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 seems to have now caused, 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 breaks MPI Tool Kit!

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

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.

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

The new beta is available in the Alternate Downloads Area only for now...

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.

Note:
'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%
boot

#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%
boot

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%
boot

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%
boot

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.