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)

Note for new visitors: The method described below will work for any Windows volume (not just E2B or .imgPTN files).

If you want to copy a whole 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 to copy some of the protected files and folders that it may already be present on the partition.

You can use strarc to copy all WindowToGo OS files to a different folder and preserve symbolic links, etc.

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.

If using XCOPY to copy files use /cherky instead of /herky so that errors will not stop XCOPY from continuing,

However, it may not be practical to do this, 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

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. 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.

Hide your E2B partition from Windows

Ric asked me how to add a menu to hide\unhide the E2B partition from Windows so that it could not be accessed by unwanted programs and viruses, if he plugged it into an infected Windows system.

Here are the HidePtn.mnu file contents:

# Use this menu to hide or unhide the hd0,0 partition (first partition of the E2B drive) so that Windows cannot access it

iftitle [hiddenflag (hd0,0) > nul] UnHide E2B Partition\n Unhide the 1st partition
unhide (hd0,0)
configfile (md)0xa000+0x50 || configfile /menu.lst

iftitle [checkrange 0 hiddenflag (hd0,0) > nul] Hide E2B Partition\n Hide the 1st partition
hide (hd0,0)
configfile (md)0xa000+0x50 || configfile /menu.lst

If you need to access the contents of the E2B drive from Windows when it is the 'hidden' state you can boot it using an emulator (e.g. RMPrepUSB - QEMU or MobaLiveCD.exe or VirtualBox+VMUB or VMWare) and then run the UnHide E2B Partition menu entry. Then unplug and reconnect it and the E2B partition should be visible to Windows.

If you want to hide/unhide the 2nd partition of an E2B USB hard disk, change (hd0,0) to (hd0,1) in the menu.

This HidePtn.mnu file will be  included in the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files folder of E2B v1.58 and later versions.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Tonights build is 1.57aBeta9

There were a few small niggles reported. Hopefully this new version fixes them.
There is also a new version of PassPass  1.6 available on the E2B Alternate Download Area.
The previous PassPass 1,5 version was rather messy and created lots of grub4dos variables which then interfered with the E2B menu system when you returned back from the PassPass menu to E2B and then ran a .imgPTN file.

I also found a workaround for having multiple wallpapers even if FASTLOAD is enabled. Also both wallpapers should now be shown if the user presses the F8 in the Main menu. For a demo see my previous blog with a video.

E2B v1.57aBeta6 has new grub4dos

Chenall has fixed the exFAT and cat --hex bugs in grub4dos and 1.57aBeta6 has the new versions of grub4dos. Please check it out and let me know of any issues. The new version is in the Alternate Download areas on the E2B Download page as usual.
If no problems reported within the next few days I will release it as v1.58.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

E2B 1.57a - new bug found in new grub4dos versions

It seems that the format of the output of the cat --hex command has been changed in later versions of grub4dos and this has broken the delptn3.g4b code in E2B. The latest E2B v1.57aBeta5 will thus display an empty and broken partition table if E2B detects that ptn 4 contains an existing partition entry.

I have reported the problem and hopefully grub4dos will be fixed and made compatible with earlier versions. Current issues are reported on github here.

With an older Sept 03 2014 version of grub4dos this table is shown correctly:

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

E2B v1.57 released!

The new version is 1.57 as there have been quite a few Betas (v1.56 and 1.56a versions which weren't officially released). This version is available in the Alternate Downloads Area at as usual.

Changes in 1.57 (from 1.55)
  1. New grub4dos \grldr (20141021) fixes exFAT bug with >4GB files + other small bugs 
  2. CPU 32/64 bit & Total memory displayed in Main Menu heading and Windows Install menu 
  3. New Sample mnu Files examples. 
  4. Weird characters such as ()!''&| may now work if used in Windows ISO and .imgPTN filenames. 
  5. 'Boot any key to boot from CD or DVD' Windows install prompt suppressed. 
  6. Default Aurora background compressed using lzma (reduced size). 
  7. .iso64 family of file extensions recognised (only listed if 64-bit CPU). 
  8. Fastload menu has changed (only seen if FASTLOAD is enabled) - now press F8 to refresh the menu instead of the separate REFRESH entry. 
  9. Change Automn.g4b and Automn.g4b to use 56MB area of memory instead of 74MB area so can use E2B on systems with 64MB of memory or more. 
  10. German STRINGS.txt and F1.cfg updated (thanks Frettt) 
  11. Aurora Wallpaper changed slightly to remove English text. 
  12. XP Install ISO won't prompt to press a key to boot from CD 
  13. Add compatibility for USB drives made using FlashBoot when using .imgPTN files. You must use RestoreE2B.cmd to restore the MBR though! 
  14. Polish language added (thanks 'no-way'!) 
  15. \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\Change_Language.mnu changed 
  16. Change_Font.mnu added to \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files folder (temporarily changes menu font). 
  17. If FASTLOAD is enabled, E2B now does not re-enumerate (count) all the Windows ISO files on first boot, so booting is now even faster! 
  18. Windows 10 menu added 
  19. Some corrections made for correct filename case if using a case-sensitive filesystem for E2B like ext2/3/4.
Frettt has kindly spent some time translating into German (proper German, not 'machine-translated German) the E2B text and F1 help text. He mentions E2B on his site here. His site(s) also contains a useful selection of freeware and tips.

Polish is also now available thanks to 'no-way'. Special thanks to Simone and Stephan for bug-finding and suggestions too!

There is a slightly new look to the background wallpaper (I have removed the English text from the wallpaper and moved it to the bottom so you can have a wider menu).

1.57 auf Deutsch (Main menu heading and footer can be changed using MyE2B.cfg file)

Let me know if you spot any problems (but try latest 'bleeding edge' Beta version first!).

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

E2B v1.56aBeta11 update

Seems to be a small incompatibility in the new grub4dos which affect calculations involving the shift >> operator. This has the affect that E2B reports the memory size incorrectly in the Main menu heading when using the new version of grub4dos.
I have updated some .g4b batch files to fix the issue so that it should work with both old and new versions. The issue is reported here.
Thanks to Simone for reporting it (I didn't notice!).

Easy2Boot v1.56a Beta 10 now available

This version has a few changes (CheckAccess.g4b has been tweaked) and the latest versions (at last!) of grub4dos (both 0.4.5c and 0.4.6a).
Please let me know if you experience any problems.
If you see an 'OLD GRUB4DOS VERSION' message, be sure to update the \grldr file with the version in the 1.56aBeta10 download.
The download is in the Alternate Download Areas accessible from the Downloads page as usual.
To update, just unzip the file to the root of your USB drive as usual.

Unless there are any problems reported, this version will be the official 'release' version of 1.56 in a few days.

Friday, 10 October 2014

E2B v1.56aBeta9 now has a Windows 10 menu

The Windows 10 technical preview ISO could be installed from E2B by adding it to the \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN8 folder and using the correct Product Key, however I have added a new \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10 folder to E2B now so that any new Windows 10 ISOs can be kept in their own folder and have their own menu.

The download is available in the Alternate Download Areas as usual.

1.56a will be released as soon as chenall has time to fix a bug in grub4dos so that I can release it with the latest version of grub4dos.

Monday, 29 September 2014

FakeFlashTest v1.1.1 now available

This version of FFT allows you to list all drives in the system (including internal hard drives - dangerous!).

Some users have reported that v1.0.9 did not list their SD Card Readers as they were not USB devices. This new version gets round this problem if the user ticks the List all drives checkbox.

Take care not to destroy the data on your internal hard disks!

Download is at the bottom of this page.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

32-bit UEFI booting using E2B

It seems quite a few people want use E2B to try linux and other OS's on their 32-bit UEFI-only Tablets. Some Intel Atom-based Tablets are 32-bit UEFI only (even if the Atom CPU itself is a 64-bit CPU).

The first thing they find is that when they try E2B on these UEFI-only devices, it just boots and runs MemTest86 because they have formatted the E2B drive as FAT32 and E2B includes Memtest86 in the form of the bootable UEFI files \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi (for 64-bit UEFI systems) and \EFI\boot\bootia32.efi (for 32-bit systems).

If they have formatted the E2B USB drive as NTFS, then of course, it will not UEFI-boot at all because the default bootable filesystem must be FAT/FAT32 for UEFI systems.

The next thing I have to explain, is that they need to make a FAT32 .imgPTN file of their 'payload' and make sure that the correct .efi boot file is present.

The problem is that if the user's Tablet is a 32-bit UEFI system (that does not support CSM\MBR mode) then they need to find an OS that is 32-bit UEFI bootable - and there are not many of these around!

Clonezilla zip files (e.g. seem to contain both 32-bit and 64-bit EFI files and so will boot from both a 64-bit and 32-bit UEFI system. For this reason, I always recommend that a new user tests UEFI-booting with this first (after converting it to a .imgPTN file).

The only other OS or utility I have been able to find (other than Memtest86) that supports 32-bit UEFI-booting is Fedora-17-i686-Live-SoaS.iso (note: version 20 does not seem to support 32-bit UEFI booting). Parted Magic also supports 32-bit and 64-bit UEFI-booting.

If you know of any others ('live' CDs, etc.) , please let me know and I will add it to the list of tested payloads on my E2B site so that others can try them.

Note: If they are 32-bit UEFI bootable, then they will contain the \EFI\boot\bootia32.efi file (amongst others). If they don't contain that file then they won't boot from an E2B USB drive on a 32-bit UEFI system.

If you have a 32-bit UEFI-only system, you won't be able to boot the E2B USB drive to get to the E2B menu and select the .imgPTN file. You therefore need to boot the E2B USB drive in MBR-mode in another way first. You can use RMPrepUSB - QEMU (F11), or MobaLiveCD.exe or VMWare or VirtualBox to do this (or another real system that will MBR-boot).

As soon as you get to the CSM menu after selecting the desired .imgPTN file, you can then boot from the E2B USB drive on your 32-bit UEFI Tablet.

You can switch it back to the E2B menu is the same way, or you can run the RestoreE2B (run as admin).cmd file which is located on the E2B drive's \e2b folder (when in CSM mode) from Windows. This file can also be run from the MPI ToolKit folder that you downloaded (RMPrepUSB should be pre-installed).

Instructions (found by Karan) for booting Ubuntu from the Asus T100 are here. Karan found that he could copy the bootia32.efi file from here to a Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit .imgPTN file (\EFI\boot\bootia32.efi) and his Intel Atom system booted. I suspect this will only work if your firmware is 32-bit UEFI but your CPU is 64-bit though, like Karan's Notion Ink CN89553G.

Friday, 26 September 2014

How to retrieve files from a computer without booting it to an OS (via PXE)!

I needed to get some files from the internal hard disk of a notebook recently. The problem was that it had no CD/DVD drive and would not boot from a USB drive or the internal hard drive either!

I could have removed the internal hard disk from the notebook, but then I remembered about a Tutorial I had written using Toolwiz Remote Backup. It seems this is still available (free) and has been updated too.

This utility allowed me to PXE boot from the notebook and then look at the internal hard disk partition and retrieve files from it within 1 minute of installing it onto my other Windows system. It is really easy to use too.

A useful utility to add to your toolkit!

E2B 1.56aBeta1 available

Still waiting for a bugfix in grub4os, but meanwhile I have added latest Beta to the Alternate Download areas.
For changes see here.
Let me know if you find any problems.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Bug in E2B 1.55 & 1.56beta (XP installs)

E2B v1.55 uses a version of grub4dos which has a bug. If you try to install XP from an ISO using DPMS, then XP Setup complains that it cannot detect any disks! This bug appears to start in grldr 2014-08-19 and later versions but is not in 2014-08-17 and earlier versions. I have reported this to chenall and hopefully he can find the problem.  If you have a later version, you can replace the \grdlr file with the 2014-08-17 version of 0.4.5c from

Please update to v1.55a or 1.56a.

Note: As of 2014-09-19 I am still having weird issues with grub4dos later versions (e.g. losing USB drive, not enumerating all items, hanging).

P.S. 20141027 and later seem OK.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Bug in E2B v1.56 (in grub4dos)

It seems something is broken in the new version of grub4dos!
If using XP Install and DPMS, you will get a FAT disk I/O error.
I have withdrawn v1.56 until chenall can fix grub4dos.
You can replace \grldr with the 2014-08-17 version if you like, but E2B v1.56 will complain about it being too old.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

E2B v1.56 released

PLEASE NOTE: Discovered a bug in the new grub4dos version! I have withdrawn v1.56 until a grub4dos is fixed! Please use v1.55 for now.

Changes in 1.56
  • New grub4dos \grldr (20140908) fixes exFAT bug with >4GB files + other small bugs
  • CPU 32/64 bit & Total memory displayed in Main Menu heading and Windows Install menu
  • New Sample mnu Files examples. 
  • Weird characters such as ()!''&| may now work if used in Windows ISO and .imgPTN filenames.
  • 'Boot any key to boot from CD or DVD' Windows install prompt suppressed. 
  • Default Aurora background compressed using lzma (reduced size). 
  • .iso64 family of file extensions recognised (only listed if 64-bit CPU). 
  • Fastload menu has changed (only seen if FASTLOAD is enabled) - now press F8 to refresh the menu instead of the separate REFRESH entry. 
  • Change Automn.g4b and Automn.g4b to use 56MB area of memory instead of 74MB area so can use E2B on systems with 64MB of memory or more.
Let me know if you spot any problems. The F1.cfg Help menu is in English in all languages and also some of the new text in STRINGS.txt (see end of file). Any translations welcome!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Easy2Boot v1.56Beta10 now available for testing

E2B v1.56 Beta10 is now available in the Alternate Download area on the Easy2Boot Download page here. I consider this to be a Release Candidate and will release it as the official v1.56 soon unless anyone spots any bugs. It uses the latest versions of grub4dos which have several new minor bug fixes thanks to Chenall. The E2B version history is here.

To update your E2B drive, just extract all files from the zip file directly onto your E2B USB drive (even if you have the DPMS version on your E2B USB drive, it will still be updated correctly).

P.S. I have updated RMPrepUSB to include the same new version of grub4dos too. Download from here.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

How to make your own linux ISO .mnu files

I was asked today about LXLE with persistence. This distro is based on Lubuntu and the user wanted to get persistence working. There was a lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386_Persistent.mnu menu available but not one for LXLE.

I thought I would describe how I went about changing this lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386_Persistent.mnu file to get it working with LXLE.

  • First I copied the lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386_Persistent.mnu file and the lxle ISO file to the \_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU folder of my E2B NTFS USB drive which I use for testing.
  • Next, I renamed the file to lxle-1404-x64_Persistent.mnu.
  • Next, I edited the .mnu file in Notepad to change all occurrences of the  lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386.iso file to lxle-1404-x64.iso.
  • Next, I changed all occurrences of the persistent file lubuntu-rw to lxle-rw
  • Finally, I made a persistent ext2 file in the root of the E2B USB drive using RMPartUSB's - Create ext2 FS button. When prompted I used:
               File Name = lxle-rw
               Volume Name = casper-rw
               Size = 500
  • I then ran WinContig on the drive (RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+F2).

Unfortunately, I got an error when I tried to boot from the menu entry in E2B

This indicated that the file \casper\initrd.lz was not actually present inside the .iso file.

Looking inside the ISO file using 7Zip to view it, I found:

Normally, in a linux ISO that uses isolinux to boot, there is an isolinux folder which holds several .cfg files, the main one being isolinux.cfg. If grub is used, there may be a \grub folder containing config files. If grub4dos is used, it may have a \menu.lst file and other .lst files.

I double-clicked isolinux.cfg to open it up in Notepad ++ (if you try to use Windows NotePad, it will merge all the lines together due to a CR/LF problem - see below).

The isolinux.cfg main LiveCD menu entry seems to be:

label live
  menu label live - boot the Live System
  kernel /casper/vmlinuz
  append  file=/cdrom/preseed/custom.seed boot=casper initrd=/casper/initrd.gz quiet splash --

So I converted this to grub4dos as follows:

kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/custom.seed boot=casper persistent quiet splash --
initrd /casper/initrd.gz 

As you can see, we just need to re-arrange a few things. The reason for the error is now apparent, because the file used for the initial ramdrive (initrd) is initrd.gz and not initrd.lz as it was in the Lubuntu .mnu file.

Warning: Do NOT copy and paste whole lines from a linux .cfg file into a grub4dos .mnu file. The carriage-return/line-feed end-of line characters are not the same in a linux file and although it may look OK in NotePad, it won't work in grub4dos due to embedded invisible CR/LF characters! It is better to type them in manually rather than copy and paste in lines from a linux text file!

We need to add in the 'persistent' parameter so that it will look for a casper-rw volume when it boots.

In the end, after tidying up the .mnu file a bit to make it easier to modify for the end user, we have:

# Make a ext2 file using latest version of RMPrepUSB in the root of the drive 
# File Name=lxle-rw  Volume Name=casper-rw
# Place this .mnu file and the ISO in either \_ISO\MainMenu\MNU or \_ISO\Linux\MNU
# This menu will work even on an NTFS USB boot drive
# IMPORTANT: you MUST run WinContig (Ctrl+F2) before booting E2B.
# e.g.

iftitle [if exist $HOME$/lxle-1404-64.iso] LXLE 14.04\n Boot using .mnu file with persistence

set ISO=$HOME$/lxle-1404-64.iso
set PER=/lxle-rw

if exist CD echo WARNING: Cannot use partnew command! && pause && configfile (bd)/menu.lst
if "%E2BDEV%"=="" set E2BDEV=hd0 && pause E2BDEV forced to hd0!
#enable parttype output
debug 1
# make empty table entry in 3rd position in ptn table
parttype (%E2BDEV%,2) | set check=
debug off
set check=%check:~-5,4%
if "%check%"=="0x00" partnew (%E2BDEV%,2) 0 0 0
if not "%check%"=="0x00" echo WARNING: PTN TABLE 3 IS ALREADY IN USE - PERSISTENCE MAY NOT WORK! && pause
debug 1
if not exist %PER% echo WARNING: %PER% persistence file not found! && pause
errorcheck off
if "%check%"=="0x00" partnew (%E2BDEV%,2) 0x0 %PER%
errorcheck on
#map ptn 4 to ISO
partnew (%E2BDEV%,3) 0x0 %ISO%
map %ISO% (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/custom.seed boot=casper persistent quiet splash --
initrd /casper/initrd.gz 

This .mnu file will be in the Sample mnu Files folder in the next E2B 1.56Beta download and is also in the Alternate Download area now (though it may be removed later when 1.56 is released).

Friday, 5 September 2014

E2B v1.56Beta9 available

Stephan has emailed me with some suggestions on improving E2B when using FASTLOAD.

As you may know, if you enable FASTLOAD by simply copying the \_ISO\FASTLOAD.YES file to the root of your E2B USB drive, it causes the Main Menu to be cached the first time you boot to E2B. The next time you boot to E2B, it will not need to enumerate all the files in the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder + sub-folders, but will just load the cached menu that was made during the previous boot. This can speed up the appearance of the E2B Main Menu if you have a slow USB drive and lots of files in your \_ISO\MAINMENU folder.

The main changes affect the following files:

\_ISO\e2b\grub\MENU.lst  - small changes to improve messages and set STALE variable
\_ISO\e2b\grub\E2B.cfg  - small text changes
\_ISO\e2b\grub\ENG\STRINGS.txt - new strings $$STRmFS1, $$STRhMFD and $$STRhMFE
\_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZZF8ReloadMenu.mnu - modified to also refresh the cached FASTLOAD menu
\_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZA_FASTLOAD_ON_OFF.mnu - If FASTLOAD is active, this new menu entry will allow the user to enable or disable it. This menu entry can be suppressed using set NOFLDMNU=1 in your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file
\_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZZF8$_SHOW_FASTLOAD.mnu - new file to display a non-operational menu entry just above the F8 menu entry which shows the user that they are using a cached (old) menu.

You can, of course, delete any of these .mnu files and/or make a new version to modify their action or appearance (just don't use the same filename as E2B uses or they will be overwritten the next time you update!). You can also make your own STRINGS.txt file to modify the menu entry text.

The new Enable\Disable FASTLOAD menu entry can be suppressed by using the NOFLDMNU variable in your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file if you don't want the user to be able to disable it. Alternatively, you can just delete the ZZA_FASTLOAD_ON_OFF.mnu file.

If the \FASTLOAD.YES file is not present, then the Main menu will appear just as it did before.
If the \FASTLOAD.YES file is present, then you will see the Main menu below:

FASTLOAD ENABLED - Menu was loaded from cache on booting.
Note the 'CACHED MENU (FASTLOAD)' warning is displayed in the menu.

FASTLOAD ENABLED - Menu was just Refreshed by user using F8.

FASTLOAD DISABLED - it can be enabled again by the user with '3 Enable FASTLOAD'.

Let me know if you like this new arrangement or not.

I am still waiting for a few more bugfixes in grub4dos before I release v1.56. Chenall is working hard on the fixes and it should be done in a day or so.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Tiny PXE Server tryout

I had seen Erwans Tiny PXE Server app but tonight I decided to try it out.

I wanted to just boot a WinPE ISO file via PXE as I thought this would be the easiest to get going.

Documentation for getting started is not that well organised on or in his Blog.
I eventually found a Blog post here for booting PE.

Here are step-by-step instructions for how I did it:

1. On My Windows 8.1 x64 PC, I downloaded Tiny PXE Server from (check the download link in this post)

2. I extracted the files to C:\temp\pxesrv on my Windows system

3. I copied a WinPE_x86.ISO file that I had lying around to the C:\temp\pxesrv\files folder.

4. I used NotePad to create a winpe.ipxe text file in the C:\temp\pxesrv\files folder as below:

dhcp net0
set boot-url http://${dhcp-server}
initrd ${boot-url}/images/WinPE_x86.ISO
kernel ${boot-url}/memdisk iso raw

5. Next I ran the C:\temp\pxesrv\pxesrv.exe file and changed a few settings as show in the red boxes below:

Note that I needed to choose a DHCP server address of 192.168.1.xx to match the subnet address of the router.
The Extra Option also needed to be set to  -> vendor option is (etherboot length 6 code 1 length 1 value 1 code 8 length 1 value 1). More details here

When you are happy with the settings - click the Online button.

6. Finally, I connected an Ethernet cable from my router to my EeePC 904HA netbook, switched it on and selected 'Network Boot' from the BIOS Boot menu.. VIOLA! - it started to load the ISO into memory and then booted to it! The EeePC now runs WinFE via PXE boot.

I have not yet experimented any further with Tiny PXE Server, but so far it looks encouraging!

Erwan has more examples on his Blog here and some quick HowTo's are here for different payloads.

Tip: If you are having problems PXE booting from a real system, it may be due to your router or client system. A good test is to run a Virtual Box virtual machine. Just set the Network adapter to 'Bridged' - start the VM - press F12 and then L for Lan. It should then PXE boot. This tends to bypass your router + cable + client and often works when a real system does not!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

PassPass for Win8.1 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Add PassPass to your E2B USB drive and get access to any Windows system without needing to know the user account password!

I fixed the issue with 32-bit 8.1 and now the version 1.5 should patch XP -> Win8.1. Not tested on Win8.1 Update (but dll for 64-bit looks same as Win8.1 so hopefully will work).
I suggest you test on a 'test' system and not your work/office/home system (or at least make a backup first!).

Note: Latest version (same filename!) is listed in the E2B menu as (PassPass E2B v1.6) - if yours does not say this please download latest version. The E2B PassPass download is available in the Alternate Download areas from this page.

Monday, 1 September 2014

PassPass update for Win 8.1/10

I have updated the clever PassPass grub4dos utility written by Holmes.Sherlock and Wonko the Sane from It should now work for XP through to Windows 8.1.

Note: Latest version in E2B v1.87+ includes PassPass v1.7 for XP through to Win10.

This utility allows you to bypass the Windows user password required for logging into a  local user account on Windows (does not work if you select an online Microsoft account, so select a local user account first). It works by hard-patching a Windows dll file before you boot to Windows. Once you have finished with the Windows system, you can Unpatch or restore the dll so that normal password function is restored.

Note: KonBoot v2.5 will allow you to get into a local user account or online account in Win8/8.1/10.

For more details on PassPass, see here.  It allows you to gain access without using the user's account password, PIN number or picture gestures (just use any password, PIN or gesture!).

Add PassPass to E2B

PassPass can be found in the \_ISO\docs\PassPass folder on your E2B drive with a ReadMe.txt file or you can unzip the downloaded E2B PassPass version.

  1. Copy the PassPass folder to your E2B USB drive  (e.g. to \_ISO\UTILITIES\PassPass). 
  2. Then move the large PassPass.bak file to the root of the E2B USB drive - for example:


I would advise you to test it first on a 'test' system and NOT on a system that you need (or at least take a full backup first). The file \Windows\system32\msv1_0.dll is the only Windows file altered by PassPass.

PassPass menu entry

PassPass will detect all Windows installations on all disks
Choose which one you want to patch.

You can backup the msv1_0.dll file first before you patch it.
Then run the Patch Windows menu option.

You will be told how many patch areas have been identified.
Press ENTER to patch the dll and then choose the Boot from Internal Hdd menu option
to boot to the patched OS (or reboot the system).

To change a User Account password once patched with PassPass,

  1. Create a new Administrator User Account (e.g. NEWUSER) with no password
  2. Log-in as NEWUSER. 
  3. You can then change the password on any other user account. 
  4. Then delete the NEWUSER account and restore the DLL by running PassPass again.
P.S. If you try PassPass and it worked, please tick the 'funny' box below. If it failed, please add a comment and give details of the msv1_0.dll file in your version of Windows (click on Properties).

If you need to patch a system that is UEFI-bootable only, you can boot to WinPE and run the Windows PE executable version PEPassPass.exe.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

E2B v1.56 now recognises .iso64 file extensions

E2B v1.56 Beta6 and later versions will now recognise the .iso64xxxxx file extension and will only list the ISO in the menu if the system contains a 64-bit CPU.

This means that if you boot from a 32-bit CPU, you will not see the menu entries for any 64-bit ISOs if you simply use a .iso64 file extension for them.

Note that this does NOT apply to ISOs under the \_ISO\WINDOWS folder (the Windows Installler ISOs) - for these you must use the .ISO file extension.

Most of the .iso family are supported - e.g. .iso64, .iso64PE, .iso64PE01, .iso64mem, .iso64win, .iso64linux, .iso64grub, .iso64force, .iso6401, .iso64dd, .iso64gz, .iso64e0, .iso64meme0,  .iso64pup and .iso64WB.

You can prevent all the file extensions from being listed in the menus by using  set EXTOFF=1  in your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file.

Note: If your menu uses FASTLOAD, you do not need to Refresh the menu when you boot on a different 32/64 bit system. The menu will test for a 32-bit or 64-bit CPU each time it is loaded.

A nice-sounding lady telephoned me yesterday and asked me if  I would like sign up to go on a Meditation Course - I told her I would think about it...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Adding Unattend.xml files to Windows 7/8 Install UEFI .imgPTN images in E2B

If you want to install Windows Vista/7/8 etc. in MBR\CSM mode, you can just copy the Windows Installer ISO to the correct E2B USB folder, and you can copy over your own Unattend.xml files to the same E2B folder. E2B will then allow you to pick any one of these XML files so that the Windows install uses the correct Product Key (which is required by Win8), or is semi-automated or even full-automated, depending on what is in your Unattend.xml file.

However, if you use MakePartImage to convert the Windows Installer ISO into a partition image (.imgPTN file) so that you can both  UEFI- and MBR\CSM-boot from it, you will not have any of the E2B features to choose your own XML file or automate the install.

I have therefore detailed some instructions here on how to add your own AutoUnattend.xml file to a partition image .imgPTN file.

If you are using an E2B Removable type of USB Flash drive, then you just need to copy the AutoUnattend.xml file to the root of the image. However, if your E2B USB drive is a Hard disk or 'Fixed disk' type, then this will not work because Windows only auto-detects a \AutoUnattend.xml file on removable media like Flash drives, floppy disks (remember those?) or DVDs.

Instead we need to tweak the files inside the \sources\boot.wim file.

If you follow the instructions, you can even offer the user a choice of XML files to use before Windows Setup runs.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Detect a 64-bit or 32-bit CPU in Easy2Boot

We can use grub4dos to detect the CPU bitness using the is64bit command.
E2B v1.56 Main  menu heading shows CPU type and total usable system memory

We can use this to make a .mnu file for the MAINMENU folder:

# Display as menu item if CPU is 32-bit or 64-bit

iftitle [checkrange 2,3 is64bit]   --- INFORMATION: 64-bit CPU ---
errorcheck off

iftitle [checkrange 0,1 is64bit]   --- INFORMATION: 32-bit CPU ---
errorcheck off

To make a menu entry that will allow the user to check it use:

title Check the Processor\n Detect if CPU is 32-bit or 64-bit
checkrange 2,3 is64bit && pause Processor is 64-bit
checkrange 0,1 is64bit && pause Processor is 32-bit
errorcheck off

The 64Bit_Auto_Detect_ISO.mnu file in the E2B Sample mnu folder has an example where either a 32-bit or 64-bit ISO will be automatically run depending on the system CPU:

# Change the 1st, 2nd and 3rd line as required - line 4 may be deleted if no pause required

title Run a 32-bit or 64-bit linux ISO \n Auto-Detect system type and run correct ISO
set ISO=Ubuntu32.iso
checkrange 2,3 is64bit && set ISO=Ubuntu64.iso
pause WILL BOOT %ISO% - Press ENTER key to continue...
/%grub%/qrun.g4b $HOME$/%ISO%

To make a .mnu file for a 64-bit ISO that will only be visible if the system has a 64-bit CPU, we can use:

iftitle [if exist $HOME$/Ubuntu64.iso && checkrange 2,3 is64bit] Ubuntu 64-bit \n Boot from a 64-bit ISO
/%grub%/qrun.g4b $HOME$/Ubuntu64.iso

Monday, 25 August 2014

E2B v1.56 Beta available

A number of people have hit the problem of using Windows Install ISOs which have non-standard characters in the ISO filename, such as ( and ) and ! and & etc. This caused a problem with some of the Windows .cmd scripts which are automatically run when Windows\WinPE boots.

I have attempted to fix this now in v1.56Beta, so you can have names like:

Windows 8.1 32-bit & 64-bit (English).iso

also, I have found a way to suppress the 'Press any key to boot from CD or DVD' prompt which you may see when you boot from some Windows ISOs. This message is caused by the \boot\bootfix.bin file inside the ISO file. If the bootfix.bin file is not present then the code inside it which prompts you to press a key is not run. I found a neat way to prevent this from being run - see here for details.

Please let me know if you find any issues with this Beta version.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Easy2Boot v1.55 released (at last!)

Quite a few changes in version 1.55, thanks to many others for ideas, improvements, language files and bug reports!

E2B v1.55 changes:
  • F1 Help Main menu added (English only). F1.cfg help file can be translated into other languages.
  • \_ISO\e2b\grub\menu.lst code change to work around incompatibility issue between AMI BIOSes and MyDigitalSSD OTG USB drive - grub4dos losing all variables! Affects HP Compaq dx2400 microtower, Asus M4A89GTDPRO-USB3 motherboard, Asus x550ca - all have American MegaTrends BIOS. Exact cause still under investigation.
  • Portuguese language STRINGS.txt added (thanks Carlos).
  • Romanian language STRINGS.txt added (thanks Anto).
  • French language STRINGS.txt added (thanks Nicolas).
  • New \_ISO\docs\mythemes folder added - supports adding a $Change_Theme.mnu menu file to the Main menu. Read the ReadMe.txt file in the folder for more info.
  • .cfg file extension support added - can now switch themes by copying a MyE2B.cfg-style file to a menu folder.
  • \_ISO\docs\Sample E2B Templates folder name changed to Templates due to path length limitations in grub4dos. If updating, you can delete the old Sample E2B Templates folder.
  • Latest grub4dos grldr versions included in E2B (important long-standing NTFS bug fixed in new version). Longer paths allowed for splashimage, etc. see for details of fixes.
  • EXTOFF variable added for MyE2B.cfg file - if set to 1, file names are listed in the menu without their file extension.
  • Various small changes to Qrun.g4b, English STRINGS.txt and other E2B files.
  • You can change or remove the menu   arrow marker symbol which indicates the highlighted menu entry, using a new grub4dos feature (see Sample_MyE2B.cfg).
  • If you prematurely abort an .imgPTN file selection, the 4th partition is now cleared instead of leaving it switched in.
  • Sample_MyE2B.cfg has sample code to detect host display resolution and choose different wallpapers.
  • linux script revised so works with older bash shells (thanks Todd).
New files added to \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files folder:
  • linuxmint-17-mate-32bit-v2_Persistent.mnu - for new versions of Mint
  • Tails_for_USB_HDD_Persistent.mnu - required if running Tails from a USB HDD or if you want persistence
  • Change_Wallpaper.mnu - allows user to change the wallpaper background from a menu entry
  • Change_Language.mnu - menu entry to change E2B language
  • Change_Theme.mnu - menu entry to allow user to select a theme
  • BlueTheme.mnu  - example of how user can select an alternate Theme template
  • Desinfect_2014_Peristent.mnu
  • Desinfect_2014_with_Updates.mnu
  • A_BlankMenuEntrySeparator.mnu - fancy 3-line separator
  • Win_Vista_7_2K8R2_Direct.mnu - for Win install menu entry with preset XML file
  • Win_Win8_2012_Direct.mnu - for Win install menu entry with preset XML file and/or KEY
  • PTN_LOG1_Menu.mnu - If you have an E2B drive with a Logical partition, you can boot from files on that partition with this menu.
As always, let me know if you find any problems - there are many 1000's of happy E2B users who don't have a problem, so if you do find a problem ,it will probably be due to an incompatibility with your particular system or payload file. Many of these sorts of problems can be worked-around or fixed, but only if you let me know using the Contact Me page on the website!

Let me know what you think of the new changes.

 Please tick 'funny' 'interesting' or 'cool' or add a comment to let me know which posts you most enjoy.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A problem with a wireless mouse and USB 3.0 flash drives was driving me crazy!

If you have read my blog, you may remember that I had built a new system a few months ago - see here.
On the whole I have been very pleased with the system. It is quiet and fast.

The front panel has four USB ports, the top two are USB 2.0 and the bottom two are USB 3.0.
I specifically wanted this Cooler Master N600 case so that I could have convenient access to both types of ports.

The only problem that I have been having for months now was with the Anker Wireless Mouse and dongle that I have fitted to the front panel USB 2.0 port.

Most of the time it worked just great, but I noticed that when I plugged in a USB 3.0 Flash drive into the USB 3.0 port on the front panel, the wireless mouse started to respond in an unreliable and jerky fashion, particularly just after the USB 3.0 Flash drive had been connected. If left it for a few minutes, the wireless mouse response would improve, but it still gave me trouble and still caused me great frustration (and I now humbly apologise for any physical harm that I may have caused to the poor mouse and the abusive comments I may have shouted in moments of anger)!

My first thought was that perhaps the single AA battery in the mouse was getting flat, I found that if I changed it for a new one, the response did seem to improve slightly, however it still wasn't perfect.

As always, as soon as I unplugged the USB 3.0 Flash drive - the mouse responded perfectly!

I tried many different USB drives and found that:

1. The issue only occurred with USB 3.0 Flash drives  (not external USB 3.0 hard disks which, of course, had a short USB 3.0 lead)
2. The issue only occurred when I connected a USB 3.0 flash drive to the USB 3.0 front port - if I connected the same flash drive to the other spare USB 2.0 front port or rear USB 3.0 port - no problem!
3. If I connected a USB 2.0 Flash drive to a front USB 3.0 port there was no problem.
4. There was no difference in behaviour, whether I connected the USB 2.0 wireless dongle to the front USB 3.0 port or to the front USB 2.0 port.
5. If I replaced the wireless dongle with an ordinary wired USB 2.0 mouse it worked fine.
6. The wireless dongle worked in the rear USB ports (but this was inconvenient if I wanted to use the dongle in another system, because I could not easily get access to the rear of the PC to remove it).

Over the last few months, I have tried updating the USB chipset drivers of my Haswell mainboard but to no avail.

Today however, I Googled for 'USB 3.0 wireless mouse jerky' and found this thread.
It said that USB 3.0 signals can cause interference with the 2.4GHz wireless mouse dongle and that I should separate the USB 3.0 flash drive from the USB 2.0 wireless Bluetooth dongle. It cited an Intel PDF on the subject here (esp. see 4.3).

So I got out a spare, well-shielded USB 2.0 extension cable and used it to connect the wireless dongle to the same USB 2.0 front port as before.


Fig. 1   Before (mouse was jerky)    - and -     Fig.2  After (works perfectly)!

The result was  (drumroll......)   >>>   the wireless mouse now works fine!

Even if I taped the wireless dongle directly on top of the USB 3.0 Flash drive it still worked without any problems! This suggests to me that Intel's assumption that the problem was caused by radiated interference is not correct. It seems to me that the problem is caused by electrically transmitted noise.

Another test was to completely wrap the USB 3.0 Flash drive in tin foil and earth the foil to prevent any wireless interference (without using an extension cable). Again this proved ineffective.

I also tried inserting a 1m USB 3.0 extension cable between the Corsair GT USB 3.0 Flash drive and the front panel USB 3.0 port with the wireless dongle directly plugged into the USB 2.0 port  (i.e. as in Fig.1 but using a USB 3.0 cable to connect the Flash drive). I placed the flash drive directly next to the wireless dongle so it would cause maximum radiated interference - again the mouse worked fine!

So it seems that merely using a USB extension cable fixes the problem - this may be because the RF frequencies in the USB 3 data lines or power lines are being absorbed by the USB cable's ground shield, so that less electrical RF noise get's back to the front panel PCB via the signal/data wires.

So I am not at all convinced that this is a case of wireless interference - more likely, it is a case of poor grounding and isolation on the USB port PCB that is inside the front panel of the case. It may be that a few high-frequency decoupling capacitors sprinkled around the USB port PCB may fix the problem, but I am going to leave that for another day! Getting rid of high-frequency noise such as 2.4GHz is tricky and often a multi-layer PCB with close ground-Vcc planes is the only way - this would mean Cooler Master would need to make a decent multilayer front panel PCB. Better grounding would also help!

Equally, there may be a lack of high-frequency decoupling inside the USB 3.0 Flash drives too (I tried 3 different makes and they all gave problems - Corsair Voyager GT 32GB, a Pretec Rex 100 8GB and a Busbi 16GB, the Busbi USB 3.0 Flash drive had a silver 'metalic-paint' plastic case and did not seem to cause quite as much of a problem as the other two). The PCBs inside these pen drives are often simple dual-layer PCBs.


So just bear in mind that if you have  USB 3.0 devices  AND wireless devices such as  wireless mouse dongles, bluetooth dongles or WiFi dongles (or perhaps TV tuner dongles) - keep all USB 3.0 devices away from them. If possible, use rear ports for one and front USB ports for the other.

If you are still having problems, try using short, well-shielded USB cables instead of connecting them directly to the system's USB ports.

If they ever start making USB 3.0 versions of wireless dongles - I can see this issue becoming a BIG problem!

P.S. Since sorting out this problem, I have noticed that the battery in my wireless mouse lasts for several months now instead of just a few weeks. My guess is that it had to keep re-transmitting 100's of bluetooth packets due to the interference problems and that this quickly depleted the battery.

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