Thursday, 19 May 2016

Two new E2B themes from Frettt (English and German)

I have uploaded two new themes provided by Frettt (thanks!) to the Alternate Download Areas - Themes folder and also added some screenshots to the Gallery page of E2B. There is a German and English MyE2B.cfg file for each wallpaper.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

UEFI Grub2 PTN2 menu system - Beta 3 now available (Release Candidate?)

Beta 3 is now in the 'Other Files' folder in the 'Alternate Downloads' areas.
  • Over 60 ISOs supported
  • fix AVG on boots in MBR mode
  • systemrescuecd can now UEFI-boot (but startx may not work in EFI64)
  • archassault menu bugfix - now works on NTFS 64-bit, but not on FAT32 for some reason!
  • blackarchlinux x64 now works on NTFS (ISO too big for FAT32)
  • opensuse (4.5GB) works on NTFS
  • Excel spreadsheet updated
  • All xxx_extracted.grub2 menu files have been removed from the menu folders and placed in the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files folder on partition 2. This speeds up the grub2 Main menu loading. Anyone who wants these 'extracted' menus will need to copy the correct .grub2 file to the correct menu folder.
  • Some menu bugfixes
  • Some .cmd scripts improved/updated

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Fedora + persistence using grub2

In Tutorial #67 on the RMPrepUSB.com website, I describe how to get Fedora booting as a flat-file configuration with persistence.

I decided to try this using the new grub2 menu system, and here is the final menu:

Sunday, 15 May 2016

New grub2 menu system, UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2 Beta2 Tool Kit now available

This Beta 2 toolkit allows you to UEFI-boot and then directly boot from a range of ISO files (and some .img and EFI files) by selecting any of the payloads from a grub2 menu system. The files do not need to be contiguous and you can add your own grub2 menus and files too.

The .xls spreadsheet showing all the payloads that have currently been tested is here (also in download).
[Edit] Forgot to include Kaspersky in the spreadsheet, You can EFI and MBR boot using the extracted files (see readme.txt in \rescue folder). You can also have persistent updates if you re-make the .imgPTNLBAa23 file as a 400MB file.

Note: It is possible, using this system, to UEFI-boot from many linux ISOs, even if they do not contain any UEFI boot files (e.g. UEFI-boot to Zorin, Kaspersky, etc.)!

In Beta2, 95%+ listed payloads have been tested on FAT32 and are working.

Instructions

Follow the instructions on the E2B page here (full details are also on this page). Screenshots, etc. are in my previous blog post here.

Basically,
1. Download the .7z file here and extract it to an empty folder on your Windows system
2. Create a 2nd Primary FAT32 partition on your E2B USB HDD
3. Copy the xxxx.imgPTNLBAa23 file to your E2B drive's first partition at \_ISO\MAINMENU
4. Copy the contents of the PTN2 folder to the root of the second partition (you should see a \_ISO folder at the root of the second partition)
5. Add your ISOs, etc. to the second partition (see .XLS spreadsheet for details of what name you need to use for each file)
6. If you want to be able to run the same ISOs from the E2B menu, copy the five .mnu files provided to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder on the first partition of your E2B drive.
7. Now boot to E2B and select the new .imgPTNLBAa23 Beta 2 file and have fun!

If you already have Beta 1, I suggest you delete all *.grub2 files from the second partition, and then run the .\PTN2\COPY_ALL_GRUB2_FILES_TO_USB_DRIVE.cmd script which will copy all the .grub2 files over. If you have purposefully deleted any of the .grub2 files on the second partition (for faster booting), then use the UPDATE_GRUB2_FILES_ON_USB_DRIVE.cmd script.

Most of the payloads should work with a NTFS partition on partition 2 but I have not tested many of them on NTFS yet. FAT32 is more compatible, but you cannot boot from ISOs that are over 4GB.

The grub2 menu system does not need the ISOs to be contiguous, but the E2B grub4dos menu system does.

There are probably at least two more Betas to release before I can think about a full release yet, but it is getting there. if you see any ISOs missing from the spreadsheet that you need, please let me know.

Please feedback any comments, suggestions or problems!


Saturday, 14 May 2016

A lesson for us all - why bigger is not always better (or diagnosing a 'non-booting' system)!

If you read my blog regularly, you will know that 2 years ago I built my own system. That previous blog post described how I went about it.

Now over the last few months, I have noticed that this Z87 PC did not always boot when I switched it on. In fact, although the fans whirred a bit, I did not get the familiar 'beep' from the mainboard on these occasions. When this happened, I would just turn it off at the PSU mains rocker switch, wait a minute or so and then turn it on again and it would usually work. That is, until this afternoon,,,

This afternoon, I shut down the PC in order to do a clean boot from a USB HDD (as I have done literally hundreds of times before) and I got the 'no display, no beep' symptom yet again. But this time there was no persuading my Haswell Z87 PC to boot!

Diagnosing a 'dead' system

Now the Asus Z87 mainboard is fitted with a number of diagnostic LEDs soldered to the PCB. These include:

New Gandalf WinPE x64 Win10 TH2 with SysWow

Friday, 13 May 2016

How To's and Gotchas in grub2 menus

These are my notes below, which may be of interest to those of you writing grub2 (or even grub4dos) menus.

Most of these are concerned with directly booting from a linux ISO file using 'cheat codes'.

If that does not interest you, then don't read any more.

Note: I have been learning and experimenting with grub2 for a week now, so I am by no means an expert!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Easy2Boot website now routed via ezoic

I have now signed up with ezoic.com who will re-format the easy2boot.com pages and place ads on the pages for me automatically.

You may experience some very weird page layouts on the E2B site in the next few weeks! Ezoic will trial lots of different formats until it finds the 'best' ones - this may take several months!

Note that a cookie is saved on your first visit which determines what layout you see after that. If you delete the site cookie, you may (randomly) get a different layout on refresh (Ctrl+F5).

Ezoic is also used on the www.rmprepusb.com website. I am hoping it doesn't screw-up the easy2boot site as much as it does the rmprepusb site!

E2B v1.80 available

I have released E2B v1.80j as the release version 1.80 today.

Links on the website will still point to 1.79 for  a few days, but 1.80 is available on the Alternate Download sites (Google Drive and OneDrive).

grub2 menu system testing continues (pre-Beta2)!

I have been testing, reviewing and fixing a lot of menus in the grub2 menu system.

Here is a spreadsheet of the testing so far.

x = does not work
(blank) = not yet tested

click to enlarge
Beta2 should be coming in a day or so...

As you can see, every payload needs to be tested on 4 different VMs and on two types of partitions (NTFS and FAT32)!

Booting Dr.Web LiveDisk ISO with persistence from grub2

The Dr.Web ISO boots fine in MBR mode from E2B and can be booted from the ISO with persistence by adding a .mnu file.

However, during testing of the new GRUB2 menu system for E2B, I tried the Dr.Web LiveDisk ISO (drweb-livedisk-900-cd.iso - free), but it did not boot using the grub2 menu that I 'borrowed' from the 'Multiboot USB Flash drive' project here (I got a 'squashfs not found' type error).

After many attempts to get it booting from an ISO using the cheat code 'iso-scan/filename=', I finally looked at the 'casper' linux shell script file located inside the initrd file in the scripts folder (using 7Zip), and found this code...

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Grub2 menu system for E2B - early Beta available

The first Beta (Beta1  v0.01) is available for testing!

Please contact me if you want a copy to test. You will need a E2B USB HDD with a second partition.

It is possible to use this system on a Removable flash drive (but it is complicated because Windows cannot access the 2nd partition!).

Details are now published (in an early form) on the easy2boot website at http://www.easy2boot.com/uefi-grub2-ptn2/

Note that most of the linux menu items have been tested, but many of the other menus have not been tested with any payload at all yet.

MBR Main Menu

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Grub2 support in E2B - progress report...

I have been spending quite a while thinking about the grub2 menu structure and it seems some people put E2B on the 2nd partition of their USB drive instead of the first partition. I don't advise this because of the 137GB BIOS bug, but as long as the 2nd partition ends before 137GB, it should work OK.

For payload files to be detected by the grub2 menu system, they must have specific lower-case names (e.g. avg.iso, konbootx64.efi). Files with names such as avg_arl_cdi_all_120_150814a10442.iso or "AVG AntiVirus.iso" will NOT be detected by the default grub2 menu system.

So there will be a large list of specific payload file names which I will document at a later date. As a consequence, you can only have one version of any ISO (though you can add your own uniquely-named payloadfiles and add your own grub2 menu for it).

Friday, 6 May 2016

Coming soon! grub2 UEFI-booting from linux ISO files using E2B

Currently you cannot directly boot from an ISO file via UEFI using Easy2Boot - you have to convert the ISO to a .imgPTN file first.

However, grub2 can UEFI-boot and can run linux ISOs (some of which will run even if the ISOs do not support UEFI-booting and do not contain an \EFI folder!).

The reason E2B does not use this mechanism is that some UEFI systems will only UEFI-boot from a USB disk containing both MBR and UEFI boot files - even if the system is set to boot from Legacy/BIOS devices.

This means that if you had grub2 UEFI boot files on your FAT32 E2B drive, then you can never boot to the E2B menu on these systems!


Monday, 2 May 2016

E2B not booting on GA-73PVM-S2H PC

Samir contacted me about a problem he had with his GA-73PVM-S2H PC.

He could boot from this PC to a USB drive prepared using Rufus (to Elemetary OS, for example), but not if it contained E2B.

The symptom was that the PC would just hang with no keyboard response or boot messages of any kind, as soon as he tried to boot from the E2B USB drive...


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

ESET + persistence from ISO

I finally figured out what the problem was with the ESET SysRescue ISO+Persistence menu that I did have working but then didn't work when I retested it. I had missed out the lines in the .mnu file which set the UUID of the 'live-media' - this meant that the live-media value was invalid and so it resorted to the CD updates. Also, you need to copy the ext3 partition from a working Eset flash disk (I cannot figure out what it is in a working ext3 image that is different from a non-working image made using RMPrepUSB 'Make ext2 FS' and copying over contents)!

I have also edited the menu now in the previous post (see lines in red).

So you can now boot from ISO with persistence if you wish, instead of using a .imgPTN file.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Add ESET antivirus with persistent updates to E2B (Take 2!)

The method used in the previous blog uses an ISO with an ext3 file for the updates volume.

Here is a different method using a partition image. The two methods are similar and they both only work with MBR-booting (UEFI-booting is not supported by ESET SysRescue).

Monday, 25 April 2016

Add ESET antivirus ISO with persistent updates to E2B (revised!)

NOTE: There was a problem with this procedure as ESET didn't seem to actually use the updated definitions. This was fixed by adding the lines in red to the .mnu file below which I had left out accidentally and also using a copy of the persistent ext3 from a working eset Rescue flash disk!

For a different method using a .imgPTN file, please see the  next post!


________________________________________________________________________________

E2B can boot the ESET System Rescue ISO easily, but each time you have to download the latest updates which can take a while.


The current ESET disk eset-sysrescue.1.0.9.0.enu.iso does not support UEFI booting, but here is how to MBR-boot with persistence for updates, direct from the .iso file:

MPI Tool Pack v0.065

MPi Tool Pack 0.065 changes
  • Add extra usb driver menu entry
  • New grub4dos grldr version 20160326
  • MakePartImage.cmd now searches all drives from C: to Z: for the ImDisk virtual drive (previously only searched up to U:).

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Boot Ubuntu 32-bit via UEFI from Easy2Boot

The current Ubuntu 32-bit 'LiveCD' Desktop ISO does not include the 32-bit grub2 UEFI boot files, but you can use the procedure below to add the required boot files to allow you to UEFI-boot..

The procedure below can be applied to other 32-bit linux ISOs that use grub2, as long as a \boot\grub\loopback.cfg file is present (or you can add the relevant entries).


E2B 'Theme' in honour of Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born around the 23rd April 1564 (his baptism was registered in the church records on 26th April) and died on 23rd April 1616 (400 years ago yesterday).

Here is an Easy2Boot theme to celebrate Shakespeare. Can you spot all the changes and hidden quotations?

Hope you like it!

Each menu entry has a different quotation. Do you know them all?

Note: Copy all files to your \_ISO folder (backup your own \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file first).

The zip file contains a readme file and...

STRINGS.txt
MyE2B.cfg
Shaky.bmp

You can ignore the warning about STRINGS.txt being used for testing only. Just remember to delete it when you want to restore your own menu again.

Steve

Boot to an XP VHD from Windows 7/8/10 using bootmgr

If you have a USB-bootable Windows XP VHD, you can simply give it a .vhdboot file extension and it should boot using Easy2Boot.

But what if you want to boot an XP VHD file from a normal Windows 7/8/10 system (not grub4dos) that uses bootmgr (i.e. a standard non-UEFI Windows 7/8/10 system)?

Windows bootmgr can boot Windows 7 or later VHDs, but will not boot directly to XP VHDs.

However, you can boot automatically to an XP VHD from bootmgr, by using grub4dos as an (invisible) intermediary!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Any suggestions for E2B YouTube videos?

I am thinking of adding some more short YouTube videos on E2B.

Here is the list of potential videos that I am thinking about (in no particular order):

  1. Adding different Hirens ISO to E2B
  2. Adding VHDs to E2B
  3. Tips and Tricks - Using VBOX and RMPrepUSB-QEMU without dismounting drive,  pwd 32 and 64 and AUTO extensions, menupwd and pwd - using md5, different background for menus, stopping suggestions - .isodefault, NOSUG AUTOCSM, ISOBOOT  SHIFT-ENTER, CRC32, pausing enumeration with SPACEBAR, silent boot (reduce grub4dos messages), global hotkeys, use unattend.txt or winnt.sif files with XP ISOs set PICKAUTO=YES, slow booting - use text mode, add option to text-mode boot for faster booting on slow systems, add STAMPs to E2B
  4. MyE2B cfg - Reduce messages, Display background during enumeration
  5. How to use E2B_Editor - heading and footer, centre headings, etc.
  6. Using large fonts with E2B - set FONTH=24  - rows\cols, alternate fonts, 800 and 1024 modes
  7. Set up E2B for single menu
  8. How to auto-run Windows ISOs from a menu
  9. How to make XML files to auto-install Windows ISOs.
  10. How to remove Windows XP menus from E2B  NOWINXP
  11. Setting up a language and keyboard in E2B - change language mnu, add choice in MyE2B.cfg
  12. Protecting E2B  - .pwd, md5 encrypted passwords, menupwd, using pwd in extensions, master pwd in MyE2B.cfg, monthly PIN code, set expiry date, clone protection, Protect.cmd
  13. Configuring CSM menu - set a default timeout, delete unwanted entries, use your own menu and background CUSTOM folder
  14. Tips for speeding up E2B - reduce files, text mode, etc.
  15. How to add STAMPs to E2B
  16. How to make and use E2B under linux
  17. Using .key and .xml files with Windows ISOs on E2B

If you have any suggestions for Easy2Boot YouTube videos or want to vote for some of these, please use this link to anonymously send me your requests (no login or personal details needed) or add a comment below.

For a list of all my current YouTube videos, click here.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

E2B v1.80h Beta available

A few changes in 1.80h (g had a bug!):

1. FASTLOAD can now be used with $$$$CONFIG .mnu files (\_ISO\e2b\grub\menu.lst changed).

2. I have added the \_ISO\e2b\grub\checkdate.g4b batch file. It can be used in a MyE2B.cfg batch file as follows:

# set 14 day expiry date from 28th March 2016
call /_ISO/e2b/grub/checkdate.g4b 2016 03 28 14 SILENT
if not "%CHECKDAT%"=="OK" echo E2B EXPIRED! && halt
set CHECKDAT=

If used with a blank \_ISO\e2b\grub\SDATE.txt file (should be approx 1K in size) then you can set a time limit from the day that E2B was first booted as follows by just calling \_ISO\Expire.g4b:

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Install Debian from the DVD1 ISO using Easy2Boot

I previously described a method of installing Debian from a CD ISO file here. You can also use the LiveCD to install Debian or the net-installer ISO.

debian 8.4.0 Cinnamon

However, this method appears not to work when using a DVD-1 ISO because it cannot find the 'CD' to install the packages which are kept on the DVD after installing the base files.

Hurry - less than 100 days to go before the free Windows 10 upgrade expires!

There are now less than 100 days to go before  the free upgrade offer from Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10 expires.

If you don't want to install Windows 10 just yet, why not just boot to a Windows10ToGo VHD from your E2B USB drive.

If you are repairing or re-installing Windows 7/8/8.1 systems, why not offer the customer a free Win10 upgrade activation so he/she is registered for free, even if they don't want to install Windows 10 just yet?

Using the latest version of Windows10ToGo (TH2 version), boot on any Win7/8/8.1 system, start the activation wizard and enter the Win7/8 Product Key that was used to activate that same system previously (you can use ProduKey or Magical Jelly Bean key finder on the system first, to display the old Windows 7/8/8/1 Product Key, if it is not on the COA label).

Windows 10 should then 'phone home' (internet access is needed) and activate the Windows 10 ToGo OS. If you have no internet connection, you can phone Microsoft to ask for an activation key (you will need to quote the long number displayed by the activation wizard).

Once this is done, then that system will be registered with Microsoft for Windows 10 and you can then install Windows 10 on it at a later date.

It does not matter if you use a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10, but you will need both 'Core' and 'Pro' versions so that you can activate the matching version on each of your systems.

To create WinToGo VHDs, see my previous blog post.
For details on obtaining Windows 10, and for ISO- and UEFI-booting, see here.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Various Hirens ISOs and Gandalf PE with Easy2Boot

I have been experimenting with various Hirens ISOs with E2B and came up with this table which you may find useful:


If Windows PE boots and loads all the Desktop icons correctly, you should get the number noted in the last column.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Run android x86 + >4GB persistence via UEFI & MBR (from an NTFS partition)

In a previous blog post, I described how you could MBR-boot to android x86 with a persistence file.

To UEFI-boot, we need to create a FAT32 .imgPTN partition image. However, this limits us to a <4GB data.img persistence file.

Here is how to have a >4GB persistence file and UEFI-boot by using an NTFS partition to hold the android boot files and persistence file.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Add archbang linux + persistence to E2B

The archlinux ISO must be installed, it is not a 'LiveCD', however archbang does come in LiveCD format. Here is the .mnu file for getting the ISO to boot with a persistent volume.



Files on E2B drive (FAT32 or NTFS or exFAT):
/_ISO/LINUX/MNU/archbang-010316-i686.iso
/_ISO/LINUX/MNU/archbang-010316-i686_persistent.mnu
/arch-rw-010316

Saturday, 16 April 2016

GoldMemory test (and other memory tests to add to E2B)

I came across another memory test today. GoldMemory by Michal Tulacek is shareware and available in two versions, standard (limited 30-day free trial shareware <4GB) or Pro ($29 - at least 16GB).