Tuesday, 25 April 2017

SysInfo2.hta - an hta Windows script to quickly collect System Information

Some years ago I developed a .hta script in VBScript to collect system information. This was used on thousands of systems by field engineers and customers alike, so that they could quickly send a report back to the office techs for further diagnosis and investigation.

You can run the hta file on any Windows system that allows .hta files to be run.

If you download and unzip it, make sure the Properties - UnBlock is ticked or Windows may prevent you from running it.

I have slightly revised it now for Windows 8 and 10 and also tweaked the email facility so that you can send the report by gmail to anyone else.

RMPrepUSB v2.1.737 for Windows 10 Creator now available

If you tick the RMPrepUSB option Boot as HDD (C: 2PTNS) then RMPartUSB will create a second 31.5KB partition at the end of the drive. The type is 21hex which no previous OS has recognised.

This 2nd partition is only present because some BIOSes will boot a single-partition Removable USB drive as a floppy disk instead of a 'hard disk' and thus you just get a 'black screen - flashing cursor' when you try to boot from the drive. The presence of a 2nd primary partition ensure that even these BIOSes will boot the Removable USB drive as a 'hard disk'.

Under all previous versions of Windows, this 2nd partition was not detected by Windows and was not given a drive letter.

However, in recent versions of Windows 10, Microsoft has changed the way Windows detects primary partitions on Removable drives such as Flash Memory devices (and without actually telling anyone!). Now we can have multiple partitions on USB flash drives - we can even boot Windows 10 Creator version from a flat-file (non-VHD) Removable flash drive now!

The means that now, if you use RMPrepUSB or RMPartUSB to format a drive with the Boot as HDD option ticked, the new Windows 10 will now 'see' the 2nd partition as an unformatted volume and prompt the user to format it!

v2.1.737 now formats the 2nd partition as a small FAT12 volume. Windows will give it a drive letter and you can store files on it (though it is only 11.5KB in size after formatting!).

The download page is here.

Please report any issues ASAP.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Easy2Boot v1.92b available

E2B v1.92b BETA is now available from OneDrive here.

Changes from v1.91B are (changes from 1.92a in bold):

  • Ukrainian language added (thanks 'ruffian')
  • small bugfix to XPWINNT.g4b to allow SVR2016 folder to be selected
  • new Make_E2B to add Ukrainian lang, 
  • check added in Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd to check Windows find command is working, 
  • revised English F1.cfg help file, 
  • new RMPartUSB to format the 2nd small hidden partition to prevent Win10 Format pop-up dialogue box
  • bugfix for XP DPMS2 sometime getting wrong PCI ID and hence using the wrong driver
An E2B user contacted me to say that XP installs from ISO did not detect his internal hard disk on his HP G62 AMD notebook. I bought a G62 notebook from eBay, found the issue and fixed it.

If anyone in the UK wants a silver HP G62-a17SA, Win 10 Home 64-bit, AMD Athlon II P320 2.10GHz, 320 GB 7,200 rpm HDD, 4GB RAM, HDMI, Enet, webcam, WiFi, DVD R/W, USB 2.0 x 3, good battery, with WPS Office, very nice and clean, very few scuffs (looks almost unused), for £150 ono - let me know!

You can update your current E2B DPMS USB drives using this new Beta version.

The next BETA will include the latest version of grub4dos which hopefully has all the niggly bugs fixed now.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Install Windows 7 from USB using a USB 3.0 port

Windows 7 does not contain USB 3.0 drivers, so when you boot from a modern USB 3.0 port, it will not be able to access the USB drive and you will get a 'Missing CD\DVD drive device driver' message box.

However, by combining a Windows 10 boot.wim with Windows 7 install.wim, it is possible to install Windows 7 from a USB drive connected to a modern USB 2.0 or 3.0 port.

I have written a short 'Tutorial #139' describing how to do it.

This method means that all types of USB controllers should work (as Win10 contains USB 3.0 drivers) and you don't have to mess about adding USB drivers to the Windows 7 boot.wim file.

However, you will have to add the USB 3 drivers to the Windows 7 OS once you have booted to Windows 7, but by then you should have web access and can download them (if available). Otherwise, you can always boot to the Win10 boot.wim and use XCOPY to copy the driver folder from your USB drive onto the Win7 hard disk.

You can use the same Win7+Win10 procedure to modify an ISO and add it to E2B, or you can use MakePartImage to convert a working USB Flash drive to a .imgPTN file and add that to E2B.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

System Rescue CD 2017-04-12 released

The systemrescuecd-x86-4.9.6.iso has been updated recently.

Description: SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of Linux system utilities such as GParted, fsarchiver, filesystem tools and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It can be used for both Linux and windows computers, and on desktops as well as servers. This rescue system requires no installation as it can be booted from a CD/DVD drive or USB stick, but it can be installed on the hard disk if you wish. The kernel supports all important file systems (ext3/ext4, xfs, btrfs, reiserfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs), as well as network filesystems such as Samba and NFS.

If you add it to E2B it will 'just work'.

If you want to use the persistence feature ('backstore'), refer to my previous blog post here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

StarTech S2510BU3ISO Hard Disk Enclosure with ISO (DVD) Emulation for $20

The StarTech S2510BU3ISO Hard Disk enclosure is similar to the Zalman and IODD enclosures in that it can emulate a USB DVD drive by loading an ISO file.

Press the MODE button and the LED changes from HDD to ISO1,
 then press again for ISO2 then again for ISO3 and then back to HDD.

Friday, 14 April 2017

E2B v1.92a with Ukrainian language now available

'Ruffian' has sent me the language files for the Ukrainian language and this has been added into v1.92a which is available on OneDrive.

If you are from Ukraine Ви можете, як це, так? ;-)

Ukrainian Menu

Add Fedora with persistence to E2B

The sample menu provided in the E2B \_ISO\docs\Sample Mnu Files folder for Fedora only works if you have a FAT32 E2B USB drive - Fedora does not like NTFS volumes when booting (and it's only the year 2017!).

Here is a way to add Fedora+persistence to an NTFS E2B USB drive (MBR and UEFI).

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

E2B v1.91A and B released

I did not notice that the latest grub4dos causes E2B to display a 'WARNING: gub4dos 0.4.5' message to appear as soon as E2B starts to load.

v1.91A fixes this issue.

P.S. There are also usb driver bugs in v1.91 new grub4dos, so please use v1.91B which has the old grub4dos!

It is available on the OneDrive Alternate Download Area and soon on the E2B website.

Unfortunately, Google Drive seems to have taken a dislike of E2B v1.91 and 1.91A. As soon as I upload it, it blocks it (marks it with a flag icon). I am not sure why! Even if I zip it up with a password-encrypted zip file, Google Drive still blocks it. Grrrr.

P.S. If you are on the Developer's Insider Preview programme for Win10, note that recent developer versions of Win 10 actually break RMPartUSB and Rufus (format fails)!

If you have tried v1.91A and had no problems - please tick the 'funny' Reactions box below.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Easy2Boot v1.91 released

E2B v1.91 is available now from the Alternate Download Areas.
E2B v1.91 will be available from www.easy2boot.com in a few days.

Note: due to bugs in the new grub4dos in 1.91 - please use v1.91B which uses the older (unbuggy) version of grub4dos!

Changes from v1.90

  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version (\grldr 2017-02-04 )
  • Sample .mnu files added for 'blacklist' example (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
  • Latest version of Make_E2B.exe
  • New SCROLL LOCK feature (auto-suggest is turned on if SCROLL LOCK is on)
  • New TSUG variable to control auto-suggest feature better
  • Default delay for auto-suggest now 6 sec
  • Reduce Main Menu messages if redir set
  • Can now use redir + TSUG variables so get reduced enumeration message but still get auto-suggest prompt
  • New \_ISO\docs\Make_E2B_USB_Drive\CheckForUpdate.cmd added to show latest stable version and latest Beta version
  • Warn user if \sources folder is present on the E2B drive (causes error when using Windows install from ISO) 
  • Hold down SHIFT key before boot to automatically load grub4dos fast rd/wr USB 2.0 driver

Let me know ASAP if you spot a problem.

Add Clear Linux to your E2B USB drive

Clear Linux is provided as a UEFI-bootable only image.
Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture is focused on the Cloud. Our aim was not to make yet another general-purpose Linux distribution; sometimes lean-and-fast is better than big-and-universal.
There is a Live version and an Installer version (see here) provided as compressed xxxx.img.xz download files.
Inside each xxxx.img.xz file is a larger .img file (e.g. clear-1440-installer.img). You will need to extract this .img file (e.g. using 7Zip).
Inside this .img file (which is usually dd'd onto a USB drive), we have two images for two primary partitions (as shown by 7Zip)...

Here is how to add these to your E2B drive so we can UEFI-boot (MBR-booting is not supported).

Thursday, 6 April 2017

GrannyOS and how to add a remote image backup/restore capability to Windows

I have two ageing relatives (one over 80 and the other is nearly 100) and I wanted to set up a notebook for each of them where I could use Skype and video-conferencing to chat with them and help them with such things as email, internet banking, internet shopping, etc.

Neither of them know how to use a computer or a smart phone, but these days you really need to use the internet for pretty much everything.

It is a shame that the aged and infirm are the ones that would benefit the most from the internet, and yet they are the ones that are excluded from it because, as the saying goes, 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

About Windows 10 Installs from ISOs and how to activate using Win7/8 Product Keys

When you use Easy2Boot to install Windows 8/10/SVR2016 directly from an ISO file, E2B will ask you to specify an XML file which contains a Win 10 Product Key (or you can pick a Product Key which E2B will then patch into the XML file for you).

You can use one of the generic installation Product Keys listed by the E2B menu system or you can specify a genuine Microsoft activation key of your own.

Some versions of Windows 8/10 will just stop with a 'license error' if you don't specify a Product Key (or use an incorrect Product Key) in the XML file. If I MBR-boot from a Win 10 Home+Pro install ISO on my IdeaPad 300 (which previously had an activated UEFI-installation of Win 10 Home), then Setup only gives me the option to install Win 10 Home when using an XML file with no Product Key inside - the Win 10 Pro option is not offered at all even though the ISO contains both Pro and Home!

If I use a Win 10 Pro generic Product Key in an XML file with the same ISO, it installs Win 10 Pro.

I presume that the keys must contain encoded information which includes:
  • Type: Retail, OEM, Volume Licence MAK or KMS
  • ID: A unique ID number
  • Edition: Pro, Home, etc.
  • Version: Win10, Win7, Win8, etc.
So you need to install Windows 10 using a Win10 Product Key.

Now because Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems can still be upgraded for free to Windows 10, you can activate with a Windows 7 or Windows 8 Product Keys after you install a new Windows 10 OS, but you can't use a Win7/8 key as an installation key.

EXAMPLE: Win 10 Pro for less than £3!

For instance...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Easy2Boot v1.91g available

This 1.91g BETA has a new version of grub4dos at \grldr.

Let me know if you find any problems. To confirm that a particular problem is caused by the new version of grub4dos, simply use a \grldr file from an earlier version of E2B.

Changes to grub4dos include:

  • When using ls command on an empty folder, it now returns false on all filesystems (bugfix)
  • ls command now highlights folder names in the output text
  • grub4dos USB2 driver improved
  • Volume label read and write function (vol) improved
  • UUID write function added

Note: As much as possible, E2B does not rely on new features. This means that older versions of grub4dos can be still used (e.g. 4.0.5c) which is useful for regression testing, etc.

Another small change is that the SCROLL LOCK = ON state will now always force the auto-suggest prompt to be displayed (even if running a xxxx.isodefault file).

Also, SCROLL LOCK will always be turned off whenever QRUN.g4b is run. This is because if SCROLL LOCK is on when isolinux/syslinux runs, it boots to the command shell instead of the isolinux/syslinux menu.

Please report any problems or queries.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Windows 10 Creators Edition brings major change for Removable USB drives!

As recently mentioned by Akeo (Rufus author) on reboot.pro here, The new Windows 10 Creators Edition seems to have changed the way it handles Removable USB drives!

Previously, Windows XP/7/8/10 would only mount one partition on a Removable USB drive. However, now it seems to treat a Removable USB drive almost the same as a Fixed-Disk drive and you can assign drive letters to multiple partitions (if they exist) on a Removable USB drive!

This is a big change, so this may well cause problems with all sorts of USB-friendly apps!

Tip: To see what version of Windows you have, use the WINDOWS+R key chord and type WINVER in the Run box...

Easy2Boot goes commercial - April Fool!

All versions of Easy2Boot produced for over a year now, have contained some embedded code which will check the BIOS date. If the BIOS date is more than 30 days from today, then certain functions (e.g. automatic menu building, QRUN feature, WIM and VHD booting, etc.) will no longer work unless a licence is found.

Switch_E2B.exe, MakePartImage and UEFI-booting from .imgPTN files will not check for a licence however and will work as before.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Easy2Boot 1.91f available

E2B v1.91f
  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version \grldr 2017-02-04 
  • 'blacklist' sample .mnu files (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
  • New version of Make_E2B.exe (1.91c)
  • New SCROLL LOCK feature (1.91c)
  • New TSUG variable to control auto-suggest feature better (1.91d)
  • Default delay for auto-suggest now 6 sec
  • Reduce Main Menu messages if redir set
  • Can now use redir + TSUG so get reduced enumeration message but still get auto-suggest prompt
  • New \_ISO\docs\Make_E2B_USB_Drive\CheckForUpdate.cmd added to show latest stable version and latest Beta version.
CheckForUpdate.cmd reports latest stable version and latest Beta version
Using options 1, 2 or 3 should open up the appropriate web browser page.

Betas are available from the Alternate Download Areas as usual.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Add Paragon Rescue Kit 14 64-bit .imgPTN file to Easy2Boot (MBR+UEFI)

If you have the Paragon Rescue Kit 14 x64 ISO, you can add it to E2B in the normal way as an ISO file or convert it to a FAT32 .imgPTN file for UEFI-booting. The 32-bit versions does not support UEFI-booting.

Tip: Download the RTK14_free.exe free trial version and then use 7zip to open it and find the iso file.

However, the .imgPTN file will only UEFI-boot - it will not successfully MBR-boot to Paragon Rescue.

MPI Tool Kit v0.073 available (with bugfix for Windows 10 v. 1607)

I was unable to find a way to work around the vbscript problem which Windows 10 v1607 and 1703 seem to have now have (due to a recent KB update!), so I wrote a small vb6  MakeLinkAdmin.exe utility instead!

If your Desktop Shortcut links for the MPI Tool Kit appear to be bad, please try the new MPI Tool Kit and let me know if you still have any problems.

Copy the new MPI folder to your Desktop and then run the CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file to create the new Desktop shortcuts.

The download is in the Alternate Download Areas.

Latest Windows 1607 update (KB4015438) breaks MPI Tool Kit (and VBScript)!

If you use the MPI Tool Kit CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file with Windows 1607 or later, it no longer creates valid Desktop shortcuts!

I updated to 14303.3.969 from 14303.3.0 using KB4015438 and now the same vbscript fails!
So KB4015438 has broken vbscript!!!

The problem appears to be in the VBScript file. Microsoft seem to have broken something!

The code that is not working reads the .lnk shortcut file on the Desktop, changes one byte (for 'run as Admin') and then writes back the .lnk file. This code now does not seem to work and causes the file contents to be corrupted!

I have tried alternative methods but so far have not found a solution.

StopPress: I couldn't find a fix in vbscript, so I have worked around it another way! This issue should be fixed in MPI v0.073.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Convert Windows MBR-partioned disks to GPT using MBR2GPT

FYI: MBR2GPT is now available in Windows 10 version 1703 (Windows 10 Creator's Update) and later versions. The tool is available in both the full OS environment and in Windows PE.

If apparently will convert an offline Windows MBR disk to a GPT disk.

Video here.

Perhaps, useful if you want to transfer your OS to a larger 3 or 4TB Hard Disk. Once you have transferred the image to the new disk, you should be able to convert the new disk to GPT and then increase the size of the partitions or create a new partition to use the remainder of the drive.

I have not tested this myself yet...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

E2B Grub2 v0.08 Beta available

Thanks to an email from a user, I have now discovered that the 'openSUSE' menu heading comes from the English language translation file at \boot\grub\locale\en.mo.

For some reason the Windows Find&Replace utility FNR.exe which I used, did not find any strings inside this file which is why I missed it!

Anyway, Beta 8 now has a GRUBHEAD variable in the \menu.lst file inside the UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta8.imgPTNLBAa23 partition image. This allows me to change the grub2 heading to anything I like by using grub4dos to patch the en.mo file.

I also increased the length of the en.mo file to accommodate longer headings.

The grub2 menu heading can be changed by editing \menu.lst

GRUB2 Beta 7 now available for Easy2Boot (bugfix for Beta 6)

The Grub2 Beta 6 release had a bug and you may find some 64-bit payload files (e.g. ubuntu.iso) were not listed in the menu.

This was due to the code which detects a 64-bit CPU having a bug in main.cfg - the BIT64 variable was never set! For example, \_ISO\MAINMENU\ubuntu.iso would not be displayed in the menu.

This is now fixed in Beta 7.

To update your Easy2Boot drive, download the new Beta 7 zip file and replace the UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta6.imgPTNLBAa23 file with the new UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta7.imgPTNLBAa23.

Sorry if this caused you any frustration!

P.S. Beta 8 is also available which now allows the grub2 menu heading to be changed to whatever we want!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Feedback from E2B users wanted on the QRUN 'auto-suggest' feature

For E2B v1.91, I am thinking of changing the default action (i.e. when you do not press any key and let it time-out or you press the ENTER key) for the E2B QRUN 'auto-suggest' prompt from 'No' (do not use suggested file extension) as shown below...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Beware when downloading files via a USB WiFi dongle !!!

Whenever I am using a WiFi USB dongle to download files, I always check the CRC/MD5 hash value of the file using the free Windows utility HashTab. This is a really handy utility which integrates nicely with the standard Windows - Properties feature to give an extra File Hashes tab...

The reason for checking the hash value of the downloaded file (even though it appears to be the correct size and it downloaded without error) is that external interference can cause the file to be corrupt!

Yes, honestly! I have tested this myself and proved that electromagnetic interference caused a perfectly good .ZIP file to be successfully downloaded from t'internet BUT it often was corrupt and 7Zip would tell me so when I tried to unzip it!

In this case, the interference was caused by a room-light dimmer switch (hence file corruption
occurred only at night!) - see my previous blog for more details here.

I don't know if the data corruption occurred in the USB data transfer or the WiFi-to-data decoding, but it was repeatable and reproducible!

So if strange things start to happen with downloaded files, always check that the file was downloaded without any data corruption by checking it's CRC\MD5\SHA-1 hash value!

Tip: As long as the last 4 characters are correct, then the chances are extremely remote that the other characters in the hash value are not also correct. So I just compare the last 4 characters.

P.S. I also know that USB 3 can interfere with Bluetooth/wireless mouse transmission, so you need to keep USB 3 devices well away from 2.4GHz dongles (see here for more details).

Friday, 17 March 2017

Split_WinISO utility by Chandra v1.0.8

Chandra's new Split-WinISO utility now will automatically add the missing bootx64.efi boot file to MS Windows 7 x64 ISOs when it makes a .imgPTN file to allow it to UEFI-boot.

Source Files: ISO or Folder  (most Windows Install and AIO ISOs should work)
Output File: .ISO or .imgPTN file

Split_WinISO will split large .wim, .esd files into smaller .swm split-wim files for you automatically.

It will even add the winpeshl.ini and mysetup.cmd files into the boot .wim for you and add an example \auto.cmd file plus XML files too (optional)! This allows you to UEFI-boot and then pick from a range of XML files to install different Windows versions or configurations. See here for more details.

To follow the development and get the download, see reboot.pro.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Easy2Boot v1.91c is available

E2B v1.91c/d
  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version \grldr 2017-02-04 
  • 'blacklist' sample .mnu files (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
  • New version of Make_E2B.exe (1.91c)
  • New SCROLL LOCK feature (1.91c)
  • New TSUG variable to control auto-suggest feature better (1.91d)

If you are bothered by the 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have a .ISO file extension!' message followed by a 5 second delay in v1.90, this bug is fixed in v1.91.

The new Make_E2B.exe now enables the QEMU button after you have made a new E2B USB drive.

The new SCROLL LOCK feature is added into QRUN.g4b. If SCROLL LOCK is on (press the Scroll Lock key once), then redir, redirp and NOSUG will be removed/cleared. This allows you to see all E2B messages when a payload is executed. This is useful if, for instance, you have used one or more of these settings in your MyE2B.cfg file but now wish to see the E2B messages when running a new payload file. (E2B v1.91+).

Only payloads that are run using QRUN.g4b are affected - the E2B messages displayed during menu file enumeration, etc. are not affected by the SCROLL LOCK key state.

If SCROLL LOCK is ON, then QRUN will show all messages.

P.S. It is no longer necessary to set the value of redir and redirp to exactly '> nul', you can now set any value and they will work (e.g. set redir=1).

I have also added a new page to the E2B website about how to reduce the number of E2B text messages here.

Stop Press: UK Mymemory Half-Price Offer on Lexar S75 128GB USB 3.0 (150MB/s read / 60MB/s write) for only £25. Not as good as a SanDisk Extreme 128GB (245/190MB/s) but much cheaper.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Official Windows ISO and Office download web page

A recent ghacks.net article has identified a new website which allows you to easily download various official MS Windows ISOs and Office installation files.

The downloads come from the Microsoft servers, similar to the sources used by the Windows Download app. but there is now no need to download the latest version of the download application first (as long as the new site page is kept up to date).

A direct link is here.

'Single Language' ISOs = Home\Core only (does not include Pro)
'English' = English USA only
'English International' = English UK plus other English-speaking countries

The rest of the rg-adguard.net site seems to contain various (Russian\English) Windows AIO ISOs and some invasive advert pop-ups appear if you try to download them, so browse/download the rest of the site at your own risk!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Instant BSOD when running WinContig (Acronis True Image issue)!

During testing of Acronis True Image 2017 NG, I noticed that as soon as I ran WinContig to make the files on my Easy2Boot USB drive contiguous, my Windows 10 64-bit system instantly gave a Blue Screen of Death! There was not even enough time to see the WinContig form appear!

I repeated this several times and it always gave an instant BSOD.

As WinContig has always been stable in the past, I suspected that the problem was with the trial version of True Image that I had just installed (downloaded from the Acronis website). So I uninstalled True Image and lo and behold, WinContig now launches and runs just fine again!

After a spot of Googling, I noticed many other users reporting BSODs with various versions of Acronis products, so I decided to report the issue to their technical department who confirmed that there were known BSOD issues...

P.S. True Image also prevented Switch_E2B.exe from working because it blocked writes to the USB MBR!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Boot Acronis True Image 2017 NG from .imgPTN file

If you want to boot a licenced version of Acronis True Image 2017 NG, you can simply add the .ISO file to E2B.

If you convert the ISO to a .imgPTN file, you can then UEFI-boot from it too, however the MBR\CSM boot entry will boot in 'Trial Mode' only with the linux version.

To fix this, add the following lines to very end of the  \menu.lst file in the .imgPTN file:

#Acronis 32 - must use quiet switch or will get busybox error!
iftitle [if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat3.dat && if exist /dat2.dat] Acronis 32-bit \n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat2.dat  vga=791 force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat4.dat set d4=/dat4.dat
initrd /dat3.dat %d4%

#Acronis 64  - must use quiet switch or will get busybox error!
iftitle [checkrange 2,3 is64bit && if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat10.dat && if exist /dat11.dat] Acronis 64-bit\n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat10.dat vga=791 force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat12.dat set d12=/dat12.dat
initrd /dat11.dat %d12%

GOTCHA! Note that you MUST include the quiet parameter or it will fail to boot!

The dat4 and dat12 files will contain the license data (if valid).

If you also want the report options which will save a zip file to the USB drive, add these lines:

iftitle [if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat6.dat && if exist /dat7.dat] Acronis Report 32-bit \n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat6.dat  vga=791 product=system_report force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat8.dat set d8=/dat8.dat
initrd /dat7.dat %d8%

iftitle [checkrange 2,3 is64bit && if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat14.dat && if exist /dat15.dat] Acronis Report 64-bit\n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat14.dat vga=791 product=system_report force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat16.dat set d16=/dat16.dat
initrd /dat15.dat %d16%

Saturday, 11 March 2017

E2B v1.91b latest BETA available

E2B v1.91b
  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version \grldr 2017-02-04 
  • 'blacklist' sample .mnu files (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
If you are bothered by the 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have a .ISO file extension!' message followed by a 5 second delay in v1.90, this bug is fixed in v1.91.

Monday, 6 March 2017

New 'Split_WinISO' utility by Chandra

Chandra has written a Windows utility that will split Install.ESD or Install.WIM files into .SWM split-wim files.

You just point it at the Windows ISO and it will create a new .ISO file containing the split-wim files.

If you place the utility in the MPI Tool Pack folder, you will get extra options which will allow you to create a FAT32 .imgPTN file directly from the original ISO (instead of creating a new ISO file).

Note: The Yellow MPI button does NOT convert to SWM, use the CONVERT button to split the WIM file (you will be asked to save as ISO or .imgPTN).

Split_WinISO will also insert the winpeshl.ini and mysetup.cmd files into image #2 of boot.wim for you and add a \auto.cmd file to the image (you will be prompted). This creates a .imgPTN file which will prompt you to select from a number of XML files which you can add to the image later. In this way, you can have various XML files containing say Home and Pro product keys, or even SDI_Choco XML files, etc. See here for more details.

This allows us to easily make FAT32 .imgPTN files for Windows Installers that can be UEFI-booted.

To follow the development and get the download, see reboot.pro.

I may add this utility into the MPI Tool Pack download for the next version.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Blacklisting modules for linux by detecting PC\NoteBook model strings in the BIOS

Stepdown recently asked on reboot.pro about how to detect specific makes\models of hardware so that the correct linux kernel parameters can be used automatically.

For instance, a certain model of system may not boot using the default linux kernel parameters unless nomodeset or a 'blacklist' module is specified as a kernel parameter.

The 'sample' example below shows how you can  detect the type of system you are using and automatically use the correct kernel parameters for that system.

I will put example .mnu files in E2B v1.91b and later versions.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Grub2 Menu system Beta 6 available for E2B

The new Beta 6 version of the grub2 menu system is available in the Alternate Downloads Area.

By default, it now does not use a grub2 theme because on some systems, it seems to cause a very slow menu response in MBR-boot mode.

You can now change the menu text colours in the \ISO\MAINMENU\grub2\defaults.txt file.
You can also specify a wallpaper .jpg or .png file to use as a background in the defaults.txt file too.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

E2B v1.90 now released

The changes from v1.89 are mainly for WinBuilder ISOs and tidying up files in the root folder of the USB drive:

v1.90 2017-02-18 (v1.91 Beta has a small bugfix to stop the 'WinBuilder ISOs must end in .ISO' message.)

  1. Support for WinBuilder_ISO.mnu sample menu file (see here)
  2. Remove 20 character filename limit for WinBuilder ISOs (.isoWB files)
  3. Add three common WinPE .ini files to root of drive
  4. QRUN.g4b will auto-detect WinBuilder .ISO files and automatically update the .ini files to correctly boot and load the ISO as Y: drive
  5. Moved sample Windows XML files to SAMPLE XML FILES folders (user must copy them up one level if needed)
  6. \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO is now not updated/copied by the update script
  7. Make_E2B.exe updated to latest version (QEMU button inactive if no E2B drive selected)
  8. If user sets hidden file attribute on USB:\menu.lst file, then Update script will hide most files in root each time
  9. The three .cmd scripts can be moved by user to \_ISO folder to keep the root tidy

If you are updating your E2B drive with v1.90, you may want to:

  1. Set the hidden attribute on \menu.lst first, and then run the Update script. This will cause most of the files in the root of the E2B drive to be hidden.
  2. Move the three v1.90 .cmd files in the root of the E2B drive to \_ISO folder to keep the root folder looking tidy.
  3. Delete any unwanted XML files in your \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx folders to reduce the number of XML files listed by E2B. They will not be replaced when you update in future.
  4. If you have any WinBuilder-based ISOs (e.g. Gandalf, ChrisR WinPESE's, WinPE-Yol, Dium, MediCat, etc.), you might like to try just leaving them with a .ISO file extension (and ensure no spaces in the filename) and see if they 'just work' without needing any other .WB file, etc. See this page if you want to remove the QRUN auto-suggest messages each time it runs.
  5. You can just rename the download to .zip and extract it as usual if you wish.
  6. Delete the 500MB \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO file to save space - any future update will not replace it.
Use this anonymous feedback form to quickly send me feedback or leave a comment below.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Configure Windows Install ISOs with WinReducer

A recent PC Welt article described WinReducer which may be of interest to you.

This is a utility that allows you create bespoke Windows Setup files (.ISO or a USB drive). It also creates an AutoUnattend.xml file for you.

It is not too obvious how to get started and the Tutorials link did not seem to be working on the site, but you can watch a Video here.

It does nag you to Activate (purchase a licence) a lot too!

I still haven't worked out what the difference is between ES and EX versions!

Quickly make a USB drive to directly UEFI-boot from Ubuntu ISOs

If you follow Tutorial #136, you should be able to UEFI-boot directly from most Ubuntu-based ISO files.

Just copy the ISO file to the \efi\boot folder on the USB drive and rename it as boot.iso.

This is a way to quickly prepare a UEFI-bootable USB drive.

It relies on the ISO containing a \boot\grub\loopback.cfg file.

At a minimum, only two files are needed on the USB drive, the ISO and a .efi boot file.

Make a generic grub2 boot menu (using loopback.cfg)

If you have ever tried to boot directly to a linux ISO file, then you will know that it is necessary to tell the linux boot kernel/scripts where to find the ISO file so that it can load it as a 'cdrom' (loop) device and access the files inside the ISO. If this is not done, you will typically see a 'squashfs file not found' error message!

Typically we can fix this by specifying a kernel parameter or 'cheat code'.

A typical grub2 command line which loads the Ubuntu boot kernel and specifies the location of the ISO file would be:

linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz.efi boot=casper iso-scan/filename=/_ISO/ubuntu64.iso quiet splash

This allows us to boot from a grub2 USB drive (say), mount the ISO as a loop device and load the kernel and initial ramdrive files from inside the ISO file and then pass on the location of the ISO file so that when the linux kernel boots, it can re-load the ISO file as a loop device again (because the first loop device is lost when the linux kernel loads).

So to boot to linux in this way, we need to know what all these parameters need to be.

The problem is that they vary from version to version and distro to distro and we always have to do some 'research' and experimentation to try to find out what parameters we need. There also may be several menu entries (for live cd, install, safe mode, memtest, etc.) and we would need to make grub2 menus for each of them.

Enter the loopback.cfg file!

However, some distros, such as Ubuntu, contain a useful loopback.cfg file (located at \boot\grub\loopback.cfg).

Here is a typical Ubuntu loopback.cfg file which is inside the ISO file:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Make fancy E2B wallpapers, collages, web graphics, etc. with a web-based photo editor

I got some junk email this morning asking me to visit the www.fotojet.com and review it.

Normally, I immediately delete such emails, but today I thought I would take a look...

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Installing linux using E2B

If you use an E2B USB drive to boot from a linux ISO or .imgPTN file, you will often run into a problem if you are trying to install linux onto a system.

Many linux OS installation scripts or GUI's will look for the source linux files on a 'CD-ROM' drive, because they 'think' that we have booted from a CD or DVD.

I have added a new page to the E2B site here, which details how to specify the location of the linux source files.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Easy2Boot v1.90c BETA

Version 1.90c Beta has the following changes from v1.89:

  • Automatic support for WinBuilder-based ISOs (e.g. Gandalf, Dium, Yol, ChrisR PEs)
  • The three most common INI files used by WinBuilder ISOs now added to root of the E2B drive
  • QRUN.g4b improved to automatically detect WinBuilder ISOs
  • WinBuilder ISOs are checked to ensure no spaces in filename and end with .ISO extension
  • UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD will automatically 'tidy' files if \menu.lst is hidden by user
  • Windows 7/8/10 XML files now in SAMPLE XML FILES subfolders. To use them, copy them to the appropriate folder, e.g. from \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10\SAMPLE XML FILES to \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10
v1.90c is available from the Alternate Downloads Areas as usual.

How to keep things tidy!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Easy2Boot v1.90b BETA now available

E2B v1.90b now has three extra blank files added:
  • \Win7PESE.ini
  • \Win8PESE.ini
  • \Win10PESE.ini
These are the most common .ini files used by WinBuilder ISOs.

I have also modified QRUN.g4b so that if you try to run an .ISO file that contains WinBuilder files inside the ISO, QRUN will update the three .ini files with the name of the ISO. The WinBuilder PE OS should then automatically load the ISO as a virtual Y: CD drive when it reaches the Desktop.

This seems to work for most normal WinBuilder ISOs (e.g. made using ChrisR's project or TheOven projects) and also Gandalf, MediCat and WinPEYol ISOs, etc.

With most WinBuilder ISOs, you need to follow a few rules though or WinBuilder won't load the ISO as drive Y: correctly:

Thursday, 9 February 2017

E2B v1.90a Beta has improved WinBuilder ISO support

As an alternative way to boot WinBuilder ISOs such as Gandalf WinPE WinBuilder ISOs, starting with E2B v1.90, you can also use a simple .mnu file.

The v1.90a Beta includes a sample WinBuilder_ISO.mnu file which you can copy and modify for each of your WinBuilder ISOs.

# WinBuilder sample .mnu file - example for Gandalf x86 64-bit WinPE 2016-11 version (requires E2B v1.90 or later)
# click on the Desktop Yellow Warning Triangle to find .ini file name for each WinBuilder ISO
# ISO filename must not contain spaces or it won't be loaded as Y: virtual CD!!!
# You must create the \WIN10PESE.ini file in root of E2B drive and fill it with 1000 characters of random junk
title Gandalf PE 64-bit WinBuilder ISO\n Boot a WinBuilder ISO
set ISOFN=Gandalfx64WindowsPE.iso
set IniName=WIN10PESE.ini
if not exist $HOME$/%ISOFN% echo ERROR: $HOME$/%ISOFN% NOT FOUND! && pause
if exist     $HOME$/%ISOFN% call /%grub%/QRUN.g4b force.isoWB $HOME$/%ISOFN%

So all you need are three files:
  • \WIN10PESE.ini - must be approx 1K (any contents)
  • \_ISO\WINPE\MNU\Gandalfx64WindowsPE.iso
  • \_ISO\WINPE\MNU\Gandalfx64WindowsPE.mnu - the .mnu file
This saves having to make a WB folder and a xxxxx.WB file although this method is still supported in v1.90.

The improved code in QRUN.g4b also checks that the filename does not contain spaces and removes the 20-character filename limit/bug that was in previous versions of E2B.

E2B v1.90a will be uploaded in a day or so to the Alternate Download Areas!

If using SysPrep and DISM\IMAGEX to deploy Windows, watch out for this trap!

If you boot to Windows PE and use some sort of script to install Windows OS's to systems using ImageX or DISM, you should check your NTFS Junction points!

So after you have deployed the image and it is booting to Windows nicely, simply drop to an Admin command shell and type  dir /aL

Check your Junctions!

You should see that the Junctions and Symlinks all point to the Windows drive.

If they do not, then you may get some weird problems when installing or running some programs, or with some internal Windows functions.

How to boot 'Gandalf's Win10PE x86 Redstone-11-07-2016_x64.iso' (or any WinBuilder ISO)

The Gandalf WinPE ISO Gandalf's Win10PE x86 Redstone-11-07-2016_x64.iso cannot be easily booted using Easy2Boot (or any similar system).

This is because the filename used by Gandalf contains spaces and there is a bug in the MountPEMedia.exe utility used by WinBuilder PE's - they will not load the .ISO file as the Y: drive if it uses a .ini file and the .iso file contains spaces in the filename.

If you use E2B v1.90+, then Gandalf and other WinBuilder-based WinPE ISOs will just work! Simply ensure that there are no spaces in the filename and that the file extension is .iso (not .isodefault).

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

E2B v1.89 released

  • New self-extracting exe file format for downloads (can be renamed to .zip for extraction)
  • MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd script now tests for >137GB drives and prompts you to select a partition size of 137GB for best compatibility (or MAX)
  • Make_E2B.exe red button automatically reduces partition size to 137GB if target drive is over 137GB (no user prompt) and always uses NTFS
  • German translation for E2B menu has minor changes (thanks to Frettt!).
  • Utilities - Measure BIOS performance, now reports results in seconds
  • SWITCH_E2B new version 1.0.14
  • NoF1F7F8F9F10 MyE2B.cfg file in Themes folder added (to configure a Menu without the menu items for F1-F10)
Download page here.

New version of WinNTSetup available from JFX

Using WinNTSetup, you can install from virtually any Windows Installer ISO from within a WinPE environment.

Version  (latest is now of WinNTSetup3 is now available from here from JFX on MSFN.

It has several bug fixes. You should now be able to run a diskpart script (using undocumented ctrl+shift+D command) to partition and format a drive and also it can now directly access a Windows ISO file to get at the install.wim or install.esd file without needing to extract it. The .iso file will be mounted by ImDisk when selected.

This new version also now works with Microsoft ISOs that contain \Sources\Install.esd files and \x86\Sources\Install.esd and \x64\Source\Install.esd files.

For more details (and how to MBR-boot to WinPE to prepare a GPT disk for a UEFI installation of Windows - even using SDI_CHOC too) see here for the best way to use WinNTSetup from an E2B USB drive.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

E2B v.1.89e Beta available

Changes from previous Beta:

  • Utilities - Measure BIOS performance, now reports results in seconds
  • SWITCH_E2B.exe  v1.0.14
Brian contacted me about a problem he had with SWITCH_E2B.exe v.1.0.13 on his Windows 8.1 system. It reported a getFileExtents (GFE) error when first launched, and after pressing OK, it would not list any drives in the drive list.

It turns out that the GFE error was due to the getFileExtents.exe helper file not liking BitLocker C: drives (SWITCH_E2B.exe extracts it's files to a temporary folder on the C: drive and then checks that getFileExtents works).

The next issue was caused by one of the other USB drives that he had already attached to his Windows system. It had a drive letter of B: (A: and B: are usually reserved for floppy drives). He got a 'READ ERROR' and the drive list code aborted. The new version of SWITCH_E2B.exe does not abort (but will not list drives A: or B:). RMPrepUSB also does not like USB drives being drive A: or B: either!

Fix non-adjustable brightness on AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5000 series notebooks for Windows 10

If you have a notebook with Windows 10 that uses the AMD Radeon (Catalyst) graphics chipset, you may find that the default AMD video driver that is automatically installed by Windows does not support any brightness adjustment.

This means that the notebook battery will not last as long because it is always on full brightness.

This is a VERY common problem on Windows 10 notebooks with AMD graphics that have been re-installed, so you should always check that the brightness controls work after re-installing Windows or Windows drivers and for that matter, all the special control features (Fn keys, etc) on the notebook.

You can install the standard Microsoft Windows 10 VGA driver, but this reduces the maximum screen resolution (even though the brightness control does then work).

It turns out the solution is a simple registry fix.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Virtual Box 'VT-x is not available. (VERR_VMX_NO_VMX)' error

Most modern CPUs support VT-x. This allows VBox to run much faster.

You can use VBox+VMUB to boot directly from a USB drive within Windows.
Note that the USB drive will be seen as a SATA or IDE hard disk by the guest OS (not as a USB drive and not as a 'Removable' drive - so E2B Windows Installs from an ISO will not work correctly).

In order to enable VT-x, you need to have a VT-x capable CPU, then enable VT-x in the BIOS settings and make sure that no other software is 'grabbing' that resource (e.g. Hyper-V).

There is a good article on How-to Geek about this.

My VBox was working fine until I upgraded my system to Win10 Pro for £2.84 (see previous blog post)  and installed Hyper-V as a Windows 'Feature'. Then I got the dreaded Virtual Box 'VT-x is not available. (VERR_VMX_NO_VMX)' error message when trying to use VMUB.

It seems the only solution was to uninstall Hyper-V, so now it is all working again!

How to make a .VHD from a .imgPTN file (or how to copy all Windows files to a different drive)

Basically, I had a complete working Windows installation on a disk Volume and I just wanted to copy all files to another disk Volume...

Actually, I had created a new 16GB NTFS  .imgPTN file and installed WindowsToGo onto it.
The .imgPTN file booted to Windows nicely.

However, I wanted to convert the partition to a .VHD fixed-size (not dynamic) file so I could add it to my E2B drive and boot directly to it without having to 'switch' partitions - this would allow me to directly access all of the files on the E2B drive after I had booted from the VHD.

Since the WinToGo partition was located on a 500GB USB drive, I did not want to use a DisktoVHD conversion tool because I would end up with a 500GB .VHD file!

I could not find a way to simply copy the files from the USB drive to an empty VHD virtual drive. I kept running into permission issues, symbolic link issues, locked files and other access problems caused by Windows thinking the files were important OS files!

Even upgrading my Windows Home OS to Pro and using VSS didn't help.

After asking the good guys on reboot.pro, it was suggested I use Olof's strarc utility and it worked a treat!

Here is what I did:

Saturday, 4 February 2017

How to upgrade to (or get) Win 10 Pro for £2.84p!

I wanted to copy a full Windows installation from a USB drive to a VHD, but I was being constantly frustrated by Windows 10 locking some of the files in the \Windows folder on the USB drive. This was preventing me from copying many of the Windows files on the USB drive to the VHD, even though I had booted to Windows 10 Home from my hard disk and Windows shouldn't even be locking the files on the USB drive!

Now there are several solutions to copying 'locked' files, but none of them were successful because I was running Windows 10 Home and I suspected that the problem might be connected the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Hyper-V not being supported in Windows Home. I could have resorted to booting to WinPE, mounting the VHD using Diskpart and then copying over the files, but this would be inconvenient if I had to do this many times in a day.

So, I decided to upgrade my Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro and spend the £2.84p required (and hang the expense!).

Here is how I did it...

Friday, 3 February 2017

Add LibreElec 'Krypton' KODI to E2B

The new Kodi 'Krypton' version is available as a LibreElec Beta build here.

I used LibreELEC-Generic.x86_64-7.95.1.img.gz
You can follow the instructions in a previous blog to get it working with persistence on your E2B drive.

LibreElec Krypton booted from E2B on my IdeaPad 300

You may need to use a real system (not VBOX) and a USB 2.0 port to get it to work!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

UEFI-booting a Windows Installer with a large (>4GB) Install.wim files using Easy2Boot

If you are trying to boot to a Windows Installer via UEFI, then you will need to use a FAT partition to hold the boot files because UEFI will only boot from a FAT partition (the EFI boot partition on a GPT disk is formatted as FAT).

The easiest thing to do, is to simply convert the whole ISO to a FAT32 partition image by dragging-and-dropping the ISO file onto the MPI_FAT32 Desktop shortcut to make a .imgPTN file.

The resultant .imgPTN file should then be UEFI-bootable and MBR-bootable (though for Win7 x64 UEFI booting, you need to tweak the files a bit - see here for details).

Large Install.wim or Install.esd files

The problem comes when you meet a Windows Installer ISO that contains a file that is over 4GB in size (for instance \Sources\Install.wim or \Sources\Install.esd). If you try to make a FAT32 .imgPTN file using MakePartImage, it will fail when it tries to copy the very large file to the FAT32 volume!

The best (most compatible) way to UEFI-boot is to have a USB drive containing a single FAT32 partition. However, the maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB.

The solution is to split the Install.wim or Install.esd file into smaller files.

The new Split_WinISO.exe Windows utility will do this for you. Just feed it the ISO and it will make a .imgPTN file for you (or a new ISO with split WIM files).

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

E2B v1.89b/c Beta now available

I have added a few tweaks to the v0.0.3 Make_E2B.exe GUI:
  • Button added to run MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd script - you can use this if you want FAT32 or configure the MyE2B.cfg file in a different way.
  • MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd script now tests for >137GB drives and prompts you to select a partition size of 137GB for best compatibility
  • Make_E2B.exe button automatically reduces partition size to 137GB if target drive is over 137GB (no user prompt)
  • E2B version number now displayed in title bar
  • Remove dependency on COMDLG32.OCX (OCX is not present in Win8/10 standard OS) 
  • 'Extract E2B' button now creates a folder on your Desktop automatically (e.g. .\E2B_v1.89b)
  • v1.89c - you do not need to connect a USB drive first.
  • v.189c - German translation for E2B menu has minor changes (thanks to Frettt!).

Please try it and let me have your feedback.

The other E2B files have not been changed from v1.88.

Download from Alternate Download Areas as usual.

If you have tried it and it works, please tick the Interesting reactions box below.
if you found a problem, you can quickly send me feedback from here.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Easy2Boot v1.89a Beta now available with Make_E2B.exe Windows GUI utility

It seems that some strange people have a pathological aversion to the Windows command shell or maybe cannot read English text and type Y or a number on a keyboard (??) and so they do not like running the E2B .cmd script files to make a USB drive.

So I have written a small Windows GUI called Make_E2B.exe which will run the scripts for them!


Saturday, 28 January 2017

MPI Tool Kit v0.072 is available

Apart from small changes to the MakePartImage script (only affects text messages) and the \menu.lst file (for Acronis 2016 and 2017 conversion to .imgPTN), the \grldr grub4dos file and \e2b\SWITCH_E2B.exe have been updated.
If you wish to update to this version, unpack the download onto your Desktop and double-click on the CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file to update the MPI Desktop shortcuts for v0.072. If you have modified the old CUSTOM folder, you will also need to copy this across to the v.0.072 folder too. You can then delete the old MPI folder.

Friday, 27 January 2017

E2B v1.88 now available

v1.88 is now released and can be found in the Alternate Download Areas as .zip files (you can update a DPMS or non-DPMS version of your E2B drive just by using the smaller non-DPMS version - just run the UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD file from the download).

I will add the self-extracting .exe files and .7z files in a few days, as well as update the E2B website with 1.88 version.

See previous blog for a list of changes. Please comment if you spot a problem.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

E2B v1.88m Beta now available

I hope to release v1.88m as 1.88 Full Release version in a few days.
Please try it and let me know if you find any problems.

Changes from 1.87 are:
  • Add Server 2012 R2 Std Eval Product Key file
  • Update of Wincontig
  • Update SDI executables
  • Can now use .isofira or .isofira01 for Strelec WinPE ISOs
  • MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd now only works on the USB root (\) folder and all folders under \_ISO. Any user folders under the root (e.g. disk backups, applications, etc.) will not be made contiguous when the script is run.
  • MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd can now be run from your E2B USB drive to make a new E2B drive.
  • Later version of grub4dos 0.4.6a
  • New jpeg-based default purple background for 2017
  • Some changes to QRUN.g4b
  • Spanish language updated and a few other language files improved
  • Pi_pixel_x86_Persistent.mnu sample mnu file added for PIXEL iso
  • Gandalf sample .mnu files added, 
  • Boot_Recovery_WIM.mnu sample menu added (boot from any systems winre.wim)
  • Fix for case where grub4dos 0.4.5c tries to load jpg as wallpaper (jpg not supported by 0.4.5c),

Download is available from the Alternate Download Areas.

Read more: http://www.easy2boot.com/download/e2b-version-history/

Sunday, 22 January 2017

How to fix 'BSOD: STOP 0x000000A5 - not fully ACPI compliant' issues

If you are trying to boot to a Windows payload that is based on BartPE, Windows XP, 2003 or Vista, you may occasionally see this BSOD screen when booting to these types of payloads on some systems:
ACPI  0x000000A5 BSOD!
Often the simple fix is to press the F7 key repeatedly just as it starts to boot to PE. This F7 trick worked a treat when I tried to boot to PCUnlocker and Active Password Changer (via MediCat and a large .imgPTN file) on my Lenovo IdeaPad 300 notebook!

In many cases, you will see a text message to press F6 - this is your cue to go crazy on the F7 key!

Before you do this however, you need to check the BIOS settings to see if there is any 'special' setting for the Fn function keys if you have a notebook. For instance, on my Lenovo IdeaPad 300, there is a 'HotKey Mode' in the Configuration page of the BIOS Settings menu. If this setting is Enabled (which is the default!), then you have to press Fn+F7 in order for the keyboard to generate the F7 scan code.

Other incantations to try
If no end of hammering the F7 (or Fn+F7) key seems to work for you, here are some other things to try which has apparently worked for other people:
  • Check the BIOS settings, set USB to USB 2.0.
  • Set all BIOS OS compatible settings to Legacy and XP/Win7 and not Win8/10 or UEFI. 
  • Reset the BIOS settings to default and then try the above BIOS settings.  
  • If you have an LPT option in the BIOS for a parallel printer port, try it set to LPT=Enabled as well as ACPI & PnP=Enabled and APM=Disabled.
  • Try disabling ACPI in the BIOS.
  • Try changing any CPU options in the BIOS (Safe Execution, VxD, etc.).
  • You can also try an older version of the BIOS (newer versions may have been made compatible for Win8/10 only).
  • If you have ever added extra RAM to the system, restore the memory to it's original configuration and size (and test the memory with a memory test program - the problem may be due to bad or mismatched memory!).

P.S. MediCat can be used on E2B if you convert it to a FAT32 .imgPTN file. It does contain illegal copies of some software though, so make sure you hold licences for any software it contains!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

E2B 1.88l (with bugfix for previous 1.88 versions)

Flaming Floe has reported a problem when installing Win7 from an ISO with the latest v1.88k version. The AutoUnattend.xml file is not correctly cleared and so appears corrupt when Windows Setup loads it. This bug will probably affect most Windows Install ISO runs, but not all systems will show the symptoms and some will appear to work (and others will give an Unattend error).

After investigation, is seems that there is a bug in the new 2016-12-24 version of grub4dos (\grldr) that is used in v1.88k.

E2B v1.88l now uses a previous version of grub4dos (2016-12-23) which I think is OK.

I have reported the bug here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tips for making files contiguous on your E2B drive

Unless your E2B USB drive has become almost full at one stage in it's life after formatting it, the \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd script should run WinContig fairly quickly and without any problems. Obviously, having a fast USB 3.0 E2B drive helps though!

Here are a few tips:

  1. Never download from the internet directly onto your E2B USB drive. This can cause the file to be heavily fragmented (even if you have lots of contiguous free space on it). You will find it best to always download files onto one of your internal drives first and then copy the file to your E2B USB drive. That way you also have a backup too!
  2. Do not use 'special' fast-copy programs like robocopy or TeraCopy, etc. to copy files to your E2B USB drive. These often open multiple threads which results in fragmented files. This just means WinContig will then have to defragment them on the USB drive and so it just takes much longer overall!
  3. Only start one copy session at a time. You can select multiple files and then drag-and-drop them onto the E2B drive, but don't start another copy session until the first one has finished. Not only can this cause file fragmentation, but it often takes longer too when copying to a USB drive.
  4. You can only defragment a file if there is enough free space on the USB drive to hold a second copy of it. A 6GB file will require at least 6GB of free space (in a single chunk).
  5. If your E2B USB drive has become nearly full at one stage and WinContig is not able to defragment a large file even though there is enough free space for the defragmented file, try using Defraggler - Action - Advanced - Defrag Freespace. This will consolidate the free clusters into one nice run. However, you should first delete any large fragmented files before you run it. This action can also fragment some files that were previously unfragmented, so the next run of WinContig will need to defragment them again. Then try adding your large file(s) again and finally run WinContig again. Defraggler will also show you a nice map of the used clusters and fragmented files (Analyze).
  6. If using an 8GB NTFS E2B drive, it may not be able to hold a contiguous 4GB+ file. This is because the directory table ($MFT) will be at the 3GB position on the drive and so a 4GB+ file may have to be split if other files are also present. See here for more details and a way to work around this issue (or you could just buy a bigger USB drive!).
  7. Finally, don't buy USB 2.0 drives. A USB 3.0/3.1 drive should always be faster, even on a 2.0 USB port and they are backwards compatible. I highly recommend the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 range.
If you have any other tips, leave a comment below.

P.S. As chi zhang says in the comments below, if you have a nearly full USB drive which is quite slow, it is often faster to just remake the USB drive again - then all the files will be contiguous because the drive will be reformatted. See here for more details.