Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Updated PEStartup download

I have added a new PEStartup download to the RMPrepUSB tutorial #143.

Gandalf PE ISO with PEStartup_Papps files added to E2B USB drive.
WinBuilder-based ISOs such as Gandalf's WinPEs will automatically be configured if you simply add the files to your E2B USB drive.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

How to add Ubuntu\LinuxMint to E2B with MBR+UEFI persistence (and an unfixed bug in Ubuntu!)

Early versions of Ubuntu (pre-v14) and Ubuntu-based linuxmint distros (pre-v17.03) could be set up with persistence with no problem.

As long as you added the 'persistent' boot parameter, the kernel script would look for either:

1) a 'casper-rw' file (formatted internally as ext2/3/4)

    - OR -

2) a FAT or ext partition with a volume label of 'casper-rw' which has been formatted as ext2/3/4.

Ubuntu bug!

However, Ubuntu 14.04 and linuxmint 17.03 and (all?) later versions have a bug in the casper boot script which means that they may fail to boot when a casper-rw partition is present and if that partition is located after the filesystem partition in the partition table. This bug does not apply if you booted from an ISO file (only from a 'flat-file' partition), so the .mnu files used by E2B which boot from ISOs are not affected by this bug.

Bug report for Ubuntu here.

So there is no problem if you use a casper-rw file (except it must be on the same partition and it must be a FAT32 or ext partition). So you can create a very large (>4GB) ext3 file on the E2B NTFS USB drive and use a .mnu file to get persistence - but this only works in MBR\Legacy mode.

For UEFI-booting, we need to create a FAT32 .imgPTN file. However, this issue does affect E2B when using .imgPTN partition images...

Friday, 13 October 2017

E2B v1.96e available (bugfix)

There was a bug in v1.95 which means that (*for some reason) the .isofira01 file extension (as used for Strelec ISOs) does not seem to work.

v1.96e fixes this.

* The reason is that firadisk looks for a 'ramdisk' that is below 1MB is size, so using a larger ramdisk did not work!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

E2B v1.96d now available

Just a small 'enhancement'.

In this version, if you have created a matching .txt file for your payload file, then E2B will not suggest an alternative file extension (unless SCROLL LOCK is on) and will boot straight to the payload file with no delay.


I have reasoned that if you have taken the trouble to make a .txt file, then you have already tested it and it works and so has the correct file extension.

This message and delay is now suppressed if a .matching txt file exists.
If you don't like this new feature, please let me know and I will remove it.

E2B 1.96d is available from Alternate Downloads Areas as usual (see side panel on this page).

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Modify any WinPE using PEStartup

Following on from my previous blog post on PEStartup, I have written Tutorial #143 on how to use PEStartup to configure any ready-made WinPE OS such as Strelec, Hirens, DLC, Dium and Gandalf WinPEs.

In fact, standard Win10PESE WinBuilder builds including the latest Gandalf Redstone 2 WinPE 'just work' and will automatically run PEStartup when they boot, if you follow the Tutorial (you just extract files from a .zip file onto your E2B drive!).

If the WinPE does not have the correct plugin already, you just need to double-click on the \TheOven_Startup.cmd script to run PEStartup and configure your WinPE Desktop.
Many thanks again to Tứ Nguyễn for his PEStartup utility.

Add WinPE Reboot and Shutdown Desktop Shortcuts

Configure PEStartup to add Desktop shortcuts using wpeutil.exe

Add lightweight WinPE versions to E2B that you can easily configure yourself!

It is normally very difficult to tailor a WinPE project to your own requirements unless you rebuild the entire OS each time.

However, there is a way to make changes to your WinPE OS and have those changes remembered on reboots. For instance, you can specify your own wallpaper and Desktop shortcuts.

32-bit XP and 32-bit and 64-bit Win 10 PE builds are available.

See also the more recent blog post here for use with any WinPE.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Gandalf’s Win10PE x64 Redstone 2 build 15063 version 10-01-2017 is now available

Download from here. It is based on WinBuilder and ChrisR's Win10PESE project.

To add to E2B, just copy the .iso file to a menu folder (e.g. \_ISO\WINPE) and run \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.exe to make it contiguous.

To suppress the tips and extension suggestions made by the QRUN.g4b script when you run it, just add the letter Q or q to the end of the filename. e.g.

Do not uses spaces in the filename. If you want to change the menu entry and have spaces in the filename, use a .txt file - e.g. Gandalf'sWin10PEx64Redstone2_10-01-2017.txt

To change keyboard locale press CTRL+TAB.

Tip: if you add PEStartup to your USB drive and (Start.exe) to the Desktop as Startup options. you can use the Shutdown/reboot button in the PortableApps GUI to shutdown/reboot (as the Start Menu Shutdown\Reboot does not work). You can also add lots of PortableApps apps easily too. Gandalf Redstone 2 will automatically run PEStartup 20 seconds after it loads the Desktop.

Monday, 2 October 2017

E2B v1.96c available

Just a few small changes (no bug fixes)
  • QRUN.g4b now checks for fixed type of .VHD\.VHDX file - dynamic VHDs won't boot.
  • Added help text for installing from puppy ISOs (.isopup)
  • Improved GIFtoIMA.cmd script to calculate size of .IMA file required and now will optionally add the new code lines to your MyE2B.cfg file for you.
  • New default wallpaper for E2B
  • New SWITCH_E2B.exe version 1.0.17 with improved file re-ordering for dual image payloads
    (see Method 4). 
  • Added extra Win7/8/10 disk 1 sample XML unattended install files for use with VMs where disk 1 is the target HDD instead of disk 0.  See here for more info.
Download from Alternate Download Sites as usual.

How to use E2B with Virtual Box to test unattended Windows installs

In a chat session with 'Nathan' today, he explained how he uses VBox to install Windows to a Virtual Machine using ISO files on an E2B USB drive.

Testing E2B's 'Install Windows from ISO' method in a Virtual Machine is problematic because Windows needs to detect a Removable drive (e.g. CD\DVD or USB flash drive) in the system - Setup will only pick up the \AutoUnattend.XML (or \Unattend.XML) file from removable drives.

However, under a VM, a USB drive is 'mapped' as a virtual (IDE\SATA etc.) hard disk when using a .vmdk file (so the drive is not seen as a Removable drive once WinPE\Windows Setup runs).

This means the Product Key and other settings in the XML file are not used by Windows Setup when testing in a VM.

We can get around this by booting in two stages and by adding a USB WinHelper drive:

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Adding MDT ISOs to Easy2Boot (UEFI+MBR)

For MBR-booting, the simplest way to add an ISO made using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit ISO to E2B, is to convert the MDT ISO file to a .imgPTN file using the E2B MPI Tool Kit. Just Drag-and-Drop the MDT ISO file (or MDT USB drive letter) onto the MPI_FAT32 Windows Desktop shortcut.

MDT Setup

This should work fine, as long as all the files inside the ISO are less than 4GB in size, and then you can MBR and UEFI-boot from the .imgPTN file. Later versions of MDT support the creation of split wims, so this will work even for large MDT ISOs.

Alternate method for MBR-booting

If you have files inside the ISO that are larger than 4GB, then use the MPI_NTFS shortcut instead. However, you will only be able to MBR-boot.

Below are instructions for direct booting from an MDT ISO (MBR-booting only) and another set of instructions for MBR+UEFI-booting by using two image files...