Sunday 24 July 2022

Easy2Boot v2.14 available

E2B v2.14 DPMS is now available here. I will put it on FossHub in a few days but I thought I would make it available to blog subscribers here first.

E2B v2.14 is now fully released.

Here are the changes (please feed back any issues if you find any ASAP):

  • Update various installer .cmd install files
  • Update NTBOOT file to work with new versions of grub4dos utility programs
  • New grub4dos - new version of grub4dos (grldr) and new utilities (e.g. hotkey, bios, fat, etc.)
  • New default menu wallpaper (moon)
  • If user has used any _. file extension override (e.g. xxxx_.isowin.iso) there will be no suggestions or prompts from QRUN.g4b.
  • Files ending in -rw are not added to the menu even if they have an extension
  • Update E2B_Editor.exe (now reports if a STAMP file could not be displayed)
  • Update XP 32-bit hard disk driver (only in E2B DPMS version) for Toshiba Satellite C55D-C PCI/VEN_1022&DEV_7801 so can install to internal M.2 SATA card.
  • Bugfix - fix grub4dos bug for UDF ISO files (e.g. DCL Boot ISOs)
  • Bugfix - fix bug of QRUN.g4b not finding bootmgr file if running E2B from a Ventoy USB drive.
  • Bugfix - support for boot.wim files in EXPRESS format added (new grub4dos wimboot file from a1ive).
  • Add sample .mnu - KALI+persistence .mnu file not needing ptn3 to be unused.
  • Add sample .mnu - RHEL 9 sample .mnu files.
  • Add sample .mnu - Porteus persistent sample .mnu file
  • Add sample .mnu - “\_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files\Linux\debian-live-10.4.0-amd64-gnome_no_ptn3_Persistent.mnu” as example of how to boot if ptn 3 is in use
  • Add XML - ‘create local USER1 account’ XML files for Win11
  • Add XML - add Win11 XML to allow user to create local accounts + skips checks XML files for Win11 ISOs which do not allow user to create local account
  • Changes to load WinPE ISO as virtual DVD for .isodef, isowin and .isoPELD extensions.
  • Support new .iso83 extension type to QRUN.g4b E2B for Linux ISOs that do not recognise partition type of 0 – e.g. Trial RHEL ISOs to avoid having to register online.
  • Support for booting DLC 2022 ISO.
  • Add new .vhdhdd extension support for bootable hdd images.
  • Add new cpuinfo menu entry to UTILITIES menu.
  • Auto-patch Tails ISOs so will boot from USB HDD if use .iso or .isodef (no need for special .mnu file).
  • Updated E2B_Editor.exe now warns if it cannot load a STAMP .bmp file and the displays x/y coordinates of the cursor (as well as the RGB colour value under the cursor).
  • Add ready-made persistence files - \_ISO\docs\Linux Persistence Files\ ready-made persistence files added – you can use a .dat persistence file – you must use the correct one – e.g. xxxpersistence.dat for debian persistence files.
  • Extract_Persistence_File.cmd added to make it easy to find and extract the correct persistence file from

Latest grub4dos and wimboot versions

Recent versions of grub4dos are not compatible with the old grub4dos utilities such as wenv, fat, hotkey, etc. So not only has the \grldr grub4dos kernel file been updated, but all the old utility files have been updated to be compatible with the new grub4dos version.
The new grub4dos version fixes a long-standing UDF ISO bug - some UDF ISOs could not be loaded (e.g. DLC Boot ISOs) unless saved as non-UDF. 
There is also a new version of wimboot which has had a bugfix so that it will load .wim files which were saved in the XPRESS format.

How come I am the only one that discovers these bugs, investigates them, reproduces them and reports them so they get fixed? Thanks should also go to the developers Yaya and a1ive for helping to fix the code.

Ready-made Persistence files

The Ventoy project provided a useful .zip file containing pre-made persistence files which are actually images of formatted filesystem volumes. Some of the persistence files also need to contain specific files inside them and this makes them tricky to make yourself.

The new persistence folder makes it easy to extract the correct persistence file for your particular Linux ISO.

New folder with ready-made persistence files

New .cmd file to make it easy to extract correct persistence file

After extracting a .dat file you can copy it to the E2B drive and rename it to match your ISO.
For instance, if you have a Kali ISO called kali-linux-2022.2-live-amd64_.isopersistdebian.iso you would change the persistence .dat file name to kali-linux-2022.2-live-amd64_.isopersistdebian-rw. E.g.
  • \_ISO\LINUX\kali-linux-2022.2-live-amd64_.isopersistdebian.iso
  • \_ISO\LINUX\kali-linux-2022.2-live-amd64_.isopersistdebian-rw

Booting Linux + Persistence normally uses Partition 3

For the E2B legacy menu, E2B will use Partition 4 to point to the ISO file and Partition 3 to point to the persistence file. Thus as the Linux kernel boots, it will detect both partitions and can use the persistence partition. However, if you already use Partition 3 for your own files, E2B will refuse to overwrite your Partition 3 entry.

To work around this, we must use a special .mnu file which has special kernel commands to tell the kernel to load the ISO file from the USB drive as it boots. Some extra sample .mnu files have been added to the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files\Linux folder which you can copy, edit and use.

Note that some types of Linux kernels cannot read NTFS filesystems, so you may need to place the ISO file on a FAT32 partition on the E2B USB drive (e.g. Partition 2) so that it can be loaded by the Linux kernel.

New .iso83 and .vhdhdd file extensions

Normally, when booting from a Linux ISO file, E2B  will add the Linux ISO as Partition 4 of the E2B USB drive and as Type 0 - this partition is usually mounted during the Linux kernel boot process but a Type 0 partition is ignored by DOS and Windows.

Some Linux OS's however don't recognise a Type 0 partition once fully booted and so fail they to 'see' Partition 4 and the files on the ISO once they have booted. If you Legacy boot from an ISO but it has problems 'seeing' the files within the ISO (e.g. installation files or licence files), then try using the .iso83 file extension. This sets the Partition 4 type as 0x83 (Linux ptn type) instead of Type 0. The only problem is that when you reboot in legacy mode, Partition 4 will be used, so E2B will prompt you to clear Partition 4 when you next  boot.

If you wish, you can add the line:
if exist (%E2BDEV%,0)/_ISO/MyE2B.cfg partnew (%E2BDEV%,3) 0 0 0 > nul
to your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file and it will automatically erase Partition 4 each time you boot (hd0,3 is partition 4 in grub4dos, not partition 3!).

The .vhdhdd  extension is for VHD files that are bootable (not Windows VHDs), e.g. Medicat VHD.

Tails ISO booting

The standard Tails ISO uses a kernel parameter which only allows it to boot from removable media. This meant if your E2B USB drive was a USB HDD then the ISO would not boot unless you used a special .mnu file. E2B will now automatically patch the ISO (permanently) so that you can boot from an E2B USB HDD drive as well as E2B USB removable drives - such as most USB Flash drives.

New CPUINFO utility by a1ive

You can find the new menu entry for this in the UTILITIES folder.

File names and extensions

E2B still supports 'special' file extensions such as  .isomem or .isowin, etc. See here for a list.

However, other menu systems such as Ventoy will only recognise files with standard file extensions.

For this reason, I advise you to use the special _. character sequence followed by the desired special file extension in the file name, e.g. WinPE10 (64-bit only)_.isowin64.iso. Adding '64' will ensure it is only displayed in the menu on systems which have a 64-bit CPU.

E2B will display this as 'WinPE10 (64-bit only)' in the menu (provided that your MyE2B.cfg file has not used 'set EXTOFF=' so that it always shows the full filename in the menu).

To change the order that your payload files are listed in, use a filename prefix of three characters followed by an underscore - e.g. 100_WinPE10 (64-bit only)_.isowin64.iso . Again E2B will only display the menu entry as 'WinPE10 (64-bit only)'. You can use three letters instead of three numbers which may be more suitable for agFM which uses a first-letter hotkey jump (e.g. press g and it would jump to ggg_Ubuntu64.iso)

Other menu systems that sort payload filenames alphanumerically (e.g. agFM, Ventoy) will also show the files in your desired order too.

Note that if you have used a non-standard file extension such as .isowin or _.isowin.iso, then E2B will not prompt the user with alternative extension suggestions or add a 6 second delay - it will just immediately boot to the selected payload file. So only set the extension once you are sure it is working correctly so that you see the E2B Tips and suggestions while testing.

Tip: When QRUN.g4b prompts you and offers you alternative suggestions for file extensions that may work, you can simply type in the file extension that you want to try - e.g. instead of pressing ENTER key or answering Y, just type in the extension starting with a period - such as '.winiso'.

Also, note that a few payloads do not like filenames with spaces or strange characters such as $ or &, etc. So always test using the original filename first and then once successfully tested, try changing the filename so that it is displayed in the menu as you wish it to appear.

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