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 as Windows fails copy some of the protected files and folders.

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.


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.


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

  • 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
Unless anyone reports a problem, this version will be made the 'release' version 1.60 in a day or so.

(click Alternate Download Areas links on http://www.easy2boot.com/download/  for the download)

I have added a sample 'Boot from WIM file.mnu' file to the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files folder:

# Boot from an image inside a .WIM file (useful for self-contained WinPE - e.g. MSDaRT)
# extract files from a WinPE ISO to a folder on the E2B drive (do not place files in a \_ISO\XXX folder)
# set FOLDER value below - check location of boot.wim and other files are correct (else 0xc000000f error)
# Some files and folders may not be required and can be deleted

title WinPE boot from WIM\n Boot from a .wim file
kernel /%grub%/wimboot index=2
initrd @bcd=%FOLDER%/boot/bcd @boot.sdi=%FOLDER%/boot/boot.sdi @bootmgr=%FOLDER%/bootmgr @boot.wim=%FOLDER%/sources/boot.wim

New wimboot feature for experimental purposes:
This allows you to boot from any image inside a .wim file. You could, for instance, make a large .wim file containing lots of WinPE (MSDaRT ??) OS's and boot from any one of them by using a different index value.
Note that this cannot be used for lots of different Windows Installs because the install,wim file will not be found unless you ensure it is in the \sources folder on the E2B drive (or if using a E2B hard disk, it can be on a different partition).
If you wish, all the files could be placed in a single folder and the paths altered to match - e.g.:

title WinPE boot from WIM\n Boot from a .wim file
kernel /%grub%/wimboot index=2
initrd @bcd=%FOLDER%/bcd @boot.sdi=%FOLDER%/boot.sdi @bootmgr=%FOLDER%/bootmgr @boot.wim=%FOLDER%/boot.wim

Note: Don't be tempted to put the files in a \_ISO menu folder (e.g. \_ISO\WIN\MSDART) because E2B will enumerate all the extra files which will slow down the appearance of the menu a lot!

The new grub4dos also means we can access files inside an initrd file - e.g.
map /inirtd.gz (rd)
ls (rd) /
This may be useful for patching bytes in a linux file (e.g. script file) to modify the boot behaviour of an initrd file inside a .iso file without needing to unzip-patch-remake-rezip the initrd file and then re-make the ISO file.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Two new Introductory E2B videos uploaded

E2B 1.60Beta2 now uploaded. Includes an Update script that will automatically update your v1.5 E2B drives.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Easy2Boot 1.60 Beta 1/2/3/4

In an attempt to speed up file enumerations as E2B boots, I have modified E2B so that the number of .mnu files in the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder is reduced.

Easy2Boot_v1.60Beta1.zip is now available on the Alternate Download sites at the bottom of the Download page.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Use RoboCopy to update your E2B USB drive

I use RoboCopy (included in Windows Vista and later versions) to update all my E2B USB drives to the latest version.

I have a UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD file in the same folder as my new E2B files (after unzipping them).

To update any E2B USB drive with the new version, I just double-click the CMD file and enter the drive letter. It then copies the new files over but does not bother copying any unaltered files, resulting in a much faster update as only the files with a different size or timestamp are copied.

Only 1 file has been updated as all the others were already present and current,

My version excludes copying over all .zip files and the UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD file itself by using the /XF switch. Note that the /MT:1 parameter ensures only one execution thread is used (the robocopy default is 8) and this ensures that the files have the best chance of being contiguous (a multi-threaded copy tends to cause fragmentation of large files).

@echo off
color 1f
echo %~n0
echo Only new and changed files are copied.
set ask=%1
if "%ask%"=="" set /P ask=Enter Drive Letter to copy files to (e.g. E) : 
if "%ask%"=="" goto :EOF
REM exclude .zip files and this file
robocopy %~dp0 %ask%:\ /E /NFL /NDL /NJH /MT:1 /XF *.zip %~nx0

Friday, 31 October 2014

E2B v1.58 Released

  • Large exFAT drive issue fixed (debug off in LstFExt.g4b needed due to grub4dos bug),
  • .isopup fixed in QRUN.g4b
  • Small fix to allow $$main.mnu user file to load new splashimage for Main menu.
  • Reduce number of file accesses in \_ISO\e2b\grub\menu.lst code for faster boot up. 
  • Added support for multiple wallpaper backgrounds, even if FASTLOAD is used. 
  • Redundant environment variables tidied up. 
  • New grub4dos for exFAT (no Warning messages). 
  • \EFI (memtest86) folder removed (stopped some systems booting to grub4dos!).
  • New features, etc. added to the \_ISO\Sample_MyE2B.cfg file
  • Warns user if no BIOS system hard disk is found
Note that I have now removed the MemTest86 UEFI boot files so that you can no longer boot to MemTest from a FAT32 E2B drive directly. Instead you can download the ISO file from the PassMark MemTest86 website and convert it to a .imgPTN file using MakePartImage if you want a UEFI memory test feature.

If you are updating your FAT32 E2B USB drive, I would advise you to delete the \EFI folder from it, as this can prevent E2B from booting on some UEFI systems as I detailed in my previous blog here. If you have an NTFS E2B drive then the \EFI folder serves no purpose anyway as UEFI will not boot from an NTFS partition.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fujitsu LifeBook AH532 always boots to MemTest86 from an Easy2Boot USB drive!

Ali contacted me today about his Fujitsu LifeBook.
He had made an external E2B USB FAT32 160GB hard disk which booted to the E2B Main menu just fine under QEMU. However, when he tried it on his LifeBook, it booted from the E2B USB drive but ran MemTest86.

My first thought was that the BIOS was not set for CSM\Legacy BIOS mode. However, it was set correctly:

Advanced – Boot Configurations – Fast Boot : [Disabled] 
Advanced – Boot Configurations – CSM : [Enabled] 
Security – Secure Boot Configuration – Secure Boot Option : [Disabled]

When he pressed F12, a boot selection menu was displayed which listed his internal hard disk and the external USB hard disk. However, there was only one menu choice for the E2B drive and not two. The E2B USB menu entry did not mention UEFI or EFI but nevertheless still booted to the \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi MemTest86 file!

Just to see what would happen, I suggested that he deleted the \EFI folder from the E2B FAT32 partition.

When he did this, he still got the same boot menu with the same USB boot drive entry, but this time it booted to the E2B Main menu!

It seems that this Fujitsu LifeBook Firmware does not allow the user the choice of UEFI and non-UEFI booting, but always UEFI-boots if there is a suitable file present.

So, if your E2B USB drive is formatted as FAT32, you may need to delete the \EFI folder to prevent this problem from happening on some systems.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

RMPrepUSB v2.1.725 released

RMPrepUSB v2.1.725 is now available. It includes the new version of grub4dos grldr (20141027) which is now the same version used by E2B v1.57aBeta9.
I have also changed the RMPrepUSB - Install grub4dos code so that it always asks you if you want to copy the grldr file over (even if 'No user prompt' is ticked) and it also now warns you that it will overwrite the \grldr file if there was one already present on the target USB drive.

E2B v1.57aBeta9 is looking good so far. Hopefully, I can release it as 1.58 in a few days. Please try it and let me know if you find any problems.