Wednesday 29 June 2016

Directly boot to .VHD, .VHDX and .WIM (NT6) files with E2B

E2B can directly MBR-boot to dozens of .VHD, .VHDX and .WIM (NT6) files. Just copy them to one of the standard E2B boot folders (e.g. \_ISO\WIN) and boot to E2B. They do not need to be contiguous either.

E2B uses chenall's NTBOOT.MOD grub4dos scripts to modify a BCD file which is copied to a virtual floppy disk in memory, so that it contains the correct path to point bootmgr at the boot file.

There are a few caveats however:
  1. A compatible version of bootmgr is required.
  2. There must be no spaces in the filename or path.
If you use the \MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd script to make your E2B drive, it will copy bootmgr from your Windows system to the E2B drive. If you did not use the script, then you will need to ensure that you copy the bootmgr file to the \_ISO\e2b\grub\DPMS\NTBOOT.MOD folder yourself.

Until recently, I thought that only Windows 10 versions of bootmgr were incompatible, but I have now tested over 20 different versions (renamed to show what symptom I got with each one when booting a VHD):

Thursday 23 June 2016

RMPrepUSB v2.1.731 and grub4dos 0.4.6a

RMPrepUSB v2.1.731 will install grub4dos 0.4.6a when you use the 'Install grub4dos' button.

Under some circumstances, you may hit the grub4dos 0.4.6a bug where it does not like a certain partition on one of the drives in your system and fails to boot to grub4dos. This is the same issue as you may sometimes get when you boot to E2B and get a E2B.cfg file missing error.

The solution is to use an older 0.4.5c version of grub4dos.

In the case of RMPrepUSB, simply copy the required 0.4.5c version of grldr to the RMPrepUSB folder (press F3 in RMPrepUSB and it will open the correct folder). For E2B, replace the \grldr file.

I suggest you use the 2015-05-18 version of grldr 0.4.5c (I have not validated later versions of 0.4.5c, so they may have bugs).

Note that 0.4.5c has some missing features.

Version 0.4.6a has:
  • A fast USB 2.0 rd/wr driver
  • .jpg image file support for backgrounds
  • ext3/4 support
  • Better ISO, Joliet and UDF support
  • Can boot from non-contiguous files (if not too fragmented) using map command
  • Large font support
  • Stamp and Animated graphics support
  • Many bug fixes, incl. NTFS file write bug fix
  • Better debugging
  • Extra commands
The bug in 0.4.6a is difficult to reproduce, but we won't find it by using 0.4.5c all the time. If you find a system which shows the problem, please try to narrow down which partition it is that is causing the problem (e.g. change the partition type to 0 - then see if you can boot to grub4dos - repeat for each partition until you find which one is causing the issue, then make an image of the bad partition and send me or the developers the image + the MBR .bin file so that we can reproduce the problem). The bug is reported here.

How to pre-activate all your Win7/8 systems for Windows 10 without actually installing Windows 10 (even after 2016-07-29)!

Time is running has run out! However, you can still activate Windows 10 using a Windows 8 or Windows 7 Product Key even though the 'upgrade' deadline has expired!

Note: This will probably not work after 2017-12-31 - see here.

Microsoft have said that Win10 will probably be their last version of Windows, because they will release continuous updates for Win10.

So even if you don't like Windows 10 now, you may like Windows 10 a lot more in 6 months time or in 3 years time. Unless you activate and register each system now, you will have to pay for it later!

If you are still running Win7, you should definitely upgrade to Win8.1 or Win10 because Win7 has reached 'end-of-life'. Manufacturers are no longer releasing peripherals with Win7 drivers, so any new peripherals you purchase may not run on Win7 if it requires a special driver.

Tip: You can check the Windows version by running 'winver' from the Start - Run box.

As I have mentioned before in previous blogs, you don't have to install Win10 onto a system's internal hard disk in order to get it registered with Microsoft for Windows 10. All you need to do is boot the Win7/8 system from a USB drive which has Windows 10 To Go on it. Here are the steps:

Monday 20 June 2016

New versions of E2B, MPI_Tool Pack, RMPrepUSB available

The fix for SWITCH_E2B.exe is now added and seems to work.
I also found a small bug in my code which also affected RMPartUSB, so I have re-released RMPrepUSB (which contains RMPartUSB).

  • SWITCH_E2B v1.0.11 - bugfix to adjust hidden sectors
  • E2B v1.81c - has new RMPartUSB v2.1.731 and new SWITCH_E2B.exe v1.0.11
  • MPI Tool Pack + Clover Lite 0.066 - has new SWITCH_E2B v1.0.11
  • RMPrepUSB v2.1.731 - new RMPartUSB 2.1.731
New versions are in the Alternate Downloads Areas (see side bar).

If you already have made .imgPTN files and they have been booted at least once using the E2B menu system, then you don't need to update them.

Sunday 19 June 2016

SWITCH_E2B.exe bug found!

For a number of months now I have been experiencing odd issues with .imgPTN files, especially with syslinux-bootable images. Sometimes they worked fine and I could MBR-boot to syslinux using the first MBR-Boot option and also the other 1 or 2 syslinux boot options, but on other occasions, when I made a new .imgPTN file, I found they would only boot via the syslinux PBR option (#2) and not the default boot option #1 or the syslinux PBR.BIN backup file option #3.

Menus #1 and #3 may not work until you use grub4dos to select the .imgPTN file instead of SWITCH_E2B.exe.

Whilst setting up the slackware+persistence tests in the previous blog, I came across this behaviour again and I have finally found out what is going on (after nearly going crazy)!

I realised that if I used SWITCH_E2B.exe to switch to a new .imgPTN file that had never been booted via grub4dos and E2B, then I had this boot problem in the CSM menu. However, if I switched to that .imgPTN file (once!) using the E2B grub4dos menu, then from then on it would work using SWITCH_E2B.exe and using the E2B menu system.

The reason for this is that the E2B menu uses grub4dos and the partnew command which modifies the partition boot record hidden sector values (at locations 001C-001F if you are curious). SWITCH_E2B.exe does not do this.

So you must always use the E2B menu system first to switch in your .imgPTN. You only need to do this once - after that you can use SWITCH_E2B.exe if you wish.

Also, if you 'move' the .imgPTN file's position on the E2B disk (e.g. defrag it or copy it), it will obviously not alter the hidden sector values inside each .imgPTN file. So you will need to boot using the E2B menu (once) to make them work.

I will look at fixing SWITCH_E2B.exe so that it also modifies these hidden sector values.

P.S. is now available from the Alternate Downloads area and has the hidden sector update fix.

Add Slackware+persistence to E2B

Slackware will use either a \persistence folder or a \persistence.img file (by default) for persistence.

However, it appears that this needs to be in ext4 format.

I could not find a way of pointing the LiveCD ISO to the persistence file when booting directly from an ISO, so here is how I went about adding Slackware with persistence to my E2B USB HDD.

1. Drag-and-drop the slackware64-live-mate-current.iso file onto the MPI_FAT32 Decktop shortcut to make a slackware.imgPTN file - when prompted for a size, add enough for your persistence requirements - e.g. add 500MB (max. you should add is 4GB because we are using FAT32 for the partition so we cannot create a persistence.img file larger than 4GB in step 5 below).
2. Copy the slackware.imgPTN file to your E2B drive (e.g. \_ISO\LINUX folder)
3. Switch to the slackware.imgPTN file (e.g. by booting to the E2B menu).
Do NOT use SWITCH_E2B.exe to switch to the slackware.imgPTN file for the first time as it can cause problems with syslinux booting. Once you have booted via E2B once, you can use SWITCH_E2B.exe afterwards.
4. The files in the new partition should now be accessible to Windows.
5. Run RMPrepUSB - Create Ext2 FS and create a new persistence file on the USB partition called persistence.img   (note: case sensitive). Make the size as big as any remaining free space on the partition (e.g. approx 500MB). Any Volume name will do.
6. Now boot to slackware (to the CSM menu) by choosing boot option #2 (the #1 entry may not work unless you are using SWITCH_E2B.exe v1.0.11 or later) and boot to slackware.
7. Log-in as root (pwd=root) and run a terminal window
8. Type the following commands:

  mkfs.ext4 /mnt/livemedia/persistence.img
  tune2fs -m 0 -c 0 -i 0 /mnt/livemedia/persistence.img

9. Now when you next boot, persistence should be working.

Tip: Use CTRL+S during booting when you see the 'SLACKWARELIVE:' text, to check that the persistence.img file has been found (CTRL+Q to resume):

Note: Slackware would not boot from my USB HDD  UASP drive caddy (e.g. Inateck FE2005) on my Z87 PC. It reported it could not find the 'livemedia' during booting. Using fdisk -l  , it did not list the E2B USB hard disk. If I removed and re-inserted it, it did not allocate a device name, but if I inserted a USB 3 Flash drive, it reported sdd1 was found. I conclude from this that slackware does not contain a UASP driver, so you cannot MBR-boot from USB 3 UASP drives/caddies (I tried both USB 2 and USB 3 ports).

10. I recommend you take a backup (at least of the persistence.img file) in case of later boot problems!


You should also be able to UEFI-boot via Clover or your system firmware in UEFI-boot mode.

How to add Phoenix OS+persistence to E2B

Here is how to add Phoenix OS to E2B with an ext2 persistence file (data.img)

New Desktop folder 'Steve' is persistent.

You will need to extract the contents of the downloaded PhoenixInstaller exe file. I used 7Zip on PhoenixOSInstaller-1.0.7-beta.exe.

E2B drive added files:
\phoenix\(other files from ISO)

 Then you need to use the Phoenix_Persistent.mnu file as below.

# Extract PhoenixInstallerxxxx.exe contents to \phoenix folder on E2B drive
# Use RMPrepUSB to create ext2 or ext3 data.img file and move to \phoenix\data.img
# Copy this .mnu file to any E2B menu folder (e.g. \_ISO\LINUX)
# file/folder names are case-sensitive!
# On first boot - 'system initializing, please wait...'

title Phoenix OS with persistence\n Boot to android Phoenix OS
kernel /phoenix/kernel root=/dev/ram0 androidboot.hardware=android_x86  DATA=/phoenix vga=788 SRC=/phoenix quiet
initrd /phoenix/initrd.img

Create a data.img file using RMPrepUSB and move it to the \phoenix folder.
Note that paths are case sensitive.

If the data.img file becomes corrupted, Phoenix OS may not boot until you delete or remake it.

Alternative (image a flash drive)

  1. Use the PhoenixOSInstaller (e.g. PhoenixOSInstaller-v3.6.1.564-x64.exe) and make a bootable USB flash drive (FAT32 partition is required by the installer).
  2. Drag-and-drop the Flash drive letter icon (e.g. D:) onto the MPI_FAT32 Desktop icon (MPI Tool Kit)
  3. The suggested size can be used which should be approx. 4GB. I used Syslinux 5 and AUTO-convert (defaults).
  4. Name the file as .imgPTN23 so it can be used with E2B+agFM. Persistence should work and well as UEFI64 booting (UEFI32 untested). Note: It does not seem to UEFI-boot under VirtualBox but does on a real system.

Saturday 18 June 2016

All in One System Rescue ISO (Paul Vreeland)

Paul Vreeland has made available his 682MB Rescue ISO for all to use.

The LiveCD part is based on Ubuntu 64-bit and so is not suitable for 32-bit systems. It contains a few useful utilities (all legal to use by businesses), but the most useful part appears to be the Windows utilities that are within the ISO.

You can use the ISO directly in E2B (e.g. name it .iso64 so you don't try to use it on 32-bit systems), or make a .imgPTN64 file from it with the MPI ToolKit for 64-bit MBR and UEFI-booting.
The most useful part comes if you can mount the ISO in Windows (or switch to an .imgPTN image containing the ISO contents) and then you can run AiO-SRT.exe to start the GUI. This means you will often need to download and install the utilities onto the same Windows system that you are trying to fix.

     The AIO System Rescue utility changes the Windows Desktop background and runs a GUI.

See here for a list of utilities. An internet connection seems required for many of the utilities. Some apps require .Net to be downloaded and installed. Many of the buttons just lead to a website where you need to download and install the application onto the system (if it is not too infected!).

He has plans for a Lite version with 100% scripted automated task too (and hopefully a 32-bit LiveCD version?).

P.S. Use the torrent link for a download if possible and don't forget to donate to his site!

Happy Birthday to E2B!

According to the E2B Version History page here, after many Beta versions, E2B v1.00 was finally released to the world on 2013-06-18, so that means that E2B is 3 today - so Happy Birthday E2B!

Yes, believe it or not, the idea for developing Easy2Boot first started on the forum over three years ago! If you are really interested (or suffer from insomnia or are just plain nosey), you can study the progress of the various E2B Betas and how Sambul61, cdob, Scooby, Wonko the Sane, Rootman, DanialCollinet, halikus, libranco, h3xl3y and many others, contributed to it's development here.

Warning: Old joke alert!

A small boy was walking with his parents in London, just as an old man was being released through the main prison gates of Wormwood Scrubs, having just finished an 18 year(!) sentence. The old 'lag' was naturally exuberant and he ran up to the family shouting 'HURRAY, HURRAY, I'M FREE, I'M FREE', to which the small boy replied 'So what mister, I'm four!'.

Family story #1 (true story)!
Many years ago in the early 60's, when they were a young married couple with two small boys, my parents ran two supermarkets, two post-offices, two off-licences, a taxi service and a grocery delivery service. They worked really hard, 18 hours a day, every day. Every day that is, except for Sundays, when they had a well-deserved 'lie-in' in the morning. 

So my younger brother and I knew that hung on my parent's firmly-shut bedroom door every Sunday morning, was a large but invisible sign that said 'Do not disturb - on pain of death!'.

My brother and I generally got on quite well with each other, but early this one particular Sunday morning when our parents were 'resting', we got into an argument in our bedroom, which led to a loud shouting match, and then soon afterwards, to actual fisticuffs!

On hearing this unholy racket, my father was forced to leave my mother in their matrimonial bed and attend to the matter. He stormed into our bedroom and grabbed us both, gripping the back of our small necks tightly in each of his huge hands. My brother and I could tell from his expression that he was not at all pleased at being 'disturbed' and that we were probably going to get a good walloping, very soon!
My father turned to me and asked me angrily 'What do you think you're doing?', and I replied...'fighting'.

He then turned to my younger brother and said to him even more angrily, 'and what do you think you are doing?'
My brother looked up at my father and replied tentatively, 'Helping him?'.

There was a pause... I could hear my mother giggling from their bedroom across the landing. My father's mouth almost broke into a smile and we escaped a spanking that morning - thanks to my little brother!

Family story #2 (true story)!
Our family house has an all-glass and PVC steel conservatory (i.e. no brick walls) and we had just adopted a lovely little black kitten named Jemima, which was currently using a litter tray in the corner of the conservatory to perform her somewhat smelly ablutions.
I turned to my father and said 'Hey Dad, how can we make a cat flap in a glass conservatory?'
He looked up at me, and with a twinkle in his eye replied, 'Easy son, just kick it up the ass!'.

Well, it was funny at the time...

Friday 17 June 2016

Cracking BIOS passwords (Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Compaq, Insyde, Phoenix, Sony, Samsung)

Many old BIOSes have a preset but secret backdoor password.

But I happened to stumble across this page today.

It describes how to crack the BIOS password on those systems which print a code if you enter the wrong password too many times. It also offers a range of Windows executables (.exe files) for each model which can translate that code into the original BIOS password!

Fujitsu-Siemens BIOS pwd cracker

From the user comments, it appears to work for many systems (I have not tried it 'for real' myself).

This seems like a useful addition to a Techies toolkit (the exe files need .NET and a Windows OS), especially if the customer has forgotten their BIOS password and you need to change the settings.

There is also a simple 'unlocker' web page here which contains the same code but for all types of system (obviously needs internet access and a browser).

Another useful web page (with unlocker script which doesn't seem to work for me?) is here.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Install OpenBSD from Easy2Boot

You can download and install OpenBSD by adding the cd59.iso network install ISO to E2B.

OpenBSD 59 Desktop

However, if you want to use the non-network installer, install59.iso, you will find that OpenBSD installer script/wizard will not be able to find the installation files (which are, of course, hidden inside the ISO).

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Add Mepis antiX MX-15 with persistence to E2B

MX-15 ISOs can be booted straight from E2B - just copy the ISOs to the E2B drive (e.g. \_ISO\LINUX folder), make them contiguous (run \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd) and boot.

Monday 13 June 2016

More Frettt's Themes for E2B (en & de)

It seems to be a 'Themes' week!

Frettt has sent me his latest English and German E2B themes which I have uploaded to the Alternate Downloads sites (Themes folder) as a .zip file.

You can view all 16 (8 English + 8 German) on the Gallery page on his site. Here is one of them (German version)...

Sunday 12 June 2016

Add TechUSB and tuxpe to E2B


This Knoppix-based product is sold by RepairTech. It is part of their TechSuite. YouTube video here (TechUSB starts here).

FYI - I have no connection or affiliation with them.

Their TechUSB_Creator.exe utility creates a bootable USB flash drive.

To add this to E2B, simply drag-and-drop the drive letter icon of the TechUSB flash drive onto the MPI_FAT32 desktop shortcut (after installing the MPI Tool Kit) - then make a TechUSB.imgPTN file.

Note: If you want to add personal storage, then increase the default size of the .imgPTN file by at least 200MB.

Laura's E2B themes

If you haven't visited Laura's site for a while (like me!), you will be pleasantly surprised to see she has added even more lovely E2B menu examples.

She has used both grub4dos and GFXBoot Menu themes for both her E2B menus and for the CSM menus inside .imgPTN files. No doubt they took quite a bit of work!

To cycle through the different menu screenshots, just click on one of the screenshots on her site and use the arrow markers.

You can download some of her themes here.

I have also slightly tweaked the T2-MAINMENU theme (the one which does not use GFXBoot) and uploaded it to the 'Themes' folder in the Alternate Download Area.

Laura's T2 MainMenu Theme (slightly-modified)

Note: Some of Laura's GFXBoot menus seem to overflow if you have too many menu items...

Laura has a 'Contact Me' form if you need (free) help and advice on making your own E2B themes, and she can speak English, Spanish and German.

P.S. Laura is working on a PDF which contains the site information but written in German.

Saturday 11 June 2016

E2B v1.81a Beta available

I have uploaded E2B 1.81a. The changes are fairly minor:
  • Alternate Power off sample .mnu file added for systems where F10 does not turn off the system.
  • Change Admin detection test in MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE script so does not rely on a Windows exe file. 
  • Improve MOVE_IMGPTN script.
  • Improve windows install from ISO for XML path specification and check /autounattend.xml is not empty. Either full path or just the filename can be used to specify the XML file. Now updates Helper Flash drive (if present) with XML file contents.
The file is available in the Alternate Download Areas as usual.

Note: v1.81b has an extra bugfix in QRUN.ISO for .isoPE and .ISOPE01 file extension causing the LOADISOPE.cmd file to error.

Thursday 9 June 2016 and the new Ezoic page layout

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the domain is now routed through Ezoic.

These guys reformat the original site layout for me (for free) and add more AdSense and other adverts which increases the ad revenue that the site earns and this helps towards the site costs (due to the large bandwidth load, the E2B site costs me £200 a year and many people use AdBlock to block the adverts on the site).

Ezoic experiment with different site layouts to find the 'optimal' layout. So one person may see a different site layout from another person (try Chrome 'Incognito' and you will get a different layout!). The first time you load an page from Ezoic, it stores a cookie in your computer's browser cookie folder so that you will always get the same format each time you visit the site.

10% of new users will receive the original site layout. This is so that Ezoic can compare the original site performance with the new layouts.

A few users (who don't use AdBlock - thanks!) have complained about the misleading ads (e.g. 'Download Now' buttons).

You can use AdBlock to stop the ads, but you will still get the same 'Ezoic' layout and you will not see the original page layout.

A few people have been generous by donating and I am very grateful to them. If the new site layout annoys you and if you have donated £5 or more (or have contributed in other ways), please contact me for instructions on how to view the original site pages which have less ads and the original page layout. 

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Adding Lenovo Maintenance Utilities (IBM DOS-based) to E2B

Some Lenovo (ex-IBM) maintenance utilities make an IBM-DOS bootable USB flash drive.

These USB flash drives are formatted with a FAT12 volume which boots to IBM DR-DOS via Typically, they are in floppy diskette format (i.e. no partition table).

Under grub4dos, it is possible to boot from a FAT12 drive using:
chainloader --pcdos /
However, if you convert the Lenovo USB flash drive to a FAT32 .imgPTN file and try to boot from it using E2B, you will find that it does not boot. The reason for this is that, unfortunately, IBM DR-DOS does not seem to boot from a FAT32 volume.

The IBM DOS boot chain is:


We can fix this by using FreeDOS boot files in the .imgPTN partition image or by making an image .IMA file...

Saturday 4 June 2016

SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 64GB for just £17 (UK)

If you are fed up waiting for your E2B USB stick to boot or for your large .ISO, .imgPTN or .VHD files to be copied across, why not treat yourself to one of these?

SanDisk Extreme 64GB USB 3.0 - up to 245MB/s read speed and up to 190MB/s write speed. I have recommended these drives for about 2 years now and they routinely come out top in most USB Flash drive reviews for speed+value.

The cheapest I have found is from Tesco Direct here for £17 (+£3 P&P). Note: Looks like the price has now gone up to £22!!!

Note that very old versions of this drive were of the 'Fixed Disk' type, but all versions for the last year or so should be of the 'Removable' type.

Download official Microsoft Windows ISOs

I just saw an article on Dave's Computer Tips about a utility that will download official MS Windows Install ISOs + Office. Looks very handy! Why not subscribe too whilst you are there...

Note: 'English'  = American (USA)
          'English International' = English (UK)   !!!

Friday 3 June 2016

Add Anvi Rescue Disk, Sophos Bootable AV, Trend Micro AV and Panda AV to your E2B drive

Note: None of the AV utilities below contain EFI boot files.

Anvi Rescue Disk 11

This is a free 100MB download from AnviSoft here. It supports several languages (see screenshot below).