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wimlib-imagex - Extract, create, modify, or mount a WIM (Windows Imaging Format) archive


wimlib-imagex append arguments...
wimlib-imagex apply arguments...
wimlib-imagex capture arguments...
wimlib-imagex delete arguments...
wimlib-imagex dir arguments...
wimlib-imagex export arguments...
wimlib-imagex extract arguments...
wimlib-imagex info arguments...
wimlib-imagex join arguments...
wimlib-imagex mount arguments...
wimlib-imagex mountrw arguments...
wimlib-imagex optimize arguments...
wimlib-imagex split arguments...
wimlib-imagex unmount arguments...
wimlib-imagex update arguments...
wimlib-imagex verify arguments...


wimlib-imagex deals with archives in the Windows Imaging Format (WIM). Its interface is
similar to Microsoft's ImageX, but wimlib-imagex is cross-platform and has useful
improvements and extensions.

To do its work, wimlib-imagex uses wimlib, an open source C library that provides
interfaces for manipulating WIM archives. wimlib is completely independent from the
equivalent Microsoft implementation (WIMGAPI, or wimgapi.dll). You can use wimlib in your
own programs, although for command-line use wimlib-imagex already provides access to most
of wimlib's functionality.


The Windows Imaging Format (WIM) was designed by Microsoft primarily for archiving Windows
filesystems, such as NTFS. However, it can be used on other platforms as well, with some
limitations. A WIM archive contains one or more images, each of which is a logically
independent directory tree. Images are indexed starting from 1, and each may also have a
name. File data is stored as content-addressable "streams" that are deduplicated across
the entire archive. Streams may be compressed using one of several compression
algorithms, including XPRESS and LZX.

An update of the WIM format released with Windows 8 features solid compression using the
LZMS compression algorithm. Such files are also called "ESD files" and may carry the
extension .esd instead of .wim. wimlib-imagex v1.6.0 and later supports these new files,
unless they are encrypted.


wimlib-imagex accepts one of a number of commands (listed above in SYNOPSYS), and
additional arguments depending on the specific command. Although wimlib-imagex will print
usage information with --help or if you invoke it incorrectly, the full documentation for
each wimlib-imagex command can be found in the appropriate manual page.

Note: to save typing, if appropriate hard links or batch files have been installed, a
command wimlib-imagex COMMAND can also be accessed as simply wimCOMMAND; for example,
wimapply for wimlib-imagex apply.


The following are some of the general features, or use cases, currently supported by
wimlib-imagex, and pointers to the relevant commands:

· Display information about a WIM file
(wimlib-imagex info)

· List the files in a WIM image
(wimlib-imagex dir)

· Extract, or "apply", a full WIM image
(wimlib-imagex apply)

· Extract files or directories from a WIM image
(wimlib-imagex extract)

· Capture a WIM image and save it to a new WIM file
(wimlib-imagex capture)

· Capture a WIM image and append it to an existing WIM file
(wimlib-imagex append)

· Modify a WIM image by adding, deleting, or renaming files
(wimlib-imagex update)

· (Linux only) Mount a WIM image read-only
(wimlib-imagex mount)

· (Linux only) Mount a WIM image read-write
(wimlib-imagex mountrw)

· Delete an image from a WIM file
(wimlib-imagex delete)

· Export image(s) from a WIM file
(wimlib-imagex export)

· Change the name or description of a WIM image
(wimlib-imagex info)

· Change the bootable image index of a WIM file
(wimlib-imagex info)

· Rebuild, and optionally recompress, a WIM file
(wimlib-imagex optimize)

· Split a WIM file into multiple parts
(wimlib-imagex split)

· Join a split WIM
(wimlib-imagex join)

· Verify a WIM file
(wimlib-imagex verify)


This section presents some of the interesting features of wimlib-imagex in more detail.

· Multi-platform support. wimlib-imagex is supported on both UNIX-like systems (mainly
Linux, but also FreeBSD, Mac OS X, etc.) and Windows, and most code is shared among
all platforms. However, platform-specific features are supported when possible.

· On UNIX-like systems, integration with libntfs-3g allows capturing a WIM image
directly from a block device containing an NTFS volume, or applying a WIM image
directly to a block device containing an NTFS volume. This allows saving and
restoring NTFS-specific data, such as security descriptors and named data streams,
which is otherwise only supported on Windows. This feature is unavailable if wimlib
was configured using --without-ntfs-3g.

· Long path support on Windows. wimlib-imagex can capture and apply files with paths
exceeding the MAX_PATH (260 character) limitation of the Win32 subsystem.

· Non-Administrator support on Windows. You can run wimlib-imagex without Administrator
rights, subject to some limitations.

· Support for WIM integrity tables. An integrity table is a list of SHA-1 message
digests appended to the end of a WIM file which gives checksums over the WIM file
itself. The --check option to several wimlib-imagex commands can be used to verify or
add integrity tables.

· Support for "pipable" WIMs. This is a wimlib extension and is not compatible with the
Microsoft implementation. A pipable WIM, created with wimlib-imagex capture with the
--pipable option, can be written to standard output or read from standard input. This
can be used to pipe images to or from a server over the network to implement fast
filesystem imaging and restore.

· On UNIX-like systems, support for saving and restoring UNIX uids (user IDs), gids
(group IDs), and modes to/from WIM images. This is a wimlib extension, but the
Microsoft implementation ignores this extra metadata.

· Multithreaded compression. By default, data compression is multithreaded and will use
all available processors. In most cases, this can be changed by the --threads option.

· XPRESS, LZX, and LZMS decompression and compression. wimlib contains independent
implementations of all these compression algorithms. Sometimes they can do better
than the equivalent Microsoft implementations.

· "ESD file" support. As mentioned in BACKGROUND INFORMATION, "ESD files" use a new WIM
format that features solid resources and LZMS compression. This support was first
present in wimlib v1.6.0, but v1.7.0 and later have improved compatibility.

· Mounting WIM images. This relies on FUSE (Filesystem in UserSpacE) and is only
supported on compatible UNIX-like systems, in particular Linux. FreeBSD may work but
is untested.

· Split WIMs. A split WIM is a WIM archive split into multiple parts. wimlib-imagex
split can create a split WIM from a standalone WIM, and wimlib-imagex join can create
a standalone WIM from a split WIM.

· Delta WIMs. A delta WIM contains image metadata but excludes file data already
present in another WIM file. A delta WIM can be created using wimlib-imagex capture
with the --delta-from option.

· WIMBoot support. On Windows 8.1 and later, files on an NTFS volume can be externally
backed by a WIM archive with the help of Microsoft's Windows Overlay FileSystem Filter
Driver (WOF). With the --wimboot flag, wimlib-imagex apply will extract "pointer
files" (actually NTFS reparse points handled by the WOF driver) to the WIM archive
rather than the files themselves.

· Fast incremental backups. Using the --update-of option of wimlib-imagex capture or
wimlib-imagex append, you can optimize an image capture so that files that are
unmodified based on timestamps are not be read from disk. But even without this
option, since the WIM format features single-instance files, a file identical to any
already present in the WIM archive (in any image) will not be written, but rather a
reference to the stored file will be used.


WIM files themselves store file and stream names using Windows native "wide character
strings", which are UTF-16. On Windows, wimlib works using these same strings, so
conversions are usually not necessary and there should be no problems with character

On UNIX-like systems, wimlib works primarily in the locale-dependent multibyte encoding,
which you are strongly recommended to set to UTF-8 to avoid any problems. You can
alternatively set the environmental variable WIMLIB_IMAGEX_USE_UTF8 to force wimlib-imagex
to use UTF-8 internally, even if the current locale is not UTF-8 compatible.


By default, the case sensitivity of wimlib-imagex differs somewhat between UNIX-like
systems and Windows. WIM images may (but usually do not) have multiple files with the
same case-insensitive name. Internally, wimlib stores filenames as case-sensitive, but on
Windows paths actually provided by the user for use in a WIM image (e.g. for extracting,
adding, renaming, or deleting files) will by default be treated as case-insensitive in
order to get the "expected" behavior. This differs from the default behavior on UNIX-like
systems, where such paths will be treated as case-sensitive.

Note that with case insensitivity, a path component may in general be ambiguous due to
multiple files or directories having the same case-insensitive name. In such cases, if
there is a file or directory with an exactly matching name, it is chosen; otherwise, one
of the case-insensitively matching file or directories is chosen arbitrarily.

The default case sensitivity of wimlib-imagex can be overridden by explicitly setting the
environmental variable WIMLIB_IMAGEX_IGNORE_CASE to 1, in which case such paths will be
treated case insensitively, or 0, in which such paths will be treated case sensitively.

Regardless of these settings, options and non-path arguments must be specified in lower

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