Thursday, 31 December 2015

GFX Boot menu editor


Easy2Boot includes one example of a GFX Boot menu (\_ISO\docs\Templates\GFXMenu) which you can try out.

You can change the GFX menu by editing the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file and change the set GFX=message line (the file must be in the \_ISO folder).

You can now download a few examples by Laura too.

If you want to design your own GFX Boot menu, I have added a download link for GFX-Boot Customizer utility by SBond here to make a GFX-BOOT.GFX file to the GFX Menu page on the E2B website.

Make a Windows 10 To Go Removable USB Flash drive (MBR and UEFI)

Windows To Go allows you to boot from a USB drive, but Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 will not allow you to boot from a 'flat file' installation on a Removable USB drive.

You can MBR boot Win 10 from a Removable USB Flash drive if you use a VHD to contain the Windows system files however.

But what about UEFI-booting? We cannot have more than one partition visible to Windows on a Removable USB drive, but for UEFI, we need a FAT32 partition which is not able to hold the large VHD file.

Here is how to set up a non-GPT Removable Windows To Go Flash drive so it will MBR and UEFI-boot:

Note that if you use an x64 version of Windows, you will only be able to UEFI-boot from it on 64-bit UEFI systems. If you have a 32-bit UEFI system, use a 32-bit version of Windows.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Christmas Edition E2B v1.76BetaE available

  • SWITCH_E2B v1.0.6 with FlashBoot and WinToGo+.imgPTN support. 
  • .isoBF now fixed (did not work in 1.75!). 
  • Zorin 9 persistent .mnu files added. 
  • Fix for Zorin 9 in isoboot.g4b. 
  • AuroraSanta default wallpaper. 'Dustbin' wallpaper in \_ISO\e2b\grub folder if you want it!
  • Improve LZMA Encode/Decode scripts. 
  • Fix bug - if user deleted some of the Windows sub-folders then the other remaining Windows sub-folders were not enumerated and so no Windows Install menu entry was present in the Main menu.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :-)

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

How to make large files contiguous on an E2B USB drive

As you know, most files on the E2B USB drive need to be contiguous (one exception to this is the Windows Installer ISO files).

The easiest way to make all files contiguous is to click on the \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd batch file which runs WinContig.

Tip: If you don't use the CONTIG.ISO temporary file (only used by E2B when files are non-contiguous), then just delete it. This will add an extra 500MB of free space.

BUT - Do you ever find that one or two large files cannot be made contiguous by WinContig?

You may find that, even though there is enough free space on the drive to make a copy of the file, WinContig (and Defraggler) cannot make the file contiguous. This is because the 'free space' is scattered all over the drive volume instead of being all in one 'chunk'.

Motasem discovered this yesterday and contacted me for advice. Here is how you can fix the problem...

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Why not customise your E2B - be inspired by Laura's (German) E2B themes!

Laura recently contacted me to submit a few E2B Menu screenshots to the E2B Gallery page.

Her web site is in German (although she is Spanish) and can be found at www.1910.eu. It contains loads of lovely example E2B menus (including custom CSM menus) and she has offered her help and will answer any questions you may have!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Boot from a linux disk image with grub4dos\Easy2Boot

I came across the HDDGURU wipemydisks disk image yesterday (wipemydisks1.1.img). This is a complete linux disk image with a bootable MBR and partition table and was designed to be written to a USB drive using dd or a disk imaging program (e.g. RMPrepUSB - File -> Disk).

I wanted to try to add this to Easy2Boot and so experimented with a way of booting to it.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

New Switch_E2B.exe v1.0.6 available

There have been some recent changes to Switch_E2B.exe

  1. Bugfix - When E2B switches to a .imgPTN file, it changes the Disk Signature bytes (four bytes starting at 1b8h in the MBR) to be the same as the start LBA position of the .imgPTN file. This ensures the 'new' partition arrangement also has a new disk signature. Switch_E2B.exe did not change these Disk Signature bytes. This meant that if you had a BCD inside your .imgPTN file which used the disk signature to identify the USB disk, if you switched to the .imgPTN file using Switch_E2B.exe, it would not boot to Windows due to a mismatched BCD and Disk Signature. This has now been fixed in Switch_E2B.exe.
  2. If you made a FAT32 E2B USB drive using flashboot, Switch_E2B would not recognise it.
  3. If you had a large E2B USB HDD which contained thousands of files, it could take Switch_E2B a long time (20+ seconds) to search the whole volume for all .imgPTN files. The new version only searches under the \_ISO folder by default. To search the whole drive volume, you now need to untick the 'Only search \_ISO folder' checkbox.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Get Windows 10 for free!

The new Windows 10 Threshold 2 release allows you to use a Win7 or Win8 Product Key to perform a clean install of Windows 10 and activate it.

If you have an unused 'Retail' Windows 7 Product Key (perhaps you ordered a Win 7 Install DVD + Product Key a few years ago) then you can use the same Win 7 Product Key to install Windows 10 (on the same system).

Saturday, 5 December 2015

SWITCH_E2B v1.0.4 available (compatible with FlashBoot)

It was reported to me that SWITCH_E2B did not work on E2B USB flash drives that had been formatted using FlashBoot, so I have now made version 1.0.3 available for those of you that use FlashBoot with E2B. If you use FlashBoot, you can update your E2B drives and your MPI installation ( the MPI .\csm\e2b folder) with the new version of SWITCH_E2B.exe.

Update: v1.0.3 only worked if the volume name was kept as 'FLASBOOT'.
v1.0.4 should now work with any volume name.

If you often find yourself needing to USB boot from older systems a lot (e.g. repair shop), you should check out FlashBoot!

E2B drives prepared using FlashBoot should boot on a wider variety of systems, especially older systems with early (buggy) USB BIOSes that try to boot USB drives as a floppy disk or USB ZIP drive instead of as a hard disk.

If a BIOS boots from a USB Flash drive as a floppy/ZIP drive instead of a hard disk, this causes grub4dos to fail to boot. If you use RMPrepUSB\RMPartUSB to format the USB drive, it adds a second small hidden partition and this often helps to avoid the 'boot as floppy' problem - but not always!

If you prepare your USB Flash drive with FlashBoot, you may find that it will boot on some of these older systems that would not boot from a 'normal' E2B drive.

However, there are some drawbacks to using a drive that has been formatted with FlashBoot:
  1. You have to format the USB drive as FAT32 with FlashBoot (NTFS is not supported). So this limits your maximum file size to 4GB. FlashBoot is not limited to creating 32GB partitions however and will work with both large USB hard disks and removable flash drives.
  2. You cannot reboot to the CSM Menu once you switch into any .imgPTN partition image. You can boot to the E2B menu, switch to a .imgPTN menu and then run the CSM Menu, however you cannot reboot to the CSM menu (a fresh boot) because the code in the MBR is specific to FlashBoot and it expects a partition to be present which contains FlashBoot boot code and not the 'normal' .imgPTN image partition that has been switched in.
FlashBoot is a commercial product (25 Euros), but you can try it for free for a limited period and see if it works on your 'difficult' old systems before you buy the full version.

P.S. You can also try out the Emergency Boot CD (EBCD) .ISO download too!

Thursday, 3 December 2015