Saturday 31 May 2014

Add Kali linux v1.0.7 + LUKS encrypted persistence to your E2B USB multiboot drive

Kali is the follow on from BackTrack for penetration testing. It provides a full linux development environment as well as pen-test tools. You can add Kali v 1.0.7 ISOs to your E2B USB drive and boot them with a LUKS encrypted persistence volume.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Kolibri - a successor to MenuetOS

A few weeks ago I mentioned MenuetOS in this blog post. This is an entire OS written in assembler which can fit on a 1.44MB floppy disk. This was discontinued in about 2004 but Kalibri is it's much-improved successor.

You can download either the ISO or .img file from here.
Full FAT12/16/32 support is implemented, as well as read-only support for NTFS, ISO9660 and Ext2/3/4. Drivers are written for popular sound, network and graphics cards and USB 1.0 and 2.0.
It has network drivers, text editor, file browsers and a basic text-only web browser. To run under VBox, I had to turn off VTx CPU acceleration, set a Sound Blaster 16 audio adapter and a linux 32-bit system type.
If you need to boot from a system and get a file from a non-GPT disk very quickly and save it to a FAT32 USB drive, this could be really handy!

Tuesday 27 May 2014

MPI Tool Pack 035 available

Changes are:
  1.  First time you ran the CSM menu you would get a 'syslinux alternative boot' menu entry - now fixed by changing PBR.BIN file which contained the 'SYSLINUX' text string.
  2. Added new menu for NTFS+FAT32 dual partitions

If E2B is on a USB hard disk we can use:

  • Partition 1 = FAT32  - for clover+E2B files
  • Partition 3 = NTFS - for Windows files

When Setup/ WinPE boots, it will be able to access the files on the NTFS partition of the hard disk.

Change #2 allows you to easily make an NTFS partition image from any Windows Vista/7/8 ISO using large install.wim files, and boot to it via Clover in UEFI mode.  This is useful if you have E2B on a Removable USB Flash drive because Windows Setup can only access the first partition on a Removable UFD and so the first partition must be NTFS. Clover needs a FAT32 partition in order to boot, so this is on the 3rd partition.

To make the files you need to:

1. Drag-n-drop the Win7/8 ISO onto the MPI_NTFS Desktop shortcut
2. Drag-n-drop an empty folder onto the MPI_FAT32 shortcut
3. Copy the two files to your E2B USB drive and name the first one with a .imgPTNLBAa file extension and the second one with no file extension (the name should NOT contain a dot) using the same file name for both files - e.g.

\_ISO\MAINMENU\Win81_x64.imgPTNLBAa   - NTFS Windows Install image + MPI+Clover
\_ISO\MAINMENU\Win81_x64                          - blank image containing just MPI+Clover

When loaded by E2B you will have:
  • Partition 1 = NTFS = Windows Install files and MPI+Clover files
  • Partition 3 = FAT32 = MPI+Clover files
It will NOT be able to boot via the UEFI system firmware because the first partition is not FAT32, however it will boot to the grub4dos CSM menu and you can then boot via Clover (which will load from the FAT32 partition as it cannot 'boot' from an NTFS partition) to the \efi\boot\bootx64.efi Windows UEFI boot file and then install Windows in UEFI mode.

This method is very easy to set up as you don't have to swap files around between the two partitions or split the install.wim file if it is larger than 4GB. The downside is that Clover may not run on all hardware (as it is a 'replacement' UEFI BIOS and is quite hardware dependent) - in which case you cannot boot it via the UEFI system firmware.

I have outlined the 4 methods of adding large-file UEFI-bootable Windows installer images here. The most reliable\versatile method is Method 1 where we use a single FAT32 partition and split the install.wim into .swm files (if required).

Monday 26 May 2014

Run OpenElec XBMC 2014 Live from Easy2Boot

I have updated the instructions in my previous blog with instructions for the new 2014 4.0.2 version of OpenElec XBox Media Centre. This can be booted directly from your E2B multiboot USB drive>

I tested it by booting from my Z87 system from a USB 3.0 port and video, internet and audio worked fine (I had to change the Audio device setting first though).

Please see the second part of the blog for 2014 version here for details.

P.S. The latest build from here worked under VBox when booting from Easy2Boot. I actually used OpenELEC-Virtual.i386-devel-20140317134709-r17946-gb27c946.tar. The x64 version runs better than the i386 version under VBox - enable 64-bit and configure multiple CPUs (no video stutter) with Video acceleration for best performance.

To watch Live TV programs such as BBC1/2 and other freeview channels, add TVCatchup. Download the repository zip file to the E2B USB drive and then boot XBMC and load it into XBMC - follow the instructions here. Using this and the VM x64 version of OpenElec, I am able to watch live TV having booted from my E2B USB drive under VBox with no stutter/lag!

Sunday 25 May 2014

MPI Tool Pack 034 - HP Utility ISOs now supported

There were a few issues with HP Utility ISOs and MPI.

First, it seems that even though I install syslinux into the PBR using the correct 3.75 version of syslinux, it will not boot the HP files and you get a 'boot:' message. The ONLY way I could get the files to boot correctly using v3.75 was to install syslinux to use -fm which installs to the MBR and the files had to be in the root of the drive. So instead I have used syslinux 4 and removed the troublesome hpbootxx.c32 module.

More details on here.

The second problem was that EFI booting did not work because it had some .cfg files which referenced \system and the boot files were moved by MPI to \syslinux.

These (hopefully) have now been fixed by keeping the \system folder where it is, using syslinux 4 and changing the syslinux.cfg file to remove hpbootxxx.c32.

I tested with SPP2014020B.2014_0421.2.iso (MBR and UEFI boot) and hpacuoffline-8.75-12.0.iso and both seem to work now when converting straight from an ISO to a FAT32 partition image using the AUTO FAT32 shortcut (although I don't have any HP kit to fully test it on!).

YouTube video here.

Friday 23 May 2014

MPI Tool Pack 033 - Clover now works on Z87 Haswell systems

I changed the Clover config.plist file and now Clover boots on my Asus Z87 Haswell system. MPI Tool Pack v.033 is now updated with this new config file. The old one is called config.plist.ASUS in case you need it for older Asus systems..

The only change I made was to change:



This disables the patch for 'AppleIntelCPUPowerManagament.kext for ASUS Native PM'.
I also found that adding
to the old config.plist in the same section also worked. KernelPm is 'Kernel Power management'. As this sounded like it might affect other non-Asus systems, I chose to not use this patch.

Thursday 22 May 2014

MPI Tool Pack 032 allows Clover and syslinux

Previous versions would not allow you to boot to Clover (and then UEFI boot from Clover) if syslinux was present in the Partition Boot Record (PBR). This meant that you couldn't use Clover to directly UEFI-boot to linux. This restriction has now been fixed. You can now boot linux distros using Clover as well as other non-linux (syslinux) payloads.

MPI Tool Pack 032

Wednesday 21 May 2014

My PC's Samsung 932GW monitor didn't work this morning!

It started off just as any other normal morning. Last night I switched off my new home-built Win 8.1 PC with dual (Dell+Samsung) monitors as usual, then went to bed as usual, and slept well (not always as usual!). This morning I switched on both monitors, the external speakers and then my PC as usual. When I came back from making a cup of Earl Grey tea (we drink tea in the morning, here in the UK!), there was no display on the Samsung 932GW display (connected via DVI-D) or the Dell monitor (connected to the VGA cable).

After a few panicky moments, I realised that just the Samsung monitor was not working. Even if I disconnected the DVI cable, there was no 'No monitor detected' floating message box like there usually is when the cable drops off! If I switched it off and then on again, I saw an on-screen pop-up box for about a second and then it all went black again.

On further inspection, when I connected it to the DVI cable and PC, I could just see a very faint image of the Windows login background, especially if I used a torch, shone at an angle to the screen.

At this point it looked like the backlight to the display was on the blink/fritz (technical terms for cream-crackered!). Since the backlight did come on for about 1 second immediately on first switch-on, it looked like the high-voltage CCFL inverter was the problem, rather than the high-voltage CCFL bulb(s).

I Googled for 'samsung 932GW backlight' and it led me to some discussion forums about 'bad capacitors'. I also found some 'Capacitor kits' being sold on for this exact model of monitor.

As a computer\electronics engineer, I am very familiar with this issue. As well as seeing bad capacitors on mainboards whilst working for RM, I have seen them in other products too. For instance, over the last 10 years or so I have bought 3 different D-Link routers. All three of them started to play up after a year or so. One seemed to work fine until my ADSL supplier upgraded my line for higher ADSL speeds - after that I kept getting a dropped ADSL connection. I initially blamed my phone company, but when I used an old USB ADSL modem, I had no problem. Sure enough, when I opened up the D-Link ADSL router, there was one large capacitor with a swollen top! I replaced it and the router worked fine from then on. The extra power demand to drive the ADSL line at higher speeds must have been too much for that poor swollen capacitor!

Since companies are selling 'capacitor kits' for this particular Samsung monitor, it leads me to believe that this monitor was built with sub-standard components. This leads to an interesting question. Samsung monitors have a 2 year warranty and mine was out of warranty. However. the Sale of Goods Act states that goods should be of reasonable quality, last for a reasonable time and be free from defect at the time of manufacture. This covers the product for up to 6 years from the time of purchase and is over and above any manufacturers warranty. Since my monitor was about 3 years old and was built with poor-quality capacitors, it could be argued that I am covered by the Sale of Goods act and EEC law to have my monitor fixed or replaced.

Since people are selling 'capacitor repair kits' for this exact model of monitor, surely this is proof that these monitors contained a defect at the time of manufacture? Also 3 years is a reasonable amount of time for a monitor to continue to work. So, I could go to the small claims court and claim against the retailer that I bought it from under the Sale of Goods Act regulations. Read here for more information about this.

In this case however, I just took the monitor apart and looked at the circuit board. You can plainly see that 3 capacitors (circled in yellow) out of the 8 electrolytic capacitors on the board, have tops that are 'buckled'. The tops are deliberately scored when made by the manufacturer, with a cross-cut, so that the tops will split rather than explode when/if the dielectric compound inside breaks down, becomes resistive, gets hot and starts to out-gas.

Electrolytic capacitors should last for many years. I am sure you have old TV sets and other appliances that have lasted for well over 10 years (some for 20+ years like my old Sony Trinitron TV!). So why have these capacitors blown?

The answer appears to be that these are cheap capacitors that are made in either China or Taiwan and the compounds used break down after a few years. In fact it is the power-on-time+heat that destroys the dielectric material, which is why things like monitors and routers suffer the most, rather than washing machines or other appliances that are only used for a few hours a day (most routers are left on 24x7!).

It is a basic rule-of-thumb that for every 10 deg C rise in temperature, the rate of a chemical reaction doubles. This is why manufactures (should) test components at raised temperatures - to increase 'ageing' of the components. Raising the temperature by 30 deg C whilst on, will have the same ageing affect as keeping it running for 8x as long.

Some capacitor manufacturers blame a certain supplier who 'stole a secret recipe' for making the dielectric compound more cheaply than other suppliers and then started to sell the compound as a cheaper alternative. The problem (apparently) was that the recipe they stole was inaccurate\incomplete and the dielectric degraded after a year or so. Other manufacturers copied this recipe too and soon millions of products were built using this compound or near relatives of it (psst.. wanna buy a secret formula?). This caused the infamous capacitor plague (which still seems to be going on even now!). This is why today you may see Power Supply and PC mainboard manufacturers boast that they use Japanese capacitors (rather than Chinese\Taiwanese ones).

One episode is reported to have cost Dell $300m!

Still, I guess every cloud has a silver lining, especially for people selling 'capacitor repair kits', e.g.

If you are good with a soldering iron, before throwing away that router or monitor, have a look at the capacitors inside it,  then Google for a 'Capacitor Kit' for it! Follow this link for how to repair a monitor. You can order individual capacitors on eBay (but make sure they are good quality ones from a reputable supplier!). Tip: a pack of 5 capacitors of the same value is often only a few pence more than a pack of one or two.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

MPI Tool Pack 031 with Clover now available

I have now added Clover Lite to the MPI Tool Pack v.031. It only adds 1MB.

If you don't want Clover to be added to your images, edit the MakePartImage.cmd files and add
to the top of the file
OR make new .cmd files and add this:

e.g. MPI_No_Clover.cmd
call MakePartImage.cmd   %*

or even simpler, just delete or rename the CLOVER folder.

v 031 also now includes a CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file which runs a vbs script to automatically add three Desktop shortcuts to your Desktop for drag-and-drop operation. The shortcuts will be set up with the Admin box already 'ticked'.

So just:

1. Download the Tool Pack
2. Double-click on CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd
3. Install ImDisk

and you are good to go.

Drop an ISO file or folder or USB drive icon onto one of the three new Desktop shortcut icons to start the creation of an image partition file. The  FAT32 and NTFS shortcuts usually work with only 0-2 prompts needed (the .imgPTN file is created in the same folder as the Source).

Monday 19 May 2014

MemTest86 v5.1.0 released by Passmark

Ric alerted me to a new version of Memtest86 now maintained by Passmark. There is a free edition and a Pro edition which has more features.

This will be in the next version of  E2B (with permission from Passmark) when I release it (v1.41). It uses a kernel file and a .mnu file only and so is much smaller than the previous ISO-based version.

The ISO or USB download also supports UEFI booting.

You can also make a .imgPTN partition image file from the ISO, however if you allow MakePartImage to install Syslinux to the Partition Boot Record (PBR), then you cannot boot from it using Clover (it will refuse to run).

I suggest you extract just the \EFI folder to a new folder on your hard disk and run MPI FAT32 AUTO on that folder. The .imgPTN file created will be bootable via Clover (if you added the Clover Pack) on 64-bit systems or you can boot via UEFI Firmware. For normal MBR\CSM booting, you can use the Utilities - Memtest menu entry in Easy2Boot.

This is the UEFI boot screen

P.S. In case you don't know - Passmark make some excellent software and I highly recommend having a look at their main website.

MPI_Clover_Pack_Lite_005 (bugfix)

If you are using two images at the same time, please update to Clover Pack 005 (menu.lst has changed)

There was a problem if using two image files at the same time.

For example:

You can quickly add multiple NTFS image partitions of Windows x64 ISOs   (useful for >4Gb install.wim AIO ISOs) to E2B for UEFI or MBR booting as follows:

1. Create a WINSTUB64 empty folder
2. Use this empty folder as the Source folder to create a FAT32 image partition using MPI  (e.g. WINSTUB64.imgPTN). e.g. drag-and-drop the empty folder onto your MPI AUTO FAT32 shortcut.

Now for each Win7/8 64-bit ISO that you have...

1. Use MPI to create an NTFS image from the ISO - e.g. drag-and-drop the ISO file onto your MPI AUTO NTFS shortcut.

To add these files to your E2B drive

1. Copy the large NTFS image file to \_ISO\MAINMENU (or \_ISO\WIN or \_ISO\AUTO)
2. Remove the file extension - the name must not have a . in it - e.g. change Win8.1.imgPTN to Win8_1
3. Copy the WINSTUB64.imgPTN file to the same E2B folder
4. Change the file name and file extension to .imgPTNLBAa  - e.g. Win8_1.imgPTNLBAa
5. (optional) add a .txt file - e.g. Win8_1.txt with a 'title' entry

\_ISO\WIN\Win8_1.imgPTNLBAa      - contains CSM and Clover files
\_ISO\WIN\Win8_1                           - contains image of Win x64 ISO installer
\_ISO\WIN\Win8_1.txt                      - (optional) replacement title

When you boot from the .imgPTNLBAa file to the CSM Menu, it will have a Clover entry and a '3 Boot Windows on 3rd partition (MBR-mode) entry. The '1 BOOT  (MBR mode)' menu entry will not work unless you have also included bootable files in the WINSTUB image.

If you wish, you can edit the \menu.lst file to remove the non-working menu 1 entry by deleting the 20 or so lines below the # --- GENERIC BOOT MENU --- line.

You might also like to change the menu title to whatever is appropriate (e.g. set PAYLOAD=KonBoot and Win8.1 x64 Install).

Instead of the WINSTUB64 file having no payload, you could use any non-Windows Vista/7/8 payload (e.g. Rufus Windows XP flash drive image or KonBoot 2.4). Then the menu  1 BOOT option would boot to Xp install or KonBoot and you could also UEFI-boot to either KonBoot or Win7/8 install via the Clover GUI.

Note that because the Win7/8 install is on an NTFS partition, you cannot boot to it via rebooting from your UEFI system's firmware as that will only 'see' the FAT32 partition.

Why can't I boot from the USB 3.0 ports on my PCI add-in card?

I was asked this question today via email from Guptila. I thought I would share my reply here too.

The short answer is - you cannot boot via the BIOS on any device that is an 'add-in' device, unless it is a PCI card that also contains an option ROM.


Think about how the BIOS works...

The BIOS knows that it's mainboard contains a certain chipset (it was designed for that chipset).
The BIOS contains the code required to access the registers on that chipset.
The BIOS has to have code which allow the operator to boot from devices connected to the chipset.
If the board has an ABC chipset, then the BIOS will contain code to access an ABC chipset with ABC-type USB registers.

Now you connect a PCI card containing a different (e.g. Renesas) chip. The BIOS will see a XYZ chip connected to the PCI Bus when you switch on the system, but the BIOS does not contain any code to access this XYZ chip - it does not even 'know' that the chip has USB 3.0 ports connected to it. In fact, when the BIOS code was written by the manufacturer, USB 3.0 chips probably did not even exist!

It would be the same even if you connected a USB 2.0 Renesas add-in card - the BIOS only contains code to boot from the chipset on the mainboard, it does not contain code for the 1001 different cards that could possibly be connected to the PCI bus.

So you cannot expect your system to boot from an add-in card... or can you...

So how can you add a SATA Add-in card to a system, and how come it can boot from SATA drives then?
You may well ask this question!

These add-in cards contain an option ROM - a chip that contains extra BIOS code. VGA (graphics) cards also contain these option ROMs so that you can see the BIOS text and setup menu etc when you switch on the computer. 

When the computer is switched on, it scans for Option ROMs and adds the code in the Option ROM to it's own BIOS code. In this way, the BIOS 'knows' about the extra chips that are now in the system.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any USB 3.0 add-in cards which have their own Option ROMs that allow you to boot from their USB 3.0 ports. There are products such as 
which contain an Option ROM, but this only allows you to boot from the SATA devices and not from the USB 3.0 devices.

You have these options available to you if you have an add-in USB 3.0 card:

1. Get a mainboard\system that has a USB 3,0 chipset and ports
2. Plug your USB 3 devices into your systems USB 2.0 mainboard ports
3. Use a Virtual Machine and connect your USB drive to the add-in card's USB 3.0 port - however anything you boot to will see the USB drive as a non-USB hard disk and not a USB 3.0 drive. It does mean that most things will boot at USB 3.0 speeds in the VM though (see RMPrepUSB - Tutorial 4 and the video).

Also bear in mind that many bootable OS's do not contain support for USB 3.0 chips, so even if you could boot from a USB 3.0 port, once you boot to an OS (e.g. plop, Vista\Win7 and many linux distros) the boot will fail because it cannot access the USB drive on a USB 3.0 port because the OS does not contain any USB 3.0 drivers.

Sunday 18 May 2014

MPI_Clover_Tool_Pack 004 now available

I have managed to get the Clover ntfs driver to automatically load and to get the GUI to show and correctly UEFI-boot from an NTFS partition.

To add drivers which will automatically load on a 64-bit system, just add them to the \EFI\CLOVER\drivers64 folder - so I just added the ntfs.efi file!

Even though I did this, there was no GUI icon for the NTFS efi boot file. It turns out that the default \EFI\CLOVER\config.plist file has entries to hide \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi files! I guess this is because the ISO contained this file which was the Clover UEFI boot file (i.e. if you booted the CD in UEFI mode, it used this to boot to Clover). Anyway, I edited the 'Hide' list as below:


I just put XXX in front of the BOOTX64.EFI entry and added a few others that are not relevant. If you need the bootmgr.efi and bootmgrfw.efi options (e.g. to boot to an installed UEFI OS), just delete these lines from the file (or put XXX in front of them).

Now we can boot from Clover to a FAT32 or NTFS volume with no scripts or command lines to worry about!

grub4dos, Clover, UEFI-booting and NTFS - Tutorial 122

Tutorial 122 on

This new Tutorial allows you to have 64-bit Windows Install files (e.g. large All-In-One) on an NTFS partition and boot to it using Clover via a grub4dos menu.

Partition 1 = FAT32 grub4dos files, etc.
Partition 2 = NTFS containing Win7/8 AIO 64-bit installer files

Partition 1 MUST NOT contain a \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi file.
Partition 2 MUST contain both  \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi and \Sources\Setup.exe.

When you boot to grub4dos, you can choose to boot to whatever payload you have in the FAT32 partition (e.g. ISOs, Hirens, etc.) as usual.

To boot to the Win7/8 64-bit NTFS partition, run the Clover grub4dos option and then choose the EFI Shell 64-bit icon to get to the EFI shell. Then type WIN to boot to the NTFS \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi UEFI boot file to run Windows 64-bit  Setup in UEFI mode.

What happens is that when you boot to the UEFI shell from Clover, it runs startup.nsh which loads an NTFS driver. When you type WIN it runs win.nsh which looks for the Windows installer files on the NTFS volume and then boots to the \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi file.

There will also be a menu entry to boot from the NTFS Windows installer in MBR\CSM mode.


# UEFI Shell script to load NTFS driver and map new drives
echo -OFF
FOR %a IN fs0 fs1 fs2 fs3 fs4 fs5 
If exist %a:\Clover\NTFS.efi then
load %a:\Clover\NTFS.efi
cls 1
echo " "
echo "TYPE WIN - to UEFI-boot from the volume containing \autorun.inf"
echo " "
# map the newly discovered drives (this script file path will be lost!)
map -r


@echo -OFF
FOR %b IN fs0 fs1 fs2 fs3 fs4 fs5 fs6 fs7 fs8 fs9 fs10
cd %b:
IF exist \sources\setup.exe then
goto act

cls 4
ECHO "Unable to locate \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi or \Sources\Setup.exe"
ECHO "Please check if windows installer has a EFI\BOOT\BootX64.efi"
goto xx

goto err

cls 2
echo " "
echo "Found \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi"
echo "Press ENTER to UEFI boot or q to Quit"
echo " "
cd efi\boot


For details of how to add Clover to your existing grub4dos menu - see Tutorial 122 here.

The download (Alternate Download Area) also includes these files.

Friday 16 May 2014

MPI_Clover_Pack_002 for Easy2Boot now available

The next version of the Clover Pack is now available. The full 4.3MB Version 002 is available in the Alternate Download area here.
There is also a 1.3MB 'Lite' version which has some unneeded 32-bit and other files removed and uses a smaller 'theme' folder. I may add this Lite version as standard into the next MPI Toolkit Pack - so please let me know if you try it and find any problems!

By adding the files from the Clover Pack to your MakePartImage\CUSTOM folder, you will see an extra menu item on all FAT32 images you make, but only if they also contain a 64-bit default UEFI boot file.

Note: If you already use the CUSTOM folder for your own files, instead of adding the files to the CUSTOM folder under MakePartImage, you can add them to the csm folder (if you have a \CUSTOM\menu.lst file you will need to modify it to add in the new Clover menu entry though).

This means that you can make a Windows 7/8 install image and boot directly from MBR mode to Windows Setup in UEFI mode (without needing to reboot the PC and choose the UEFI: xxx option from the Boot Selection Menu). Cool eh?

Look at the ReadMe in the Clover Pack download to see how to add the files to MakePartImage. No new E2B version update is required. Just make your .imgPTN image file as usual - i.e.

1. Drag-and-Drop your Windows 7/8 64-bit ISO onto the MakePartImage shortcut you have made (or run it from an Admin command line and use the default values)
2. When prompted about EI.CFG, choose whichever option is appropriate for your usage
3. Rename the file with a .imgPTNLBAa file extension
4. Copy the file to your E2B drive (e.g. \_ISO\WIN folder)
5. Run WinContig  (RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+F2)

Now when you boot (Note: you must use a USB 2.0 port for Clover, not USB 3.0) you can switch to the new image and you should see a menu similar to this:

Note the Clover menu entry!

When you select this you will see the Clover Boot Selection GUI screen:

Note that the image has a volume label of LIVE as set by MakePartImage
This is the 'full-fat' version (black_green theme).

This is the 'Lite' version GUI (os_box theme)

Pick the 'Boot UEFI internal from xxxxx' to boot to Windows Setup in UEFI mode.

Note: Clover refers to MBR mode as 'EFI' (just to confuse you!)

You can change the volume label manually, so that it shows up as a Windows Installer image (e.g. Win8Inst) or specify the Volume label you want from the command line when you make the image.

Boot directly from grub4dos to UEFI using Clover!

Clover is a later revision of Tianocore. Both are 'firmware in RAM' replacements for UEFI firmware.
It allows you to boot in MBR\CSM mode and then run Clover which acts as a 'pseudo-UEFI boot manager', allowing you to boot to a UEFI OS from an MBR\CSM boot.

I would like to add this to the CSM menu of Easy2Boot so that users would not have to reboot the system and choose the UEFI: xxxxxx  boot option to boot from the E2B drive (when using .imgPTN image files).

First, I made a FAT32 USB Flash drive using BootDiskUtility.exe. This is a Windows tool that makes a Clover-bootable USB drive for you. Having done this, I found it would not boot under RMPrepUSB's QEMU (which doesn't support 64-bitness and just rebooted) or VirtualBox (text mode menu only) but did boot on a real system to the full GUI menu (see piccy below) - but only on a USB 2.0 port, Clover does not load on my Z87's USB 3.0 ports.

When is EFI not EFI?

Another important (and confusing!) point to note is that 'EFI booting' means MBR booting in 'Clover-speak' and UEFI booting means UEFI booting. If you see a Clover menu option to EFI-boot from a drive - it means MBR\CSM-boot!

This is the 'expected' full-GUI Clover Menu - select the UEFI option for UEFI booting as shown.

This is the text-mode screen I got!

Under VBox, I only got the 'text-mode' screen after making a USB Flash drive using BootDiskUtility.exe to make the USB drive. However, if I ran the USB drive on a real system, I got the correct GUI menu.

I later found that by pressing the 7 key after the first 2 seconds when booting from VBox, I managed to get the correct GUI menu!

To cut a long story short (essential data about Clover is hard to find!), here is how the Clover boot-chain works...

Master Boot Record (MBR)

First in the boot chain, we have the MBR. This is a normal MBR with a partition table, but the code in it seems to be 'special' (see PBR below for why I think this).

The MBR code can be found in a selection of boot0xxx files. You need to replace the boot code in your USB drive's MBR with the boot code from one of these files (but not the partition table).

The MBR code seems to look for and boot a Clover PBR. I found these files for the MBR code:

boot0af - looks for the active partition PBR
boot0ss - 'scan-signature' for AF type - MAC OS extended - seems to work best - no Active ptn needed.
boot0md - multiple drives - searches various drives for an HFS+/MAC OS extended partition - it seems to need the partition to be flagged as Active though!

see here for more (unclear) details! boot0ss still seems to boot from a FAT32 partition the best though!

Partition Boot Record

Moving on to the PBR - this code also seems 'special' in that we cannot just use chainloader ()+1 to boot from it in grub4dos. It seems we MUST go from the Clover MBR code to the Clover PBR code. Therefore both MBR code and PBR code are inter-dependent.

Again, various different Clover PBR code versions are available, these are prefixed as boot1xxx - the PBR code must be patched from byte 3 to byte 86 decimal. In the files produced by the BootDiskUtility, I had these files:

boot1f32 - understands the FAT32 filesystem
boot1f32alt - as above but waits for a key press for 2 seconds
boot1h - understands the HFS+ filesystem for MACs
boot1h2 - as above but waits 2 seconds for a key press

I used boot1f32alt for my experiments. See here for more PBR details.

The next stage in the boot chain is the file that is loaded by the PBR code. By default, this is a file in the root and is called boot.
  • boot - (default) Clover, recent or testing version - rumoured to be the same as boot6 in released versions
  • boot2 - Chameleon
  • boot3 - Clover 32-bit, tested and working version
  • boot6 - Clover 64-bit, tested and working version
  • boot7 - Clover 64-bit with BiosBlockIO driver that works with any controller supported by the BIOS.
Now, here we have a FUNDAMENTAL FLAW (did you spot it?) - the default boot file is boot but Windows uses a folder called boot to hold it's boot files - we cannot have both a file and a folder with the same name on a FAT32 partition! Great thinking guys!

So, assuming I must keep the \boot Windows folder, I had to press 6 or 7 on a real system  to get it to boot to Clover. Eventually I found a way around this though, the PBR code had an ASCII string of
near the beginning of the code. I then found that if I modified this to
it loaded the \boot7 file automatically! I am guessing that when a user presses 7 manually, it just adds the ASCII code for 7 to the end of the 'BOOT' string in memory, and then tries to load that file.

More Files!

Once the \boot(n) code runs, it loads up the rest of Clover from the \EFI\CLOVER folder starting off with
CloverIA32.efi or CloverX64.efi or CloverGUI. Note how these files have the .efi file extension but actually run in MBR mode, whereas normal files such as Microsoft bootx64.efi and bootia32.efi files have the same file extension but run in UEFI mode! Confusing huh?

It then accesses more files under the \EFI\CLOVER folder - see here for more details.

Putting it all together

So after all this - here is my boot chain that works for 64-bit UEFI Windows 8 booting from a single FAT32 partition:

MBR (using boot0md code) ->  PBR (using modified boot1f32alt code) -> \boot7 -> \EFI\CLOVER\CloverX64.efi  ->  Clover menu - \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi ---> Windows UEFI boot.

However, I found that if I chainloaded to /boot0md or /boot0ss in grub4dos, as long as the PBR  had the Clover code in it, it would boot (the md version also needed the partition to be Active too). This meant I can boot to grub4dos in MBR mode to the grub4dos menu and then, from that menu, run Clover - at last!


So here is my current grub4dos menu for booting directly to UEFI via Clover from grub4dos:
Note it is for FAT32 only and has not been tested on linux, only Windows 8.1 x64 so far.

iftitle [cat --locate="FAT32" --length=10 --skip=0x50 ()+1 > nul] Run Clover UEFI Boot Menu\n Run this if you wish to use Clover to UEFI boot
set CL=0
## boot7 is default boot file
cat --locate="BOOT7" --length=10 --skip=0x58 ()+1 > nul && set /a CL=%CL%+1 > nul
if "%CL%"=="1" echo Information: Clover is already installed to the PBR
## configfile /menu.lst
echo ffffffffff > (md)0x350+1
dd if=(hd0,0)+1 of=(md)0x350+1 > nul
dd if=()/clover/boot1f32alt7 of=(md)0x350+1 skip=87 seek=87 bs=1 > nul
dd if=()/clover/boot1f32alt7 of=(md)0x350+1 count=3 bs=1 > nul
#cat --hex (md)0x350+1 && pause 
if not "%CL%"=="1" cat --locate="SYSLINUX" --length=10 --skip=0x2 ()+1 > nul && pause PROBLEM: SYSLINUX PBR DETECTED - Cannot install Clover to PBR... && configfile /menu.lst
if not "%CL%"=="1" dd if=(md)0x350+1 of=(hd0,0)+1 > nul && pause --wait=2 PBR updated with Clover boot code
chainloader /clover/boot0ss || chainloader /clover/boot0md || chainloader /clover/boot0af

# User can press 2 for 3 for 32-bit UEFI, 6 for 64-bit UEFI or 1 for Chameleon - within 3 seconds
# boot0md gives a boot0 message and is slower - boot0ss is silent with no message

It needs a bit more work and tidying up.

boot1f32alt7 is the modified PBR 512-byte file which will load \boot7 instead of \boot.
The grub4dos menu code works by permanently installing the Clover PBR code into the PBR (it must be FAT32 and it must not have syslinux in the PBR as I assume that if syslinux is in the PBR, it needs it in order to boot to linux - overwriting it would prevent it from booting via syslinux in MBR mode!)
I also moved the boot0xx and boot1xx files to a \Clover folder to keep it tidier.
The user can still press 2, 3 6 or 7 to boot to \boot2, \boot3, \boot6 or \boot7 as these are (currently) still in the root of the FAT32 partition (Edit: in Clover_Pack 002 only boot6 and boot7 are present!).

It would be nice to be able to run syslinux in MBR-boot mode (see below for how I got this to work too).

I now need to test this out on different platforms and different scenarios - hey ho...

A good source of info on Clover is here.

E2B .imgPTN images - boot directly from the CSM menu to UEFI

If you have booted in MBR mode to Easy2Boot, you can select an image partition file (.imgPTN family) and switch partitions to it immediately. However, now you have to reboot the system and select the UEFI firmware boot option for the E2B USB drive.

This is inconvenient and takes time (especially if you are on a server).

I have now added an experimental UEFI Clover boot option to the MakePartImage Tool Pack. Extra menu entries have been added to the CSM menu.lst file to boot Clover ISO files.

You will need MPI v030 and the files, available from the EasyBoot download page.

If you add the Clover ISO file(s) to the MakePartImage\Custom\e2b folder before you make your image file using MakePartImage, you will now see one or two extra menu options:

When you select this option it will load Clover. You then need to select the Boot Maintenance Manager option:

and then the Boot from File option:
After that you select the partition and then you need to select the .efi boot file (which will normally be \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi, or bootia32.efi for 32-bit UEFI payloads). It should then boot via UEFI to the efi file on the USB drive. In this way you can directly boot to say, a Windows 8 install image, in UEFI mode without needing to reboot the system and pick the UEFI: USB drive boot menu option.

As you can see, using the Clover menu to boot from, is not exactly convenient, which is why it is not included in the default MPI build. 

Clover is not included as standard because:
1. It doesn't work on all systems - e.g. Z87 systems.
2. It takes up space in the image (and will be in every image you create)
3. You have to go through several steps in the Clover menu to select and boot from an EFI file
4. It dramatically increased the size of the MPI Tool Kit download

This feature is still a work in progress. There are many drivers and other files inside the clover iso files which cannot be accessed via the Clover menu but they could be accessed if they were extracted to the image. I could also reduce the size of the ISO by removing unnecessary files, etc.  As I have only just tried Clover today, I have a lot more learning and experimenting to do!

If you have any suggestions and/or are experienced with Clover, please contact me. Ideally, I would like to be able to boot to the Windows efi files directly from the grub4dos menu...

Wednesday 14 May 2014

E2B - MBR and UEFI booting of large All-In-One Windows Installers

For details about booting to Clover from grub4dos see here.

I was asked recently if it was possible to multiboot large >4GB All-in-One Windows installer ISOs using Easy2Boot in both MBR and UEFI mode.

After some work, I can now answer 'Yes - as long as you use a USB Hard disk for E2B'! - or a USB Flash drive of the 'Fixed Disk' type.

Note: Simone in the Comments below suggests splitting the install.wim file. If this is done with Win 8, you will need to add a special ei.cfg file too, in order to prevent a Microsoft 'licence' error (read the Comments for this blog post for details).

It has always been possible to directly use a AIO ISO on an NTFS-formatted E2B drive for normal MBR-type installs; the problem comes with UEFI installs. UEFI firmware can only boot from FAT filesystems and FAT32 has a 4GB file size limitation. If the Install.wim file is larger than 4GB then we have to place it on an NTFS filesystem.

The new procedure to work around this issue uses two partitions.

Partition 1 - FAT32 - contains all Windows Install files except the Install.wim file
Partition 2 - NTFS  - contains the large \sources\Install.wim file.

You must first make both partition images using MakePartImage. The partition 1 FAT32 image file should be given a filename extension of .imgPTNLBAa. The partition 2 NTFS image file should be given an identical filename but with no file extension at all - e.g.


Only the Win8AIO.imgPTNLBAa file will be listed in the Windows menu, but when it is run, the Win8AIO file will be mapped as (hd0,2) and the Win8AIO.imgPTNLBAa file will be mapped as (hd0,0).

In this way, you can boot via MBR or UEFI and install Windows even from an install.wim file larger than 4GB. The latest E2B versions include this feature.

Full step-by-step instructions on how to make the image files are here (scroll down to 'How to add Windows 7/8 installers with >4GB install.wim files').

Some UEFI systems may not like seeing two partitions - please let me know if you try this and what systems you tried it on!

Easy2Boot v1.39 - small bugfix

If you had a FAT32 E2B USB drive and you created a folder with a .  (dot) in the folder name, E2B would give an error during file enumeration. This is now fixed. Thanks to Chase for reporting it!

MPI Tool Pack also has been updated to v1.29. Small fixes for some syslinux ISOs.

Monday 12 May 2014

New PCLinuxOS ISOs and adding an Answer file to Windows Installer .imgPTN images

It seems that PCLinuxOS has had a major Update - see here for details.

There are KDE, LXDE, Full Monty and Mate Desktop versions as well as a KDE MiniMe version - see the downloads page here to download an ISO and try it out on your Easy2Boot USB drive.

If any of you are using .imgPTN partition image files with Easy2Boot of Windows Vista/7/8 installers and want to add an answer file for automated installs, I have added instructions to the Easy2Boot website here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Saturday 10 May 2014

New YouTube Video on UEFI support and .imgPTN files now available

I have made a new YouTube video

I sound a bit 'nasal' due to hay-fever as usual!

E2B v1.38 is just being uploaded now.
No need to update if you are happy with your E2B drive. A few small changes were made, mainly in MyE2B.cfg support for moving the top menu heading down from the first line at the top, to any line (e.g. line 2,3 or 4) and also an option to adjust the offset that is automatically applied to the heading and bottom help text. Some new demo 'themes' have also been added - 'Mac' and 'StripedFlat_1024_pwd_is_fred' which has a master password and is in 1024x768 resolution (thanks Craig!) - see the Gallery here.

If you want to update your E2B drive, just extract the non-DPMS version to your existing E2B drive.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Boot from a Zorin ISO with persistence (Easy2Boot)

Zorin is a good free linux substitute for Windows XP. It feels pretty-much like XP and includes WINE so it can run Windows applications. It seems to have quite a few drivers too (my audio, WiFi, trackpad and video just worked on my Acer 7741 laptop). If you just copy the ISO to your Easy2Boot USB drive it should just work as a 'Live CD' (but it won't boot from a VM - only from a real system as it looks for a real USB drive).

It would be handy to have persistence too. I did this by adding a .mnu file to Easy2Boot and a casper-rw file for persistence.

Persistence seemed to work and Zorin remembered changes to the Desktop, the wireless WPA password and keyboard/country settings. However there were some problems running Windows applications under WINE as there was insufficient temporary file space. I suspect that it was using the ramdrive instead of the persistence file system.

However, you can at least boot to Zorin and use the Chrome browser and play YouTube videos, etc. with the Desktop and country settings, etc. of your choice, without needing to install it.

Note: For Zorin 9 use the Zorin-os-9.1-core-64-persistent.mnu file in 2016 versions of  E2B,

Here are the instructions:

1. Download and copy a Zorin ISO (I used v8.1) to a suitable folder on your E2B drive (must be at 3rd level or deeper) - I used \_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU. Alternatively, the \_ISO\LINUX\MNU folder would also be OK. The 32-bit version would be a better choice if you want it to boot on a wider variety of systems.

2. Use RMPrepUSB to create a file formatted as an ext2 filesystem using the Create ext2 FS button.
    Filename        = zorin32-rw  (or zorin64-rw depending on which ISO you have)
    Volume name = casper-rw
    Size               =   (up to you! - I used 300MB)

3. Copy the appropriate E2B .mnu file (32 or 64-bit version) to the same folder as the .ISO file (see below). The Zorin .mnu files can befound in the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files\linus folder.

4. Run RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+F2   (WinContig) to ensure all files are contiguous.

That's it. Now boot it on a real system to try it out.

Instructions are also inside each .mnu file.

You can add many more linux ISOs with persistence in the same manner (even if they all use casper-rw as the persistent file system!). See the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files folder for more .mnu files.
This scheme works on both FAT32 and NTFS E2B USB drives (even if the version of linux you are booting to, cannot mount NTFS drives whilst booting).

Monday 5 May 2014

There are still weird BIOSes about!

I had two issues reported this week concerning booting .imgPTN images from E2B USB drives. Both issues show that even in the last few years, we still have BIOSes which have non-standard boot behaviour!

1. Intel Desktop Mainboard DP67BG

Art found that .imgPTN FAT32 image would not boot on this one mainboard but would boot OK on all other systems he had. It turned out that the partition geometry had to be set to 255 tracks per cylinder and 63 sectors per head instead of 128x63. I have now (v0.027) changed the default in MakePartImage to use 255x63.

2. Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E525 laptop

Alexandre found that on this laptop, it would not even try to boot from a .imgPTN FAT32 image but would boot OK from the same image via UEFI and boot to the E2B partition OK. It turned out that the .imgPTN FAT32 partition needed to be flagged as 'Active' (bootable) otherwise the BIOS would not try to boot from the USB drive in MBR\CSM mode! This was easily done by renaming all his .imgPTN files to .imgPTNA and now they all boot fine.

I am reluctant to always set the partition as Active as it may prevent some UEFI systems from booting (they may not like an 'Active' FAT32 partition and may only boot from it in EUFI mode).

The UEFI specification clearly states that the Boot Flag field '...shall not be used by UEFI firmware'. This does not appear to be the case for the Lenovo UEFI firmware!

If you see any similar behaviour, please let me know.

Friday 2 May 2014

MenuetOS - a tiny GUI OS!

I found MenuetOS today. An entire GUI OS that can be contained on a single 1.44MB floppy disk!
It is written in x86 assembler and there is a 32-bit and 64-bit version. A new version was released yesterday.

Add it to Easy2Boot and try it out for a bit of fun!

1. Download the floppy image file M64-0.99.58.ZIP  - or the 32-bit version
2. Unzip it to obtain .img file - e.g. M6409958.IMG
3. Copy the file to your E2B drive - e.g. to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder
4. Try it!

Test using a Real system or QEMU. If you use VirtualBox, I found I needed to set a SB16 Sound  adapter in the Virtual Machine or disable it, and also disable VTx CPU acceleration and set a 32-bit OS. You may need to tweak a few settings to get it to run in VBox.

A more recent version of MenuetOS is Kolibri. The .img file still is only 1.44MB but it has network support, a basic text-only internet browser (WebView) and many games.

WebView showing a page from

The forum is here, downloads here (.iso or .img works). To run under a VBox VM, I used - linux 32-bit, Sound Blaster 16, IDE, VTx OFF. This boots in just a few seconds!


I also tried adding the MRI GeekSquad ISO as a .imgPTN image file today and updated my previous blog on it here.

Thursday 1 May 2014

E2B v1.37 now available

  • New image partition extensions (see below)
  • Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd now installs grub4dos to the PBR and MBR
As well as .imgPTN, the following file extensions are now recognised:

.imgPTNA - same as .imgPTN but the partition is made Active (flagged as bootable). This may be required for some WindowsToGo first boot-time images to avoid a 'Windows could not complete' error on first boot. E2B v1.36 and later.
.imgPTNlba - same as .imgPTN but modifies the partition table - use this instead of .imgPTN is some BIOSes won't boot .imgPTN images. v1.37+
.imgPTNlbaA - same as .imgPTNlba but makes the first partition Active.
.imgPTNAlba23 - same as .imgPTNlba but partition entries 2 and 3 are not removed and partition 1 is made Active. This allows you to boot from a Windows image file but still be able to access the 2nd and 3rd partition on the E2B USB Hard disk. This extension cannot be used for UEFI booting. v1.37+
.imgPTNA23 - same as .imgPTNA but does not clear partition entries 2 and 3 - use for WinPE/WinToGo images on E2B USB hard disks where you want access to the 2nd and 3rd partitions when you boot from the image. Not for UEFI booting.  v1.37+

If you have an E2B USB hard drive which has 2 or 3 partitions, when you boot to a WinToGo image using a .imgPTN file, the 2nd and 3rd partitions on the E2B drive will be removed. You therefore cannot access any files on them when you boot to WinToGo. By using a .imgPTNA23 or .imgPTNAlba23 file extension, you can still access the 2nd and 3rd partitions on your E2B USB HDD.
Note that this is only for non-UEFI booting (UEFI booting requires the first partition to be a FAT32 partition).

The best booting compatibility is obtained using standard MBR boot code and a grub4dos PBR, however for Partition Image booting, a grub4dos MBR is required.  Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd now installs grub4dos to the PBR and MBR.