Saturday, 22 September 2018

How to directly install from Windows Install ISOs using UEFI with E2B

E2B allows you to boot Windows Installers via UEFI. However, you must first convert the Windows Install ISO to a .imgPTN file if you wish to UEFI-boot from it as well as MBR-boot.

This means that you must convert each Windows Install ISO to separate .imgPTN files.

However, there are ways to perform UEFI installs directly from Windows ISOs.

If you first MBR- or UEFI-boot to a Windows PE .imgPTN file and your Windows ISOs are on a second partition, you can use WinNTSetup or Windows Setup.exe to install Windows.

The WinNTSetup process has the advantage that you can boot to either a 32-bit or 64-bit WinPE and install either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows to the target hard disk. The Windows Setup.exe process is simpler, but you must boot to WinPE32 to install 32-bit Windows or WinPE64 to install 64-bit Windows.

Here is an outline of the Windows Setup.exe process:


1. Find a suitable Windows PE that supports UEFI. If you want to install 32-bit Windows, then use a 32-bit WinPE. Otherwise use a 64-bit WinPE to install 64-bit Windows. I recommend using a WinPE based on Windows 10 because it is likely to contain the latest hardware drivers.

Suitable WinPE ISOs are Bob Omb's Win10PE, Gandalfs Win10PE, Strelec Win10PE.

If you are using a Removable USB flash drive for E2B, the WinPE will need to be based on a recent version of Windows 10 which can access multiple partitions on Removable drives, otherwise the second partition will not be visible in WinPE!

2. Convert the ISO to a .imgPTN23 file using the MPI_FAT32 shortcut. You may want to add additional portable apps and StartupPE, etc. to the partition image later, so it might be a good idea to increase the suggested size by 1GB or 2GB to allow for the extra files.

Make sure the file extension is .imgPTN23 and not .imgPTN.

3. Use EaseUS Partition Master or some other partitioning tool to delete the small 31K FAT12 partition on the E2B USB drive and add a new large PRIMARY NTFS partition. If necessary, shrink the first partition to make room.

4. Copy all your Windows install ISO files to the second NTFS partition.

Your E2B drive should now look like this:

PARTITION 1  (NTFS+E2B files)
\_ISO\WINPE\BobOmbs64.imgPTN23

PARTITION 2 (NTFS)
\SOMENAME\(all your windows .iso files here)


The .imgPTN23 file must be contiguous, but the .ISO files on the second partition do not need to be contiguous.


5. Now use \_ISO\SWITCH_E2B.exe to select your .imgPTN23 file (or MBR boot to E2B and select it from your E2B WINPE menu).

The E2B drive will now contain two partitions:

PARTITION 1  (FAT32)
(Bob Ombs WinPE files)

PARTITION 2 (NTFS)
\SOMENAME\(windows .iso files here)


You can now UEFI- or MBR-boot to the E2B USB drive to WinPE.

6. At the WinPE Desktop, browse to the .ISO file that you want to use on the second partition and right-click on the ISO file and choose the 'Mount as ImDisk Virtual Disk' option.



Now you can run Windows Setup.exe from the virtual DVD drive created by ImDisk. If you cannot see a \Setup.exe file, look for a Setup.exe file in one of the other folders such as \x86, \x64 or \Sources.

Run Setup.exe from the Virtual DVD

Since you now have a useful MBR- and UEFI-bootable WinPE, you can add your own 3rd-party portable apps using PEStartup.

You can also copy the \_ISO\docs\E2B Utilities\WinNTSetup from the E2B download folder to the first partition so that you can run WinNTSetup and install Windows using an XML file from WinPE.

Instead of adding PEStartup and WinNTSetup to the E2B partition, you could simply add them to the 2nd partition, then any .imgPTN files which have a .imgPTN23 file extension will leave the 2nd partition visible.

You can also add the E2B grub2 menu system files to the second partition so that you can use the E2B grub2 menu system for UEFI-booting of multiple linux ISOs.