Saturday, 30 November 2013

Easy2Boot v1.18 now available

v1.18 is now available for use and testing. Chenall has released a new version of grub4dos with some font bugfixes.
Aliums theme with 'Antique' font. 
The $FontTest.mnu menu file has been added so that you can test the appearance of the menu in any of the 36 fonts!

You may immediately notice two changes, the font in the menus will appear thinner and grub4dos 0.4.6a is now used instead of grub4dos 0.4.5c.

Here is a summary of the changes:

  1. grldr (grub4dos) 0.4.6a is now used. If you have a problem then try the latest v0.4.5c from here.
  2. The new versions (2013-11-30 and later) of grub4dos grldr fix a bug where the BIOS fonts are used instead of the loaded unifont font when a new menu is loaded. This means that the text you will see now in the menus will be in the unifont font and so it will appear different (thinner) than in older versions of E2B.
  3. You can now load any font by specifying a full path in your MyE2B.cfg file.
  4. 34 new font files are available in the \_ISO\docs\Fonts folder.
  5. The Aliums theme now uses the 'Antique' font.
  6. You can test out all the fonts by copying the $FontTest.mnu file from the  \_ISO\docs\Fonts folder to \_ISO\MAINMENU folder.
  7. You can specify that the BIOS font will be used by using 'set BIOSFONTS=1' in your MyE2B.cfg file. The characters used for normal ASCII characters will then appear as they did in previous versions of E2B (thicker).
  8. .isoDOS01 file extension supported (for Win98 and other DOS-based Install ISOs).
Please let me know if you find any problems. I will updated the E2B+DPMS download in a few days if I don't hear about any bugs.

As usual, to update your E2B USB drive, just overwrite all E2B files on the USB drive with the files in the v1.18 zip file.

P.S. RMPrepUSB is not yet updated with the new version of grub4dos. If you use the 'Install grub4dos' button in RMPrepUSB, it will install an older version of grldr and you will not see any font changes in the menu! Use the version of grldr that is contained in E2B v1.18  (or copy the new grldr file to the RMPrepUSB application folder so that RMPrepUSB always uses the new version of grldr).

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Install Windows Server 2003 from an ISO using Easy2Boot

Today, just to see what would happen, I downloaded a Windows Server x86 32-bit Install image (X13-04874.img  Standard Edition Eval version) , renamed it to X13-04874.iso and placed it in the \_ISO\WINDOWS\XP folder on my Easy2Boot USB drive.
I then installed Server 2003 to a SATA hard disk on a Virtual Box VM using the DPMS2 XP drivers and it worked fine. The second CD had to be extracted onto the flash drive and then I ran Setup2.exe to complete the install.
It may not work for all systems as sometimes there are separate 2003 drivers required, but it seemed to work fine on the VBox Virtual Machine. Of course, unless installing to IDE disk drives, the 64-bit version of 2K3 would probably not work and most people would want the 64-bit version. E2B does not support XP 64-bit mass-storage drivers (and before you ask, I have no plans to do so!).

P.S. If you have a working USB Flash drive that will install Server2K3 x64, then you can convert it to a .imgPTN file and add the .imgPTN file to E2B.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Changing the font in Easy2Boot

Note: Thanks to Wonko from, I have been able to generate some alternative font files for the ASCII character set (0x20-0x7e). The next version of E2B will have these fonts available in the \_ISO\docs\Fonts folder. 

The character after !" is the £ (0x00A3) character which is loaded by the unifont.hex.gz full font file.
If no font is loaded then £ is displayed as a 'ooA3' as small characters from the BIOS font. Most fonts display the 00A3 character as ú.

These fonts only contain characters 0x20-0x7E, but unifont.hex.gz contains all unicode characters including the A3 (£) font.

grub4dos only supports 8x8 of 8x16 dot matrix fonts. This means that we are limited in the size of the characters and the amount of  detail we can show. Hence complex fonts and italic fonts do not display well. If you visit the E2B Tutorial webpage, you can follow the instructions to make your own character fonts.
You can view your E2B menu in any of the new E2B pre-made fonts, copy the file \_ISO\docs\Fonts\$FontTest.mnu to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder. You should see this menu:

When you select one of these, it will change the menu font to the one you selected.

unifont.hex.gz is the default E2B font.

BIOS is the font you will get if no font file is loaded or if you set BIOSFONT=1 in your MyE2B.cfg file.
To set the font to use any of the others, simply specify the path and filename in your MyE2B.cfg file, e.g.
set FONT=()/_ISO/docs/Fonts/sans2.uni.gz

E2B will always load the unifont.hex.gz file first to ensure that non-Latin characters like Chinese glyphs will be displayed correctly (unless NOUNIFONT=1 is specified). Then another font will be loaded over the top of unifont.hex.gz if you have specified one using the FONT variable. If you have set BIOSFONT=1 then the BIOS font will be used for characters 0x20-0x7F.

Therefore, if you specify a FONT= to be loaded, the full unifont.hex.gz font will be loaded, then E2B will load the BIOS fonts for the 0x20-0x7F characters and then it will load the specified user font (which contains characters 0x20-0x7E if you use the E2B font files provided).

The unifont.hex.gz file contains hundreds of glyphs for many different languages and is approx. 1MB in size. If your menu does not use these (i.e. you use a 'Latin/Roman' character set for your language) then you can set NOUNIFONT=1 in MyE2B.cfg and it won't load the large unifont.hex.gz file and thus will save a second or two in boot time.

This functionality will be in v1.18 which will be released as soon as the new grub4dos version with a few font code fixes is released by chenall.

Some more fonts that are included in E2B v1.18 are displayed here. You can display all the fonts by running /_ISO/docs/Fonts/ShowFonts.g4b from the grub4dos command line.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Install Windows 98SE/ME from an ISO with Easy2Boot

The new .isoDOS file extension that is recognised by Easy2Boot v1.17 and later versions, allows you to boot a DOS-based bootable ISO and access all the files on the CD-ROM portion of the ISO from DOS. It does this by making an empty virtual drive in memory and copying the contents of the ISO into it (under grub4dos) before it boots to DOS. DOS can then access the files on this virtual drive.

This method almost worked with a Windows 98SE Install ISO that I had. There were a few problems however...

First, there were just too many files inside the ISO for the grub4dos environment to enumerate! To fix this I simply deleted the unneeded folders from the Win98 ISO and just left the \Win98 folder inside the ISO file plus the [BOOT] folder (required for floppy-emulation booting) and the files that were in the root of the ISO (like Setup.exe). This reduced the ISO to 180MB.

The second problem was that the first disk drive seen by MS-DOS and the Windows 98 Setup install process was my E2B Flash drive. So when I tried to install Win98, it kindly made the 2nd FAT partition which I happened to have on my USB flash drive, active and put the DOS boots files on it!
It still booted to the internal hard disk, but only when I booted from my USB drive!
To fix this, E2B v1.18 will now recognise the new .isoDOS01 file extension. This does the same thing as .isoDOS but swaps over the USB flash drive with the internal hard disk so that DOS sees the internal hard disk as the first hard disk.

So, in summary, to get a bootable Win98SE Install ISO working with E2B (even an NTFS USB E2B drive), do the following:

1. Remove all extra folders from the ISO (just leave the \Win98 folder and the files in the root).
2. Rename the iso to .isoDOS01
3. Use Easy2Boot v1.18 or later (it will be available in a few days...)

More details in Tutorial 117 on my RMPrepUSB site.

Update - Alternate Method

This method uses a .imgPTN file but we do not switch to it, we just map it as a large floppy disk image!

Note: If you prefer, you can use ImDisk to make a large floppy disk image, rather than use MakePartImage.

1. Drag-and-Drop the Win98/ME ISO onto the MPI_FAT32 Desktop shortcut.

Add at least 10MB to the default size as we are going to add some files to it and Windows Setup may also need temporary space.

Copy the .imgPTN file to \_ISO\DOS\MNU on your E2B USB drive (any menu folder will work except for \_ISO\WINDOWS\aaaa folders).

2. Use Switch_E2B.exe to 'switch in' the \_ISO\DOS\MNU\Win98.imgPTN file

3. Use 7Zip to open the Win98.ISO file and double-click [BOOT] and then the Boot-1.44M.img file - you should see the DOS boot files (including IO.SYS).

4. Extract all the DOS boot files to the root of the USB drive (which should be in the CSM mode).
Note: If you cannot see a \e2b folder in the root, then you did not do Step 2 correctly!

5. Use Switch_E2B.exe to Restore E2B Partitions  on the USB drive to get our E2B partition(s) back.

6. Make a new \_ISO\DOS\MNU\Win98.mnu file with the following contents:

title Install Windows 98 using .imgPTN file\n Install Win98
map $HOME$/Win98_SE.imgPTN (fd0)
map (hd1) (hd0)
map --hook
#set just one HDD and one floppy
map --harddrives=1
map --floppies=1
root (fd0)
chainloader /IO.SYS

This can be found in the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\Windows folder on later versions of E2B.

E2B v1.77+ now supports the .imafdhdd0 file extension which does the same as above, so just rename the .imgPTN file to .imafdhdd0 (and no need for a .mnu file).

7. Boot from E2B and choose the DOS Install Windows 98 menu entry.
Choose the MS-DOS  'no CDROM support' option
At the A: prompt, run FDISK and set up a FAT partition on your C: drive (IDE hard disk) with an Active boot flag.

8. Reboot to E2B and re-run the DOS Win98 menu
At the A: prompt type
CD \WIN98\ENA            (or whatever folder the correct Setup.exe file is in and FORMAT.COM - the one in the root may not work!)
MKDIR A:\TEMP           (may not be required)

(skip the 'create floppy startup disk' option but don't cancel it or Setup will quit!)

Tips: If testing on a VM, configure an IDE virtual disk in a Win98 VM and disable VT-x\AMD-V (at least for the Setup process).
Do not configure more than 900MB of RAM or Win98 may crash!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Defining fonts in grub4dos

Chenall's grub4dos versions have the ability to load a GNU Unifont hex file using the inbuilt 'font' command. Easy2Boot uses this feature to load the unifont.hex.gz font file.
It seems there are a few bugs with this and chenall is hopefully going to fix this very soon (see issue 160). [Edit] Use grub4dos v0.4.5c 2013-11-30 or later[/Edit].

The normal way to use this is to switch to graphicsmode and load the font file, e.g. a UTF-8 format menu.lst file like this can be used:

graphicsmode -1 800
font /unifont.hex.gz

title reboot (重启)

However, we can also define hex fonts within a menu. The following menu will work without needing to use the font command or use a unifont file:

# font demonstration

graphicsmode -1 800

title test grub4dos font (GGGgggGGG)\n reload the menu
configfile /menu.lst

title Reset to BIOS font (use left/right cursor keys to select this menu item)

title reboot (重启)

title halt (关机)

# Define specific UTF-8 fonts just by adding them to the end of the menu.lst file

# 4 chinese glyphs
# g character - ASCII code 67 hex

Note that the four chinese characters are displayed correctly and also the letter g is in a different font.
Each glyph has a unicode hex index number - you can look them up on a chart here. Standard ASCII characters are in the Basic Latin (ASCII) chart.

The font command will overwrite any existing ASCII font with the font contained in the BIOS, thus selecting the 2nd menu item will cause the g to be displayed in the standard font but the four chinese glyphs will be unaffected (as they are not part of the BIOS font table).

Note: If you try this yourself using an October/early November 2013 version of grub4dos, you will find that the g character will not be changed due to a bug in grub4dos. Hopefully, chenall will release a new version to fix this issue soon.

This feature means that you can define your own special characters if you wish, without needing to use a hex font file. If you only need a few special characters, you can just use the relevant lines taken from the unifont.hex file (extracted from unifont.hex.gz).

For instance, you can redefine the letter g as a series of vertical lines using:


As the hex byte AA is 10101010 in binary, we get 4 vertical lines per characters, like this:

Of course, you can use a different character code like 0024 for $ rather than 'g'.

Note: The latest versions of Easy2Boot contain a variety of grub4dos font files for the standard 'Basic Latin' 0x20-0x7E characters.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Adding WinBuilder ISO files to Easy2Boot

If you have an ordinary WinPE ISO file on your Easy2Boot USB multiboot drive, you can make it automatically load the ISO file as drive Y: if you rename the file with a .isoPE or .isoPE01 file extension (more info here). However, PE ISOs are only mounted as a virtual drive when wpeinit runs, which for most WinBuilder PE builds is too late! So if you use a .isoPE extension for your WinBuilder PE ISO, you may not see all the Desktop icons (but the ISO will be loaded as drive Y: eventually by E2B).

Many WinBuilder builds have a \Windows\System32\winpeshl.ini file which typically runs some early Desktop initialisation utilities before the Easy2Boot unattend.xml has a chance to run and load the ISO as virtual drive Y: - e.g.

"hide /NOCONSOLE /SILENT /WAIT start.cmd"
"Shortcuts.exe -f %SystemDrive%\Windows\System32\Win7PE.cfg"
"PinTool.exe -debug %SystemDrive%\Windows\System32\Win7PE.cfg"
"X:\Program Files\PEShell\PEShell.exe"

Luckily (actually, probably luck had nothing to do with it!) most builds of WinBuilder have a special feature which will load the ISO file automatically as drive Y: on boot, if an .INI file is found.

For example, if you have made a recent WinBuilder Win7PESE ISO, just place a file in the root of the E2B drive called Win7PESE.ini with the path and filename of the ISO - e.g.


The filename may vary depending of what PE build you are using. The .ini file will cause the WinBuilder PE to load the ISO as drive Y: when MountPEmedia.exe runs. Consult the documentation for the exact INI filename that is required (click the yellow warning triangle that appears on the PE Desktop when drive Y: is not found).

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

System won't boot Easy2Boot from a USB Hard disk?

TGP1994 on wrote that he had a Dell Optiplex 7010. He had made an Easy2Boot (E2B) USB Hard drive and also an E2B USB 'Helper' Flash drive. The problem was that when both USB drives were connected, the Dell insisted on booting from the USB Flash drive and would not boot from the E2B USB Hard disk.

If you are using the E2B Helper+USB HDD combination, it would be useful if you could boot from either of them and still run E2B. To do this, just install grub4dos onto the USB Helper Flash drive and also copy the grldr file onto it (using RMPrepUSB). Then add a new menu.lst file (press F4 in RMPrepUSB) and add these lines:

echo Booting from the Easy2Boot Helper USB Flash drive...
find --set-root /_ISO/e2b/grub/menu.lst
chainloader /grldr

This will allow you to boot from either one of the USB drives and run E2B. However, you will only be able to run Windows Install ISOs. If you use any function which uses the grub4dos partnew command (e.g. booting from a linux .iso file) this will not work because partnew makes a new partition on hd0 (the boot drive) and the ISO file must also be on the same drive. As hd0 will be the helper flash drive and the ISOs are on the USB HDD, partnew will not work. v1.23 and later may fix this issue.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Easy2Boot v1.17 with support for DOS .ISO files

Ashwani emailed me today to ask how he could get his Partition Magic ISO to boot correctly.
It turns out that this ISO boots via MS-DOS Floppy Disk emulation, it then loads the MSCDEX CD-ROM driver to give access to the files on the CD as drive S:.
This type of ISO is difficult to boot from successfully without modification, because there is no 'CD' for the CD-ROM driver to find when booting it as an ISO file from a USB drive. As a workaround, I have added support for the special .isoDOS file extension to E2B v1.17. This will copy the contents of the CD part of the ISO to a virtual floppy drive so that all the files are easily accessible from DOS.

In the case of this particular ISO, what Ashwani needs to do is install E2B v1.17 and then copy his DOS-based Partition Magic.iso file to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder and change the file extension to .isoDOS.

What will happen when you pick this entry from the E2B menu, is that E2B will create a large FAT16 virtual floppy disk (fd0) in memory and then copy the files from the ISO to the virtual floppy.
When grub4dos boots, it does so via floppy emulation and so the virtual fd0 is shifted by the BIOS to fd1,  and fd0 becomes the floppy boot image which was on the ISO file boot sectors. Thus when DOS boots from the emulated floppy image on the ISO, it will be drive A: and the CD files will be found on drive B:.
When Autoexec.bat runs (or Config.sys), no CD will be found and there will be no drive letter assigned to the 'CD' and thus the ISO will probably fail to run any program automatically from a batch file.
However, if we look at the contents of the A:\autoexec.bat we can see that it runs MSCDEX to assign drive S: as the CDROM drive letter, changes to the S: drive and then runs either 'ghost.exe -nousb' or 'pqmagic.exe'.

So all we need to do is type:

ghost.exe -nousb

to run ghost, or


to run partition magic.

The new E2B version can be found at the very bottom of the page of Tutorial 72a (as usual).

The .isoDOS file extension may prove useful for a variety of DOS-emulation based ISO files. If you want to, you can edit the startup files in the ISO to remove any cdrom drivers and use the drive letter B: instead for the 'CD' volume (instead of S: or whatever was used), then it will boot automatically directly from the ISO under E2B.

v1.17 also now has an option to suppress the checkaccess BIOS bug check on startup and also has modified code around the finding of the \autounattend.xml file (which hopefully has not broken Windows installs!).

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Add Hirens 9.5 to Easy2Boot

I have added a new Tutorial so that you can add old DOS-based Hirens ISOs to Easy2Boot (or any grub4dos USB drive) here.

The Get_Boot_Files.cmd batch file is useful because it extracts the DOS boot image from any ISO and makes a 1.44Mb .bin file from it, which can be read by WinImage or ImDisk, etc as a floppy disk image. It also extracts the files from the ISO boot image for you, into a new folder.

The Tutorial is based on an original article I found here.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Easy2Boot - changing the font

Note: grub4dos has now been fixed and E2B v1.22 and later now contains dozens of different fonts which can be used by E2B simply by specifying the font file in your MyE2B.cfg file! This article is therefore now (2014) outdated.

Easy2Boot loads the unifont font file so that non-Roman characters can be displayed.
You may have noticed that the when this occurs during booting, the text changes from relatively bold characters to thin characters:

However, when a grub4dos menu is loaded using configfile, grub4dos changes the text back to bold.

It would be nice to have different fonts selectable in E2B and maybe also be able to select italic or bold fonts for the menus too. I am working on this, but for now, if you want to try using the thin font in your menus, you can try this workaround:

At the bottom of your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file  (which should start with !BAT on the first line), add these

two lines:

set gg=;;
set pwd=easy2boot %^gg% font /%grub%/unifont.hex.gz

This will cause all menus to be displayed in the thin font (except the Windows Install menu).

Let me know if you want to have this type of thin font as an option for all your menus.

P.S. You can change the line width and separate each individual menu entry by changing the lnspace variable value in \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg. The spacing between letters can also be changed using the wdspace variable. Here is what you get using a MyE2B.cfg file of:

set gg=;;
set pwd=fred %^gg% font /%grub%/unifont.hex.gz
set wdspace=2
set lnspace=4
set topstart=2
set rstart=3
set noitems=18
set menuw=42
set bdwidth=1
set tophelp=20

Note that because the word spacing has been changed, it affects the menuwidth (menuw) setting because less characters will fit across the screen. The number of menu items is also affected if you increase the lnspace setting.

I would not recommend changing the wdspace value (keep it at 0) as this affects the menu title spacing at the top of each menu.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Listen to Amateur Radio Hams using the internet!

When I was sixteen (many years ago now - I would have to print the year in Roman numerals to tell you what year it was!), I took the UK Amateur Radio Exam (RAE) after joining the Harwell Amateur Radio Club for a year or so and taking part in a 24hr Ham Radio contest stuck on the top of the cold and windy Chiltern Hills all night trying to keep awake! Unfortunately, I failed the exam by just 1 grade (I was in the middle of revising for and taking 10 GCSE O-levels at the same time, so I sort of had an excuse... and the RAE wasn't multiple choice like it is today!). If I had passed the RAE, I believe I would have been the youngest person to have become a licensed Ham in the UK (at that time). Shortly after that, my family moved from the Berkshire countryside into the middle of Oxford City and so I waved goodbye to my hand-made 102' aerial on it's 30' mast strung up to my bedroom window and attached via coax to my Trio ham radio receiver and self-built valve notch pre-amplifier... and never went back to Ham Radio ever again (sigh...).

Have you ever wanted to listen to Amateur Radio (aka Ham Radio) but didn't want the expense and bother of buying the equipment and erecting an aerial, etc? Well why not listen to it over the web?

You may have heard of SDR (Software Defined Radio).
A basic SDR system may consist of a personal computer equipped with a sound card, or other analog-to-digital converter, preceded by some form of RF front end. Significant amounts of signal processing are handed over to the general-purpose processor, rather than being done in special-purpose hardware. Such a design produces a radio which can receive and transmit widely different radio protocols (sometimes referred to as waveforms) based solely on the software used.

Well, if you connect an SDR PC to t'internet, you get a highly tunable radio that can be controlled by anyone on the web. The University of Twente in the Netherlands have made just such a thing available for us all here.
Twente - Wide-band WebSDR

1. Click here to go to the website - if you get a Security Warning, don't worry, it needs to run an app. -  so enable it to run.

2. Next scroll down the page until you see the cyan box for HTML5 and click the 'Click for test of the HTML5 audio' button - if it works then enable HTML5 for both Waterfall and Sound. This gives a better and more controllable display.

2. Next, type in your name or nickname in the log-in cookie box (optional).

3. You should see a moving waterfall display. The frequencies are shown along the X-axis. There is an Amateur band shown in green at 20m, so click on the dark green 20m text. This should move the yellow pointer to that position.
4. Now we need to zoom in for better control, so click on the 'Waterfall view - zoom in' button just below the waterfall graph until you have the whole 20m band in view. If necessary, click and drag the waterfall display across, so that the 20m band is in the correct position. If you zoom in enough, you will see some known station id markers appear - see below:
5. Now find a station in the green 20m band - start with one of the strong white ones and either drag the cursor to that position or use the Frequency adjust buttons (---, --, -, +, ++, +++) to move the frequency cursor. Make sure the AM button is clicked to start with.

6. When you start to hear a channel that sounds like a voice (but it may sound like mickey-mouse or Johnny Cash if a side-band is being used), then use the same Frequency buttons to fine tune for the strongest signal by looking at the signal strength bar:

7. Now we need to find out what type of transmission it is. If the voice sounds like it has been pitch-shifted, try clicking one of the LSB (Lower Side Band), USB (Upper Side Band) or other similar buttons to get the most intelligible sound. If you can hear more than one voice or have other interference, try narrowing the bandwidth using the 'narrower' button. If the signal is weak, try the 'wider' button to try to get as much of the signal as possible (without picking up other broadcasts). Amateur transmissions are not normally FM (Frequency Modulated), so you shouldn't need this unless you are listening to BBC Radio 3!

8. You can now try the squelch and autonotch check-boxes to see if it improves things.

9. Once you have found something and it is nice and clear, use the store button to save that frequency and all other settings. You can also record it using the 'Recording - Start' button.

Have fun!

P.S. OK, so it is nothing to do with USB, but you can get USB SDR receivers and with special software, hack them to make your own SDR - search for SDR on YouTube if you are interested or click here for a Hak5 video by 'Snubs' using a $20 dongle.

If you know of any other web SDRs or have anything to add, please add a comment.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Add the CAINE ISO to your E2B drive

C.A.IN.E (Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) is a linux live distro. I downloaded the Caine4 for netbooks ISO after it was suggested to me by Paul M, as I had not seen it before. It's intended purpose is for Forensics and disk volumes are not mounted automatically and you can use the systemtray 'mounter' to mount volumes as read-only.
The netbook ISO downloaded was pretty large (1.8GB) and after copying it to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder on my Easy2Boot 2TB WD Passport USB hard disk, it booted up fine on my Asus EeePC netbook (Intel Atom 32-bit CPU).
CAINE Boot Menu
Main CAINE Desktop

I haven't actually started to use it yet and investigate it's capabilities but it looks promising.