Thursday, 28 May 2015

Special Offer: USB 3.0 64GB Fast Removable Flash drive under £24 (UK Only) + fix for Lexar S25 JumpDrive!

Fed up with waiting for Easy2Boot to boot? Want to install Windows 8 from an E2B Flash drive really quickly? Want to boot to WindowsToGo 8.1 from a Flash drive and run Windows almost as fast as you can from an internal hard disk?
For UK users go here and enter the code EXT20 at the checkout to get one of these for just £23.99 (P&P free)! Note: MyMemory sometimes sell the same product on eBay for a cheaper price - also try Tesco Direct (£17 June-2016)!

SanDisk Extreme Cruzer USB 3.0 64GB with retractable connector.
10GB file write > NTFS  71 seconds

A cheaper alternative is the Lexar USB 3.0 64GB S25 JumpDrive. Horrible cheap plastic construction though! Like the SanDisk, it also has an activity LED. This did not work in two of the three USB sockets on my EeePC - LED did not flash when connected (all other types of USB drives worked in all USB sockets) - see below for how I fixed it!  10GB file write > NTFS  154 seconds  (half the speed of the SanDisk on writes!)  I would suggest the Lexar S75, which has a metal USB connector, would be more reliable!

Give your pet a USB Flash drive!

Have you got a cat or dog? Are you frustrated by the small amount of info you can add to it's collar ID tag or the tiny piece of paper inside the ID tube which always seems to get wet or fade with age even if you wrap it in cling film/Saran wrap first?

Why not attach a small spare flash drive which contains ALL of the pet's details (pet's name, your name, address (map + pictures of your house), all Tel. numbers (mobile and home), email addresses, Skype address, What'sApp account, Facebook account, Twitter account,  pet's favourite food, any allergies, dietary requirements, if pet is microchipped or not, birth date, sex, description, neutered or not, pictures of the pet and owners, name and address of vet, etc.).

The flash drive should be waterproof and small, something like the Verbatim Tuff-n-Tiny would do.

If it's for a dog, why not add Easy2Boot and a puppy linux ISO too! changes

I have signed up with Ezoic to manage the page layout and Adsense ad placement on that site. You may notice that the page layout of has changed. 10% of hits will return the old site pages and layout, all other hits will return various new, experimental layouts. Ezoic will then collect stats to see which layout people prefer, etc. The experiment may take a month or so, after which the 'winning layout' will become the 'normal' layout. Cookies are used to ensure the same user always sees the same layout.
The site may also seem slower for a few days whilst it caches all the different web pages, but bear with it and it should soon get better in both performance and appearance.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Testing E2B UEFI and MBR\BIOS automated Windows installs using XML answer files

E2B copies the contents of your chosen XML file into the 100K blank  \AutoUnattend.xml file before it boots from the ISO file.
When you run a Windows Install ISO from E2B on a Removable USB drive on a real system, Windows Setup\PE will automatically read the \AutoUnattend.xml file located at the root of the USB drive.

However, If you try to run a Windows 7/8/8.1 Windows install ISO under a VM (e.g. Virtual Box), you will find that you will need to type SHIFT+F10 and then run \_ISO\e2b\firadisk\LOADISO.CMD in order to get the ISO to load as a virtual disk. This is because the \AutoUnattend.XML file is completely ignored by Windows because it does not 'see' the USB drive as a 'Removable' drive.

The problem is that if there are any other settings in the XML file (e.g. Product Key or other automated settings), then these settings are not picked up by Setup because the XML file is never read. This means we cannot run a fully unattended Windows install using one of the unattended XML files that we can create using the Windows Answer File Generator and XMLtoE2B.

As I didn't have a spare UEFI system to test automated installs with, I worked out a way to use Virtual Box instead...

XMLtoE2B Demo available

I have added a Demo version of XMLtoE2B.exe to the Alternate Download Areas for anyone who wants to play with it. I have tested MBR\Legacy installs and Windows 8 UEFI\GPT installs using it.
A Licence file is available to anyone who has donated £10 or more - please contact me if you want one.

Instructions for using XMLtoE2B are at

Friday, 22 May 2015

XMLtoE2B work continues...

I am still working on the XMLtoE2B.exe utility. Now it allows you to load different Disk Configuration files so that you can automate UEFI/GPT installs.
I also added a 'No User Accounts (Administrator only)  checkbox - this deletes any Local User accounts set up by WAFG and sets the AutoLogon Account Name to 'Administrator'. This has the affect of enabling the Administrator account.

Still loads more testing to do...

Thursday, 21 May 2015

E2B 1.68 (bugfix for 1.67)

Noam reported to me that the first menu entry in the MemTest menu (Ctrl-U -> Ctrl+M) does not work but just returns to the main menu.
It turns out this is a bug in 1.67 to do with using a .txt file with a payload file.
Please update to 1.68.
  • New grldr 0.46a,
  • auto win7/8/8.1 XML files added for fully automated installs.
  • 'Load_ISO (no prompt to Repair).XML' files added. 
  • LOADISNP.CMD added (does not prompt to repair system).
  • Bugfix to CountISOs.g4b. 
  • BugFix for .txt files stopping the menu entry from working (QAUTO.g4b and AUTOMN.g4b).

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Easy2Boot and automating Windows 7/8 installs using Unattend.xml files

I have had a few enquiries about automating Windows 7/8/8.1 installs using an XML file recently when using Easy2Boot and an unmodified Windows Install ISO from a USB drive, so I thought I would give a few pointers in this blog.

First you need to decide if you are going to install from an ISO or from a .imgPTN file.

Note: E2B v1.82+ includes a new 'SDI_CHOCO' feature. This allows you to install drivers, applications and Windows Updates automatically.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Easy2Boot 1.67 released

  • $NAME$ now supported in .mnu and .txt files
  • QAUTO.g4b and AUTOMN.g4b changed so .txt files with no \n (help) now end in \n to suppress g4d default help text. 
  • Only first line in .txt files are now used (others ignored). 
  • RMPartUSB and grubinst added so RMPrepUSB no longer needs to be installed to make a USB drive. 
  • Update_E2B_Drive.cmd updated to use xcopy if robocopy not available for XP systems. 
  • Fixed problem with spaces in pathnames in Update_E2B_Drive.cmd.
  • New grub4dos 0.4.6a can now write to small NTFS files (fixes long-standing bug/'feature') + blocklist command enhanced.

WIth the new version of grub4dos, small 'resident data' files now display the location of the resident data inside the $mft entry - e.g. screenshot above shows /menu.lst data contents are stored in the $mft resident record in relative sector 94 (and 95), from bytes 328 to 901.

Friday, 8 May 2015

E2B 1.67 Beta D with new grub4dos

yaya (a grub4dos developer) has fixed a long-standing problem with grub4dos with the latest 0.4.6a version (2015-05-08). E2B 1.67 Beta D uses this new version of \grldr.

In all previous versions, grub4dos could not write to small files on an NTFS volume. This was due to the way that NTFS stores the data of small files inside it's 'directory' record. This type of data is called resident data. Once the file exceeds the available space in the resident area (typically between 700 and 800 bytes) then it stores all the data in clusters outside of this area (the data space in the resident area is thus unused and used to store the used cluster information, if the file is larger than 800-ish bytes).

Older versions of grub4dos could not update the resident data area:
echo fred > file300bytes.txt
did not work with older versions of grub4dos, but now it does!

Note that grub4dos still cannot write more bytes than was originally contained in the file - i.e. you cannot overwrite a file containing 300 bytes with 301 bytes - the last byte will not be written.

You can detect these small 'resident data' NTFS files using the blocklist command:

f700 is a 700 byte resident file and does not list any used sectors.
f800 is an 800 byte files and lists two used 512-byte sectors.

Note that it is possible for a small file (e.g. 100 bytes) to be a non-resident file. This usually occurs when a larger, non-resident file has been reduced in length (e.g. a 900-byte file has been edited to be 100 bytes and saved as the same file).

The latest version of grub4dos shows the position of the resident data.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Download Windows 8.1 ISO from Microsoft

Microsoft have released a new tool (mediacreationtool.exe) which lets you download any version of Windows 8 (except Win8 with Bing) as an ISO or to USB drive.

Monday, 4 May 2015

E2B 1.67BetaC

A few tweaks to the scripts

  • Update_E2B_drive now uses Xcopy if Robocopy is not available (for XP users). Also problem with paths containing spaces now fixed.
  • Now includes RMPartUSB.exe and grubinst.exe so it is not necessary to download and install RMPrepUSB to make an E2B USB drive using Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd.
  • Latest version of E2B_Editor included.