crashes
I hope everyone will like it.



I really like this article. The ISO image file is so small :)

I’d like to include some utilities like partition tools, disk clone tools or antivirus program. I took a look at some others Live CDs, but they don’t include enough, maybe of the license.

Thank you very much.


Stam | Bike Games

Nice one, a friend of mine just called me looking for something like this. I am going to direct him here to learn how to do it. Thanks!



Is it possible to install games with it or play combat arms like online fps’s some1 reply back with some answers please.



well i could do that if i put it on a flash drive or something but dosent the game have to be in the registry???? or is it possible to add the game to the disk????



great article …. :) very helpfull


Tower Defense

Although, its is much easier to borrow one when you need it.. :)



does this live cd provide network compatibility for web browser?



use “parted magic” and forget windows live !

with this live os u can connect to internet

access to any kind of partitions

make images from ur partitions and …


Neha Lekhak

I have an IBM 51 Laptop which I formatted around 9 months back. Somehow, I lost the backup for the data which I had maintained for the same in an External Hard Disk. Thereafter, I have written various volumes of other data on my Laptop’s current Hard Disk. Is there any way out by which I could retrieve the data present on my Hard Disk before it had been formatted.


Bouncy Castle Hire Weston-Super-Mare

Thank you so much, I needed to make a windows live CD so I could upgrade the bios on a dell , bios fw only comes in windows envirometn, and the whole reason I wanted to run the fw upgrade is because the laptop wouldnt install windows !!! AGHHH. thanks for this handy guide :p

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