Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Universal USB Installer (also YUMI) USB Flash drive does not boot on EeePC

I tried the Universal USB Installer from today to format and prepare a USB flash drive with Hirens Boot CD 15.1 ISO.

The USB preparation was pretty quick and I then plugged the flash drive into my trusty EeePC 904HA netbook to test it. Sure enough it started to boot... but then failed to show a menu and left me at the grub4dos command shell!
When I typed 'find' in the grub4dos command shell, the reason was obvious - the EeePC showed that a floppy disk was present (fd0) which was actually my USB flash drive!

grub> find
grub> ls (fd0)/
ldlinux.sys hbcd hbcd.txt HBCDMenu.cmd autorun.inf changes.txt syslinux syslinux.cfg Uni-USB-Installer-Copying.txt Uni_USb-Installer-Readme.txt license.txt

This is typical of many system BIOSes. If they see a USB Flash drive with only one partition, they treat the USB drive as a floppy drive (actually a ZIP drive). The problem is the menu system used by the Universal installer expects the USB drive to be hd0 not fd0 and so it does not find the menu.

One way to fix this is to format the USB drive first with RMPrepUSB and make sure you tick the 'Boot as HDD (C: 2PTNS)' checkbox. This puts a small hidden extra partition on the USB drive and so the EeePC will now treat the USB Flash drive as a hard disk. After formatting as 'FAT32+Boot as HDD', run the Universal Installer but do not tick the 'We will format Drive as FAT32' checkbox and all should be well. You should now have a USB Flash drive that will boot on a lot more systems.

P.S. If you like Hirens Boot CD, try FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD (there is a .mnu file for it in Easy2Boot too!).