Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Disabling System Volume Information folder for Removable drives

If you read my previous blog and tried the Registry fragment I provided in a previous blog post, you may have found that it does not actually seem to stop Windows from making a System Volume Information folder on some systems.

It used to work (honest!), but recent versions of Windows 10 also require you to stop (disable) the Storage Service too (type 'Services' into the start menu to find the management applet). I think this service used to be called 'Removable Storage' in earlier Windows versions.

Double-click and disable the service.
So, for recent Win10 versions:

1. Disable the Storage Service
2. Install the Registry Fragment
3. Reboot
4. From an Admin command prompt, type rd /s "L:\System Volume Information" to delete the folder on the L: drive if it is already there (or whatever letter your USB drive is using).

I am not sure what affect disabling the Storage Service has on the system, Microsoft seem very sketchy with information about it. So far I have not noticed any issues (famous last words...)

RMPrepUSB v2.1.734 and new version of Disk Doctor available (with bug-fixes)

I found that the SpeedTest function in RMPrepUSB/RMPartUSB no longer seems to work on Windows 10 and gives a write error. This is now fixed in v2.1.734.

I also took the time to look into some niggly bugs in DiskDoctor (use CTRL+D inside RMPrepUSB to launch it after selecting a disk (does not work on disk 0) in RMPrepUSB).

DiskDoctor

DiskDoctor is a disk testing and editing tool which must be run with Admin privileges. The version included in RMPrepUSB has been stripped down quite a bit since I wrote it some years ago, and some functions and command line support have been removed. It was originally used as an automated test tool in a factory environment and used to test literally millions of computers.

If you want to try DD, use a disk that contains unwanted data first, until you become familiar with it!

For instance, if you start a Sequential Read of the whole disk, DiskDoctor (aka DD) will attempt to read all sectors, in blocks of a 'track' at a time, into a track buffer (63x255 sectors). This can take several hours for a 2TB HDD!

Monday, 26 September 2016

New USB_BOOT_v2.iso (Plop! CD)

I have updated the USB_BOOT CD ISO file to use the latest version of grub4dos. The CD may now work with a wider range of USB 2.0 controllers. Download USB_BOOT_v2.ISO from here in the Alternate Downloads Areas and burn it to a CD (remember those?).

USB_BOOT_v2 CD with latest grub4dos version

  1. The USB_BOOT CD will boot to a grub4dos menu and then will automatically install the grub4dos USB 2.0 read\write driver.
  2. If no USB drive is detected, it will then automatically run Plop! to load a USB 2.0 read-only driver.
  3. If a driver is loaded successfully, it should then boot from a USB drive (e.g. an Easy2Boot USB drive).

The CD is useful for systems that will not boot straight from a USB Flash drive or USB HDD but will boot from a USB CD (or IDE\SATA CD-ROM drive).

Note that modern USB 3.0 systems will probably not work (even if you use a USB 2.0 port), but these modern systems should boot from any USB drive anyway.

Quickly make WinPE ISOs using Lazesoft Recovery Suite

If you want to quickly make some 64-bit and 32-bit WinPE bootable ISOs, which also contain some useful utilities, try the free Lazesoft Recovery Suite Home Edition.

Note: I have not fully tested any of the Lazesoft utilities yet, this blog post is just to inform you of a useful set of ISOs.

You first need to download and run lsrshsetup.exe to install it onto your Windows system and then run it (or the separate Desktop entry for the Lazesoft recovery suite media builder).

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Problems installing Ubuntu x64 UEFI in Virtual Box

I have been trying to compile my own grub2 boot code files (core.img and bootx64.efi) recently.

To do this, I needed to set up a VM with Ubuntu x64 in UEFI-mode.

Easy right?

Err.... no!

E2B v1.84 released

E2B v.1.84 full version is released.

Changes from v1.84c beta are:

  • official grub4dos 2016-09-20 release (should be similar to the test version in 1.84c)
  • Some more Download URL links added to \_ISO\docs folder
  • Cub Linux + persistence Sample Mnu File added.
The 'SultryWoman' bitmap and MyE2B.cfg file are available
from the Alternate Downloads - Themes area.

Changes since v1.83 are:

RMPrepUSB v2.1.733 (Beta status) available - with grub2 USB drive installer

RMPrepUSB v2.1.733 changes are:

  • Latest grub4dos 0.4.6a 2016-09-20 (grldr)
  • Can install grub2 to MBR via BootLoaders tab
  • FAT32 partitions now start at LBA 2048 instead of LBA63 (RMPartUSB v2.1.733)
You can now install grub2 boot code onto the first sectors of a USB drive.

Friday, 16 September 2016

UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta4 available

UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta4 has a few small bug fixes to some .grub2 files and the grub2 menu entries have been tweaked slightly so that the text in the menus aligns better.
I have also changed the Excel spreadsheet slightly.
The main changes in .grub2 has been around the naming of kali isos.
If you already have the Beta3 version on your E2B drive, instructions on how to update to a later version are here.

If you use the Grub2 menu system with E2B, please let me know. I have had very little feedback about it and so it is still in Beta status. If I get reports that people are using it successfully, then I will officially 'release' it.

The downloads are in the Alternate Download Areas - Other Files folder.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Registry fragment to prevent creation of System Volume Information folder

For Windows 8/10, you can add a Registry fragment that will stop Windows from creating a System Volume Information folder on all your USB drives.

The download is available from the Alternate Download Area - Other Files folder (direct link here).

I will also include the registry fragment in E2B v1.84 in the folder:
\_ISO\docs\E2B Utilities\Disable_System_Volume_Information_Folder_Creation.

Note: In recent versions of Windows 10, as well as the Registry Fragment, you need to stop (disable) the Storage Service too (type Services into the start menu to find the management applet).
For more info, see my previous blog here (the Take Ownership reg tweak is really useful too!).

FYI: The top three posts in my entire blog are:

  1. A faster test for fake SD cards and USB Flash drives (*more popular by a factor of x10!)
  2. Deleting the 'System Volume Information' folder from a USB drive (and other system files\folders)
  3. Add Microsoft ERD Commander and MSDart Windows Recovery ISOs to Easy2Boot
Please tick one of the 'Reactions' boxes if you enjoyed a post.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Chromium OS (Cub Linux) with persistence

Cub Linux is Chromium+Ubuntu. Unlike ChromixiumOS, it comes in a nice LiveCD ISO format and so we can easily run this from an E2B drive. As it is based on Ubuntu, we can also add persistence.




Here is the .mnu for the 64-bit version (also added to \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\linux\CubLinux-amd64_Persistent.mnu in E2B v1.84d).

Once you cancel your credit/debit card, it cannot be used again, right?... WRONG!

OK, this is nothing to do with USB drives (but you might use a card to buy a USB drive...;-)

So you lose your credit or debit card (or it is stolen). You contact the bank and they cancel it and issue you a new card. You check your next card statement at the end of the month and it looks OK. Panic over and you are safe, right?

WRONG! Actually someone could use your old card for months afterwards by using it for multiple 'contactless payments'. You could lose £100s.

How to overlay the E2B F1 Help text onto your wallpaper background

The E2B F1 Help menu is determined by the F1.cfg file, one for each language.

When you select one of the Help menu topics, the text is displayed on a plain (usually black) background. This is because the help text fills the whole screen and may get confused with the background picture in some situations (as you can see in the example below).

You can modify the F1.cfg file so that the text is overlaid on top of the current wallpaper by adding a few lines under each 'title' menu entry.


You can download the E2B v1.83 English F1.cfg file which includes these lines in all 'title' menu entries from the Alternate Download Area - Languages folder here.

You can quickly test it by adding the F1.cfg file to the \_ISO folder (but don't leave it there because it will override any language setting or normal F1.cfg file - if you want to use it permanently, make a new language folder). For more info about the F1 help menu and making a new language folder, see here and here.

P.S. The wallpaper shown above is called 'SultryWoman' and is in the  Alternate Download Area - Themes folder here. There are other wallpapers in the Themes folder too or you can download more from https://wall.alphacoders.com/  (choose 4:3 format and then reduce them to 800x600 using Paint and save as .bmp).

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

E2B v1.84c Beta available

v1.84c 

  1. Parrot+persistence sample .mnu file added. 
  2. New feature: if user presses u key during early booting to Main menu, the grub4dos USB 2.0 driver will be loaded. 
  3. Change to SDI_CHOCO Sample_MyStartup.cmd so that -y and unchecksummed packages are accepted. 
  4. Add 'Download URLs' folder to \_ISO\docs\ folder. 
  5. Add Win7 SDI_CHOCO XML files. 
  6. Fix SDI_CHOCO.cmd so does not pause if installing Win7. 
  7. Add E2B_WINHELPER_&DW.zip for Zalman\IODD. 
  8. Fix problem of F1 Help menu title not displayed (all languages). 
  9. Sample WinNTSetup diskpart script files added to \_ISO\docs\E2B Utilities\WinNTSetup folder
  10. Fix bug - if animated icon in menu, then XP+DPMS install is broken (asks for floppy disk).
I have found that if you have an animated E2B icon (or any animated icon) on the menu, this causes the installation of XP+DPMS to fail. Setup will prompt you to insert a Firadisk floppy disk and you cannot get beyond this point.
This was caused by the animated .bmp files being loaded as a virtual floppy (fd3) which interferes with the two other virtual floppies used by DPMS. This bug is fixed in this v1.84c Beta version.

Using a combination of WinNTSetup and DPMS, it is possible (I think!) to install XP onto a system that contains only USB 3.0 ports and a SATA or RAID HDD (from an unmodified MS XP SP3 ISO). The system's firmware/hardware needs to be XP-compatible however (many modern BIOSes are not).  The process is a bit messy though! See http://www.easy2boot.com/add-payload-files/windows-install-isos/winntsetup/ for more details.

The file E2B_WINHELPER_&DW.zip contains E2B_WINHELPER_&DW.RMD. This file can be loaded by a Zalman or IODD drive so that it will appear as a E2B 'Helper' Removable Flash drive. This means you do not need to carry a separate Flash drive with your Zalman/IODD drive.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

How to set up multiple backgrounds in E2B (video by Liu Evan)

A guy named Liu Evan has posted a YouTube video on how to make wallpaper backgrounds and how to have a different background for each E2B menu.

He has also made some background templates available for you to download, so you can create a 'semi-transparent' square and merge it with the background bitmap using PhotoShop (though I guess you could use gimp or Paint .Net too) on which the E2B menu can be written, as shown below.


The E2B page which describes how to set up multiple backgrounds is here.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Free Paragon Backup and Recovery 16 (until Nov 2016)

https://www.paragon-software.com/home/brh/download.html

You can build a WinPE Recovery ISO using this too (to get the ISO creation option you need to install MS WAIK WinPE support).

Original source DavesComputerTips.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Change the WinPE console font/size/position/minimize/hide, using the SetConsole utility

When running scripts, etc. using the Windows console terminal window, you often want to change it's appearance. To change the size of the window, we can use a command such as:

mode con: cols=160 lines=60

However, changing the font that is used, especially if running WinPE, is a lot more tricky, especially as we cannot reboot after changing the registry.

Whilst looking for a solution, I found the handy SetConsole utility.

Easy2Boot v1.84a Beta available

Beta v1.84a
  • Parrot+persistence sample .mnu file added. 
  • New feature: If user presses u key early when booting to E2B, the grub4dos USB 2.0 driver will be automatically loaded. 
  • Add 'Download LiveCDs' url + some others to a new \_ISO\docs\Download URLs folder. 
  • Change to SDI_CHOCO Sample_MyStartup.cmd so that -y not required and unchecksummed packages are accepted. 
  • Add Win7 SDI_CHOCO XML files. 
  • Fix SDI_CHOCO.cmd so does not pause if installing Win7. 
  • Add E2B_WINHELPER_&DW.zip for Zalman\IODD.

The Download LiveCDs.url points to a convenient web page where you can quickly find many liveCDs.

I have now tested SDI_CHOCO with Win7 and made a few tweaks as well as adding some XML files for Win7.
Note that Chocolatey automatically installs DotNet4 (which takes 10-20 minutes!) on Win7.

It seems Chocolatey now requires the packages to be checksummed and many are not. I have added some configuration lines into the Sample_MyStartup.cmd file which disables this checksum requirement and also added an option so that -y is not required (so just choco teamviewer will work automatically). if you already have a MyStartup.cmd file, you will need to add in these lines.

If you have a IOD2531 or 2541, you can load the E2B_WINHELPER_&DW.RMD file into it, and it will emulate a WINHELPER E2B USB Removable media flash drive (cool!). See my previous blog for details. If anyone owns a Zalman disk caddy, please try this file and let me know if the whole hard disk is write-enabled after it is loaded and what model/firmware you tested it on (the HDD is write-protected on the VE200, which is no good for E2B!).

Friday, 2 September 2016

Using E2B with Zalman\IODD disk drive enclosures (is the IODD 2531 the best USB HDD enclosure for E2B?)

As you know, E2B keeps its menu folders under the \_ISO folder.

The folder name of \_ISO was not a random decision on my part, it was chosen because the drive emulation disk enclosures made by IODD and Zalman both use the \_ISO folder to store payload files.

Keep reading to see how you can use the features of these devices to enhance E2B!

For those of you that don't know, with these HDD enclosures, you can select one or more payload files, and they will be emulated as a USB device.

Zalman ZM-VE200


For instance, if you select Ubuntu.iso, then any system that the HDD enclosure is connected to, will 'see' a USB CD/DVD drive containing the Ubuntu ISO file contents, just as if it were accessing a real CD/DVD drive containing a real CD\DVD (except much faster)!

Now, I recently purchased a Lenovo IdeaPad 300, and decided to try my old Zalman ZM-VE200 out on it. I found that IdeaPad 300 did not respond too well when trying to boot from an ISO loaded as a virtual CD into the Zalman VE200. It looked like the Zalman could not load the ISO quickly enough on power-on, so the IdeaPad BIOS did not detect it (even when using an SSD HDD).

Since the Zalman ZM-VE200 is USB 2.0 and therefore not very fast, and also had this issue, I decided to purchase a new emulation HDD enclosure. My choices were:

Unencrypted - IODD 2531 (SATA3) or Zalman VE300 (SATA2) or Zalman VE350 (SATA3 compatible)
Encrypted     - IODD 2541 (SATA3) or Zalman VE400 (SATA2) or Zalman VE500 (SATA3 compatible)

I have read some Amazon reviews that the Zalman VE350 is a poorer-quality version of the VE300 and the VE500 is a poorer-quality version of the VE400 as they are made by a different manufacturer (not IODD). The Zalman documentation is poor. It does not mention support for VHD, RMD, DSK for instance even though I think they are supported by the Zalmans.