Monday, 29 September 2014

FakeFlashTest v1.1.1 now available

This version of FFT allows you to list all drives in the system (including internal hard drives - dangerous!).

Some users have reported that v1.0.9 did not list their SD Card Readers as they were not USB devices. This new version gets round this problem if the user ticks the List all drives checkbox.

Take care not to destroy the data on your internal hard disks!

Download is at the bottom of this page.



Saturday, 27 September 2014

32-bit UEFI booting using E2B

It seems quite a few people want use E2B to try linux and other OS's on their 32-bit UEFI-only Tablets. Some Intel Atom-based Tablets are 32-bit UEFI only (even if the Atom CPU itself is a 64-bit CPU).

The first thing they find is that when they try E2B on these UEFI-only devices, it just boots and runs MemTest86 because they have formatted the E2B drive as FAT32 and E2B includes Memtest86 in the form of the bootable UEFI files \EFI\boot\bootx64.efi (for 64-bit UEFI systems) and \EFI\boot\bootia32.efi (for 32-bit systems).

If they have formatted the E2B USB drive as NTFS, then of course, it will not UEFI-boot at all because the default bootable filesystem must be FAT/FAT32 for UEFI systems.

The next thing I have to explain, is that they need to make a FAT32 .imgPTN file of their 'payload' and make sure that the correct .efi boot file is present.

The problem is that if the user's Tablet is a 32-bit UEFI system (that does not support CSM\MBR mode) then they need to find an OS that is 32-bit UEFI bootable - and there are not many of these around!

Clonezilla zip files (e.g. clonezilla-live-2.2.4-12-i686-pae.zip) seem to contain both 32-bit and 64-bit EFI files and so will boot from both a 64-bit and 32-bit UEFI system. For this reason, I always recommend that a new user tests UEFI-booting with this first (after converting it to a .imgPTN file).

The only other OS or utility I have been able to find (other than Memtest86) that supports 32-bit UEFI-booting is Fedora-17-i686-Live-SoaS.iso (note: version 20 does not seem to support 32-bit UEFI booting). Parted Magic also supports 32-bit and 64-bit UEFI-booting.

If you know of any others ('live' CDs, etc.) , please let me know and I will add it to the list of tested payloads on my E2B site so that others can try them.

Note: If they are 32-bit UEFI bootable, then they will contain the \EFI\boot\bootia32.efi file (amongst others). If they don't contain that file then they won't boot from an E2B USB drive on a 32-bit UEFI system.

If you have a 32-bit UEFI-only system, you won't be able to boot the E2B USB drive to get to the E2B menu and select the .imgPTN file. You therefore need to boot the E2B USB drive in MBR-mode in another way first. You can use RMPrepUSB - QEMU (F11), or MobaLiveCD.exe or VMWare or VirtualBox to do this (or another real system that will MBR-boot).

As soon as you get to the CSM menu after selecting the desired .imgPTN file, you can then boot from the E2B USB drive on your 32-bit UEFI Tablet.

You can switch it back to the E2B menu is the same way, or you can run the RestoreE2B (run as admin).cmd file which is located on the E2B drive's \e2b folder (when in CSM mode) from Windows. This file can also be run from the MPI ToolKit folder that you downloaded (RMPrepUSB should be pre-installed).

Instructions (found by Karan) for booting Ubuntu from the Asus T100 are here. Karan found that he could copy the bootia32.efi file from here to a Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit .imgPTN file (\EFI\boot\bootia32.efi) and his Intel Atom system booted. I suspect this will only work if your firmware is 32-bit UEFI but your CPU is 64-bit though, like Karan's Notion Ink CN89553G.

Friday, 26 September 2014

How to retrieve files from a computer without booting it to an OS (via PXE)!

I needed to get some files from the internal hard disk of a notebook recently. The problem was that it had no CD/DVD drive and would not boot from a USB drive or the internal hard drive either!

I could have removed the internal hard disk from the notebook, but then I remembered about a Tutorial I had written using Toolwiz Remote Backup. It seems this is still available (free) and has been updated too.

This utility allowed me to PXE boot from the notebook and then look at the internal hard disk partition and retrieve files from it within 1 minute of installing it onto my other Windows system. It is really easy to use too.


A useful utility to add to your toolkit!

E2B 1.56aBeta1 available

Still waiting for a bugfix in grub4os, but meanwhile I have added latest Beta to the Alternate Download areas.
For changes see here.
Let me know if you find any problems.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Bug in E2B 1.55 & 1.56beta (XP installs)

E2B v1.55 uses a version of grub4dos which has a bug. If you try to install XP from an ISO using DPMS, then XP Setup complains that it cannot detect any disks! This bug appears to start in grldr 2014-08-19 and later versions but is not in 2014-08-17 and earlier versions. I have reported this to chenall and hopefully he can find the problem.  If you have a later version, you can replace the \grdlr file with the 2014-08-17 version of 0.4.5c from http://grub4dos.chenall.net/categories/downloads/.

Please update to v1.55a or 1.56a.

Note: As of 2014-09-19 I am still having weird issues with grub4dos later versions (e.g. losing USB drive, not enumerating all items, hanging).

P.S. 20141027 and later seem OK.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Bug in E2B v1.56 (in grub4dos)

It seems something is broken in the new version of grub4dos!
If using XP Install and DPMS, you will get a FAT disk I/O error.
I have withdrawn v1.56 until chenall can fix grub4dos.
You can replace \grldr with the 2014-08-17 version if you like, but E2B v1.56 will complain about it being too old.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

E2B v1.56 released

PLEASE NOTE: Discovered a bug in the new grub4dos version! I have withdrawn v1.56 until a grub4dos is fixed! Please use v1.55 for now.

Changes in 1.56
  • New grub4dos \grldr (20140908) fixes exFAT bug with >4GB files + other small bugs
  • CPU 32/64 bit & Total memory displayed in Main Menu heading and Windows Install menu
  • New Sample mnu Files examples. 
  • Weird characters such as ()!''&| may now work if used in Windows ISO and .imgPTN filenames.
  • 'Boot any key to boot from CD or DVD' Windows install prompt suppressed. 
  • Default Aurora background compressed using lzma (reduced size). 
  • .iso64 family of file extensions recognised (only listed if 64-bit CPU). 
  • Fastload menu has changed (only seen if FASTLOAD is enabled) - now press F8 to refresh the menu instead of the separate REFRESH entry. 
  • Change Automn.g4b and Automn.g4b to use 56MB area of memory instead of 74MB area so can use E2B on systems with 64MB of memory or more.
Let me know if you spot any problems. The F1.cfg Help menu is in English in all languages and also some of the new text in STRINGS.txt (see end of file). Any translations welcome!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Easy2Boot v1.56Beta10 now available for testing

E2B v1.56 Beta10 is now available in the Alternate Download area on the Easy2Boot Download page here. I consider this to be a Release Candidate and will release it as the official v1.56 soon unless anyone spots any bugs. It uses the latest versions of grub4dos which have several new minor bug fixes thanks to Chenall. The E2B version history is here.

To update your E2B drive, just extract all files from the zip file directly onto your E2B USB drive (even if you have the DPMS version on your E2B USB drive, it will still be updated correctly).

P.S. I have updated RMPrepUSB to include the same new version of grub4dos too. Download from here.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

How to make your own linux ISO .mnu files

I was asked today about LXLE with persistence. This distro is based on Lubuntu and the user wanted to get persistence working. There was a lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386_Persistent.mnu menu available but not one for LXLE.

I thought I would describe how I went about changing this lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386_Persistent.mnu file to get it working with LXLE.

  • First I copied the lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386_Persistent.mnu file and the lxle ISO file to the \_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU folder of my E2B NTFS USB drive which I use for testing.
  • Next, I renamed the file to lxle-1404-x64_Persistent.mnu.
  • Next, I edited the .mnu file in Notepad to change all occurrences of the  lubuntu-13.04-desktop-i386.iso file to lxle-1404-x64.iso.
  • Next, I changed all occurrences of the persistent file lubuntu-rw to lxle-rw
  • Finally, I made a persistent ext2 file in the root of the E2B USB drive using RMPartUSB's - Create ext2 FS button. When prompted I used:
               File Name = lxle-rw
               Volume Name = casper-rw
               Size = 500
  • I then ran WinContig on the drive (RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+F2).

Unfortunately, I got an error when I tried to boot from the menu entry in E2B


This indicated that the file \casper\initrd.lz was not actually present inside the .iso file.

Looking inside the ISO file using 7Zip to view it, I found:


Normally, in a linux ISO that uses isolinux to boot, there is an isolinux folder which holds several .cfg files, the main one being isolinux.cfg. If grub is used, there may be a \grub folder containing config files. If grub4dos is used, it may have a \menu.lst file and other .lst files.

I double-clicked isolinux.cfg to open it up in Notepad ++ (if you try to use Windows NotePad, it will merge all the lines together due to a CR/LF problem - see below).

The isolinux.cfg main LiveCD menu entry seems to be:

label live
  menu label live - boot the Live System
  kernel /casper/vmlinuz
  append  file=/cdrom/preseed/custom.seed boot=casper initrd=/casper/initrd.gz quiet splash --

So I converted this to grub4dos as follows:

kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/custom.seed boot=casper persistent quiet splash --
initrd /casper/initrd.gz 

As you can see, we just need to re-arrange a few things. The reason for the error is now apparent, because the file used for the initial ramdrive (initrd) is initrd.gz and not initrd.lz as it was in the Lubuntu .mnu file.

Warning: Do NOT copy and paste whole lines from a linux .cfg file into a grub4dos .mnu file. The carriage-return/line-feed end-of line characters are not the same in a linux file and although it may look OK in NotePad, it won't work in grub4dos due to embedded invisible CR/LF characters! It is better to type them in manually rather than copy and paste in lines from a linux text file!

We need to add in the 'persistent' parameter so that it will look for a casper-rw volume when it boots.

In the end, after tidying up the .mnu file a bit to make it easier to modify for the end user, we have:

# Make a ext2 file using latest version of RMPrepUSB in the root of the drive 
# File Name=lxle-rw  Volume Name=casper-rw
# Place this .mnu file and the ISO in either \_ISO\MainMenu\MNU or \_ISO\Linux\MNU
# This menu will work even on an NTFS USB boot drive
# IMPORTANT: you MUST run WinContig (Ctrl+F2) before booting E2B.
# e.g.
#\lxle-rw
#\_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU\lxle-1404-64.iso
#\_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU\lxle-1404-64_Persistent.mnu


iftitle [if exist $HOME$/lxle-1404-64.iso] LXLE 14.04\n Boot using .mnu file with persistence

set ISO=$HOME$/lxle-1404-64.iso
set PER=/lxle-rw

if exist CD echo WARNING: Cannot use partnew command! && pause && configfile (bd)/menu.lst
if "%E2BDEV%"=="" set E2BDEV=hd0 && pause E2BDEV forced to hd0!
#enable parttype output
debug 1
# make empty table entry in 3rd position in ptn table
parttype (%E2BDEV%,2) | set check=
debug off
set check=%check:~-5,4%
if "%check%"=="0x00" partnew (%E2BDEV%,2) 0 0 0
if not "%check%"=="0x00" echo WARNING: PTN TABLE 3 IS ALREADY IN USE - PERSISTENCE MAY NOT WORK! && pause
debug 1
if not exist %PER% echo WARNING: %PER% persistence file not found! && pause
errorcheck off
if "%check%"=="0x00" partnew (%E2BDEV%,2) 0x0 %PER%
errorcheck on
#map ptn 4 to ISO
partnew (%E2BDEV%,3) 0x0 %ISO%
map %ISO% (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/custom.seed boot=casper persistent quiet splash --
initrd /casper/initrd.gz 


This .mnu file will be in the Sample mnu Files folder in the next E2B 1.56Beta download and is also in the Alternate Download area now (though it may be removed later when 1.56 is released).




Friday, 5 September 2014

E2B v1.56Beta9 available

Stephan has emailed me with some suggestions on improving E2B when using FASTLOAD.

As you may know, if you enable FASTLOAD by simply copying the \_ISO\FASTLOAD.YES file to the root of your E2B USB drive, it causes the Main Menu to be cached the first time you boot to E2B. The next time you boot to E2B, it will not need to enumerate all the files in the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder + sub-folders, but will just load the cached menu that was made during the previous boot. This can speed up the appearance of the E2B Main Menu if you have a slow USB drive and lots of files in your \_ISO\MAINMENU folder.

The main changes affect the following files:

\_ISO\e2b\grub\MENU.lst  - small changes to improve messages and set STALE variable
\_ISO\e2b\grub\E2B.cfg  - small text changes
\_ISO\e2b\grub\ENG\STRINGS.txt - new strings $$STRmFS1, $$STRhMFD and $$STRhMFE
\_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZZF8ReloadMenu.mnu - modified to also refresh the cached FASTLOAD menu
\_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZA_FASTLOAD_ON_OFF.mnu - If FASTLOAD is active, this new menu entry will allow the user to enable or disable it. This menu entry can be suppressed using set NOFLDMNU=1 in your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file
\_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZZF8$_SHOW_FASTLOAD.mnu - new file to display a non-operational menu entry just above the F8 menu entry which shows the user that they are using a cached (old) menu.

You can, of course, delete any of these .mnu files and/or make a new version to modify their action or appearance (just don't use the same filename as E2B uses or they will be overwritten the next time you update!). You can also make your own STRINGS.txt file to modify the menu entry text.

The new Enable\Disable FASTLOAD menu entry can be suppressed by using the NOFLDMNU variable in your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file if you don't want the user to be able to disable it. Alternatively, you can just delete the ZZA_FASTLOAD_ON_OFF.mnu file.

If the \FASTLOAD.YES file is not present, then the Main menu will appear just as it did before.
If the \FASTLOAD.YES file is present, then you will see the Main menu below:

FASTLOAD ENABLED - Menu was loaded from cache on booting.
Note the 'CACHED MENU (FASTLOAD)' warning is displayed in the menu.

FASTLOAD ENABLED - Menu was just Refreshed by user using F8.

FASTLOAD DISABLED - it can be enabled again by the user with '3 Enable FASTLOAD'.

Let me know if you like this new arrangement or not.

I am still waiting for a few more bugfixes in grub4dos before I release v1.56. Chenall is working hard on the fixes and it should be done in a day or so.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Tiny PXE Server tryout

I had seen Erwans Tiny PXE Server app but tonight I decided to try it out.

I wanted to just boot a WinPE ISO file via PXE as I thought this would be the easiest to get going.

Documentation for getting started is not that well organised on reboot.pro or in his Blog.
I eventually found a Blog post here for booting PE.

Here are step-by-step instructions for how I did it:

1. On My Windows 8.1 x64 PC, I downloaded Tiny PXE Server from reboot.pro (check the download link in this post)

2. I extracted the files to C:\temp\pxesrv on my Windows system

3. I copied a WinPE_x86.ISO file that I had lying around to the C:\temp\pxesrv\files folder.

4. I used NotePad to create a winpe.ipxe text file in the C:\temp\pxesrv\files folder as below:

#!ipxe
dhcp net0
set boot-url http://${dhcp-server}
initrd ${boot-url}/images/WinPE_x86.ISO
kernel ${boot-url}/memdisk iso raw
boot

5. Next I ran the C:\temp\pxesrv\pxesrv.exe file and changed a few settings as show in the red boxes below:


Note that I needed to choose a DHCP server address of 192.168.1.xx to match the subnet address of the router.
The Extra Option also needed to be set to 175.6.1.1.1.8.1.1  -> vendor option is 175.6.1.1.1.8.1.1 (etherboot length 6 code 1 length 1 value 1 code 8 length 1 value 1). More details here http://www.etherboot.org/wiki/dhcpd

When you are happy with the settings - click the Online button.

6. Finally, I connected an Ethernet cable from my router to my EeePC 904HA netbook, switched it on and selected 'Network Boot' from the BIOS Boot menu.. VIOLA! - it started to load the ISO into memory and then booted to it! The EeePC now runs WinFE via PXE boot.

I have not yet experimented any further with Tiny PXE Server, but so far it looks encouraging!

Erwan has more examples on his Blog here and some quick HowTo's are here for different payloads.

Tip: If you are having problems PXE booting from a real system, it may be due to your router or client system. A good test is to run a Virtual Box virtual machine. Just set the Network adapter to 'Bridged' - start the VM - press F12 and then L for Lan. It should then PXE boot. This tends to bypass your router + cable + client and often works when a real system does not!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

PassPass for Win8.1 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Add PassPass to your E2B USB drive and get access to any Windows system without needing to know the user account password!

I fixed the issue with 32-bit 8.1 and now the PassPass20140902SS.zip version 1.5 should patch XP -> Win8.1. Not tested on Win8.1 Update (but dll for 64-bit looks same as Win8.1 so hopefully will work).
I suggest you test on a 'test' system and not your work/office/home system (or at least make a backup first!).

Note: Latest version (same filename!) is listed in the E2B menu as (PassPass E2B v1.6) - if yours does not say this please download latest version. The E2B PassPass download is available in the Alternate Download areas from this page.

Monday, 1 September 2014

PassPass update for Win 8.1

I have updated the clever PassPass grub4dos utility written by Holmes.Sherlock and Wonko the Sane from reboot.pro. It should now work for XP through to Windows 8.1.

Note: Latest version will be listed in the E2B menu as (PassPass E2B v1.6) - if yours does not say this please download latest version. E2B v1.87+ includes PassPass v1.7 for XP through to Win10.

This utility allows you to bypass the Windows user password required for logging into a  local user account on Windows (does not work if you select an online Microsoft account, so select a local user account first). It works by hard-patching a Windows dll file before you boot to Windows. Once you have finished with the Windows system, you can Unpatch or restore the dll so that normal password function is restored.

Note: KonBoot v2.4 will allow you to get into a local user account or online account in Win8/8.1.

For more details on PassPass, see here.  For Win 8/8.1, it allows you to gain access without using the user's account password, PIN number or picture gestures (just use any password, PIN or gesture!).

PassPass can be found in the \_ISO\docs\PassPass folder on your E2B drive with a ReadMe.txt file or you can unzip the downloaded E2B PassPass version. Copy the folder to your E2B USB drive  (e.g. to \_ISO\MAINMENU\UTILITY or \_ISO\UTILITIES\UTILITY). Then move the large PassPass.bak file to the root of the E2B USB drive - for example:

\_ISO\MAINMENU\UTILITY\PassPass.mnu
\_ISO\MAINMENU\UTILITY\PPass.g4b
\_ISO\MAINMENU\UTILITY\wenv
\PassPass.bak

I would advise you to test it first on a 'test' system and NOT on a system that you need (or at least take a full backup first). The file \Windows\system32\msv1_0.dll is the only Windows file altered by PassPass.

Download
Look up PassPass in the 'List of tested payload files' page the E2B PassPass download.

PassPass menu entry

PassPass will detect all Windows installations on all disks
Choose which one you want to patch.

You can backup the msv1_0.dll file first before you patch it.
Then run the Patch Windows menu option.

You will be told how many patch areas have been identified.
Press ENTER to patch the dll and then choose the Boot from Internal Hdd menu option
to boot to the patched OS (or reboot the system).

P.S. If you try PassPass and it worked, please tick the 'funny' box below. If it failed, please add a comment and give details of the msv1_0.dll file in your version of Windows (click on Properties).

To change a User Account password once patched with PassPass, create a new Administrator User Account (e.g. NEWUSER) with no password and then log-in as NEWUSER. You can then change the password on any user account. Then delete the NEWUSER account and restore the DLL by running PassPass again.

If you need to patch a system that is UEFI-bootable only, you can boot to WinPE and run the Windows PE executable version PEPassPass.exe.