Saturday, 12 April 2014

Booting from multiple UEFI partition images with Easy2Boot - testing so far...

Progress is being made on the MakePartImage.cmd script to convert ISOs and bootable USB drives into images for Easy2Boot. The actual code in Easy2Boot has not needed to be changed for a week now, I am just working in the conversion of ISOs and USB drives into partition images that will boot as .imgPTN files.

For most ISOs, you can drag-and-drop the ISO onto a Desktop shortcut for MakePartImage.cmd and just hit [Enter] about 4-6 times to accept the default suggestions (FAT/NTFS, size of image, image name and location and syslinux version if required + any 'fixups'.)

So far I have tested these ISO conversions, they are all on my 32GB USB flash drive and they all work (black=MBR mode, red= also boots in UEFI mode).
  • 12.Hiren.s.Boot.CD.15.2.imgPTN
  • android-x86-1.6-r2.imgPTN
  • DLC.Boot.2013.imgPTN
  • DLCD_Ultimate.2014.v1.imgPTN
  • dsl-4.11.rc2.imgPTN
  • Fedora17.imgPTN
  • Fedora-18-i686-Live-LXDE.imgPTN
  • Fedora-Live-LXDE-i686-19-1.imgPTN
  • HBCD_DLC 2.0.imgPTN
  • HPACUOFFLINE.imgPTN (made from a working USB Flash drive)
  • zorin-os-8.1-core-64.imgPTN
  • 7601.17514.101119-1850_x64fre_server2012_eval_en-us-GRMSXEVAL_EN_DVD.imgPTN
  • bitdefender-rescue-cd.imgPTN
  • Fedora-Live-Desktop-x86_64-19-1.imgPTN
  • Fedora-Live-Desktop-x86_64-20-1.imgPTN
  • linuxmint-14.1-cinnamon-dvd-64bit.imgPTN
  • pmagic_2013_06_15.imgPTN (allows changes to be saved too!)
  • Sabayon_Linux_14.05_amd64_Minimal.imgPTN
  • korora-20-x86_64-gnome-live.imgPTN
Since they are booting from a 'flat filesytem', if the OS supports it, changes can be saved to the same partition. If you want this feature in say, the Partition Magic image, remember to make the image size larger than the ISO files actually need, to allow extra room for the extra files that it will save.

I found a few that wouldn't fully boot inside VBox (using DavidB's VMUB utility to boot from the USB drive), but they did work on a real system. Some were even more fussy about booting in UEFI mode from VBox, although most UEFI-booted successfully  (much to my surprise!). They did all boot on a real system however.

I have made some more changes to the MakePartImage.cmd script and found quite a few more problems that needed solving. The user can now choose the version of syslinux that is needed (it defaults to installing version 4 if syslinux/isolinux is detected). For instance, I found the HP Tools image (made by MakePartImage from a working USB flash drive) needed to have an older version of syslinux 3.75 installed.

The MakePartImage script also attempts to 'fix-up' any config files it finds, to correct them for the E2B image boot method. For instance, the volume name of the image is different (you can't have a volume name of 'Fedora-Live-Desktop-x86_64-19-1' as a FAT32 volume label!), it also changes cheat code kernel parameters such as 'CDLABEL' to 'LABEL' and 'media=cdrom' to 'media=USB' as well as updating any occurrence of the volume UUID in the config files to match the new volume UUID of the image.

So far I have tested these images as FAT32 volumes. I don't really intend to support NTFS volumes (due to problems with syslinux installing to NTFS volumes on older versions), but Windows Install ISOs with large Install.wim files will work on NTFS volumes, as should WinPE ISOs.

I found that Windows get very confused if you change the disk image of the E2B drive inside Virtual Box and then exit Virtual Box! Even though the partitions have been changed, Windows quite happily carries on accessing the files inside it as if it still had the original partitions! DavidB has fixed this in the latest versions of VMUB now.

The MPI Toolkit download is on the site in the Downloads area as usual.