Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Easy2Boot v1.62 Beta B available

The latest version of E2B v1.62 is now available from the Alternate Downloads area (bottom of page here).
The main change is that it now uses by default, grub4dos 0.4.6a (alpha version) instead of 0.4.5c (the stable version).
grub4dos 0.4.6a is now loaded by default but you can switch to 0.4.5c

Changes from v1.61 are listed in the Version History page here. New changes since Beta A are:
  • New grub4dos version 2015-01-16 as default (and new 0.4.5c version)
  • Fix knoppix boot from non-contiguous ISO file in isoboot.g4b
  • macpup sample .mnu file added for saving sessions on exit
  • New .isomacpup file extension added
Note that if your E2B drive is formatted as exFAT - it is probably best not to use this new version (or if you do, switch to 0.4.5c using the new menu entry before using any other menu entry)! This is because there is a bug in 0.4.6a when accessing exFAT drives which has been reported here and hopefully will be fixed soon and then I can release it as v1.62.

Grub4dos v0.4.6a has a few more features than 0.4.5c (can access Joliet ISOs, includes an internal USB 2.0 rd/wr driver and better debug/message control features).

E2B will still work OK with either version of grub4dos though.

Please let me know if you find any problems with this new version or with grub4dos 0.4.6a (i.e. if 0.4.5c works but 0.4.6a does not).

Monday, 26 January 2015

Booting Macpup iso files on E2B and patching ISO files using grub4dos


Unfortunatley, the Macpup_550.iso file does not 'just work' with E2B because the menu.lst file that is used inside the ISO has specified (cd) in the file paths:

\boot\grub\menu.lst
default 0
timeout 20
gfxmenu (cd)/boot/grub/message
color cyan/blue white/blue

title Macpup 550 
kernel (cd)/vmlinuz root=/dev/ram0 pmedia=idecd 
initrd (cd)/initrd.gz 

title Macpup 550 - RAM
kernel (cd)/vmlinuz root=/dev/ram0 pfix=ram pmedia=idecd
initrd (cd)/initrd.gz 

We can manually alter this by booting to the ISO in E2B as normal, allow it to fail to boot, and then manually edit each line by pressing e for edit in it's grub menu and removing the (cd) characters by editing both lines in the menu. This also means we can add extra parameters to the kernel line if we want to.


However, did you know that grub4dos can permanently modify ISO files?

So we can do this:

1. Boot to the E2B main menu and press p to enter the password (default=easy2boot).

2. Press c to get to the grub4dos command shell

3. Now we need to modify the \boot\grub\menu.lst file by typing this  (debug 1 and the last cat line is just so we can see if it worked):

debug 1
map /_ISO/MAINMENU/macpup_550.iso (0xff)
map --hook
cat --locate=(cd) --replace=\x20\x20\x20\x20 (0xff)/boot/grub/menu.lst
cat (0xff)/boot/grub/menu.lst

Notice that we must replace the four (cd) characters with exactly four spaces because we can only change bytes in the ISO, we cannot add or delete bytes. In E2B v1.62, if the ISO has a file extension of .isomacpup then this patch will automatically be applied.

If you don't want to be able to modify (even accidentally) the ISO file in a grub4dos menu, you must use:

map --read-only  /_ISO/MAINMENU/macpup_550.iso (0xff)

Macpup with Save Sessions

In E2B v1.62 I have included a sample Macpup_550_Save.mnu file which also allows you to load and save Macpup sessions as well as gets round this (cd) boot iso issue without altering the ISO file). Here is a simplified version of it (note that it uses partnew and you MUST have an unused 4th partition entry on your USB drive):

iftitle [if exist /Macpup_550.iso] Macpup\n Macpup boot from ISO (save on shutdown)

set ISO=/Macpup_550.iso

partnew (hd0,3) 0x00 %ISO% 
map %ISO% (0xff) 
map --hook 
root (0xff) 
#http://puppylinux.org/wikka/BootParametersPuppy

kernel /vmlinuz root=/dev/ram0 pmedia=idecd psavemark=1 fix=fsck
initrd /initrd.gz

Patching an XP ISO file

In a similar way, we can permanently rename files in a boot file list or rename file names inside an ISO. For instance:

map /XPSP3Inst.iso (0xff)
map --hook
cat --locate=BINBOOTFIX.BIN --number=1 --replace=BINXXX (0xff)+0x1000

this renames the file name in the boot sectors (first 0x1000 cd sectors) inside a bootable XP Install ISO so that the BOOTFIX.BIN text is renamed to XXXTFIX.BIN. This will cause the XP bootloader to not find the file in the ISO and thus not prompt the user to 'Press a key to boot from CD' every time we boot from it - neat eh?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Sandisk Extreme Cruzer 64GB Removable Flash drive for £25 (save £35!)

MyMemory (UK) are offering these for just £25! They sell out as soon as they get them in, so just click Notify Me and order one as soon as you get the email before they sell out again!

The drive I got was of the Removable type (I believe they all are now) and REALLY FAST!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Boot to TrueCrypt, only by using your USB drive

If you don't want your system to boot to the TrueCrypt password entry prompt (thus making it obvious it has been encrypted using TrueCrypt), you can make it so that it is unbootable and boot the system from your grub4dos USB drive and then from the USB drive you can boot to the encrypted Windows installation on your hard drive.

There is no 'unique' data or files on the USB drive, if you lose it you can easily make another.

see http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/131truecryptusb for more details.

You can add the TrueCrypt Rescue ISO ( the one that is made when you start encryption), to your E2B USB drive, but you must rename the file extension to .iso01.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

E2B v.1.62 BetaA now available

It includes the True Hide\Unhide support discussed previously and the latest version of grub4dos.
Beta Downloads are in the Alternate Download folders (link on Download page), as usual.

Note: Previous True/Hide files have been tweaked/bugfixed - this is a new Mark 4 version!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

'True partition' hiding/unhiding in grub4dos

The built-in grub4dos command 'hide' will set bit 4 of the partition type in the partition table of the Master Boot Record (MBR) or the Extended MBRs used for logical partition table entries - e.g.

FAT32 Type 0C hex - now run grub4dos hide command:
hide (hd0,1) 
Partition type is now 1C hex  (hidden FAT32)

However, in some cases the partition and the files inside it will still be accessible to Windows (for instance, if the volume was previously assigned a drive letter by Windows). This is because the partition is still present and still valid. Windows will still mount and display FAT16 and FAT32 partitions even if the Partition type number is of the Hidden type (e.g. 16, 1B or 1C).
Linux may also be able to access the partition and the files within it, if hidden in this way.

We can however hide the files and the partition from any operating system, by also making the PBR invalid (it will appear to the OS to be unformatted or of a 'foreign' format). In this way the file contents cannot be seen by any OS and the volume will not be mounted by Windows or given a drive letter. Grub4dos however, can still access the files within all the hidden partitions.

Monday, 12 January 2015

E2B 1.62Beta8/9 (monthly PIN code support)

A few new tweaks.
Beta9 fixes a bug - if you deleted CONTIG.ISO then it ran isoboot without using the normal partnew code! Thanks to Cristian for reporting this!


  • If you hold down either Left-CTRL key (think 'Ctrl=Crc') whilst selecting a payload file (not a .mnu file) and keep it held down for a few seconds after pressing ENTER to boot to the payload file, E2B will calculate and display the CRC32 value of the file before it runs the payload file. For instance, if an ISO file does not seem to boot correctly, you can find it's CRC32 value and compare it with the CRC32 value of the original file. Note that this feature only works with files that run using QRUN.g4b  - so this CRC32 feature does not work with .mnu menu entries and Windows Install ISOs in the \_ISO\WINDOWS\xx folders.
  • If you hold down a SHIFT key whilst selecting a (linux) ISO file (think 'Shift to isoboot') and keep it held down for a few seconds after pressing ENTER to boot to the payload file, E2B will run it using only isoboot.g4b - in this way you can test out the E2B isoboot feature even if your ISO file is contiguous. Note that isoboot is a 'last resort' attempt to boot a non-contiguous linux ISO - it probably won't work for old or non-standard linux ISOs and quite a few others too!
  • Monthly PIN code - use the MyE2B.cfg file to request a 4-digit pin number from the user before it will load the E2B Main menu. The PIN code required automatically changes every month, so you will need to tell the users the new PIN code each month. A small Windows utility (see below) can be provided which displays the  monthly PIN numbers. The seed value can be changed so that your E2B version will have a unique set of PIN numbers.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Install Windows 8.1 ToGo to a Removable Flash drive

Thanks to devdevadev from reboot.pro, we can install Win8.1 to a removable drive if we use a VHD to hold the Windows files.

Also works with Windows 10 TEch Preview  (choose 'Pro' for OS to install in WinNTSetup).

See here for the nitty-gritty...

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

E2B 1.62 Beta7 with Parted Magic LIVE support

The Parted Magic Parted_Magic_2014_09_21.iso (490MB) can be booted just by adding it to your E2B USB drive. Note: This Parted Magic release is not free but it is only $10.

However the file must be contiguous or else it will copied using dd to the CONTIG.ISO each time you boot it (if it exists).

I have now modified isoboot.g4b so that it will boot directly from a non-contiguous Parted Magic iso file and it also will support LIVE boot so that you can save the settings on exit. To run it using isoboot, select the ISO file in the E2B (v1.62+) menu and hold down the SHIFT key before pressing ENTER (or use a .mnu file).

Note: If you make an .imgPTN file from the PMagic iso using the MPI Tool Pack and MakePartImage, it can boot in MBR or UEFI mode and you can select LIVE or non-LIVE mode and choose from a range of supported languages. No modifications or menu editing is required but you will need to allow for at least 200MB of extra free space for storage of the session settings..

P.S. For non-E2B users (why not?!!!) - there is an article on RMPrepUSB.com here.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

E2B v1.62 Beta5 available

I have added WinContig to the E2B zip file now. There will be a file called:

MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd 

in the root of your E2B USB drive. Just double-click on this script to run WinContig.exe.

This adds 3MB of WinContig files to the USB drive but it means that you don't need to use RMPrepUSB just to make the files contiguous. So you can easily add more ISO files, etc. to your E2B drive and then run WinContig with just a few clicks of the mouse - even if the Windows system that you are using does not have RMPrepUSB or WinContig installed.

Let me know if you think this is a bad idea and I should remove it!

Bug in Beta5! Please try Beta6.

E2B v1.62 Beta4 new password protection feature

A new E2B password protection feature has been added.

If you want the user to have enter a password before a certain ISO or any other payload file can be run, you can now just add the three letters "pwd" to the end of the file extension.

Bug in this version - please try latest Beta!

Friday, 2 January 2015

E2B v1.62 Beta 2 for .dmg and HFS partition images now available



E2B v1.62 Beta 2 now recognises 3 new file extensions and it is now available from the Alternate Downloads Area as usual on the www.easy2boot.com website:

  • .dmg and .dmgHFS - these behave identically. The file must be uncompressed disk image and contain a single bootable Type AF  HFS+ partition
  • .HFSptn - this must be a bootable partition image (not a disk image) and should be of Type AF (HFS+ partition)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Add an OS X Installer for your E2B drive using just Windows

If you only have a Windows system, you can prepare a USB Flash drive by using RMPrepUSB - File->Drive and specifying the Yosemite.dmg file as the source. Then check that the USB drive now contains a Type AF partition by using RMPrepUSB - Drive Info - 0  to list the partitions - e.g.

Partition 1   SIZE=5235.382MiB   Type: AF   *ACTIVE*
START POS   = CYL:1023 HD:254 SEC:63       END POS = CYL:1023 HD:254 SEC:63
START (LBA) = 1 (00000001) SIZE (LBA) = 10,722,062 (00A39B0E) [End=10,722,062]

Partition 2   SIZE=0MiB   Type: 00        
START POS   = CYL:0 HD:0 SEC:0       END POS = CYL:0 HD:0 SEC:0
START (LBA) = 0 (00000000) SIZE (LBA) = 0 (00000000)

Partition 3   SIZE=0MiB   Type: 00        
START POS   = CYL:0 HD:0 SEC:0       END POS = CYL:0 HD:0 SEC:0
START (LBA) = 0 (00000000) SIZE (LBA) = 0 (00000000)

Partition 4   SIZE=0MiB   Type: 00        
START POS   = CYL:0 HD:0 SEC:0       END POS = CYL:0 HD:0 SEC:0
START (LBA) = 0 (00000000) SIZE (LBA) = 0 (00000000)

P1   Start=1 (512 bytes) End=10,722,062 (5,489,695,744 bytes)

Once the USB flash drive has been written, you can now use RMPrepUSB - Drive->File to make a .HFSPTN file (start = P1 - or whatever partition number the AF partition is).

Later versions of E2B support the .dmg file extension - so just copy the .dmg bootable single-partition image file over to the E2B drive and boot!

Another alternative is to use 7Zip to extract the .img file from the .dmg file. Then just rename the extracted file to a .HFSPTN file.

See the previous blog for more details.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Add MemTest/KonBoot, etc. UEFI-boot files to your dual-boot WinPE USB drive (32/64-bit)

I have added a new section to the bottom of Tutorial 127 which describes how to add rEFInd to your E2B USB drive so that you can boot to other payload EFI files directly from your E2B USB drive besides Windows PE.

rEFInd will create a menu automatically by searching for .efi boot files, so it is really simple to add it to your UEFI-bootable drive - just copy over the folder and move a few files!


For E2B users - see here for the download.

Note that a few UEFI systems will not MBR-boot if a \efi\boot\bootx64.efi file is present on the USB drive - they do not show any MBR boot option and will only UEFI boot. This means you cannot boot to the E2B grub4dos menu even if they support MBR\CSM mode booting! This is why E2B does not include any \EFI boot folder or rEFInd by default.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Make a dual-boot (MBR+UEFI) WinPE USB drive (32/64-bit)

I have written a new Tutorial 127 here which describes how to make a WinPE dual-boot payload that will boot from a 32-bit or 64-bit UEFI system or a normal MBR BIOS system.

Although the Win8.1SE project by ChrisR is supposed to have this Multi-WIM capability, I found that I could not get it to work without having to use BootIce to fix the BCD, so it was easier just to manually merge the files from two WinPE's into one.

This shows just how easy BootIce is to use for simple BCD editing!

Once you have made the FAT32 USB drive, you can make a partition image from it using MakePartImage and add the image file to your E2B USB drive.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Add Mac OS X Installers (e.g. Yosemite) to your E2B multiboot USB drive

Mitch recently asked me if he could add an OS X Installer ISO to his E2B USB drive. After two nights of work by Mitch (mostly!) and myself (I don't have an x86 Mac - or indeed any Mac to test it on), we got something working!

You will need a spare 8GB+ USB drive, a Mac (or Virtual Machine with OS X) and the UniBeast download...

Note: New E2B feature! If your .dmg file contains a .img file which is an HFS+ single partition and is x86-bootable - you can now just copy the .dmg file to your Easy2Boot v1.62+ USB drive and boot from it on any x86 Hackintosh PC - no need to use a OS X system or UniBeast!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Deleting the 'System Volume Information' folder from a USB drive (and other system files\folders)

If you want to copy a whole WindowsToGo partition or make a .imgPTN file from a partition volume by dragging-and-dropping the volume letter icon onto a MPI_FAT32 or MPI_NTFS Desktop shortcut, you may find that the process reports an error if Windows fails copy some of the protected files and folders that it may have placed on the partition.

A simple way to avoid this is to copy the files from the entire USB drive to an empty folder on your PC's hard disk. This way you only copy the files and folders you need. You can then drag-and-drop the folder onto one of the MPI shortcuts.

However, it may take a long time to do this and you may be short if disk space, so how do we delete these pesky files and folders?

Monday, 15 December 2014

E2B v1.62Beta1, Windows XP Install ISOs and Winnt.sif files!


Here are some notes on getting 'special' versions of Windows XP Install ISOs to work with E2B.

If you just want to skip this and get to the best solution, then scroll down to the 'How to add a non-standard XP Install ISO to E2B' heading!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Add a Master Password screen to E2B

On the E2B Forum, I was recently asked by a user how to display a wallpaper bitmap on first boot and then only proceed to the E2B Main menu if the user entered the correct password.
He did not want any prompt or indication to be visible - just the wallpaper.
A Master password can be set in the E2B  \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg user configuration file but the example code displays a user prompt. This user did not want any prompt or cursor to be visible.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Add the Polish Arcabit Rescue CD to your Easy2Boot USB multiboot drive


You can use the following .mnu file to add Arcabit to E2B (FAT32\ext2\3 drives only)

Easy2Boot will boot directly from the ISO file, but updates will not be persistent. By extracting the files from the ISO and making a .mnu file, we can get the virus updates to be stored on the FAT32 USB drive. There is a solution for NTFS E2B drives too...

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Easy2Boot v1.61 released

Changes from v1.60 are:

  • .mnu files for Windows Install ISOs menu entries in the Main menu can now be added by the user which can specify both the .ISO file AND the .XML file to use. See the $$AddWin2Main.mnu sample menu. This means a Windows Install ISO will boot without the user needing to choose a specific XML or Key file.
  • New grub4dos version
  • Menu heading positions have been altered - menu headings are now left-aligned instead of being centred. STRINGS.txt files updated.
  • HEADPOS variable is now easier to use (can place the menu heading on any line just by changing HEADPOS). See here for details.
  • Help Footer text at the bottom of the screen is no longer padded out by HPAD, so now HBTM determines it's absolute position in the menu. See here for details.
  • \_ISO\docs\mythemes and \_ISO\docs\Templates files updated
  • \_ISO\Sample_MyE2B.cfg file updated (for HEADPOS, HBTM)
  • Italian language files added (thanks to Fabrizio)
  • German language STRINGS.txt improved (thanks to Frettt).
  • FreeDOS bootable floppy disk image changed (some FreeDOS utilities added)
  • Some superfluous files deleted from \_ISO\e2b\firadisk folder
  • Support for .isonousb and .imgnousb/.imanousb file extensions added - see here for details
  • Sample .mnu files added: DOS_ISONoUSB.mnu and DOS_IMAnoUSB.mnu, CentOS7_FAT32_ISO.mnu, Fedora20_FAT32_ISO.mnu
  • isoboot.g4b added to boot some non-contiguous linux ISOs, See here for details.

If you are using a MyE2B.cfg file and your own background, you may find you need to change the HEADPOS and HBTM values in your MyE2B.cfg file.

isoboot.g4b

If an ISO is not contiguous, E2B will try to copy the contents of the ISO to \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO which is 500MB in size by default. If this fails for some reason (e.g. CONTIG.ISO has been deleted to save space or the ISO is bigger than the size of CONTIG.ISO) then E2B will now use the isoboot.g4b batch script to attempt to boot directly from the linux ISO file by loading it into memory and using linux 'cheat codes' to boot it. This may not work for all versions of linux and it will only boot to the default 'live' version (no full boot menu is displayed).

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Easy2Boot v1.61 Beta5 available (adds booting from DOS .iso or .ima floppy images but hides the USB drive)

Changes since Beta4

  • FreeDOS bootable image changed (some FreeDOS utilities added)
  • Some superfluous files deleted from \_ISO\e2b\firadisk folder
  • Support for .isonousb and .imgnousb/.imanousb file extensions added
  • Sample .mnu files added DOS_ISONoUSB.mnu and DOS_IMAnoUSB.mnu
I was contacted recently by Drake to ask if he could boot a bootable DOS ISO from Easy2Boot but hide the E2B drive (which normally appears as the first hard disk (hd0) in the system).

So I have now added support for the file extensions .isonousb and .imgnousb (and .imanousb).

Monday, 1 December 2014

Easy2Boot v1.61Beta3 available (adds direct boot from non-contiguous linux ISOs)

For Beta2 changes see here.

Beta3 additions are:

1. When installing directly from a Windows Install ISO (Vista or later), the cfadisk device driver is now loaded automatically. This means that by the time Windows Vista/7/8/10 Setup GUI is displayed, all partitions on a Removable USB drive are accessible to WinPE\Setup. Normally, Windows will only mount and make accessible the first partition of a Removable drive.
This means that, in theory, (not yet tested!), if you use a special .mnu file, you can locate your Windows Install ISO files (and whatever .xml and .key files too) on a different partition on a Flash drive.

Note: Now removed in Beta4 because the driver causes problems with Win 8.1 64-bit Install ISOs!

If you would like to be able to treat Removable USB drives as a Hard Disk for Windows installs, you can add the cfadisk driver to the boot.wim file using 'devadevs' method, described here.

2. More direct ISO booting support for more linux non-contiguous ISO, list is now:

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Boot Fedora and CentOS directly from ISO using grub4dos

I have added another small tutorial on how to boot Fedora 20 and CentOS 7 directly from an ISO file using grub4dos.

http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/126_Fedora

I found that they are rather fussy in their requirements...

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

E2B v1.61Beta 2 available

v1.61 Beta2 has these additions (compared to v1.60):

1. Italian language files added (thanks to Fabrizio)
2. Can specify both a specific ISO and XML file for a single Windows Install ISO from a mnu file.
3. German language STRINGS.txt improved.
4. isoboot.g4b added to boot some non-contiguous linux ISOs,
5. Fix problem with F1 menu heading
6. Better menu heading positioning using HEADPOS variable, menus left-aligned, Footer Help text directly positioned by HBTM variable.



Friday, 21 November 2014

MPI Tool Pack updated to v0.040

Devadev found that the default partition size calculated by MakePartImage was not quite large enough for one particular ISO, so I have slightly increased the volume size in the new version.

However, whilst testing this on my Windows 7 64-bit notebook, I found that the code I use to display the amount of free space in the virtual volume did not work. The code I used was this (simplified):

WMIC.EXE LogicalDisk Where DeviceID="C:" Get DeviceID,FileSystem,FreeSpace  /Format:csv

It turns out that the /Format:csv part was causing the problem and generating the error message:

Invalid XSL format (or) file name.

By Googling I found that this switch only works on en-US locale systems! Nice one Microsoft - not everyone in the world lives in the US! Still not fixed by a Windows 7 update!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Easy2Boot 1.61Beta1 available

v1.61Beta1
  • STRINGS.txt files updated.
  • Can now have .mnu files for Windows Install ISOs menu entries in Main menu which specify both the .ISO file AND the .XML file to use. The ISOs must go in the usual \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxx folders.
  • Updated grub4dos versions.
  • Menu Heading positions changed and HEADPOS now easier. Menu headings are now left-aligned instead of being centred. 
  • Help text Footer text no longer padded out by HPAD, so HBTM determnes it's absolute position in the menu.
  • \_ISO\docs\mythemes and \_ISO\docs\Templates files updated
  • \_ISO\Sample_MyE2B.cfg file updated (HEADPOS)
  • Bugfix - menu headings on submenus not always moved if HEADPOS used.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Add multiple WindowsToGo MBR+UEFI payloads to your E2B USB drive

If you want to UEFI-boot from a WindowsToGo .imgPTN file on Easy2Boot, the system partition needs to be FAT32 to support UEFI-booting.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Easy2Boot v1.60 now released

No problems reported in last two days, so I have released v1.60.
This version should be faster to boot to the Main menu on slower systems (especially if you make a new E2B drive from scratch).

Don't forget to use the new \UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd file to update your existing E2B USB drive (requires RoboCopy which is already included on Vista/7/8 systems), otherwise you will get multiple menu entries for the sub-folders!

Monday, 10 November 2014

E2B v1.60 Beta6 now available


  • New grub4dos (fixes minor issue of cursor left on screen when p for password is pressed)
  • wimboot file added