Friday, 4 December 2020

agFM v1.66 released

Changes from v1.65 are:

  • F3 now also shows winre.wim Boot to Windows Recovery entries if a Recovery folder is present.
  • F10 hotkey will reload agFM without rebooting
  • Search hotkey is changed from Ctrl+Shift+F which did not work in MBR\Legacy mode to Ctrl+F
  • New Ctrl-F search function searches current level and one folder down only. User can search for any extension or use a hotkey. e.g. Ctrl+F P will list all .imgPTN* files in current directory and level below current directory.
  • F5 now uses grubfm built-in code (/boot/grubfm/f5.sh no longer used).
  • Bugfix for dd command where -c exceeds 63555.
  • Ability to use Ctrl+F as menu hotkey (but not all Ctrl+ letters can be used!).
  • The menuentry command now supports --help_msg option which can display help text in a themed menu (but is buggy, so I recommend you don't use it in your menus!).
  • The e2b.sh and map.sh files now use map -f to map as the first device when in efi mode.
  • Add_Ventoy.cmd changed to work with latest e2b for Ventoy 1.0.29.zip download.
  • Update_to_latest_Ventoy_version.cmd file will now automatically add 'Ventoy for Easy2Boot' to the USB drive. The current E2B version of 'Ventoy for E2B' will be downloaded from the E2B server.
  • Latest grubfm build (2020-12-01).
  • /e2b/loadfm file added. 
  • /ventoy/Sample Ventoy config files folder added (contains sample files which user can add to ptn1). Copy to \ventoy folder on ptn1 will allow you to boot agFM or E2B from the Ventoy menu
  • SAMPLE_slack theme fm.txt updated for Ctrl+F text display on menu.
  • SAMPLE_slack theme fm.txt now supports timeout countdown so it can be used for startup menu with F1-F6 icons and timeout counter
  • Improved SAMPLE_startup_menu.txt - now can have more than 10 entries and define a different icon and hotkey for each menu entry.
Now when a user runs Make_E2B.exe, they will be asked if they want to add agFM and Ventoy to partition 2. Both will be fetched from the E2B server. Currently Ventoy is the special 'Ventoy for Easy2Boot' v1.0.29 which is not blocked to run on an E2B USB drive.


Thursday, 3 December 2020

agFM v1.66Beta12 available (and how to MBR-boot the grubfm.iso from grub2)

agFM Beta12

agFM Beta10 adds a new F10 hotkey function (new hidden feature).

If you press F10 in a grubfm menu (does not work in the startup menu), then it will completely reload grub2.

You may find this useful if you run an ISO or some other payload file and grubfm loses the gfxmenu system and just displays a black-and-white text menu. If you then press F10 then the whole agFM boot file will be reloaded thus saving you having to reboot. Since some servers can take 5 minutes to reboot, you might find this useful.

The actual code is compiled within agFM (in global.sh), but if you are interested, you can add a menuentry to your own menu system as shown below:

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Latest agFM v1.66 Beta7 available (release candidate)

 Please test latest version 1.66 Beta7 as I hope to make it the new release version in a day or so.

See OneDrive - Latest Betas folder for the download.

Please don't just wait for it to be released before trying it. It is easy to test it by simply extracting the files to the 2nd partition. If you want to go back to the old v1.65 then simply click on \e2b\Update agFM\Download and update agFM_v2.cmd.

Changes from v1.65 are:

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Latest agFM v1.66Beta5 available

 Todays version in 'Latest Betas' will automatically download and add 'Ventoy for Easy2boot' when you double-click the \e2b\Update agFM\Update_to_latest_Ventoy_version.cmd file.

The current version is Ventoy v1.0.29 but is slightly modified to run on E2B.

See the Ventoy page on the E2B site for details and a suggested ventoy.json file...


Ptn1: \ventoy\ventoy.json

{

        "control_uefi": [

        { "VTOY_DEFAULT_MENU_MODE": "1" },

        { "VTOY_FILT_DOT_UNDERSCORE_FILE": "0" },

        { "VTOY_DEFAULT_SEARCH_ROOT": "/_ISO" },

        { "VTOY_MENU_TIMEOUT": "5" },

        { "VTOY_DEFAULT_IMAGE": "/_ISO/LINUX/ubuntu-18.10-desktop-amd64.iso" }

    ],

"control_legacy": [

        { "VTOY_DEFAULT_MENU_MODE": "1" },

        { "VTOY_FILT_DOT_UNDERSCORE_FILE": "0" },

        { "VTOY_DEFAULT_SEARCH_ROOT": "/_ISO" },

        { "VTOY_MENU_TIMEOUT": "10" },

        { "VTOY_DEFAULT_IMAGE": "/_ISO/LINUX/linuxmint-20-cinnamon-64bit.iso" }

    ]

}



Black Friday is still on! 25% discount on Kon-Boot, cheap Samsung SSDs and more...

If you often need to gain access to a customers Windows account (local or online account) or MAC OS account but don't know the account password, then Kon-Boot is the quickest and simplest way to gain access (MBR or UEFI).

Today you can get 25% off KonBoot by using this link,

Kon-Boot can now work on larger USB drives as well as small USB Flash drives, so you can install Kon-Boot onto any USB drive and then add E2B to the same drive. More details here.

P.S. Black Friday Samsung 860 500GB SSD #ad on offer at Amazon for 47% off (over 60% off 2TB version!).  If your laptop does not have an SSD hard drive, this will be the best saving you've ever made as you won't have to buy a new laptop for another few years at least! Why not give them as Christmas present and help your family upgrade their own laptops over the Christmas holidays?


Hurry! 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro (#ad) USB 3 Flash drive for only £30 !!! One of the fastest flash drives you can get - ideal for E2B!

Note: This is the superfast PRO version, not the slow, budget GO version (which is not recommended!).

Check out the SD card discounts too...

Friday, 27 November 2020

Ventoy for Easy2Boot v1.0.29

I have updated the test version of Ventoy v1.0.29 for E2B and also I added the core.img into the .zip file itself.

This now makes it easier to add Ventoy to an E2B USB drive.

Latest Betas are here as usual.

  1. Update to latest agFM E2B UEFI File manager v1.66Beta4 (extract contents onto partition 2) (note that there was a bug in Beta3!)
  2. Download the latest e2b_ventoy-1.0.29-windows.zip file
  3. Drag-and-drop the new e2b_ventoy-1.0.29-windows.zip onto the Ptn2:\e2b\Update agFM\Add_Ventoy.cmd file
The new Add_Ventoy.cmd will automatically update/add Ventoy to partition 2 and add the correct core.img file.


I have also added and updated the compile instructions for Ventoy.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

How to patch and recompile Ventoy

I do not intend to continually patch and recompile Ventoy every few days so that it can be added to E2B, however if you want to know how I made my own version, I have written up some notes here.

My knowledge of C is limited and I am not very experienced with Linux, so please correct me if any of the instructions are wrong or maybe inaccurate!

I have also slightly modified the wallpaper in my new version of Ventoy_1.0.29_windows.zip now to make it obvious that it is not the official Ventoy version - can you tell?



Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Ventoy 1.0.29 for E2B available

 I have recompiled Ventoy 1.0.29 so that it runs on E2B.

You can obtain the patched version from here.

Drag-and-drop the zip file onto the \e2b\Update e2b\Add_Ventoy.cmd file.

After installing it using that .cmd file, you will need to download the v1.0.29 patched version of core.img from here and overwrite the \ventoy\core.img file with this new version - otherwise MBR-booting will be blocked.

I have not changed its appearance, so please don't report any problems to the Ventoy forum unless you can reproduce the same issue on a genuine Ventoy USB drive!

The MBR version appears to say 'Unofficial Ventoy' but the UEFI version does not display that text message.



This version is temporary and for Beta testing only. I do not intend to maintain a forked version of Ventoy for E2B.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Latest Ventoy v1.0.28 will not work with E2B!

 LongPanda (the developer of Ventoy) has changed Ventoy so that it will only work on MBR-partitioned disks if that disk was prepared using the official Ventoy tools. The second partition must be exactly 65536  sectors long now.

Recently, I received some special error reports, which finally proved to be the cause of the non-standard Ventoy environment. Especially use Ventoy in a single partition environment.
Although Ventoy displays Unofficial's label information, users will not care and will still think it is a Ventoy problem. Ventoy has been an overall design from the beginning, and has not considered integration into other bootloader or partition environments. Ventoy's verification and subsequent development of new features will not consider this non-standard usage. Therefore, I decided to prohibit the use of Ventoy in a non-standard environment and no longer accept requests for deregulation. Of course, this is just the default behavior of Ventoy. Ventoy is still 100% open source. If you want to apply Ventoy in your own environment, you can fork a branch and modify the source code implementation.

 

This means that v1.0.28 (and all future versions?) will not run from an E2B drive.

If you would like to be able to continue to add Ventoy to E2B, please feel free to contact LongPanda and request that he changes his mind!

See here for more details of this recent change.

For now you need to use 1.0.27 (see here for details).

For the changes in Ventoy which check the partitions for validity - see the new code here (starting line 509).

If you wish, you can run the newer versions of Ventoy using MBR-booting only by using an older version of core.img, however UEFI-booting to Ventoy will still be blocked.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

v2.06A released

The old v2.06 Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd had a typo in the URL to get the LatestVersion.txt file from the server. This caused a 3-5 second delay and the latest version was not displayed. v2.06A fixes this issue. Since it is a minor issue, this version is still called 2.06.


MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE should now be v4.40 in E2B 2.06A.


Monday, 9 November 2020

Reading my way through 'Lockdown' (with Tubular Bells)

Well, the UK is in Covid Lockdown for a month so I am reading lots of autobiographies which I buy second-hand from Amazon. I am interested in reading about the life of entrepreneurs (e.g. some of the stars in 'Dragons Den', Alan Sugar, etc.), scientists (e.g. Richard Feynman) and engineers (e.g. 'Woz') - amongst many others. 

If I had my way, all high-schools should have these types of books on the English Lit. curriculum. They are so inspiring and are much more valuable to any young person than 'Catcher in the Rye' or Shakespeare ever could be. They teach you about real life, proper work ethics and how to take calculated chances when necessary. If you know anyone who is stuck in a 9-5 job and is always moaning about it - then why not give them a good autobiography for Xmas!

It has always been my philosophy in life to do my very best in any job I find myself in. I can remember working as a fruit picker at the age of 16 one summer (piecework!) and cycling 3 miles to the orchards at 6.30am each morning, working all day and cycling home completely exhausted at 6 pm, so tired I could hardly move - BUT I picked just as many apples\pears\plums as the 'professional' itinerant workers did and after a few weeks I was promoted to a group 'supervisor'. 

I was talking to a young boy the other day and he was complaining about having to do very menial tasks around the office where he had just started a temporary job. He had the attitude that it was beneath him - he was not doing a very thorough job and so was getting moaned at by his boss. I pointed out that if HE was an employer and he had one employee like him and another employee that always did the same job perfectly (or even improved on the end result), which one would he pick to promote? Why would he promote someone who could not even do simple tasks well? Equally, if one of his staff constantly showed that they had good organisational skills, clever ideas, always on time, polite, well presented, worked late and never complained - wouldn't he feel that he had to promote them or else risk losing a valuable asset?

At the moment, I am half-way through Richard Branson's very large autobiography 'Losing my virginity' (#Amazon ad link) and am very much enjoying it, having lived through those times (the late 60s onwards) as a teenager/young man. The person who said 'If you can remember the ’60s, you really weren’t there' was probably right - especially if you were a student! I am certainly surprised Richard Branson can remember it all after reading about his recreational experiences in the book (or perhaps he made a few of the things up just to fill in the gaps!).

Richard Branson was apparently hopeless at school and severely dyslexic (especially with maths). He hardly had two O-levels to rub together but he worked hard, told lots of (small) lies to get started in business, took calculated risks and looked after his staff as best he could.

I am just at the part in his autobiography where Branson states that the initial instrument list that Mike Oldfield requested for recording his album (now known as 'Tubular Bells'), actually included tubular bells. However, in the YT video (below), Mike Oldfield implies that their inclusion was serendipitous - he happened to see them being removed from Virgin's Manor recording studio by the previous band and spontaneously asked for them to be taken back inside because he could probably make use of them.. but maybe your take is different...


Our USA cousins may only recognise Tubular Bells as the music that was in 'The Exorcist', but in my day you had to immediately go out and buy the Tubular Bells LP within a week of it's release or you just weren't cool! Every teenager had the Tubular Bells LP cover in his bedroom.

Of course, after watching this YT video, it has now prompted me to listen to the whole Tubular Bells LP again - and it's still great!

P.S. If you can recommend any good autobiographies - please let me know.

E2B v2.06 now available

No major bugfixes, mainly just some housekeeping. 

v2.06 - changes from E2B v2.05

  • wget.exe version updated
  • Update Add_Ventoy.cmd, MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd, UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd (if more than one E2B drive is connected, the agFM files could be added to the wrong drive partition 2). Change download URLs.
  • Update UtilMan password .cmd files to also change magnify.exe and use new account name of ADMIN9. 
  • Update Add_Ventoy.cmd to warn if core.img is not present.
  • Update memtest86 .imgptn23 to v8.4
  • Add GetKeyCode.mnu sample menu (for finding grub4dos key codes to use in the Guest menu .mnu files)
  • SDI_CHOCO .cmd files updated (bugfix  BIT64 case-sensitivity).
  • New 'candle' default background for E2B

Downloads are here and they will also be available from the main FossHub site in a few days. Please let me know if you find a problem.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

New YT video from Low Dough Tech

 A year ago Low Dough Tech brought out a YT video on E2B which got some amazing view stats (I am not jealous - honest!).


He has also recently released a new one with a quick demo of UEFI-booting...



Sunday, 1 November 2020

Bug in agFM v1.64 - please update to v1.65

Arfan noticed that the F3 Boot Menu was not working properly in agFM v1.64. Please use the latest v1.65 to fix it. You can update by running the update agFM .cmd file in the \e2b folder on partition 2 as usual.


Saturday, 31 October 2020

Boot to almost anything using an IODD Mini SSD device emulator

In a recent E2B chat session, a user wanted to use an E2B USB drive to contain lots of special disk images. These images contained multiple partitions. Some of these images used multiple GPT partitions. For instance multiple Mac OS X installers, full multiple-partition Windows To Go with BitLocker, full Linux OS with swap and encrypted data partitions.etc.

Unfortunately, such a scenario is not feasible when using Easy2Boot (at least not easily!) - however, the user did own an IODD DVD emulator, so I suggested using it's VHD feature.

He did not realise that it could be used in this way!

The IODD Mini

The IODD Mini #ad  SSD CD\DVD drive emulator is a solid-state version of the IODD 2531 and 2541 (see previous blog article here).
You can see from the picture below that it is approx 9cm x 4cm in size and will easily fit in a pocket.


As you may know, these Zalman and IODD 'DVD' emulators can load ISO files and then the USB device will appear as a USB DVD drive.

They can also load a VHD file and then it will appear to a computer as a 'USB disk' - so you can boot to a VHD containing a fully install Windows OS.

However, he did not realise that you could simply create an 'empty' VHD and then select that on his IODD device - thus the USB drive will appear as an unformatted USB drive.

He can then partition and format it as he wishes, install an OS to the USB 'drive', etc.

Thus it is possible for his IODD to contain multiple disk images of different multiple-partition Windows OS's, Linux OS's with swap partitions, Mac OS X, Mac Installer, Hackintosh Installers, DOS Flash images, etc. and they can be MBR or GPT partitions.

He can even mount more than one VHD as a disk device, so the second VHD could contain common programs, drivers, data, etc. which he can easily access after booting from the first VHD. You can even boot from one VHD and install to another VHD.

The IODD Mini VHD file can be configured to appear as a Removable 'Flash' drive or a 'Fixed Disk' HDD - just use either a .RMD extension or a .VHD file extension. If required, you can also write-protect the virtual disk too.

agFM v1.64 released


agFM v1.64 2020-10-31
  • Update Passmark's memtest86 EFI files to v8.4
  • grubfm MBR bugfix for some WinPE .wim files not booting using agFM - e.g. DLCBoot 2019 ISO.
Thanks to Arfan for reporting the DLC MBR-boot bug and to developer a1ive for fixing it.


Note: This version has a bug in the F3 Boot menu - please use a later version!

eBooks

You can get free updates by using the email link that was sent to you when you purchased the eBook.

Here are the current versions.
  • eBook #1 11/09/2020  Getting started with Easy2Boot_v2.18.pdf
  • eBook #2 29/10/2020  How to make a UEFI multi-boot Easy2Boot USB drive v1.01.pdf
  • eBook #3 21/10/2020  How to install Microsoft Windows using Easy2Boot_v1.7.pdf
  • eBook #4 08/10/2020  UEFI-multiboot using the a1ive grub2 File Manager_v1.16.pdf
  • 22/07/2020 Getting started with grub4dos_v1.01.pdf

Ventoy

Ventoy has been updated recently and is currently at version v1.0.26.
You can add Ventoy using the .cmd script in the \e2b folder on the agFM partition of your E2B USB drive.

Friday, 16 October 2020

'Hack into Windows' YouTube video uploaded

 

This video demonstrates how to use the UtilMan XML files to create a new ADMIN account or reset an offline account password.

It should work even if your PC contains multiple Windows installations.

It speeds up and semi-automates the process so that you do not have to type multiple Windows commands.

The latest beta version of E2B v2.06c has the latest version of the .cmd scripts which now also patches the Magnify.exe file.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Amazon Prime deals end today!

 In case you missed it, today is the last day of the Amazon Prime sale.

If you read my earlier blog posts, you will know that I have recently subscribed to Readly and cancelled all my paper magazine subscriptions. Yesterday, I noticed that the Amazon Fire HD's are now on sale with massive reductions, so I just received my new Fire HD 10 (#ad) this morning - installed Google Play and Chrome - and logged into Readly.com. Wow! Very nice display and it works as an Amazon Echo Show too - bargain!.

agFM v1.63 released

 agFM v1.63 just has a very small change to the \boot\grubfm\SAMPLE_startup_menu.txt example menu file. The small change will cause all .pf2 font files that are present in your theme folder to be automatically loaded.

#SET STYLE (change section below if required)
#mymenu=0   standard agFM theme
#mymenu=1   using $mytheme as theme   (rename folder \boot\grubfm\themes\sample_slack to slack) NO SPACES - DO NOT USE sample_slack folder as it will be changed on update
#mymenu=2   User wallpaper, no theme  (change USER MENU CONFIG section below)
#mymenu=3   Text mode - most compatible and quickest - use if keyboard issues (English only) - see section 3 below
set mymenu=0
#if mymenu=1 then mytheme specifies the theme folder to be used
set mytheme="slack"

######## MYMENU=1 - USERS GRUB2 THEME ########
if [ "${mymenu}" = "1" ] ; then
# Load fonts - if your theme uses special fonts (not unicode) this loads ALL font files
# The .pf2 font files should be inside the theme folder
for font in (${user})/boot/grubfm/themes/${mytheme}/*.pf2; do loadfont ${font} ; done
# You can use the lsfonts command to list the currently loaded fonts

# Rename \boot\grubfm\themes\sample_slack folder to slack then edit background.png to add your own wallpaper
# uncomment 'menu_pixmap_style' in each .txt file to add a grey box behind the menu text
export theme_std="(${user})/boot/grubfm/themes/${mytheme}/theme.txt";
export theme_fm="(${user})/boot/grubfm/themes/${mytheme}/fm.txt";
export theme_info="(${user})/boot/grubfm/themes/${mytheme}/info.txt";
export theme_help="(${user})/boot/grubfm/themes/${mytheme}/help.txt";
export theme=$theme_std
# themes must not contain spaces
if ! [ -f "$theme" ] ; then echo "ERROR: Can't find $theme" ; read ; fi
fi
####################################

This means that if you use your own grub2 theme and it contains .pf2 font files, then they will be automatically loaded.

e.g.

set mymenu=1
set mytheme="seven14Large"

seven14Large theme


Friday, 9 October 2020

Tip: How to repair a Windows 8/10 system that won't boot without needing any another copy of Windows or WinPE

Although it is always better to try to repair a Windows OS by booting from the original Windows ISO, it is not always present on your E2B USB drive!

This tip works for most Windows 8 or Windows 10 systems. It allows you to repair the OS without needing to have any ISO or WinPE type payload file on the E2B drive and it will always use the correct matching version of WinRE to repair or access the original OS installation - even if you don't actually know what OS version was installed.

It relies on the fact that most Windows 8/10 systems will already contain a \Recovery folder on the internal hard disk containing a winre.wim file. It could be contained within a separate Recovery partition or it could be in the main NTFS boot partition.

This method allows you to boot to the Recovery console and from there you can use the various repair/troubleshooting repair features or drop to the command shell and type in your own commands.

Since E2B\agFM\Ventoy can boot from .wim files, we can directly boot from the winre.wim file like this...

Thursday, 8 October 2020

KonBoot v3.6 is now available

 KonBoot v3.6 is now the latest version and has a few bugfixes, etc.

Kon-Boot is currently the only solution worldwide we are aware of that can bypass Windows 10 online passwords!

 Main updates:

  • Updates for macOS Catalina 10.15.7 and macOS Big Sur 10.16 beta

  • Updates for Windows 10

  • Installer updates


KonBoot can now be added to your E2B USB drive but you must purchase a licence.

The more expensive version is about the only software that allows you to get past a Windows Online account on a Windows 10 system.

Of course, a free alternative to bypass a Windows 10 online account login (by creating a new account) can be done by booting to a Windows 10 ISO from Easy2Boot (UEFI or MBR) and choosing the Utilman - Hack Windows.xml XML file. 
For more instructions, see the UtilMan E2B web page.

Hack into a Windows 8/10 online account - just type '2'!
Win 8 does not require a Safe Mode boot (but Win10 does!).


agFM v1.62 released

 agFM v1.62 has some bug fixes, language improvements and some new features and changes. The main change is that the first-letter auto-jump feature now works in grubfm as well as the startup menu.

The default agFM menu (\boot\grubfm\startup_default.cfg) now sets the three grub2 variables:

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Readly is free for 2 months (offer ends this month)

This is just a heads up about the end of the Readly special offer. Readly is the online magazine service which I have been enjoying now for over a month. I have now cancelled my three paper magazine subscriptions as I now just use Readly to read all my magazines. This saves me about £9 a month plus I get to read dozens of the other mags that I am interested in!

The Readly special offer of 2 months free ends October 31st.





You can read all these and 100's more!
Photography, cars, games, fashion, DIY, hobbies, finance, etc. it's all there!

Here are a few of my reasons:

  1. Save money - OK, I admit it, my initial reason was that it was cheaper. If your household subscribes to lots of mags, you can save a small fortune!
  2. If I don't like it, I have nothing to lose - it's free for 2 months and I can always cancel the subscription at any time.
  3. I reckon I only actually read 50% of the pages anyway.
  4. I never re-read or go back to the old mags - every so often I throw them out, so why do I need them in paper format? I can always download a copy now anyway.
  5. Save the forests - the pages are useless as toilet paper anyway!
  6. Unlimited! I can now read 100's of magazines for free
  7. Browse all mags
  8. Free daily and weekend newspapers
  9. Access to all back-copies
  10. Searchable - I can search all mags for keywords instantly
  11. I don't have to wait for the post to arrive (which is sometimes a day or two late) - the latest issue is available very quickly on Readly.
  12. I get an email whenever a new issue comes out.
P.S. I bought an Amazon Fire HD 10" (#ad). It is cheap and ideal for reading the mags/newspapers on. I installed Google Play store and then the Readly app.

Monday, 5 October 2020

agFM v1.61 released (improves UEFI boot support when using .imgPTN23 files)

Taylor contacted me yesterday to ask how to switch back the original E2B partition after successfully managing to UEFI64-boot and switch in a new WinPE .imgPTN23 file.

My answer was to use the BIOS Boot menu to boot to the agFM Partition 2 and then pick the 'Restore E2B partitions' menu option from the agFM menu...


However, it seems the reason that Taylor was having problems, was that his/her Thinkpad T470s BIOS was only listing the first WinPE Partition 1 in the Boot Menu - the 2nd agFM partition was not listed in the boot menu!

No USB UEFI Ptn2 option!
No UEFI Boot option listed for Partition 2!

It seems that the UEFI BIOS only listed the first partition that it found that has a readable (usually FAT) partition and that contains a valid UEFI boot file - in this case \EFI\BOOT\BOOTX64.EFI in the WinPE Partition 1.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

E2B and agFM updates are broken!

 Yesterday I had some problems with Easy2Boot.com. My host WebNode has now finally admitted that they have made some changes to the server without telling me!

This had the affect that you may have got error pages such as 'Too many redirects' when accessing some pages on the www.easy2boot.com website yesterday. This should now be fixed.

However, the other problem is that the download URLs on the E2B site have now all been changed by WebNode and thus broken. This means that the .cmd scripts which used wget.exe to fetch the latest versions are now all broken! Grrrr...

So the current Easy2Boot v2.05 version will no longer download agFM from the E2B host servers when you ask it to add agFM to partition 2! Also the various update scripts in agFM are all broken now and so a new version of agFM (v1.60) has just been updated and released.

If you are having problems updating E2B, please download the latest versions from the Alternate Download site. Extract the files to an empty folder and run the UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD script.

If you get stuck, you can always just extract the E2B files in the E2B zip file straight onto your E2B partition, and extract the agFM .zip file straight onto your agFM partition 2.

Please let me know if you have any issues. I will release E2B v2.06 in the next few days.

2020-10-02: The old download URLs now seem to be working again!



Monday, 28 September 2020

Ventoy 1.0.22 is released (no more 10-sec wait!)

 'longpanda' has released the latest version of Ventoy and the 10-second delay has now been removed.

You can update to this new version by downloading the new Ventoy-1.0.22-Windows.zip file and drag-and-drop it onto the \e2b\Update agFM\Add_Ventoy.cmd file on partition 2 (or if you have the latest agFM beta, simply click on the Update_to_latest_Ventoy_version.cmd file).


Tuesday, 22 September 2020

agFM v1.60a BETA now available

This BETA version has some more minor grub\grubfm bugfixes.

It also allows us to use the auto-jump feature (as used in E2B grub4dos menu). You hit a letter key and the next menu entry beginning with that letter is highlighted on the menu.

# disable the grub2 menu debug hotkeys c and e (agFM v1.59+)
# Tip: To enable using a special hotkey - see hiddenentry "[TAB] ENABLE GRUB2 HOTKEYS" example at bottom of this file
#export grub_disable_console=1
#export grub_disable_edit=1
# enable first-letter auto-jump hotkey feature in this menu only (does not work in grubFM) - console and edit hotkey must be disabled.
#export grub_enable_menu_jump=1

The first two settings will propagate to grubfm when it loads, however the menu_jump setting is not supported by the grubfm menu system, so auto-jump only works in your initial startup_menu.txt menu file.

Download v1.60a BETA from here

I hope the developer, a1ive, will also add the jump_menu feature into grubfm - but first the F search hotkey which is already used to search the USB drive for certain files types, will need to be re-assigned to a non-letter hotkey, e.g. F7/F8/F9/F10.

F - grubfm Search hotkey

P.S. I have also added an experimental \e2b\Update agFM\Update_to_latest_Ventoy_version.cmd script - this will automatically find the latest version of Ventoy, download it and add it to your E2B drive. This saves having to find the latest version yourself and then drag-and-drop the zip file onto the Add_Ventoy.cmd batch file.

Friday, 18 September 2020

agFM v1.59 available with 'c' and 'e' grub2 menu hotkey disable feature

 agFM v1.59 has a few small bugfixes which a1ive has added into grub and grubfm.

This version also allows you to disable the grub2 menu hotkeys c and e to prevent the user from accidentally pressing the c or e key and dropping into the console or the menu edit screen.

Since it is often useful to have a 'secret' key which will enable the grub2 hotkeys again, the SAMPLE_startup_menu.txt file also contains a hiddenentry example which allows you to press the TAB key if you want to enable the grub2 hotkeys, but you must press TAB quickly as soon as the initial menu with timeout is displayed - TAB won't work once the agFM File Manager is loaded,

Here are the entries in the SAMPLE_startup_menu.txt file which you can now add into your startup_menu.txt file if you have one in ptn2:\boot\grubfm (uncomment the lines in red):

# disable the grub2 menu debug hotkeys c and e (agFM v1.59+)
# Tip: To enable using a special hotkey - see hiddenentry "[TAB] ENABLE GRUB2 HOTKEYS" example at bottom of this file
#export grub_disable_console=1
#export grub_disable_edit=1



#hiddenentry "[TAB] ENABLE GRUB2 HOTKEYS" --hotkey tab {
# unset grub_disable_console
# unset grub_disable_edit
#}

Download v1.59 from here

Monday, 14 September 2020

agFM v1.58 released + new Ventoy

There was a bug in agFM v1.57 which caused the E2B Ventoy boot option to not be shown in the E2B Main Menu.

Also, wget was not downloading the core.img file correctly.

This version has a newer version of wget.exe and a revised \e2b\Add_Ventoy.cmd file.

To update agFM go to Partition 2 \e2b\Update agFM folder and run Download and update agFM_v2.cmd

After you update to agFM v1.57, you can drag-and-drop any new version of the Ventoy ZIP file onto the \e2b\Update agFM\Add_Ventoy.cmd file and you should have working E2B Main Menu and agFM F5 options to launch Ventoy from UEFI64 booting.

agFM will thus allow you to Secure UEFI64-boot to Ventoy without needing to disable Secure Boot or use Mok Manager (which does not work on many systems). Ventoy does not require contiguous files and is quicker when loading and running ISOs.


Ventoy 1.0.21 released

Ventoy v1.0.21 has just been released (adds beta support for VHDs) and it now warns the user if it is not running from an 'official' Ventoy USB drive!


You now have to wait 10 seconds.

The developer, longpanda, has said he will change this in the next version as he will check that the partitions conform to the correct 'Ventoy' layout and then will maybe just show the 'UNOFFICIAL' word on the screen just to signify that if you do find a problem with Ventoy, you should test it again using an 'official' Ventoy USB drive before reporting the issue.

So hopefully this delay will be removed in the next version of Ventoy. Meanwhile, if you don't want this delay, use Ventoy 1.0.20.

Friday, 11 September 2020

'eBook #1 - Getting started with Easy2Boot' - v2.18 is now available

 I have made some minor revisions to eBook #1.

If you have already purchased it, you can get the new version by using the download link that was emailed to you previously.

If you are interested in agFM and UEFI-booting, the eBook #4 has also been recently updated to v1.15.

E2B eBooks are listed here.

P.S. Subscribe to get the latest news.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

E2B v2.05 and agFM v1.57 released

 

To update, click the Make_E2B.exe - Update E2B button.
Then check that you have E2B 2.05 and agFM 1.57 by MBR and UEFI-booting.

To add Ventoy, download the latest version of Ventoy .ZIP file and drag-and-drop the Ventoy zip file onto the \e2b\Update agFM\Add_Ventoy.cmd file on the 2nd agFM partition.

Ventoy does not require the ISO files to be contiguous.

# Change Logs

E2B 2.05 2020-09-09
  1. Change sort code so E2B menu system can now work on systems with just 64MB RAM.
  2. Bugfix in Make_E2B.exe for Chinese language not working
  3. Enhancement - alphabetically sort files in LstFExt.g4b - so now \_ISO\WINDOWS\XP ISO files are sorted alphabetically.
  4. Add_Ventoy.cmd added - \_ISO\docs\MAKE_E2B-USB_DRIVE\Add_Ventoy.cmd can be used with Ventoy.xx.xx.xx.zip to add or update Ventoy onto 2nd agFM Partition.
  5. Windows Install menu will display 'HDD1=GPT' if it detects that the first internal hard disk has GPT partitions.
agFM v1.57 2020-09-09
  1. Bugfix for MBR\Legacy install of Windows Setup not allowing Internal hard disk to be selected
  2. Update agFM version
  3. Ventoy support - F5 now will boot to Ventoy if present on Partition 2
  4. \e2b\Update agFM\Add_Ventoy.cmd added (drag and drop Ventoy zip file onto Add_Ventoy.cmd to add Ventoy MBR+UEFI64).

Note: I have also updated eBook #4 and eBook #1. You can obtain the updates by using the link in the confirmation that was email sent to you by Payhip when you first purchased it.

P.S. Don't forget to subscribe to this blog for more news!

Saturday, 5 September 2020

E2B v2.05d Beta now includes Add_Ventoy.cmd batch file

E2B v2.05d Beta now includes \_ISO\docs\Make_E2B_USB_Drive\Add_Ventoy.cmd

Just download the latest Ventoy .zip file and drop the Ventoy .zip file onto the Add_Ventoy.cmd file on your E2B USB drive (Windows 10 only).


Let me know if you see any see issues.

P.S. agFM v1.57Beta3 also includes the Add_Ventoy.cmd file in the \e2b\Update agFM folder. This means that Windows 7/8 users can first switch to the 2nd partition (using Switch_E2B.exe - Access partition 2 on Removable drive button) and then drag-and-drop the downloaded Ventoy .zip file onto the Add_Ventoy.cmd file. Don't forget to switch back partitions 1 and 2 afterwards!


Friday, 4 September 2020

Get ready for a second Corona wave!


Will there be a second wave? 

In the UK and probably many other countries, the schools, colleges and universities are starting to open again. Also we are being asked to go back into our offices and shops. However, if we are not careful, this could lead to the start of a second wave of the epidemic.

It has been estimated that over 40% of grandparents are 'carers' for their grandchildren. Since Corona has a more severe effect on older people and those with health problems, it makes sense to continue to avoid contact and close proximity to ALL other people (even those in the same household). The grandparents should try to keep their distance from the kids (somehow!).

The larger the 'dose' - the more severe the symptoms? 

agFM v1.57 Beta2 with full F5 VENTOY support

I have now added a patch into agFM and recompiled it since a1ive has not yet made the change to the f5.sh file in the github master.

The F5 key will now boot to Ventoy once you update partition 2 with the new v1.57Beta2 version.

Follow the previous blog article for instructions on how to add Ventoy to your E2B USB drive.


Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Here are three useful FREE text tools I use every day

Here are my three favourite utilities for text file maintenance.

If you work with scripts, batch files, source code, etc. you probably use them already but I will list them here just in case...

SwiftSearch

Searches for files on all NTFS drives in seconds! Can use multiple wildcards in the search string e.g. *win*.iso or abd*def.j*.

Note: Does not work on exFAT, FAT32 or other non-NTFS file systems - but it is super fast!

Tip: If you add a drive (e.g. NTFS USB drive or change a drives contents), then you must press F5 to reload the NTFS filesystem indexes before searching again.

WinMerge

Compare two files or two folders. Side-by-side view lets you easily copy over portions of a file with just a click. This makes it very easy to compare two versions and make changes.

FNR

Find and Replace - find any string in all matching files and can then replace all occurrences with a different string in all those files.

This is useful when I want to find out which files contain a particular string. I can then double-click to load up the file or I can replace the string with a different string throughout all files.

agFM v1.57 Beta1 with VENTOY support

 These new versions are experimental and they allow you to add any Ventoy release to your E2B+AgFM USB drive.

Background

a1ive's latest grubfm allows the F5 function key to boot Ventoy or AIOBOOT from a separate partition which contains those files. However, it is not very useful as we cannot use the same FAT32 partition that E2B+agFM already uses and Ventoy requires a particular fixed partition order!

If Ventoy is detected, then pressing F5 will boot from efi/boot/bootx64.efi on the Ventoy partition or MBR\Legacy boot from the grub2 boot sector (which is actually grub4dos on an E2B drive). The Ventoy files cannot therefore be on the same FAT32 partition as the agFM files.

AIOBOOT can be present on any partition and F5 will boot from the /efi/boot/bootx64.efi file or the /AIO/grub/i386-pc/core.img file (for MBR\Legacy booting). The AIOBOOT files cannot therefore be on the same FAT32 partition as the agFM files.

So the current Ventoy\AIOBOOT F5 function is not suitable for E2B+agFM!


New Betas

Thursday, 6 August 2020

5000+ free magazines

Just signed up to Readly (first month free - cancel if you don't like it!). It's the Spotify of mags! Not only can I view 1000s of mags for free, but I have access to back copies and I can search ALL of the mags for any mention of a key word or phrase (such as "easy2boot") and see all the pages which mention E2B in all mags! I am seriously considering cancelling all my current paper mag subscriptions! This is cheaper, faster and gives me access to way more mags. Only problem is that I might have to buy an iPad or Chromebook now...

P.S. I bought an Amazon Fire HD 10" (#ad). It is cheap and ideal for reading the mags/newspapers on. I installed Google Play store and then the Readly app.


Monday, 3 August 2020

agFM v1.56 now available

Anwar has discovered a bug where agFM (MBR grub2 only) can report a contiguous file as being non-contiguous.

agFM v1.56 - changes from v1.55 are...
  1. SAMPLE_startup_menu.txt revised - now only shows 'Restore E2B Partitions' menu entry when the backup partition is a valid MBR.
  2. Bugfix in agFM MBR code (grubfm.iso) to fix issue of some files reported as not contiguous (thanks to Anwar for reporting bug).
  3. Latest agFM build with various bug-fixes.
  4. Variable 'hires' (set hires=1) can now be set in your menu so that WinPE runs at highest screen resolution available (e.g. set in in startup_menu.txt). Setting this may cause virtual machines to default to their highest resolution but it should be OK to set the hires variable when booting from real systems.
  5. The wimboot code has changed - do not specify bcd, boot.sdi or bootmgr files in wimboot command list as they are not needed. MBR\Legacy also uses the wimboot command now.
  6. Ventoy modules have been removed by a1ive from agFM..
The new v1.56 version of E2B agFM can be found here. Just unzip the file directly onto the second FAT32 partition to update from v1.55.

The Update download is still 1.55 and will be updated in a few days to 1.56.

Friday, 31 July 2020

UEFI Secure Boot is in chaos!

As you may be aware, the agFM grub2 boot files which are added to the second FAT32 partition when you make an Easy2Boot v2 USB drive uses a Kaspersky shim to load the a1ive grub2 kernel.

Because the Kaspersky shim is signed, it means  that it can load the grub2 kernel which can then effectively disable Secure Boot!

This allows us to boot an insecure grub2 kernel and we can do pretty much anything we like to the system, including booting to non-secure OS's!

This loophole was reported to Microsoft last year (if not before!) and Microsoft tried to fix it using a Windows Update KB which was rolled out to all Windows 10 systems earlier this year. The 'hotfix' added an entry into the UEFI firmware dbx 'blacklist' of the BIOS. Thus the signed Kaspersky shim file was blacklisted by the UEFI BIOS.

Unfortunately, the KB hotfix caused problems with many systems because the same signed Kaspersky shim was used by some OEMs as standard - so these systems suddenly refused to Secure UEFI-boot after the Microsoft Update was applied!

So Microsoft quickly reversed the KB Kaspersky hotfix part in the next hotfix removed the blacklist dbx entry from the UEFI BIOS again. So - assuming you could get your system to non-secure boot by disabling Secure Boot in the BIOS, you could do a Windows Update and then re-enable Secure Boot again. Of course, your system would still be vulnerable though.

Since then it seems Microsoft, Linux developers and grub2 developers have actually bothered to look at and analyse the shims and grub2 code which they are getting signed and have found a large number of other vulnerabilities too!  To me this raises a number of questions about the Microsoft Secure Boot signing process:
  1. What did Microsoft actually do when they signed Secure Boot files - just accept a huge amount of $$$ and sign any old boot file without bothering to fully analyse it?
  2. Why does everyone insist that Open Source code is so desirable when there has been gaping security holes in grub2 for years?
A recent number of these vulnerabilities have now been fixed in grub2, but updating systems is not going to be easy! We cannot simply blacklist all current and older versions of grub2 by adding entries to the UEFI dbx blacklist. This would prevent any OS on older drives, backups, old install media, USB drives, PXE servers, etc. from Secure Booting because they would still contain the old, blacklisted, grub2 signed UEFI boot files. See the 'mitigation' section of this article for more details.

For the complete picture, read the whole article here.

Note also that very new linux/grub2 OS's (install ISOs and updates) may have these new 'fixes' added and it may prevent them from UEFI Secure booting and in some cases even non-Secure UEFI booting then fails!...

July 30 Important Update

Some of the Linux distribution updates appear to be leading to unsuccessful reboots. The developers and distribution maintainers are working to provide new updates. The maintainers are recommending to avoid installing updates for grub2, shim, and other bootloader-related applications until new packages are available. Some of the issues to watch are listed below:


Monday, 20 July 2020

Easy2Boot eBooks (PDFs) are now all $5

The E2B eBooks are now all reduced to only $5 each again. If you have not yet read all of them then now is your chance!



  • E2B #1: How to make a multiboot USB drive using Easy2Boot
  • E2B #2: How to install Microsoft Windows using Easy2Boot
  • E2B #3: How to make a UEFI multi-boot Easy2Boot USB drive
  • E2B #4: UEFI-multiboot using the a1ive grub2 File Manager 
  • Getting started with grub4dos
There are some user comments\reviews on the E2B sites Guest Book page if you want to see what others thought of them.

Updates are free. Just use the download link that is emailed to you again to check for later versions.

Friday, 17 July 2020

re. Fixing faulty computers

This is just a quick blog post to say 'Hi'. I have been busy doing other things recently (like playing with my new IODD Mini SSD - Amazon link which is performing very well) so I have not been spending much time on E2B.

In my few moments of free time, I have been enjoying watching Adamant IT  repair shop YouTube videos which are quite entertaining. He has videos on 'live' repair and also 'live' PC builds as well as reviews, etc.

Although I have retired from repairing/building/developing PCs and Notebooks now, unless they have changed a lot in the last 6 years or so, I thought I would go through what I tended to do to diagnose and fix PCs\Notebooks.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Add Medicat 2020 to your Zalman\IODD disk

The Medicat 20.05 download comes as a .BIN file which contains a 512-byte header file which is only recognised by a few utilities such as OSFMounter and ImageUSB by Passmark.

Here is how to convert it to a VHD file which is suitable for loading via your Zalman\IODD device.

Note: For medicat.20.06.1.img - from here - I used BitTorrent and then just copied the .img file to my IODD\Zalman and renamed it to medicat.20.06.1.vhd. You can then mount it as a virtual drive.


Instructions for medicat 20.05  .bin file

Thursday, 25 June 2020

COMSS 2020-06 multiboot ISO now available (Ru/Eng)

The COMSS 2020-06 multiboot utility ISO is now available. There is a Lite version and a 'full fat' version. The initial menu prompts you to select either Russian or English at the start.


New in version 2020-06:

Monday, 22 June 2020

Add the new 2020 Medicat to your E2B USB drive

The release of Medicat 20.05 is rather odd. It is intended that you make a Medicat 64GB or larger USB drive from it and it is not suitable for multibooting.



The new Medicat only supports 64-bit CPUs. It is based on Ventoy which requires two particular partitions in a specific order and the download is a PassMark .bin file which has a 512-byte header portion and so it cannot be treated as a VHD file or normal disk image file which we can use with a Zalman\IODD virtual drive emulator.

The main Medicat ISO is inside the image and contains the WinPE .wim file.
When Medicat boots, it will look for the USB drive and mount the USB drive as Y:.
It then expects to find program folders under Y:\Programs and the PortableApps programs under the Y:\PortableApps folder.

There are other ISOs within the image and Ventoy is used to boot them. We can extract these other ISO files from the .bin image and simply copy them to our E2B USB drive.

medicat 20.06 is a .img file. It does not have the 512-byte header and can be renamed to .VHD for use with a Zalman\IODD. However it does not boot correctly as a .vhd using E2B and so must also be converted as below if using it on an E2B USB drive.

Instructions

Friday, 12 June 2020

E2B reaches 1/2 million downloads per year!




I just noticed today that since I started using Fosshub to host the E2B downloads in June 2019, the download counter for E2B has now reached over 500,000 downloads!

I can also tell that in the last 30 days, the Make_E2B.cmd file that is used to make a new E2B USB drive, has been run over 63,000 times (it downloads a file to notify the user of the latest version of E2B) and that the agFM UEFI files have been downloaded over 19,000 times in 30 days.

Boot any ISO from the IODD Mini USB SSD CD\DVD drive emulator

IODD Mini

The IODD Mini #ad  SSD CD\DVD drive emulator is a solid-state version of the IODD 2531 and 2541.
You can see from the picture below that it is approx 9cm x 4cm in size and will easily fit in a pocket.

Note: This IODD Mini was supplied to me by IODD for evaluation and feedback.


In fact, the white 1m USB 3 cable (micro-B USB 3 to Type A USB 3) that comes with it, is larger and bulkier than the device itself.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Kon-Boot v3.5 now allows us to use larger E2B USB drives

If you buy a licensed version of Kon-Boot v3.5, you can now use it with large USB drives (previously we were limited to drives of 16GB or less).

This means you can now licence a 128GB or 256GB SanDisk USB E2B flash drive or even a 2TB USB Hard Drive.

Once you have installed Kon-Boot, you can backup the files, re-format the drive as an E2B drive and then copy back on the special encrypted EFI boot file made by the Kon-Boot .exe installer.

If you have already purchased a Kon-Boot licence and have activated it on a small USB flash drive (<16GB) then you cannot switch the licence to a different USB drive - you must purchase a new licence for each drive you want to use Kon-Boot with because the USB Vendor, Product ID and Serial Number of the USB drive is encrypted into the boot file the first time you make a Kon-Boot USB drive. The same USB drive values are recorded on their server for each licence number.

Details of how to add the licensed Kon-Boot UEFI boot files to an E2B v2 USB drive are in eBook #4.

You can instead just make a FAT32 .imgPTN or .imgPTN23 file from the files on the Kon-Boot USB drive. Make sure the volume name is KONBOOT once it is switched-in.

Note: E2B+agFM allows you to Secure Boot without needing to purchase the more expensive 'commercial' Kon-Boot licence. However, Windows 10 (UEFI) online account bypass support is only included with the full Kon-Boot commercial licence.

If you see this, the licence details does not match the USB drive ID!

Monday, 8 June 2020

agFM v1.55 available

Changes

  1. Remove HDCLONE menu from startup_default.cfg menu
  2. Improve 'Restore E2B partitions' detection menu entry so does not appear if no valid backup
  3. Update to latest a1ive grub2\grubfm version
To download and update run \e2b\Update agFM\Download and update agFM_v2.cmd from the second agFM partition.

IODD Mini SSD 

For simple ISO and VHD booting, this neat little USB 3 SSD AES256-bit encrypted drive is hard to beat! Just select the ISO\VHD on the display and boot. VHD files can be set to emulate a fixed or removable USB drive and you can write-protect it too if you wish. You can also set the whole SSD drive in the same way, so you can have a 512GB Removable USB 3 SSD drive or a write-protected 512GB Fixed disk or any combination thereof.



P.S. I just received an IODD Mini 512GB SSD drive from IODD for evaluation. So please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like me to cover. So far I am impressed! It is quite small, fast and seems to work well.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

E2B v2.04 and agFM v1.54 released

E2B v2.04
1. Bugfix for Windows Install + UEFI agFM imdisk error
2. Danish keyboard scan file added
3. Strelec ISO direct boot (.isowin)
4. Support .isoventoy file extension
5. Update E2B now updates agFM partition

a1ive agFM v1.52
1. Support .isoventoy file extension
2. Update to latest grubfm version
3. WinPE ISO files have extra 'choose wim' boot option

a1ive agFM v1.53
1. Bugfix - Setup.exe restarts if parentheses (  ) in filename of Windows Install ISO - now fixed

a1ive agFM v1.54
1. Bugfix - .imgptn files not listed if Secondary Menu option enabled in F4 menu

https://www.easy2boot.com/download/


Monday, 1 June 2020

E2B v2.04d fixes 'imdisk' bug when installing Windows from agFM

If you are using agFM v1.50 or later and are using a Removable USB drive for E2B, then you will find that the Windows Install from ISO function using agFM stops with an 'imdisk' error if you also use an XML file.


This is due to agFM actually using ImDisk to mount the ISO now (since v1.50) and so the E2B cmd file tries to install imdisk again.

If you are using a USB Fixed disk for E2B then you won't see this error.

This bug is fixed if you update to E2B v2.04d.

I will release E2B v2.04 very soon, so please let me know if you find any issues with it.