Tuesday, 23 May 2017

ChocolateStore - offline Chocolatey packages for SDI_CHOCO (E2B)

If you use the SDI_CHOCO feature of Easy2Boot to install drivers, Windows updates and applications completely unattended, you will know that applications are installed using Chocolatey.

The SDI Snappy Driver Installer and the WSUSOffline updater are both offline utilities, however Chocolatey is an online utility. Every time it runs, it will download the latest version of an application from the internet and automatically install it onto the target system. This takes time depending on your internet download speeds and also means we may get a different version of the software now than we got last week.

I have utilised the ChocolateStore github software by BahKoo on github so that we can now add offline chocolatey packages to the SDI_Choco process.

By installing the apps offline, we get faster installation and we will always get the same app versions (unless we manually update them). We can still remove the USB drive after Setup reboots.

Not quite completely offline!

Note however that we still have to get chocolatey installed on the target system. At the moment this is done using an internet connection. So although the apps do not require an internet connection, the installation of Chocolatey onto the target system does require an internet connection up to the point where you are told you can remove the USB drive (although you could install it offline too - see end of this blog post for details).

How to use ChocBox

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Add Webconverger to E2B

Webconverger is a professional Kiosk Browser which you can run from a LiveCD ISO or as an installed OS on a hard disk or USB drive (it is based on Debian and FireFox). It can also be configured as a 'signage' panel.

Kai Hendy of Wenconverger offers a 30-day free trial which is needed if you want to make use of the 'control-panel' configuration features.

Kai Hendy tells me:
The way it works is once your credit card is provided, you have a 30 day
free trial. So no deductions are made if you want to experiment for a
month. If there is a charge on a test machine, I can refund it, don't
worry.
For those customers, if they want to cancel for any reason, I offer a 30
day money back guarantee.


The online configuration form can control many machines
all registered to the same email account.

Once a machine is 'subscribed', all remote control-panel seemed to work well and as expected, although for some changes (e.g. blank=10), a reboot was required.

If your E2B USB drive is a Removable drive (e.g. most USB Flash drives) then you can just directly boot from it as an .iso file from E2B (or use .isodefault to suppress the suggestion messages).

However, if your E2B USB drive is of the Fixed-disk type (e.g. USB HDD) then it will not boot correctly because the linux boot parameters include the cheat code bootfrom=removable so that it will only boot from removable media.

A simple way to remove the bootfrom=removable code is

Add Lenovo diagnostics to E2B

The linux bootable Lenovo Diagnostics ISOs can simply be copied to any E2B menu folder (e.g. \_ISO\UTILITIES). The diagnostics will only run on Lenovo-branded systems.



The linux-bootable-cd-41308857.iso is also UEFI 64-bit bootable.

Install the E2B MPI Tool Kit and then drag-and-drop the ISO onto the Windows MPI_FAT32 shortcut (I suggest you rename the ISO first because the CSM menu title has the same name as the ISO file).


Lenovo also supply UEFI-bootable versions of their diagnostics.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Hit by WannaCry? There is a decryptor now for XP and Win7.

If you or one of your users have a Windows XP or Windows 7 system and have been hit by the WannaCry ransomware virus, do not despair!


The first thing to do is to warn all users that if they are hit (and their systems are Win7 or XP),

do NOT turn off the system - do NOT reboot it - do not use it - just leave it alone!

The next thing to do is (as quickly as possible) download the decrypting software wanakiwi.exe onto a USB stick (don't use the infected system!), plug it in to the affected system and run it.

If possible, it would be better to make sure every computer had a copy of wanakiwi.exe already on their hard disk because connecting a USB drive may destroy the keys which are left in memory.

More info and an animated GIF of it in action on Windows XP and Windows7 here.

Although this has been demonstrated on a freshly infected system and wanakiwi was run as soon as the ransomware had completed encryption, I am not sure if any cases have been reported yet of wanawiki successfully working in a real life situation...

Can't boot to Windows but need some important files?


Scenario

  • You are given a Windows computer which will not boot to Windows any more.
  • You have tried to boot to Recovery Media/ISO and repair it, but it did not work.
  • The NTFS filesystem and memory seem to be OK (you ran memory test and chkdsk).
  • The issue seems to be that the Windows OS is broken.
  • The internal hard disk is pretty full, so you cannot install a second copy of Windows as there is not enough free file space.
  • The customer wants only a small number of certain important files recovered from the hard disk, but he doesn't know exactly where they were stored. The customer does remember a bit of the file name as does know that he used MS Word to edit the documents.
Your Mission (should you decide to accept it), is to backup those important files to an offline USB drive before you start messing around with the customers OS or the files on his hard disk.

Discussion

At this point, you could decide to take an image of the internal hard disk using any decent backup package. This is a very sensible thing to do, but it will take a while.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Install proxmox v4 from E2B

After a LOT of problems, I have managed to work out how to install the later versions of proxmox from E2B direct from the ISO file.

You will need to make a .mnu file.

See the bottom of this old post for details.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Add a BitLocker encrypted Windows 10 To Go OS to Easy2Boot

Windows 10 1703 (Build 15063) or later will mount all formatted partitions of a USB Removable media Flash drive.

This means we can not only boot from a flat-file installation of Windows 10 now, but because we can create a multi-partition USB flash drive, we can also encrypt the Windows volume using BitLocker.

Windows 10 will allow us to MBR-boot (not UEFI-boot) to encrypted volume either by entering a short password (e.g. 8 characters or more) or by inserting a USB flash drive containing a .BEK key file for the encrypted volume.

BitLocker requires a spare NTFS volume, so both partition images that we make for our E2B USB drive must be formatted as NTFS. This means we cannot UEFI-boot as we have no FAT partition.

Requirements

Monday, 15 May 2017

E2B v1.92l and MPI Tool Pack 074 now available

I am hoping to release this as v1.92 Full Release version in a few days!

Includes latest grub4dos 0.4.6a (hopefully with all bugs fixed!).

MPI v0.074 has improved detection of the isolinux version.

Alternate OneDrive Download Area

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Adding the HP PC Hardware Diagnostics 3-in-1 USB Key to E2B

The HP Vision Diagnostics ISO can be added to an E2B Removable USB drive if you use the .ISOPE01 file extension. It will boot straight to WinPE and you should briefly see the blue console shell window which will load the ISO as a virtual drive and allow it to find the drivers and diagnostic programs inside the ISO.

If you have a E2B HDD, you will need to convert the ISO to a FAT32 .imgPTN file (or if you boot it as .isoPE01, you could use the SHIFT+F10 key and run \_ISO\e2b\firadisk\LoadISONP.cmd from the E2B USB drive to load the ISO file as a virtual DVD to allow the diagnostic files to be seen).

The HP PC Hardware Diagnostics 3-in-1 USB Key software however, does not come as an ISO file.

Here is how to add it (or the Vision Diagnostics ISO) to E2B.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Add DLC Boot 2016 and 2017 to E2B

'DLC Boot 2016 v3.2' .rar file (Build 160727) can be downloaded from the official dlcboot.com site.
As it contains copies of Windows and other licensed utilities, you should ensure you have the appropriate licences (or morals) before you use it however!

After unpacking the .rar file, you can run DLCBoot.exe from Windows as Administrator to either create a new bootable USB flash drive (use FAT32 for UEFI x64 booting) or a bootable ISO file or run any of the tools directly.

Run as Admin and click the CD icon to make a .ISO file

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

E2B v1.92k BETA now available (fixes problem when formatting as NTFS)

I had problems formatting a new USB drive using Make_E2B.exe today and discovered Windows 10 Creator is still causing RMPartUSB problems due to it recognising all partitions on a removable USB drive.

There is now a new version of RMPrepUSB and RMPartUSB (v2.1.739A) and the E2B download has also been updated. If you still get any problems making an NTFS E2B drive, please let me know!

Add ASCII art to E2B

If you have a text file which contains ASCII art, you can display it on the E2B boot screen by adding this line to your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file:

cat /%grub%/ASCII_E2B.txt && pause --wait=1 > nul

This will display the text file briefly as E2B boots...





The next version of E2B will contain the ASCII_E2B.txt file (but you have to add the line into your MyE2B.cfg file to see it).




If you are displaying lines longer than 79 characters, you will need to switch to 800x600 first to change from the initial boot screen resolution of 640x480 (80x30 characters).

graphicsmode -1 800 ;; cat /%grub%/ASCII_E2B.txt && pause --wait=1 > nul


Make your own ASCII art

Add netboot.xyz to E2B and PXE boot

If you want some of the payloads mentioned below (see list), but don't have room on your E2B drive for all of them and you will always boot on a system which has internet access, you can add the small kernel 339KB netboot.xyz.lkrn PXE boot file to your E2B drive and get all of them!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

E2B v1.92j available

Changes from 1.91B (changes from v1.92h are in bold)
  • Ukrainian language added (thanks to 'ruffian')
  • Small bugfix to XPWINNT.g4b to allow SVR2016 folder to be selected
  • New Make_E2B to add Ukrainian and Vietnamese language support
  • Check added in Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd to check Windows find command is working
  • Revised English F1.cfg help file
  • New version of RMPartUSB to format the 2nd small hidden partition to prevent Win10 Format pop-up dialogue box and also sometimes failing to format as NTFS
  • Bugfix to XP DPMS2 for AMD chipsets - was sometimes getting wrong PCI ID and hence wrong driver
  • New \_ISO\PimpMyDrive.cmd to add extra options to Main menu
  • UtilMan account hack XML and CMD files added to new \_ISO\docs\utilman folder
  • Delay added to linux fmt.sh scripts after parted command, 
  • WinLite10 Sample XML files added
  • \_ISO\mybackground.jpg will be used if \_ISO\mybackground.bmp is not present
  • \_ISO\docs\SysInfo\SysInfo2.hta added for convenient way to get system info under Windows
  • Commodore PET theme added into Templates and mythemes folder
  • New SanFrancisco Bridge default wallpaper
  • New \grldr grub4dos 0.4.6a 2017-05-05
  • Improved Utilities Menu - list files and dirs menus
  • Change to .cmd files to use PowerShell to run as Admin if available (MAKE_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd now only requires one UAC prompt)
  • SDI version updated
  • Vietnamese language added (thanks TN)
  • Strings.txt language files changed to add new 'List files' string

Saturday, 6 May 2017

E2B v1.92i available

This version has a new version of grub4dos (\grldr) which has a nice new vol command, so I have also tweaked the UTILITIES menu commands for  'ls (DIR)' and 'List BIOS Disks' to improve the text output and show the volume labels.

I have also tried to improve some of the .cmd scripts which require Admin access so that they will now use Powershell to request Admin access (if Powershell is available). I have tested it on XP, Win7 and Win10 so I hope that I have not broken anything! The main advantage is that the MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd script now only gives you one UAC prompt instead of two.

Let me know if you find any issues.

Running a .cmd script with Admin rights

If you are interested, I used this single line near the top of each .cmd file

if not "%1"=="am_admin" call powershell -h | find /i "powershell" > nul && if not "%1"=="am_admin" (powershell start -verb runas '%0' am_admin > nul & exit)

The extra code is added so that under WinPE and WinXP, it does not just abort with a 'bad command' error if 'powershell' is not understood.

It checks to see if PowerShell is present and if so, it runs itself again using runas, so the beginning of the script actually runs twice.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

E2B v1.92h Beta available (Release Candidate)

1.92 will be fully Win10 Creator update compatible (I hope), so I am keen to release it soon.

Changes from 1.91B are:

  • Ukrainian language added (thanks to 'ruffian')
  • Small bugfix to XPWINNT.g4b to allow SVR2016 folder to be selected
  • New Make_E2B to add Ukrainian lang
  • Check added in Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd to check Windows find command is working
  • Revised English F1.cfg help file
  • New version of RMPartUSB to format the 2nd small hidden partition to prevent Win10 Format pop-up dialogue box and also sometimes failing to format as NTFS
  • Bugfix to XP DPMS2 for AMD chipsets - was sometimes getting wrong PCI ID and hence wrong driver
  • \_ISO\PimpMyDrive.cmd to add extra options to Main menu
  • UtilMan account hack XML and CMD files added
  • Delay added to linux fmt.sh scripts after parted command, 
  • WinLite10 Sample XML files added
  • \_ISO\mybackground.jpg will be used if \_ISO\mybackground.bmp is not present
  • \_ISO\docs\SysInfo\SysInfo2.hta added
  • PET theme added into Templates and mythemes folder
  • New SanFrancisco Bridge default wallpaper

Please download and test it and let me know if you find any problems before I release it officially in a few days as version 1.92.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

E2B v1.92g BETA available

This version has a few small tweaks to Utilman scripts and a new default wallpaper.
The XML files for UtilMan now start with 'UtilMan - xxxxx.xml' so that they are listed together in the E2B XML menu list. If you see four Utilman XML files, delete the ones which do NOT start with 'UtilMan - '

Let me know what you think of the new default wallpaper... ;-)

P.S. A variety of 800x600 jpg wallpapers are available in the Alternate Downloads Area - Themes  folder at WallPapers800x600.jpg.zip. if you copy these to the \_ISO folder and use the Change Wallpaper_JPG.mnu file, you can try them out.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

XML file for WinLite10

WinLite10 v7.2 for Win10 1703 Build 15063


Alacran (on reboot.pro) has notified us of a few .cmd scripts available from 'sickdroid' (or Felix Wiegand) which can remove many non-essential Windows components such as Cortana, etc. during a fresh installation of Windows 1703.

You can automatically run the rmApps.cmd script during installation of Windows 10 as follows:

Commodore PET 40 year anniversary theme for E2B

The Commodore PET was first announced, and later released, in 1977 (40 years ago).

It was a complete All-In-One computer with built-in keyboard, monitor and storage media and was months ahead of the Apple II or TRS80 (Trash80!). In essence, it was an early Macintosh and was one of the first computers suitable for business use, rather than hobbyists.

On a side note, the PET never really took off in France for some reason (apparently 'pet' is slang for another word!). Later, Commodore released the VIC, which did not sell too well in Germany either, as it sounded like you were asking for a 'fick' which is German for something quite different!

At the time, my family ran a small 12th-Century hotel in Oxford, now made famous by my late friend Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse book 'The Secret of Annexe 3' (which was where he reviewed examination papers with his colleagues, ate, drank and sometimes stayed overnight). Colin even gave me a few first edition signed copies of various Inspector Morse books over the years, which I guess must be worth a few pennies now!

I had been interested in computers for many years, I had built and programmed my own, but I really wanted a new PET...

Now, payroll software for the PET was non-existent at that time, but in early 1978 I persuaded my father to buy me a new PET, on the promise that I would write a complete staff wages program for the hotel. I explained that this would save him hours of pouring over his H.M. Gov tax tables and Kalamazoo wages sheets every week!

Monday, 1 May 2017

E2B v1.92f with revised UtilMan hack

E2B v1.92f has a slightly different and easier implementation of the UtilMan hack now.

Steps 3 and 4 have been reversed and there is much less typing for the hacker!

Basically the process is now:

1. Boot to E2B Win 10 ISO and choose Hack Windows (UtilMan.exe).xml to patch the .exe files.

2. At Windows login screen press WIN+U and type 2 [ENTER] to make the ADMIN account.

Now play around as you like!

3. At Windows login screen, press WIN+U and type 3 [ENTER] to delete the ADMIN account.

4. Boot to E2B Win 10 ISO and choose UnHack Windows (restore UtilMan.exe).xml to unpatch the .exe files.

I have updated the previous blog post to describe the steps in more detail.

P.S. It seems MS have broken SFC now so it is unable to repair utilman.exe and sethc.exe! For the last 4 weeks or so, SFC has not been able to repair some files and complains about corrupt source files, i.e. it does not recognise the files in its own WinSXS folders - probably because they were not updated by the recent Windows updates - but hey, it only affects millions of people all over the world and Microsoft cannot possibly afford to validate it's own software or respond to bug reports!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Hack any Windows OS - UtilMan scripts now added to E2B v1.92f

Note: This blog post has been changed to match E2B v1.92f and later versions of E2B! v1.92f is now even easier to use than v1.92e!
For updated details, go to the Easy2Boot website page here.

As you may know, if you have not encrypted your Windows OS with BitLocker, it is quite easy to get into your OS by using the trick of replacing UtilMan.exe and\or SetHC.exe with Cmd.exe.

Once you have done this, you can hit WINKEY+U or press the SHIFT key five times to bring up a Windows cmd shell box with full admin rights! You can then create a new Admin account and log into Windows.

This is especially useful if you have a system handed in for repair and the client does not know or remember any of the Admin account passwords.

To semi-automate this process and save some typing, E2B v1.92e now contains a new \_ISO\docs\utilman folder which contains four .cmd script files.

Friday, 28 April 2017

E2B v1.92c Beta available (with PimpMyDrive.cmd!)

v1.92c has a few, very small changes and also a new file has been added - \_ISO\PimpMyDrive.cmd.
[Edit] I found a few issues with Win10 Creator and the second small partition which caused the Make_E2B.cmd to pick the wrong partition to copy the files to and so 'freeze', so v1.92d fixes this. There is a new version of RMPartUSB, RMPrepUSB and Make_E2B.exe too!
This script must be run from the E2B drive. It copies a selection of Sample mnu files to the \_ISO\MAINMENU\PIMP folder.

Note that the Change Theme menu requires the current \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file to be overwritten - so take a backup of the MyE2B.cfg file first (the script will take one backup for you)!



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

SysInfo2.hta - an hta Windows script to quickly collect System Information

Some years ago I developed a .hta script in VBScript to collect system information. This was used on thousands of systems by field engineers and customers alike, so that they could quickly send a report back to the office techs for further diagnosis and investigation.

You can run SysInfo file on any Windows system that allows .hta files and VBScript to run.

If you download and unzip it, make sure Properties - UnBlock is ticked or Windows may prevent you from running it.

I have slightly revised it now for Windows 8 and 10 and also tweaked the email facility so that you can send the report, using your gmail account, to yourself or to someone else.

You can easily modify it to display your own company name in a heading, etc.



RMPrepUSB v2.1.737 and 738 for Windows 10 Creator now available


If you tick the RMPrepUSB option Boot as HDD (C: 2PTNS) then RMPartUSB will create a second 31.5KB partition at the end of the drive. The type is 21hex which no previous Windows OS has ever recognised... until now!

This 2nd partition is only present because some BIOSes will boot a single-partition Removable USB drive as a floppy disk instead of a 'hard disk' and thus you just get a 'black screen - flashing cursor' when you try to boot from the drive. The presence of a 2nd primary partition ensures that even these BIOSes will boot from the Removable USB drive as a 'hard disk' hd0 instead of fd0.

Under all previous versions of Windows, this 2nd partition was not detected by Windows and was not given a drive letter.

However, in recent versions of Windows 10, Microsoft has changed the way Windows detects primary partitions on Removable drives such as Flash Memory devices (and without actually telling anyone!). Now we can have multiple partitions on USB flash drives - we can even boot WindowsToGo 10 Creator version from a flat-file (non-VHD) Removable flash drive now!

The means that now, if you use RMPrepUSB or RMPartUSB to format a drive with the Boot as HDD option ticked, the new Windows 10 will now 'see' the 2nd partition as an unformatted volume and prompt the user to format it!

v2.1.737 now formats the 2nd partition as a small FAT12 volume. Windows will give it a drive letter and you can even store files on it (though it is only 11.5KB in size after formatting!). Note that if you connect the same USB drive to a pre-Windows 10 Creator version of Windows, you will not see the 2nd partition though!

The download page is here.

I found a problem in that RMPartUSB would get confused because it would see two drive letters after partitioning the drive and sometimes chose the wrong drive letter to format as NTFS. v2.1.738 now fixes this (it ignores the small partition).

Please report any issues ASAP.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Easy2Boot v1.92b available

E2B v1.92b BETA is now available from OneDrive here.

Changes from v1.91B are (changes from 1.92a in bold):

  • Ukrainian language added (thanks 'ruffian')
  • small bugfix to XPWINNT.g4b to allow SVR2016 folder to be selected
  • new Make_E2B to add Ukrainian lang, 
  • check added in Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd to check Windows find command is working, 
  • revised English F1.cfg help file, 
  • new RMPartUSB to format the 2nd small hidden partition to prevent Win10 Format pop-up dialogue box
  • bugfix for XP DPMS2 sometime getting wrong PCI ID and hence using the wrong driver
An E2B user contacted me to say that XP installs from ISO did not detect his internal hard disk on his HP G62 AMD notebook. I bought a G62 notebook from eBay, found the issue and fixed it.

If anyone in the UK wants a silver HP G62-a17SA, Win 10 Home 64-bit, AMD Athlon II P320 2.10GHz, 320 GB 7,200 rpm HDD, 4GB RAM, HDMI, Enet, webcam, WiFi, DVD R/W, USB 2.0 x 3, good battery, with WPS Office, very nice and clean, very few scuffs (looks almost unused), for £150 ono - let me know!


You can update your current E2B DPMS USB drives using this new Beta version.


The next BETA will include the latest version of grub4dos which hopefully has all the niggly bugs fixed now.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Install Windows 7 from USB using a USB 3.0 port

Windows 7 does not contain USB 3.0 drivers, so when you boot from a USB drive from USB 3.0 port, Windows Setup will not be able to access the USB drive and you will get a 'Missing CD\DVD drive device driver' message box.

However, by combining a Windows 10 boot.wim with Windows 7 install.wim, it is possible to install Windows 7 from a USB drive connected to a modern USB 2.0 or 3.0 port.

I have written a short 'Tutorial #139' describing how to do it.

This method means that all types of USB controllers should work (as Win10 contains USB 3.0 drivers) and you don't have to mess about adding USB drivers to the Windows 7 boot.wim file.

However, you will have to add the USB 3 drivers to the Windows 7 OS once you have booted to Windows 7, but by then you should have web access and can download them (if available). Otherwise, you can always boot to the Win10 boot.wim and use XCOPY to copy the driver folder from your USB drive onto the Win7 hard disk.

You can use the same Win7+Win10 procedure to modify an ISO and add it to E2B, or you can use MakePartImage to convert a working USB Flash drive to a .imgPTN file and add that to E2B.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

System Rescue CD 2017-04-12 released

The systemrescuecd-x86-4.9.6.iso has been updated recently.

Description: SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of Linux system utilities such as GParted, fsarchiver, filesystem tools and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It can be used for both Linux and windows computers, and on desktops as well as servers. This rescue system requires no installation as it can be booted from a CD/DVD drive or USB stick, but it can be installed on the hard disk if you wish. The kernel supports all important file systems (ext3/ext4, xfs, btrfs, reiserfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs), as well as network filesystems such as Samba and NFS.



If you add it to E2B it will 'just work'.

If you want to use the persistence feature ('backstore'), refer to my previous blog post here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

StarTech S2510BU3ISO Hard Disk Enclosure with ISO (DVD) Emulation for $20

The StarTech S2510BU3ISO Hard Disk enclosure is similar to the Zalman and IODD enclosures in that it can emulate a USB DVD drive by loading an ISO file.

Press the MODE button and the LED changes from HDD to ISO1,
 then press again for ISO2 then again for ISO3 and then back to HDD.

Friday, 14 April 2017

E2B v1.92a with Ukrainian language now available

'Ruffian' has sent me the language files for the Ukrainian language and this has been added into v1.92a which is available on OneDrive.

If you are from Ukraine Ви можете, як це, так? ;-)

Ukrainian Menu

Add Fedora with persistence to E2B

To set up most linux ISOs with persistence, find a suitable .mnu file in the \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files folder on the E2B USB drive and read the instructions at the top of the file.

However, Fedora is different!

The sample menu provided in the E2B \_ISO\docs\Sample Mnu Files folder for Fedora only works if you have a FAT32 E2B USB drive - Fedora does not like NTFS volumes when booting (and it's only the year 2017!).

Here is a way to add Fedora+persistence to an NTFS E2B USB drive (MBR and UEFI).

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

E2B v1.91A and B released

I did not notice that the latest grub4dos causes E2B to display a 'WARNING: gub4dos 0.4.5' message to appear as soon as E2B starts to load.

v1.91A fixes this issue.

P.S. There are also usb driver bugs in v1.91 new grub4dos, so please use v1.91B which has the old grub4dos!

It is available on the OneDrive Alternate Download Area and soon on the E2B website.

Unfortunately, Google Drive seems to have taken a dislike of E2B v1.91 and 1.91A. As soon as I upload it, it blocks it (marks it with a flag icon). I am not sure why! Even if I zip it up with a password-encrypted zip file, Google Drive still blocks it. Grrrr.

P.S. If you are on the Developer's Insider Preview programme for Win10, note that recent developer versions of Win 10 actually break RMPartUSB and Rufus (format fails)!

If you have tried v1.91A and had no problems - please tick the 'funny' Reactions box below.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Easy2Boot v1.91 released

E2B v1.91 is available now from the Alternate Download Areas.
E2B v1.91 will be available from www.easy2boot.com in a few days.

Note: due to bugs in the new grub4dos in 1.91 - please use v1.91B which uses the older (unbuggy) version of grub4dos!

Changes from v1.90

  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version (\grldr 2017-02-04 )
  • Sample .mnu files added for 'blacklist' example (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
  • Latest version of Make_E2B.exe
  • New SCROLL LOCK feature (auto-suggest is turned on if SCROLL LOCK is on)
  • New TSUG variable to control auto-suggest feature better
  • Default delay for auto-suggest now 6 sec
  • Reduce Main Menu messages if redir set
  • Can now use redir + TSUG variables so get reduced enumeration message but still get auto-suggest prompt
  • New \_ISO\docs\Make_E2B_USB_Drive\CheckForUpdate.cmd added to show latest stable version and latest Beta version
  • Warn user if \sources folder is present on the E2B drive (causes error when using Windows install from ISO) 
  • Hold down SHIFT key before boot to automatically load grub4dos fast rd/wr USB 2.0 driver

Let me know ASAP if you spot a problem.

Add Clear Linux to your E2B USB drive


Clear Linux is provided as a UEFI-bootable only image.
Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture is focused on the Cloud. Our aim was not to make yet another general-purpose Linux distribution; sometimes lean-and-fast is better than big-and-universal.
There is a Live version and an Installer version (see here) provided as compressed xxxx.img.xz download files.
Inside each xxxx.img.xz file is a larger .img file (e.g. clear-1440-installer.img). You will need to extract this .img file (e.g. using 7Zip).
Inside this .img file (which is usually dd'd onto a USB drive), we have two images for two primary partitions (as shown by 7Zip)...



Here is how to add these to your E2B drive so we can UEFI-boot (MBR-booting is not supported).

Thursday, 6 April 2017

GrannyOS and how to add a remote image backup/restore capability to Windows

I have two ageing relatives (one over 80 and the other is nearly 100) and I wanted to set up a notebook for each of them where I could use Skype and video-conferencing to chat with them and help them with such things as email, internet banking, internet shopping, etc.

Neither of them know how to use a computer or a smart phone, but these days you really need to use the internet for pretty much everything.

It is a shame that the aged and infirm are the ones that would benefit the most from the internet, and yet they are the ones that are excluded from it because, as the saying goes, 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

About Windows 10 Installs from ISOs and how to activate using Win7/8 Product Keys

When you use Easy2Boot to install Windows 8/10/SVR2016 directly from an ISO file, E2B will ask you to specify an XML file which contains a Win 10 Product Key (or you can pick a Product Key which E2B will then patch into the XML file for you).

You can use one of the generic installation Product Keys listed by the E2B menu system or you can specify a genuine Microsoft activation key of your own.

Some versions of Windows 8/10 will just stop with a 'license error' if you don't specify a Product Key (or use an incorrect Product Key) in the XML file. If I MBR-boot from a Win 10 Home+Pro install ISO on my IdeaPad 300 (which previously had an activated UEFI-installation of Win 10 Home), then Setup only gives me the option to install Win 10 Home when using an XML file with no Product Key inside - the Win 10 Pro option is not offered at all even though the ISO contains both Pro and Home!

If I use a Win 10 Pro generic Product Key in an XML file with the same ISO, it installs Win 10 Pro.

I presume that the keys must contain encoded information which includes:
  • Type: Retail, OEM, Volume Licence MAK or KMS
  • ID: A unique ID number
  • Edition: Pro, Home, etc.
  • Version: Win10, Win7, Win8, etc.
So you need to install Windows 10 using a Win10 Product Key.

Now because Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems can still be upgraded for free to Windows 10, you can activate with a Windows 7 or Windows 8 Product Keys after you install a new Windows 10 OS, but you can't use a Win7/8 key as an installation key.

EXAMPLE: Win 10 Pro for less than £3!

For instance...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Easy2Boot v1.91g available

This 1.91g BETA has a new version of grub4dos at \grldr.

Let me know if you find any problems. To confirm that a particular problem is caused by the new version of grub4dos, simply use a \grldr file from an earlier version of E2B.

Changes to grub4dos include:

  • When using ls command on an empty folder, it now returns false on all filesystems (bugfix)
  • ls command now highlights folder names in the output text
  • grub4dos USB2 driver improved
  • Volume label read and write function (vol) improved
  • UUID write function added

Note: As much as possible, E2B does not rely on new features. This means that older versions of grub4dos can be still used (e.g. 4.0.5c) which is useful for regression testing, etc.

Another small change is that the SCROLL LOCK = ON state will now always force the auto-suggest prompt to be displayed (even if running a xxxx.isodefault file).

Also, SCROLL LOCK will always be turned off whenever QRUN.g4b is run. This is because if SCROLL LOCK is on when isolinux/syslinux runs, it boots to the command shell instead of the isolinux/syslinux menu.

Please report any problems or queries.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Windows 10 Creators Edition brings major change for Removable USB drives!

As recently mentioned by Akeo (Rufus author) on reboot.pro here, The new Windows 10 Creators Edition seems to have changed the way it handles Removable USB drives!

Previously, Windows XP/7/8/10 would only mount one partition on a Removable USB drive. However, now it seems to treat a Removable USB drive almost the same as a Fixed-Disk drive and you can assign drive letters to multiple partitions (if they exist) on a Removable USB drive!

This is a big change, so this may well cause problems with all sorts of USB-friendly apps!

Tip: To see what version of Windows you have, use the WINDOWS+R key chord and type WINVER in the Run box...

Easy2Boot goes commercial - April Fool!

All versions of Easy2Boot produced for over a year now, have contained some embedded code which will check the BIOS date. If the BIOS date is more than 30 days from today, then certain functions (e.g. automatic menu building, QRUN feature, WIM and VHD booting, etc.) will no longer work unless a licence is found.

Switch_E2B.exe, MakePartImage and UEFI-booting from .imgPTN files will not check for a licence however and will work as before.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Easy2Boot 1.91f available

E2B v1.91f
  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version \grldr 2017-02-04 
  • 'blacklist' sample .mnu files (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
  • New version of Make_E2B.exe (1.91c)
  • New SCROLL LOCK feature (1.91c)
  • New TSUG variable to control auto-suggest feature better (1.91d)
  • Default delay for auto-suggest now 6 sec
  • Reduce Main Menu messages if redir set
  • Can now use redir + TSUG so get reduced enumeration message but still get auto-suggest prompt
  • New \_ISO\docs\Make_E2B_USB_Drive\CheckForUpdate.cmd added to show latest stable version and latest Beta version.
CheckForUpdate.cmd reports latest stable version and latest Beta version
Using options 1, 2 or 3 should open up the appropriate web browser page.

Betas are available from the Alternate Download Areas as usual.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Add Paragon Rescue Kit 14 64-bit .imgPTN file to Easy2Boot (MBR+UEFI)

If you have the Paragon Rescue Kit 14 x64 ISO, you can add it to E2B in the normal way as an ISO file or convert it to a FAT32 .imgPTN file for UEFI-booting. The 32-bit versions does not support UEFI-booting.



Tip: Download the RTK14_free.exe free trial version and then use 7zip to open it and find the iso file.


However, the .imgPTN file will only UEFI-boot - it will not successfully MBR-boot to Paragon Rescue.

MPI Tool Kit v0.073 available (with bugfix for Windows 10 v. 1607)

I was unable to find a way to work around the vbscript problem which Windows 10 v1607 and 1703 seem to have now have (due to a recent KB update!), so I wrote a small vb6  MakeLinkAdmin.exe utility instead!

If your Desktop Shortcut links for the MPI Tool Kit appear to be bad, please try the new MPI Tool Kit and let me know if you still have any problems.

Copy the new MPI folder to your Desktop and then run the CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file to create the new Desktop shortcuts.

The download is in the Alternate Download Areas.

Latest Windows 1607 update (KB4015438) breaks MPI Tool Kit (and VBScript)!

If you use the MPI Tool Kit CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file with Windows 1607 or later, it no longer creates valid Desktop shortcuts!

I updated to 14303.3.969 from 14303.3.0 using KB4015438 and now the same vbscript fails!
So KB4015438 has broken vbscript!!!


The problem appears to be in the VBScript file. Microsoft seem to have broken something!

The code that is not working reads the .lnk shortcut file on the Desktop, changes one byte (for 'run as Admin') and then writes back the .lnk file. This code now does not seem to work and causes the file contents to be corrupted!

I have tried alternative methods but so far have not found a solution.

StopPress: I couldn't find a fix in vbscript, so I have worked around it another way! This issue should be fixed in MPI v0.073.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Convert Windows MBR-partioned disks to GPT using MBR2GPT

FYI: MBR2GPT is now available in Windows 10 version 1703 (Windows 10 Creator's Update) and later versions. The tool is available in both the full OS environment and in Windows PE.

If apparently will convert an offline Windows MBR disk to a GPT disk.

Video here.

Perhaps, useful if you want to transfer your OS to a larger 3 or 4TB Hard Disk. Once you have transferred the image to the new disk, you should be able to convert the new disk to GPT and then increase the size of the partitions or create a new partition to use the remainder of the drive.

I have not tested this myself yet...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

E2B Grub2 v0.08 Beta available

Thanks to an email from a user, I have now discovered that the 'openSUSE' menu heading comes from the English language translation file at \boot\grub\locale\en.mo.

For some reason the Windows Find&Replace utility FNR.exe which I used, did not find any strings inside this file which is why I missed it!

Anyway, Beta 8 now has a GRUBHEAD variable in the \menu.lst file inside the UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta8.imgPTNLBAa23 partition image. This allows me to change the grub2 heading to anything I like by using grub4dos to patch the en.mo file.

I also increased the length of the en.mo file to accommodate longer headings.

The grub2 menu heading can be changed by editing \menu.lst

GRUB2 Beta 7 now available for Easy2Boot (bugfix for Beta 6)

The Grub2 Beta 6 release had a bug and you may find some 64-bit payload files (e.g. ubuntu.iso) were not listed in the menu.

This was due to the code which detects a 64-bit CPU having a bug in main.cfg - the BIT64 variable was never set! For example, \_ISO\MAINMENU\ubuntu.iso would not be displayed in the menu.

This is now fixed in Beta 7.

To update your Easy2Boot drive, download the new Beta 7 zip file and replace the UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta6.imgPTNLBAa23 file with the new UEFI_GRUB2_PTN2_Beta7.imgPTNLBAa23.

Sorry if this caused you any frustration!

P.S. Beta 8 is also available which now allows the grub2 menu heading to be changed to whatever we want!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Feedback from E2B users wanted on the QRUN 'auto-suggest' feature

For E2B v1.91, I am thinking of changing the default action (i.e. when you do not press any key and let it time-out or you press the ENTER key) for the E2B QRUN 'auto-suggest' prompt from 'No' (do not use suggested file extension) as shown below...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Beware when downloading files via a USB WiFi dongle !!!

Whenever I am using a WiFi USB dongle to download files, I always check the CRC/MD5 hash value of the file using the free Windows utility HashTab. This is a really handy utility which integrates nicely with the standard Windows - Properties feature to give an extra File Hashes tab...



The reason for checking the hash value of the downloaded file (even though it appears to be the correct size and it downloaded without error) is that external interference can cause the file to be corrupt!

Yes, honestly! I have tested this myself and proved that electromagnetic interference caused a perfectly good .ZIP file to be successfully downloaded from t'internet BUT it often was corrupt and 7Zip would tell me so when I tried to unzip it!

In this case, the interference was caused by a room-light dimmer switch (hence file corruption
occurred only at night!) - see my previous blog for more details here.

I don't know if the data corruption occurred in the USB data transfer or the WiFi-to-data decoding, but it was repeatable and reproducible!

So if strange things start to happen with downloaded files, always check that the file was downloaded without any data corruption by checking it's CRC\MD5\SHA-1 hash value!

Tip: As long as the last 4 characters are correct, then the chances are extremely remote that the other characters in the hash value are not also correct. So I just compare the last 4 characters.

P.S. I also know that USB 3 can interfere with Bluetooth/wireless mouse transmission, so you need to keep USB 3 devices well away from 2.4GHz dongles (see here for more details).

Friday, 17 March 2017

Split_WinISO utility by Chandra v1.0.8

Chandra's new Split-WinISO utility now will automatically add the missing bootx64.efi boot file to MS Windows 7 x64 ISOs when it makes a .imgPTN file to allow it to UEFI-boot.


Source Files: ISO or Folder  (most Windows Install and AIO ISOs should work)
Output File: .ISO or .imgPTN file

Split_WinISO will split large .wim, .esd files into smaller .swm split-wim files for you automatically.

It will even add the winpeshl.ini and mysetup.cmd files into the boot .wim for you and add an example \auto.cmd file plus XML files too (optional)! This allows you to UEFI-boot and then pick from a range of XML files to install different Windows versions or configurations. See here for more details.

To follow the development and get the download, see reboot.pro.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Easy2Boot v1.91c is available

E2B v1.91c/d
  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version \grldr 2017-02-04 
  • 'blacklist' sample .mnu files (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
  • New version of Make_E2B.exe (1.91c)
  • New SCROLL LOCK feature (1.91c)
  • New TSUG variable to control auto-suggest feature better (1.91d)

If you are bothered by the 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have a .ISO file extension!' message followed by a 5 second delay in v1.90, this bug is fixed in v1.91.

The new Make_E2B.exe now enables the QEMU button after you have made a new E2B USB drive.

The new SCROLL LOCK feature is added into QRUN.g4b. If SCROLL LOCK is on (press the Scroll Lock key once), then redir, redirp and NOSUG will be removed/cleared. This allows you to see all E2B messages when a payload is executed. This is useful if, for instance, you have used one or more of these settings in your MyE2B.cfg file but now wish to see the E2B messages when running a new payload file. (E2B v1.91+).

Only payloads that are run using QRUN.g4b are affected - the E2B messages displayed during menu file enumeration, etc. are not affected by the SCROLL LOCK key state.

If SCROLL LOCK is ON, then QRUN will show all messages.

P.S. It is no longer necessary to set the value of redir and redirp to exactly '> nul', you can now set any value and they will work (e.g. set redir=1).

I have also added a new page to the E2B website about how to reduce the number of E2B text messages here.


Stop Press: UK Mymemory Half-Price Offer on Lexar S75 128GB USB 3.0 (150MB/s read / 60MB/s write) for only £25. Not as good as a SanDisk Extreme 128GB (245/190MB/s) but much cheaper.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Official Windows ISO and Office download web page

A recent ghacks.net article has identified a new website which allows you to easily download various official MS Windows ISOs and Office installation files.

The downloads come from the Microsoft servers, similar to the sources used by the Windows Download app. but there is now no need to download the latest version of the download application first (as long as the new site page is kept up to date).

A direct link is here.

Note:
'Single Language' ISOs = Home\Core only (does not include Pro)
'English' = English USA only
'English International' = English UK plus other English-speaking countries

The rest of the rg-adguard.net site seems to contain various (Russian\English) Windows AIO ISOs and some invasive advert pop-ups appear if you try to download them, so browse/download the rest of the site at your own risk!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Instant BSOD when running WinContig (Acronis True Image issue)!

During testing of Acronis True Image 2017 NG, I noticed that as soon as I ran WinContig to make the files on my Easy2Boot USB drive contiguous, my Windows 10 64-bit system instantly gave a Blue Screen of Death! There was not even enough time to see the WinContig form appear!

I repeated this several times and it always gave an instant BSOD.

As WinContig has always been stable in the past, I suspected that the problem was with the trial version of True Image that I had just installed (downloaded from the Acronis website). So I uninstalled True Image and lo and behold, WinContig now launches and runs just fine again!

After a spot of Googling, I noticed many other users reporting BSODs with various versions of Acronis products, so I decided to report the issue to their technical department who confirmed that there were known BSOD issues...


P.S. True Image also prevented Switch_E2B.exe from working because it blocked writes to the USB MBR!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Boot Acronis True Image 2017 NG and Acronis Backup 11.7.50064 from .imgPTN file

If you want to boot a licenced version of Acronis True Image 2017 NG, you can simply add the .ISO file to E2B.

If you convert the ISO to a .imgPTN file, you can then UEFI-boot from it too, however the MBR\CSM boot entry will boot in 'Trial Mode' only with the linux version.

To fix this, add the following lines to very end of the  \menu.lst file in the .imgPTN file:

#Acronis 32 - must use quiet switch or will get busybox error!
iftitle [if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat3.dat && if exist /dat2.dat] Acronis 32-bit \n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat2.dat  vga=791 force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat4.dat set d4=/dat4.dat
initrd /dat3.dat %d4%
boot

#Acronis 64  - must use quiet switch or will get busybox error!
iftitle [checkrange 2,3 is64bit && if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat10.dat && if exist /dat11.dat] Acronis 64-bit\n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat10.dat vga=791 force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat12.dat set d12=/dat12.dat
initrd /dat11.dat %d12%
boot

GOTCHA! Note that you MUST include the quiet parameter or it will fail to boot!
Under VBOX, I had to add vga=791, otherwise I just got a kernel panic or busybox prompt.

The dat4 and dat12 files will contain the license data (if valid).

If you also want the report options which will save a zip file to the USB drive, add these lines:

iftitle [if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat6.dat && if exist /dat7.dat] Acronis Report 32-bit \n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat6.dat  vga=791 product=system_report force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat8.dat set d8=/dat8.dat
initrd /dat7.dat %d8%
boot

iftitle [checkrange 2,3 is64bit && if exist /Recovery\ Manager/kernel.dat if exist /dat14.dat && if exist /dat15.dat] Acronis Report 64-bit\n Acronis True Image
kernel /dat14.dat vga=791 product=system_report force_modules=usbhid quiet
if exist /dat16.dat set d16=/dat16.dat
initrd /dat15.dat %d16%
boot



For Acronis Backup Advanced 11.7.50064


title Acronis Backup 11.7.50064  (32-bit)\n Use vga=ask if problems with some displays
kernel /abr32ker.dat product=bootagent media_for_windows vga=791 quiet
initrd /abr32ram.dat /dat4.dat
boot

title Acronis Backup 11.7.50064  (64-bit)\n Use vga=ask if problems with some displays
kernel /abr64ker.dat product=bootagent media_for_windows vga=791 quiet
initrd /abr64ram.dat /dat8.dat
boot


Saturday, 11 March 2017

E2B v1.91b latest BETA available

E2B v1.91b
  • Fix 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have .iso file extension' message being shown even when not a WinBuilder ISO
  • Latest grub4dos version \grldr 2017-02-04 
  • 'blacklist' sample .mnu files (see previous blog post)
  • Latest version of RMPartUSB
If you are bothered by the 'WARNING: WinBuilder ISOs must have a .ISO file extension!' message followed by a 5 second delay in v1.90, this bug is fixed in v1.91.

Monday, 6 March 2017

New 'Split_WinISO' utility by Chandra

Chandra has written a Windows utility that will split Install.ESD or Install.WIM files into .SWM split-wim files.


You just point it at the Windows ISO and it will create a new .ISO file containing the split-wim files.

If you place the utility in the MPI Tool Pack folder, you will get extra options which will allow you to create a FAT32 .imgPTN file directly from the original ISO (instead of creating a new ISO file).

Note: The Yellow MPI button does NOT convert to SWM, use the CONVERT button to split the WIM file (you will be asked to save as ISO or .imgPTN).

Split_WinISO will also insert the winpeshl.ini and mysetup.cmd files into image #2 of boot.wim for you and add a \auto.cmd file to the image (you will be prompted). This creates a .imgPTN file which will prompt you to select from a number of XML files which you can add to the image later. In this way, you can have various XML files containing say Home and Pro product keys, or even SDI_Choco XML files, etc. See here for more details.

This allows us to easily make FAT32 .imgPTN files for Windows Installers that can be UEFI-booted.

To follow the development and get the download, see reboot.pro.

I may add this utility into the MPI Tool Pack download for the next version.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Blacklisting modules for linux by detecting PC\NoteBook model strings in the BIOS

Stepdown recently asked on reboot.pro about how to detect specific makes\models of hardware so that the correct linux kernel parameters can be used automatically.

For instance, a certain model of system may not boot using the default linux kernel parameters unless nomodeset or a 'blacklist' module is specified as a kernel parameter.

The 'sample' example below shows how you can  detect the type of system you are using and automatically use the correct kernel parameters for that system.

I will put example .mnu files in E2B v1.91b and later versions.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Grub2 Menu system Beta 6 available for E2B

The new Beta 6 version of the grub2 menu system is available in the Alternate Downloads Area.

By default, it now does not use a grub2 theme because on some systems, it seems to cause a very slow menu response in MBR-boot mode.

You can now change the menu text colours in the \ISO\MAINMENU\grub2\defaults.txt file.
You can also specify a wallpaper .jpg or .png file to use as a background in the defaults.txt file too.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

E2B v1.90 now released

The changes from v1.89 are mainly for WinBuilder ISOs and tidying up files in the root folder of the USB drive:

v1.90 2017-02-18 (v1.91 Beta has a small bugfix to stop the 'WinBuilder ISOs must end in .ISO' message.)

  1. Support for WinBuilder_ISO.mnu sample menu file (see here)
  2. Remove 20 character filename limit for WinBuilder ISOs (.isoWB files)
  3. Add three common WinPE .ini files to root of drive
  4. QRUN.g4b will auto-detect WinBuilder .ISO files and automatically update the .ini files to correctly boot and load the ISO as Y: drive
  5. Moved sample Windows XML files to SAMPLE XML FILES folders (user must copy them up one level if needed)
  6. \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO is now not updated/copied by the update script
  7. Make_E2B.exe updated to latest version (QEMU button inactive if no E2B drive selected)
  8. If user sets hidden file attribute on USB:\menu.lst file, then Update script will hide most files in root each time
  9. The three .cmd scripts can be moved by user to \_ISO folder to keep the root tidy

If you are updating your E2B drive with v1.90, you may want to:

  1. Set the hidden attribute on \menu.lst first, and then run the Update script. This will cause most of the files in the root of the E2B drive to be hidden.
  2. Move the three v1.90 .cmd files in the root of the E2B drive to \_ISO folder to keep the root folder looking tidy.
  3. Delete any unwanted XML files in your \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx folders to reduce the number of XML files listed by E2B. They will not be replaced when you update in future.
  4. If you have any WinBuilder-based ISOs (e.g. Gandalf, ChrisR WinPESE's, WinPE-Yol, Dium, MediCat, etc.), you might like to try just leaving them with a .ISO file extension (and ensure no spaces in the filename) and see if they 'just work' without needing any other .WB file, etc. See this page if you want to remove the QRUN auto-suggest messages each time it runs.
  5. You can just rename the download to .zip and extract it as usual if you wish.
  6. Delete the 500MB \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO file to save space - any future update will not replace it.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Configure Windows Install ISOs with WinReducer


A recent PC Welt article described WinReducer which may be of interest to you.

This is a utility that allows you create bespoke Windows Setup files (.ISO or a USB drive). It also creates an AutoUnattend.xml file for you.

It is not too obvious how to get started and the Tutorials link did not seem to be working on the site, but you can watch a Video here.

It does nag you to Activate (purchase a licence) a lot too!

I still haven't worked out what the difference is between ES and EX versions!

Quickly make a USB drive to directly UEFI-boot from Ubuntu ISOs

If you follow Tutorial #136, you should be able to UEFI-boot directly from most Ubuntu-based ISO files.

Just copy the ISO file to the \efi\boot folder on the USB drive and rename it as boot.iso.

This is a way to quickly prepare a UEFI-bootable USB drive.

It relies on the ISO containing a \boot\grub\loopback.cfg file.

At a minimum, only two files are needed on the USB drive, the ISO and a .efi boot file.

Make a generic grub2 boot menu (using loopback.cfg)

If you have ever tried to boot directly to a linux ISO file, then you will know that it is necessary to tell the linux boot kernel/scripts where to find the ISO file so that it can load it as a 'cdrom' (loop) device and access the files inside the ISO. If this is not done, you will typically see a 'squashfs file not found' error message!

Typically we can fix this by specifying a kernel parameter or 'cheat code'.

A typical grub2 command line which loads the Ubuntu boot kernel and specifies the location of the ISO file would be:

linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz.efi boot=casper iso-scan/filename=/_ISO/ubuntu64.iso quiet splash

This allows us to boot from a grub2 USB drive (say), mount the ISO as a loop device and load the kernel and initial ramdrive files from inside the ISO file and then pass on the location of the ISO file so that when the linux kernel boots, it can re-load the ISO file as a loop device again (because the first loop device is lost when the linux kernel loads).

So to boot to linux in this way, we need to know what all these parameters need to be.

The problem is that they vary from version to version and distro to distro and we always have to do some 'research' and experimentation to try to find out what parameters we need. There also may be several menu entries (for live cd, install, safe mode, memtest, etc.) and we would need to make grub2 menus for each of them.

Enter the loopback.cfg file!

However, some distros, such as Ubuntu, contain a useful loopback.cfg file (located at \boot\grub\loopback.cfg).

Here is a typical Ubuntu loopback.cfg file which is inside the ISO file:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Make fancy E2B wallpapers, collages, web graphics, etc. with a web-based photo editor

I got some junk email this morning asking me to visit the www.fotojet.com and review it.

Normally, I immediately delete such emails, but today I thought I would take a look...

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Installing linux using E2B

If you use an E2B USB drive to boot from a linux ISO or .imgPTN file, you will often run into a problem if you are trying to install linux onto a system.

Many linux OS installation scripts or GUI's will look for the source linux files on a 'CD-ROM' drive, because they 'think' that we have booted from a CD or DVD.

I have added a new page to the E2B site here, which details how to specify the location of the linux source files.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Easy2Boot v1.90c BETA

Version 1.90c Beta has the following changes from v1.89:

  • Automatic support for WinBuilder-based ISOs (e.g. Gandalf, Dium, Yol, ChrisR PEs)
  • The three most common INI files used by WinBuilder ISOs now added to root of the E2B drive
  • QRUN.g4b improved to automatically detect WinBuilder ISOs
  • WinBuilder ISOs are checked to ensure no spaces in filename and end with .ISO extension
  • UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD will automatically 'tidy' files if \menu.lst is hidden by user
  • Windows 7/8/10 XML files now in SAMPLE XML FILES subfolders. To use them, copy them to the appropriate folder, e.g. from \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10\SAMPLE XML FILES to \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10
v1.90c is available from the Alternate Downloads Areas as usual.

How to keep things tidy!