Sunday 10 April 2016

30 things I bet you didn't know about Easy2Boot (or were too afraid to ask)!

  1. E2B can directly boot from Vista/7/8/10 WindowsToGo .VHD files - just copy them over (requires a copy of Win8.1 bootmgr to be added to the E2B drive - no BCD file is required!).
  2. E2B can directly boot XP-based .VHD files which include the Firadisk driver if you rename them as .vhdboot.
  3. E2B can directly boot from bootable .wim files - just copy them over.
  4. If you name the ISO files with a .iso64 file extension, then they will only appear in the menu if the system contains a 64-bit CPU.
  5. You can password protect ISO files by adding 'pwd' to the file extension - e.g. Kali.isopwd
  6. If you set an alternative password in MyE2B.cfg (e.g. 'set menupwd=fred'), then this password will be used instead of the grub4dos default password of 'easy2boot' for files with a .xxxpwd file extension.
  7. E2B may suggest an alternative file extension. To prevent this, name the ISO as .isodefault or add 'set NOSUG=1' to your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file. Press SCROLL LOCK before running the ISO to always see suggestions.
  8. .imgPTN/.imgPTN23 files are not just for UEFI payloads. They are also ideal for Gandalf/Hirens-type ISOs and All-In-One Windows Install ISOs too. You can suppress the warning text that you get from .imgPTN files by adding 'AUTO' to the extension, e.g. Clonezilla.imgPTNAUTO, or  add 'set AUTOCSM=1' to your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file. Use the file extension .imgPTN23 if you want the second partition to remain after you switch.
  9. For (Hirens) ISO booting which have both miniXP and Mini7/8/10 OS's, use the new .isoHW file extension (but I recommend you convert to FAT32 .imgPTN file for best functionality of all DOS utilities). WinBuilder-based ISOs will be automatically detected by E2B, but must have a file extension of .iso.
  10. Once you boot from the ISO file, it's CRC32/MD5 may be changed by E2B! E2B modifies some Windows ISO files to prevent them from prompting the user with a 'Press any key to boot from CD or DVD' message. You can force E2B to modify an ISO file by using the .isoBF file extension (and boot it once via E2B).
  11. E2B supports large fonts (24-pixel high instead of 16-pixel high) and animated 'GIFs'. Also up to 10 'STAMPs' are allowed - now you can add your company 'boiler plate' or other graphics 'stamps' to any E2B menu background automatically - if you change the background you don't have to edit it to add in your logo any more! Press F2 to stop\start animation (if animation is playing). You can also add boxes, lines and text onto any menu. It can also play tunes on the internal speaker/beeper.
  12. To boot puppy linux ISOs with the save feature enabled, use the .isopup file extension (or .isomacpup).
  13. If you have a DOS floppy disk image and use the .imarw file extension, when you boot to DOS via E2B, any changes you make to the floppy (A:) drive contents will be permanent (i.e. changes to the payload file will be kept).
  14. SWITCH_E2B.exe is an E2B Windows utility that can 'switch-in' .imgPTN files. On NTFS drives, it will also re-order your files if you have dual partition images which are in the 'wrong' order (e.g. xxx.imgptn and xxx.). Switch_E2B can also be used to 'switch back' to the E2B partition (from any type of partition); it can also be found in the \e2b folder on your USB drive once it has been switched over.
  15. The \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\E2B Menus folder contains lots of useful extra menus to change the wallpaper, complete themes, change language, change font, remove the grub4dos password, hide and protect partitions from an OS, change the BIOS Real Time Clock date,  exit to the grub4dos command shell, etc. Try \_ISO\PimpMyDrive.cmd to add some of these menus.
  16. If you add the CloneProtect.mnu file and modify it for your USB drive, E2B won't work if someone copies your E2B USB drive to a different USB drive.
  17. If you enable 'Guest Mode', anyone who boots from your E2B USB drive will just see a much smaller (or empty) menu. You can enable the 'full' E2B menu using a secret key and\or password as it boots (or from the Guest menu).
  18. You can 'encrypt' and hide files (e.g. \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg) simply by running the \_ISO\docs\E2B Utilities\Protect\Protect_E2B_Files.cmd script (or unprotect it). If the E2B drive is an NTFS drive, only you (or an Admin who knows where his towel is!) will be able to unprotect them. See ReadMe.txt for details.
  19. You can protect E2B with a PIN code that automatically changes every month. Just tell your support guys the new code each month. When you release a new version of your bootable USB drive, change the 'seed' value and tell your guys the new monthly password. That way, no one can use an out-of-date E2B drive.
  20. The MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd script can be used to make copies of your E2B USB drive. Just copy your added payload and menu files to the downloaded folder before you run the script. If you have added your own files or folders to the root (e.g. \MyPrograms), run UPDATE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd afterwards to ensure they are copied across also.
  21. You can increase the spacing between menu entries very easily, by setting the lnspace value in \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg (but reduces the number of lines per screen and affects menu layout).
  22. You can run HitMan Pro from E2B (if the E2B USB drive is a Removable drive). E2B has a script which allows you to copy the hidden sectors from a working HitMan Pro flash drive to your E2B Removable USB drive.
  23. You can boot E2B from a PIN-code encrypted USB drive, e.g. datAshur Pro or Netac U618. So if you lose your E2B drive, you don't need to worry about those confidential files such as a WinToGo VHD or your Windows Product Keys getting into the wrong hands!
  24. E2B now contains the \_ISO\docs\PassPass files. This allows you to circumvent the local account password protection on Windows  systems. It also contains a UtilMan XML file to allow you to easily create a new admin account on any password-protected Windows system.
  25. You can install multiple full linux OS's (and liveCDs+persistence) onto the single partition of your E2B USB drive by using .imgPTN files. See here.
  26. Each menu in E2B can have a different wallpaper background, you can centre the menu entries within the menu and you can make the menu play a tune and display animated graphics at the same time.
  27. You can use E2B to un-vaccinate the \autorun.inf file on any drive that has been protected by the 'Panda vaccine' utility - see here.
  28. You can use Defraggler.exe Action - Advanced - Defrag Freespace to consolidate the free space on a heavily fragmented E2B USB drive - this allows WinContig to make large files contiguous if it couldn't before (if there is enough free space left on the USB drive). Also, Defraggler can sometimes defrag single files when Wincontig cannot.
  29. You can fully automate Windows 7/8/10 installs using an XML file and an unaltered MS Windows Install ISO file. The XMLtoE2B.exe utility allows you to easily generate these files. If you use the SDI_Choco feature, you can also automatically install the correct hardware drivers for each PC\notebook, applications and Windows Updates too - no change to the .ISO file is required! You can even install chocolatey apps offline too!
  30. Hold down the SHIFT key just as E2B starts to boot to automatically install the grub4dos USB 2.0 fast driver. Grub4dos 0.4.6a will use it's own USB 2.0 read/write driver. If your USB drive is connected to a USB 2.0 port and the driver detects your USB drive, it is usually much faster than the BIOS USB 2.0 driver. So if you load this driver first before booting a payload file, you will often find that the payload file boots much quicker. Also, because E2B needs write access to a USB drive and Plop! uses a read-only USB driver, if you booted to E2B using Plop!, you can install the grub4dos USB driver to enable E2B to have full write-access and thus work correctly. 

So how did you do?

Tick 'funny' if you knew only 0-9 of these already, tick 'interesting' if you knew 10-25, or tick 'cool' if you knew more than 25 of these (and be honest)!

And here are some more 'New things I bet you didn't know about E2B v1 and v2!'...
  1. E2B now understands a wider range of file extension suffixes such as 4GB, 3GB, 32, 64, pwd, ncq, quiet, quietp.
  2. E2B now includes a UEFI-bootable version of MemTest86 by Passmark
  3. Use an extension of .isoDPMS for 32-bit XP-based ISOs and E2B will add in the correct Mass Storage Driver for the system you are booting from.
  4. You can create and add .help text files and E2B will display them for you.
  5. To boot Windows Install ISOs from an E2B hard disk, a WinHelper USB Flash drive is no longer required.
  6. To boot to Windows Install ISOs without needing to specify an XML or Product Key, just press ENTER when prompted to Setup\Repair (or add the ISO to a standard E2B menu folder).
  7. xxxxx_.WinNTSetup.iso now causes any Windows install ISO (except XP) to run WinNTSetup automatically and supports dual x86+x64 ISOs - you can also use your own batch file to automate WinNTSetup by using the STARTUP variable in a .mnu file (blog here)
  8. You can use a 'sort order prefix' to change the order of the files listed in the menus - e.g. _100_Ubuntu.iso, _200_Mint.iso. The _xxx_ characters will not be displayed in the menu.
  9. You can overide the file extension by using a 'file extension override suffix' before the file extension - e.g. WinPESE10x64_.isodefault.iso or Strelec_.isoHW.iso. This is useful in situations where the 'payload' requires the file extension to be unaltered. It is also useful if your E2B drive is a Zalman\IODD enclosure so it can load .iso files as well as run them using E2B.
  10. You can now centre the E2B menu entries as well as the Menu headings.
  11. You can use a .mnu file to boot from a Win10 Install ISO, run WinNTSetup and then load a different ISO file into WinNTSetup without needing to manually select it (using the ALT_ISO variable).
  12. You can specify a second partition image file using the X4 suffix - e.g. Ubuntu64.imgptnX4WinPE  will load Ubuntu into partition #1 and the partition image WinPE into partition #4. The X4 file can be on a different partition in the/_ISO folder so you can use the same one for many different image files, or in the same folder as the .imgPTN file. This is useful for adding a second WinPE UEFI-bootable partition to allow you to UEFI multi-boot from the E2B drive.
  13. E2B now includes 'E2B Launcher.exe', a 32-bit Windows application that you can use to help you configure and use your E2B USB drive. It includes lots of context-sensitive help so it is much easier to use than looking for clues on the E2B website!
And here are some more things about E2B v2 agFM and Ventoy:
  1. The second Primary partition for agFM UEFI files must be FAT32 but it can be up to 32GiB in size.
  2. You can add a third Primary partition which you can then use for storing your own files or backup images. It can be NTFS - or maybe use exFAT if you use MACs.
  3. The grubfm grub2 menu system on the second partition is an adapted and improved version of a1ives grubfm project and supports a variety of 'special' file extensions.
  4. agFM uses a special Kaspersky signed shim EFI grub2 boot file which means it can usually Secure Boot to UEFI64. 
  5. Although agFM supports UEFI32, UEFI32 Secure Boot is not supported.
  6. When you Secure UEFI64-boot to agFM it disables secure boot - you can then load non-secure payloads! In this way you can Secure Boot to Ventoy or anything else which supports EFI64.
  7. agFM can be configured to use a different grub2 theme.
  8. agFM can be configured to have its own startup menu.
  9. To avoid accidental user key presses, you can suppress the c and e hotkeys in the agFM menu using a startup menu setting.
  10. Some systems will not MBR-boot unless you remove or rename the \EFI folder on partition 2.
  11. You can add the latest Ventoy to the second partition by using \e2b\Update agFM\Update_to_latest_Ventoy_version.cmd.
  12. You can configure Ventoy by adding a \ventoy\ventoy.json file to partition 1. All the Ventoy website instructions for adding extra functionality also apply to 'Ventoy for Easy2Boot' on the E2B drive.
  13. Run \e2b\Update agFM\Make_Latest_Ventoy_Partition_Image.cmd to make 100% Ventoy compatible partition images which will also support ARM and RISC UEFI booting too.
You can find out more by visiting the E2B website, or look through a list of my previous blog articles here.

I highly recommend getting my eBooks (of course!). eBook #4 is useful for information on agFM and Ventoy. There is also an eBook on grub4dos itself (this is not written as an 'E2B' eBook although it applies to anything that uses grub4dos) and a separate eBook on Ventoy.

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