Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Easy2Boot v1.89a Beta now available with Make_E2B.exe Windows GUI utility

It seems that some strange people have a pathological aversion to the Windows command shell or maybe cannot read English text and type Y or a number on a keyboard (??) and so they do not like running the E2B .cmd script files to make a USB drive.

So I have written a small Windows GUI called Make_E2B.exe which will run the scripts for them!

Make_E2B.exe

Saturday, 28 January 2017

MPI Tool Kit v0.072 is available

Apart from small changes to the MakePartImage script (only affects text messages) and the \menu.lst file (for Acronis 2016 and 2017 conversion to .imgPTN), the \grldr grub4dos file and \e2b\SWITCH_E2B.exe have been updated.
If you wish to update to this version, unpack the download onto your Desktop and double-click on the CreateDesktopShortcuts.cmd file to update the MPI Desktop shortcuts for v0.072. If you have modified the old CUSTOM folder, you will also need to copy this across to the v.0.072 folder too. You can then delete the old MPI folder.

Friday, 27 January 2017

E2B v1.88 now available

v1.88 is now released and can be found in the Alternate Download Areas as .zip files (you can update a DPMS or non-DPMS version of your E2B drive just by using the smaller non-DPMS version - just run the UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD file from the download).

I will add the self-extracting .exe files and .7z files in a few days, as well as update the E2B website with 1.88 version.

See previous blog for a list of changes. Please comment if you spot a problem.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

E2B v1.88m Beta now available

I hope to release v1.88m as 1.88 Full Release version in a few days.
Please try it and let me know if you find any problems.

Changes from 1.87 are:
  • Add Server 2012 R2 Std Eval Product Key file
  • Update of Wincontig
  • Update SDI executables
  • Can now use .isofira or .isofira01 for Strelec WinPE ISOs
  • MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd now only works on the USB root (\) folder and all folders under \_ISO. Any user folders under the root (e.g. disk backups, applications, etc.) will not be made contiguous when the script is run.
  • MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd can now be run from your E2B USB drive to make a new E2B drive.
  • Later version of grub4dos 0.4.6a
  • New jpeg-based default purple background for 2017
  • Some changes to QRUN.g4b
  • Spanish language updated and a few other language files improved
  • Pi_pixel_x86_Persistent.mnu sample mnu file added for PIXEL iso
  • Gandalf sample .mnu files added, 
  • Boot_Recovery_WIM.mnu sample menu added (boot from any systems winre.wim)
  • Fix for case where grub4dos 0.4.5c tries to load jpg as wallpaper (jpg not supported by 0.4.5c),

Download is available from the Alternate Download Areas.

Read more: http://www.easy2boot.com/download/e2b-version-history/

Sunday, 22 January 2017

How to fix 'BSOD: STOP 0x000000A5 - not fully ACPI compliant' issues

If you are trying to boot to a Windows payload that is based on BartPE, Windows XP, 2003 or Vista, you may occasionally see this BSOD screen when booting to these types of payloads on some systems:
ACPI  0x000000A5 BSOD!
Often the simple fix is to press the F7 key repeatedly just as it starts to boot to PE. This F7 trick worked a treat when I tried to boot to PCUnlocker and Active Password Changer (via MediCat and a large .imgPTN file) on my Lenovo IdeaPad 300 notebook!

In many cases, you will see a text message to press F6 - this is your cue to go crazy on the F7 key!

Gotcha!
Before you do this however, you need to check the BIOS settings to see if there is any 'special' setting for the Fn function keys if you have a notebook. For instance, on my Lenovo IdeaPad 300, there is a 'HotKey Mode' in the Configuration page of the BIOS Settings menu. If this setting is Enabled (which is the default!), then you have to press Fn+F7 in order for the keyboard to generate the F7 scan code.

Other incantations to try
If no end of hammering the F7 (or Fn+F7) key seems to work for you, here are some other things to try which has apparently worked for other people:
  • Check the BIOS settings, set USB to USB 2.0.
  • Set all BIOS OS compatible settings to Legacy and XP/Win7 and not Win8/10 or UEFI. 
  • Reset the BIOS settings to default and then try the above BIOS settings.  
  • If you have an LPT option in the BIOS for a parallel printer port, try it set to LPT=Enabled as well as ACPI & PnP=Enabled and APM=Disabled.
  • Try disabling ACPI in the BIOS.
  • Try changing any CPU options in the BIOS (Safe Execution, VxD, etc.).
  • You can also try an older version of the BIOS (newer versions may have been made compatible for Win8/10 only).
  • If you have ever added extra RAM to the system, restore the memory to it's original configuration and size (and test the memory with a memory test program - the problem may be due to bad or mismatched memory!).

P.S. MediCat can be used on E2B if you convert it to a FAT32 .imgPTN file. It does contain illegal copies of some software though, so make sure you hold licences for any software it contains!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

E2B 1.88l (with bugfix for previous 1.88 versions)

Flaming Floe has reported a problem when installing Win7 from an ISO with the latest v1.88k version. The AutoUnattend.xml file is not correctly cleared and so appears corrupt when Windows Setup loads it. This bug will probably affect most Windows Install ISO runs, but not all systems will show the symptoms and some will appear to work (and others will give an Unattend error).

After investigation, is seems that there is a bug in the new 2016-12-24 version of grub4dos (\grldr) that is used in v1.88k.

E2B v1.88l now uses a previous version of grub4dos (2016-12-23) which I think is OK.

I have reported the bug here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tips for making files contiguous on your E2B drive

Unless your E2B USB drive has become almost full at one stage in it's life after formatting it, the \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd script should run WinContig fairly quickly and without any problems. Obviously, having a fast USB 3.0 E2B drive helps though!

Here are a few tips:

  1. Never download from the internet directly onto your E2B USB drive. This can cause the file to be heavily fragmented (even if you have lots of contiguous free space on it). You will find it best to always download files onto one of your internal drives first and then copy the file to your E2B USB drive. That way you also have a backup too!
  2. Do not use 'special' fast-copy programs like robocopy or TeraCopy, etc. to copy files to your E2B USB drive. These often open multiple threads which results in fragmented files. This just means WinContig will then have to defragment them on the USB drive and so it just takes much longer overall!
  3. Only start one copy session at a time. You can select multiple files and then drag-and-drop them onto the E2B drive, but don't start another copy session until the first one has finished. Not only can this cause file fragmentation, but it often takes longer too when copying to a USB drive.
  4. You can only defragment a file if there is enough free space on the USB drive to hold a second copy of it. A 6GB file will require at least 6GB of free space (in a single chunk).
  5. If your E2B USB drive has become nearly full at one stage and WinContig is not able to defragment a large file even though there is enough free space for the defragmented file, try using Defraggler - Action - Advanced - Defrag Freespace. This will consolidate the free clusters into one nice run. However, you should first delete any large fragmented files before you run it. This action can also fragment some files that were previously unfragmented, so the next run of WinContig will need to defragment them again. Then try adding your large file(s) again and finally run WinContig again. Defraggler will also show you a nice map of the used clusters and fragmented files (Analyze).
  6. If using an 8GB NTFS E2B drive, it may not be able to hold a contiguous 4GB+ file. This is because the directory table ($MFT) will be at the 3GB position on the drive and so a 4GB+ file may have to be split if other files are also present. See here for more details and a way to work around this issue (or you could just buy a bigger USB drive!).
  7. Finally, don't buy USB 2.0 drives. A USB 3.0/3.1 drive should always be faster, even on a 2.0 USB port and they are backwards compatible. I highly recommend the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 range.
If you have any other tips, leave a comment below.

P.S. As chi zhang says in the comments below, if you have a nearly full USB drive which is quite slow, it is often faster to just remake the USB drive again - then all the files will be contiguous because the drive will be reformatted. See here for more details.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Which is best, the SanDisk Extreme Pro or the cheaper SanDisk Extreme (you may be surprised!)?

Hurray! My new SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 128GB flash drive just came this morning.

Extreme Pro 128GB $70
Extreme 128GB $60

I have now run a few tests on it and compared it directly with the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 64GB flash drive.

I tested the Pro using Crystal DiskMark and then filled to entire drive with junk data and then repeated the test. This ensured that the flash controller had to perform a read-erase-write cycle on every write when running any further tests. However, there was no difference between benchmarks after I had filled it with junk data and then re-formatted it. This indicates that the USB controller always does a read-erase-write cycle on every write (so not an SSD controller).

The Crystal DiskMark results are shown below:

Monday, 16 January 2017

Find and boot to a Windows recovery.wim file (e.g. winre.wim)

Alex had a problem...

Often a Windows system cannot boot (not even to the recovery mode), but the recovery partition on that system will contain the correct WinRE.wim file that can be used to repair that OS.

He wanted to be able to boot to Easy2Boot and then boot to the WinRE.wim recovery file that was on the internal hard disk. That way, he could be sure he was using the correct version of the recovery .wim file for that system. Also, his E2B drive did not need to contain all of the possible Windows install ISO versions that there are in the world!

E2B can directly boot to an NT6 .wim file; you just need to specify the full path of the .wim file.

The problem is that different Windows systems keep the .wim file in different folders.

To further compound the issue, on his Windows 7 systems, the directory name often varied on different systems, e.g.

/Recovery/398cea27-6312-11e6-a670-10604b8d82a9/WinRe.wim

Saturday, 14 January 2017

You need to be an experienced techie to make an E2B USB drive, don't you?


Watch this video by Marcus for your answer (and give him a 'like' too)!

Add the recent Gandalf PE builds to E2B


The latest Gandalf PE builds from WindowsMatters.com are (at the time of writing):

Gandalf’s Win10PE x64 Redstone build 14393 version 11-10-2016

Gandalf’s Win10PE x86 Redstone build 14393 version 11-07-2016

The easiest way to add these to your E2B drive is to convert each ISO to a .imgPTN file using the MPI_FAT32 shortcut provided by the MPI Tool Kit.

For the x64 ISO you will need to increase the suggested size to 5100MB.
For the x86 ISO you will need to increase the suggested size to 4300MB.

Tips: If you want as small a .imgPTN file as possible, extract the contents of the ISO to an empty folder on your desktop and then drag-and-drop the folder onto the MPI_FAT32 shortcut.
Use a file extension of .imgPTNauto so that it goes directly to the CSM menu and also add a timeout 3 line to the \menu.lst file inside the image.

Direct MBR-boot from ISOs

You can MBR-boot directly from the ISOs by moving them to the root folder of your E2B drive and renaming them.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Animated Flags for E2B available


I have uploaded an Animated_Flags.zip file to the Alternate Downloads - Other files folders.

UK wavy flag at top-right

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Add Raspberry Raspbian\Pi Pixel x86 with persistence to E2B

The PIXEL ISO (Debian+PIXEL for Intel x86 CPUs) will boot if you copy the ISO to your E2B drive. It is designed to run on old, low-spec systems and be easy to use.



However, to be able to use the persistence option, you need to create a pixel-rw ext4 file and then create a persistence.conf file within it.

Here is the .mnu file for it.

E2B v1.88h/i available

Previously the \MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd file was deleted from the E2B USB drive when a new one was made, in order to prevent the user from formatting his/her E2B drive.

I have now modified the script so that it checks for the case where the source drive has also been selected by the user as the target drive.

This means that if you or a friend wants a copy of your E2B USB drive, you can simply run the \MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd file from your E2B drive and make an identical copy (complete with all payload files) onto another USB drive.

You will also need to copy any of your own user folders in the root of the source E2B drive to the target drive afterwards. For instance \MyFolder would not be copied to the target drive, only the \_ISO folder is copied.

Check the Alternate Download Areas for the new version.

Note: v1.88h had a bug in MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd. Please use v1.88i.

If copying a E2B Removable Flash drive to a USB hard  drive , you should remove the NOHELPER variable from within the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file on the USB HDD or else Windows Install ISOs when used with an E2B WinHelper Flash drive will not work!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

E2B v1.88g Beta available


Changes from 1.87 are:
Changes from previous Beta version 1.88e are in bold
  • Add Server 2012 R2 Std Eval Product Key file
  • Update of Wincontig
  • Update SDI executables
  • Can now use .isofira or .isofira01 for Strelec WinPE ISOs
  • MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd now only works on the USB root (\) folder and all folders under \_ISO. Any user folders under the root (e.g. disk backups, applications, etc.) will not be made contiguous when the script is run.
  • Latest version of grub4dos 0.4.6a
  • New jpeg-based default purple background for 2017 - should load faster.
  • Some changes to QRUN.g4b and language files.
  • New version of SWITCH_E2B.exe 1.0.13 (small bugfix)
  • Improved Spanish language files (thanks DW!)

The v1.88g Beta Download is available from the Alternate Download Areas.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

SanDisk Extreme PRO CZ88 128GB USB 3.0 for $71 from Amazon.com (USA)

 I have just ordered one of these for $71 from here as the price has just been reduced (£67 in the UK).

SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB


I have not tested one yet, but I am hoping it will prove to be slightly faster than the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 flash drive ($58) which I highly recommend for normal E2B use.

SanDisk Extreme 128GB
See also 'Beware of this (fast) USB 3.0 drive!'

Friday, 6 January 2017

E2B v1.88e Beta is now available


Changes from 1.87 are:
  • Add Server 2012 R2 Std Eval Product Key file
  • Update of Wincontig
  • Update SDI executables
  • Can now use .isofira or .isofira01 for Strelec WinPE ISOs
  • MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd now only works on the USB root (\) folder and all folders under \_ISO. Any user folders under the root (e.g. disk backups, applications, etc.) will not be made contiguous when the script is run.
  • Latest version of grub4dos 0.4.6a
  • New jpeg-based default purple background for 2017 (see screenshot below). 
  • Some changes to QRUN.g4b and language files.
Download is available from the Alternate Download Areas.



Please update your E2B drives and let me know if you spot a problem or have a comment. This is considered a 'release candidate' for 1.88.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Foolish IT - 20% off sale now on!

The guys at Foolish IT have a 20% sale on all their products at the moment (if you are quick).

For IT Technicians look at their d7ii software.

  • Provides quick automation with profile switching and execution for different repair scenarios
  • Keep work logs automatically, or quickly build a custom work report with logged actions and templates
  • Extremely customizable configurations enable personalization of tech workflow to your preferences
  • Provides techs with a consistent procedure, ensuring quality performance increases
  • New techs get ‘on the job training’ to your guidelines, while handling 80-90% of the bench work like a seasoned pro!
  • Bottom Line:  Increase technician productivity and efficiency, save time and dramatically increase revenue!

Their latest video about the d7ii Support Online tool is here and they have a channel on YouTube here too.

For their crypto-prevention malware solution (they were the original pioneers of the honey-pot method) check out their CryptoPrevent product (there is a free version too!).

They also have some other free software which you can download here.