Thursday, 29 March 2018

Revised MemTest86.imgPTN file (and how to fix a corrupt E2B drive)

If you are having problems when using the ready-made MemTest86.imgPTN file which I made available in a previous post, please update to the latest version here.

The previous version was not compatible with the latest versions of RMPrepUSB (grub4dos installer) and could cause strange effects such a 'GRLDR not found' errors on booting and perhaps not being able to return back to the E2B menu from the CSM menu.

If you have been using the latest version of RMPrepUSB to install grub4dos on your E2B drive, make sure you are using the latest version of the MPI Tool Pack to make your .imgPTN files.

If you have used the latest version of RMPrepUSB to install grub4dos on your E2B drive, you will need to remake all your .imgPTN files again. Alternatively, edit the \menu.lst file inside each .imgPTN file and replace "Missing MBR" with "helper" throughout the file.

If you update your E2B USB drive to version 1.99a Beta or later (available in Alternate Download area), when you switch to a .imgPTN file using the E2B menu (not using SWITCH_E2B.exe) E2B will automatically make the patches to the \menu.lst file inside the .imgPTN file as it is run. Once it has been patched, you can use SWITCH_E2B.exe as well as the E2B menu system to select a .imgPTN file.

Fixing a 'broken' E2B drive

If your E2B drive has a problem booting or switching back to the E2B partitions, try this process using any version of RMPrepUSB...

1. RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+B  (writes a standard MBR)
2. RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+G - Y=MBR - cancel grldr copy (installs grub4dos to MBR and backs up the standard MBR to LBA1 - grub_inst will not back up the MBR if it contains grub4dos which is why we install the standard MBR first)
3. Now select the drive in Windows Explorer - Properties - Tools - Check (to fix any errors)

If the drive is in the CSM mode (i.e. has a switched-in .imgPTN file), switch it back to the E2B mode by booting to it and using the CSM  0 - EASY2BOOT menu option or using \e2b\SWITCH_E2B.exe - Restore E2B partition(s) button.

Now repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 above.

Finally, update to E2B v1.99a and use the E2B menu to switch in any 'old' .imgptn file in order to 'fix' the menu.lst file inside it:

1. Boot to E2B menu
2. Select .imgPTN file in the E2B menu and switch to CSM menu to 'patch' the \menu.lst file inside the .imgPTN file.
3. Select menu item 0 EASY2BOOT in the CSM menu to return back to the E2B menu.

You can now use SWITCH_E2B.exe or the E2B menu to select the old .imgPTN file.

Drive not listed in SWITCH_E2B.exe?

If you have switched to a .imgPTN file and then tried to switch it back using the CSM Menu 0 option, you may find that it will may no longer boot to grub4dos or be listed in by SWITCH_E2B.exe.

SWITCH_E2B.exe only lists drives that have grub4dos boot code in the MBR (LBA0).

If you follow the process above, it should fix the issue.

No files? unformatted drive?

If Windows wants to format the E2B drive and it appears unformatted, the CSM menu may have restored your old original backup partition. This type of problem only happens if you have re-partitioned your E2B drive after you originally installed E2B onto it.

To fix the issue, follow the FAQ Troubleshooting guide

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Would you be interested in an eBook for Easy2Boot?

I have started to write an eBook for Easy2Boot  (with pictures!) as several people have requested one.

Currently it has a working title of  'Getting started with Easy2Boot (or how to create a useful multiboot USB drive)'.

The content in the eBook will not be as detailed as on the E2B website (but it will not have all the repetitive text that is on the website pages either!). The eBook is intended to be followed as a 'Course'. It will be aimed at the intermediate Windows user who knows how to copy files and use Windows applications, but is not very familiar with Easy2Boot or using multiboot USB drives.

It starts with a few basic Chapters on E2B and how to make an E2B USB drive, but then has Chapters on:

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Add BlackArch LiveCD (MBR+UEFI) to E2B

The BlackArch Linux LiveCD ISO can simply be added to the E2B USB drive (e.g. \_ISO\LINUX\blackarchlinux-live-2017.12.11-x86_64.iso).

Because the file is larger than 4GB, your E2B USB drive will need to be formatted as NTFS.

This will allow us to Legacy\MBR boot, but what about UEFI-booting to BlackArch Linux?

Well, the E2B grub2 menu system will UEFI-boot from the ISO, but what if we want to use a .imgPTN file instead?

We cannot simply drag-n-drop the blackarchlinux-live-2017.12.11-x86_64.iso file onto the MPI_FAT32 Desktop shortcut to make a .imgPTN file, because there is a large (>4GB) .sfs file inside the ISO.

Here is how to add BlackArch Linux to your E2B USB drive (preferably a large E2B USB HDD) and both UEFI and MBR boot to it.


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Spanish YouTube E2B videos - Lesson 4 now available from Decomputo

Even if you don't speak Spanish, you might like to watch the YouTube course on E2B by Decomputo.

The latest one has just been uploaded here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Boot Eset Rescue using UEFI from E2B

The current Eset System Rescue ISO does not contain UEFI boot files and so cannot be used on a UEFI-only system.

If you can Legacy\MBR boot, then you can simply directly boot from the Eset ISO file (or add persistence for updates too - see previous blog articles).

Here is a way to 32-bit and 64-bit UEFI-boot by using the E2B grub2 menu system.

You will need to be familiar with the E2B grub2 menu system first.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Warning: Do NOT update to VirtualBox v5.2.8!

The latest VirtualBox v5.2.8 version crashes your host system (i.e. BSOD on your Windows system) when booting to an E2B USB drive.

If you use VBox to test booting of E2B then please install v5.2.4 or 5.2.6 instead, but do not update to 5.2.8.

I discovered this several days ago (I thought it may have been just my system), but it has now been confirmed by another user.

[Edit: I have re-released E2B v1.98 2018-03-09 which should prevent the BSOD with VBOX from occurring. Please download the latest version of E2B and update your E2B drives if you want to use VBOX 5.2.8]

Monday, 5 March 2018

E2B v1.98 released

v1.98 2018-03-03 - changes from v1.97A
  1. Patchme grub4dos script now removes 'If hangup , use 'geometry --lba1sector (128)' grub4dos startup message
  2. Variables SIZE_E2B and SIZE_HD1 can now be used in MyE2B.cfg files in menu HEADING and FOOTER (for sizes of drives in GB)
  3. 'GodMode' folder added to \_ISO\docs\Download URLs for easy access to Windows GodMode list of utilities (just doubel-click on it within Windows)
  4. DrWeb900_Persistent.mnu sample added
  5. Support for *NCQ.iso suffix
  6. Support for isopersist file extension so can easily add persistence files to Ubuntu-based ISOs
  7. Add text tip to use .isopersist for Ubuntu-based files +persistence
  8. Add .isoBF option to 'ISOASK' menu list
  9. Add text tip to use .isopup for files with 'pup' in their name for puppy linux ISOs
  10. Change FreeDos floppy image to increase amount of conventional memory from 310K to 530K and add mem.exe utility + extended memory driver for DPMI support, add DOS mouse driver, increase floppy disk size to 7.6MB so more files can be added by user, update KERNEL version
  11. Add support for TESTPLOP variable for booting Plop! with VMWare
  12. Use Inno Setup as the Self Extractor engine for less AV false positives (E2B .zip file is also available for linux users)
  13. Changes to many of the Sample .mnu files to clarify instructions
  14. Bugfix for EXTOFF=1 not being set in MyE2B.cfg when using Make_E2B to make the USB drive (EXTOFF suppresses file extensions being listed in menus).
As usual, the new versions are available from the Alternate Download Areas first so you can try it out and feedback any issues before I release it on the E2B website.

A .zip version of E2B v1.98 is also available for linux users.

Note: E2B v1.98 was re-released (2018-03-09) with a small bugfix which should prevent VBOX v5.2.8 from BSOD'ing your system when using it to boot an E2B USB drive.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Testing Inno Setup for making Self-Extracting files

I have been using WinRaR to package up the Easy2Boot files into a self-extracting executable (SFX) file. When the user runs this, it unpacks the E2B files to a temporary folder and then runs Make_E2B.exe as Administrator.

However, the WinRaR package seems to trigger false positive alerts with several Anti-Virus packages such a Windows Defender (depending on what day it is!), Avast and Norton Symantec, etc.

So, as an experiment, I have packaged up E2B v1.98g BETA using the free Inno QuickStart Setup package from here.

This Inno Setup version is similar to the WinRaR version (it only extracts the files - it does not install anything).

Please try the above link and let me know the results (i.e. what your AV solution is and if it runs OK or gives a virus alert).

I have noticed that if you run it with Avast AV installed, you get an error pop-up box, however if you click past this it runs OK. This is apparently a known issue with Avast when running a 'strange' exe for the first time.

P.S. If the above link no longer works (becomes outdated), look for a more recent E2B_v1.98+ file in the Alternate Downloads Areas.

Tick 'funny' if it gave no problems, otherwise please let me know what AV gave a false-positive

Thursday, 1 March 2018

How to add older versions of the Hirens Boot CD to E2B

Older versions of the Hirens boot CD earlier than version 9.7 were based on DOS and designed to run from a CD only.

Here is how I converted HBCD v8.1 to run from E2B.

MPI Tool Pack v0.081 fixes 'ERROR: Please install Grub4dos to the MBR' error!

If you are getting this error a lot when trying to switch to .imgPTN files, the reason is that you are probably using RMPrepUSB v2.1.740 or later to install grub4dos or BootIce+grub4dos 0.4.6a.

To fix this, you can either use an older version of RMPrepUSB, or use v 0.081 or later of the MPI Tool Pack and remake your .imgPTN file.

The problem is due to the grub4dos boot code changing. The code in the menu.lst file looks for 'Missing MBR-helper' but the code has now changed with 0.4.6a to be 'Missing helper' and so it does not restore the original grub4dos MBR sector when you switch back to the E2B MBR, but restores the backup sector from LBA 1 instead (which usually does not contain the grub4dos boot code).

The new \menu.lst in MPI v0.081 will work with either version of the grub4dos boot code.