Sunday 12 January 2020

Try this UEFI multiboot E2B drive (just add ISOs)

This E2B drive should run most UEFI payloads once you switch-in the a1ive File Manager.

Once it has been made, just copy your .ISO, .VHD, .VHDX, .WIM, .IMG. EFI, .IPXE payload files to the 3rd NTFS partition then run WinContig or Defraggler to make the ISOs contiguous.

You should then have a USB drive which will Secure or non-Secure UEFI64 boot or non-Secure UEFI32 boot (and MBR boot on some systems too).

It will also allow you to run SWITCHPE so that you can switch out the a1ive File Manager partition and switch in a different .imgPTN file should you need to.

This system is much easier to maintain than the E2B grub2 menu system because you just add (or delete) payload files. No other .imgPTN files need to be made. You can create grub2 menus if you wish however (e.g. UEFI\MBR booting Ubuntu-based ISOs + persistence in my previous blog).

Note: Win8.1 ISOs will require you to enter a Product Key. This can be an installation-only generic key (or you can add a \sources\ei.cfg file into the ISO). Version 1.4 or later also accepts XML unattend files too!

See also here for a E2B UEFI USB drive.


1. Use a large 128GB+ USB 3.0 HDD (or removable Flash drive if you have a Win10 system). If you wish to install Win 7 and 8, you will need to use a USB HDD because these OS's can only access the first partition on a Removable Flash drive.

2. Make an E2B drive by downloading the E2B install file and running it (or use an existing E2B drive).

3. Re-partition the USB drive (e.g. using EaseUS Partition Master). It should have three Primary partitions:

Ptn1: NTFS (E2B) (large enough for any MBR-only payload files - e.g. XP ISOs)
Ptn2: FAT32 (SWITCHPE files) - see eBook #3 (or add WinPE boot files) 5GiB will do.
Ptn3: NTFS (most of your payload files will be placed here)

Option: The SWITCHPE partition can be omitted if you don't need the ability to boot to WinPE and run SWITCH_E2B.exe. So just use Ptn1: E2B and Ptn2: NTFS (payload files).

4. Now download the latest version of the a1ive .imgPTN23 file (e.g. grub2 File Manager v1.3 (by a1ive).imgptn23auto) - see Alternate Downloads - Other folder for this. Place it in the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder.

5. Run WinContig on the E2B volume and then switch-in the new a1ive .imgPTN23 file. Your E2B drive should now look like this:

Ptn1: FAT32 (a1ive grub2 + File Manager)
Ptn2: FAT32 (SWITCHPE files) - see eBook #3 (or add WinPE boot files)
Ptn3: NTFS (payload files here)

6. Now add your payload files to the third partition (NTFS). You can use any folder structure that you like. You should use WinContig or Defraggler to make the ISO files contiguous so that you can use the 'EASY2BOOT' boot option in File Manager.

7. You should now be able to UEFI-boot almost any payload file including Windows Install ISOs and .WIM files using the grub2 File Manager. MBR-booting will also work (but some systems won't allow you to MBR-boot if EFI boot files are present!).

If you UEFI-boot to the grub2 File Manager, you can boot to the SWITCHPE wim files in several ways:

1. Select the '\Boot to SWITCHPE.cfg' file on the first FAT32 partition and then choose the 'Open as Grub2 menu' entry.
2. Navigate to the desired .wim file in the \SOURCES folder on the second FAT32 partition and select either the NTBOOT option or WIMBOOT option.
3. Navigate to the \EFI\BOOT\BOOTX64.EFI file (or the BOOTIA32.EFI file if UEFI32 boot) and choose 'Open as EFI Application'.

You can also use the BIOS Boot Selection menu to boot to the SWITCHPE wim file after resetting the system.

If you don't have the SWITCHPE partition, you can just run SWITCH_E2B.exe from a Windows system or MBR-boot to the CSM menu and restore the E2B partition or boot to a WinPE ISO or WIM file that you have on the last partition and run \e2b\SWITCH_E2B.exe.

This allows you to restore the E2B partition for MBR-booting to the E2B Menu system, or you can select a different .imgPTN23 file if you have any.

Note: Because the E2B drive has three partitions, we cannot use the E2B menu system to boot to ISOs+persistence files using .mnu files.

Future E2B UEFI system?

Please let me know how you get on if you try this. I may develop a 'UEFI version of E2B' if there are no significant problems, e.g.

Ptn1: NTFS  (E2B with /_ISO folder structure for user payloads)
Ptn2: FAT32 (grub2 File Manager EFI/MBR files)  10GiB
  • It may not MBR boot on some UEFI systems due to a UEFI BIOS bug.

No comments:

Post a Comment