Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Boot from a Zorin ISO with persistence (Easy2Boot)

Zorin is a good free linux substitute for Windows XP. It feels pretty-much like XP and includes WINE so it can run Windows applications. It seems to have quite a few drivers too (my audio, WiFi, trackpad and video just worked on my Acer 7741 laptop). If you just copy the ISO to your Easy2Boot USB drive it should just work as a 'Live CD' (but it won't boot from a VM - only from a real system as it looks for a real USB drive).

It would be handy to have persistence too. I did this by adding a .mnu file to Easy2Boot and a casper-rw file for persistence.

Persistence seemed to work and Zorin remembered changes to the Desktop, the wireless WPA password and keyboard/country settings. However there were some problems running Windows applications under WINE as there was insufficient temporary file space. I suspect that it was using the ramdrive instead of the persistence file system.

However, you can at least boot to Zorin and use the Chrome browser and play YouTube videos, etc. with the Desktop and country settings, etc. of your choice, without needing to install it.

Note: For Zorin 9 use the Zorin-os-9.1-core-64-persistent.mnu file in 2016 versions of  E2B,

Here are the instructions:

1. Download and copy a Zorin ISO (I used v8.1) to a suitable folder on your E2B drive (must be at 3rd level or deeper) - I used \_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU. Alternatively, the \_ISO\LINUX\MNU folder would also be OK. The 32-bit version would be a better choice if you want it to boot on a wider variety of systems.

2. Use RMPrepUSB to create a file formatted as an ext2 filesystem using the Create ext2 FS button.
    Filename        = zorin32-rw  (or zorin64-rw depending on which ISO you have)
    Volume name = casper-rw
    Size               =   (up to you! - I used 300MB)

3. Copy the appropriate E2B .mnu file (32 or 64-bit version) to the same folder as the .ISO file (see below). The Zorin .mnu files can befound in the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files\linus folder.

4. Run RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+F2   (WinContig) to ensure all files are contiguous.

That's it. Now boot it on a real system to try it out.

Instructions are also inside each .mnu file.

You can add many more linux ISOs with persistence in the same manner (even if they all use casper-rw as the persistent file system!). See the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files folder for more .mnu files.
This scheme works on both FAT32 and NTFS E2B USB drives (even if the version of linux you are booting to, cannot mount NTFS drives whilst booting).