Saturday 28 September 2013

The RMPrepUSB Pre-Set Configurations feature

If you regularly use RMPrepUSB to make Easy2Boot USB drives, you can create a Pre-Set Configuration Menu so that when RMPrepUSB.exe is run, you are prompted with one or more Pre-Set Configuration options.

For instance, I have saved a single pre-set configuration for Easy2Boot USB creation so that when RMPrepUSB.exe runs, I am first greeted with the dialog box show below:

If I double-click on the 'Create Easy2Boot USB Multiboot Drive' (or select it and click OK), instead of the usual RMPrepUSB form with the options set to the same settings that I used last time, I get the following RMPrepUSB form:

Notice that a lot of buttons and the top menu bar is missing. Also notice that the '5 Copy OS files' field is set to .\ - this is the Easy2Boot zip file which I have already copied to the same folder that RMPrepUSB.exe is in (and renamed). You can specify a full folder path if you like or an ISO file or any zip file instead.

Now, if I click on '6 Prepare Drive', I see this dialog box:

and when I click on 'Yes'  I see this final confirmation dialog box (answering 'No' will leave the Volume Label and Size as whatever is currently set by the user):

What happens next is that RMPrepUSB will:
1. Wipe the drive
2. Partition the drive
3. Format the drive
4. Extract the zip file contents to the drive
5. Install grub4dos to the PBR
... all automatically. It takes less than 40 seconds for the whole process if using the standard E2B file download (without the XP mass storage drivers).

You can add more menu Config items to the RMPrepUSB config menu and so you can have many choices. For instance, you could point option 5 to a folder, then the entire contents of the folder would be copied over after formatting and then grub4dos could be installed. You could have entries to make a DOS-bootable USB drive, an E2B drive with payload files, a Hirens Boot USB drive, a Windows 8.1 Install USB drive, etc. etc.

The buttons and menu topbar were removed by manually editing the RMPrepUSB.ini file after it had been made (using F9).

To create the RMPrepUSB.ini file in the first place, just start RMPrepUSB and set it as you want it and then actually run it to fully prepare your USB drive. If you want grub4dos (or syslinux) to be installed then install that too. v2.1.713 also records any ext2 filesystem parameters you use too. 

Once done, press F10 to add the settings that you used to the RMPrepUSB.ini file. You can then check it in NotePad and test it by quitting and re-running RMPrepUSB or pressing F12.

The actual settings in my RMPrepUSB.ini file for Easy2Boot were edited to be as follows:

TITLE=Create Easy2Boot FAT32 USB MultiBoot Drive
USERPROMPT=Select your USB drive in the top box

More information about RMPrepUSB.ini and how to make a configuration menu can be found here.

One good use of this Config Set feature is that you could distribute a self-extracting .exe file to all your technicians which contained the RMPrepUSB files and any USB payload folders you wanted. When the exe file was run by the user, it would launch RMPrepUSB and he/she would see the config set menu and then could choose any one of the configuration sets you have included. Then all they have to do is click on '6 Prepare Drive' and the USB drive will be made automatically for them with no extra steps or knowledge needed (you can also add some instructions for each configuration, if required). 

The QEMU button could have been made invisible, but I left it so the user can test the USB drive once it has been made. As the drive should be contiguous, it should not be necessary to run WinContig (but the Ctrl+F2 key will still work even though the menu bar is not displayed).

Note: Grub4dos installation is only run once when using a Pre-Set Configuration, so I used the PBR option to install grub4dos to my E2B drive. However for best 'bootability' you should also install grub4dos to the MBR after the USB drive has been made - that is why I left the Install grub4dos button visible ;-)

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