E2B Primer

Quick reference (for latest E2B version)
 
A 'payload file' can be any type of file which is usable by E2B, e.g. .ISO, .IMA, .VHD, .WIM, .help, .bmp, .jpg, .cfg, .imgPTN, .isodef (same as .iso but does not prompt user to change the extension), .isomem, .isoDOS01, etc.
 
Use the SITE MAP (150+ pages) for help.
 
Modern computers have two methods of booting, 'Legacy' or the new 'UEFI' method.
 
Before you can Legacy\MBR boot to the E2B menu system, you must ensure your BIOS Boot configuration settings are correct:
  • CSM\Legacy Mode = Enabled
  • Fast Boot = Disabled
  • Secure Boot = Disabled
  • Legacy booting from external media = Enabled  (if available - latest systems only)
See the FAQ pages if you are having problems.
 
If you cannot get into your BIOS settings menu and have a Windows 10 system:
  1. Press Windows key + X key
  2. Click 'Power Options' and 'Additional power settings' (on right-hand side)
  3. Click 'Choose what the power buttons do' (on left-hand side)
  4. Click the link 'Change settings that are currently unavailable'
  5. Under Shutdown settings, uncheck 'Turn on fast startup (recommended)'

UEFI-booting (.imgPTN files)

You cannot UEFI-boot to the E2B menu system - you can only Legacy\MBR boot to the E2B menu system but you can UEFI-boot to .imgPTN files on the E2B drive...
 
You must first select an .imgPTN file from the MBR-bootable E2B menu system (or use SWITCH_E2B.exe) BEFORE you can UEFI-boot from the E2B drive. The E2B partition is replaced by the contents of the .imgPTN file. All .imgPTN files are whole partition images and are mainly used for UEFI-booting but can also MBR-bootYou can only UEFI-boot from one .imgPTN file at any one time, there is no UEFI multiboot E2B menu - after use, you must restore the original E2B partition and then choose another .imgPTN file to UEFI-boot to a different UEFI payload.
See the UEFI section below for more details...
 
Note: For UEFI-multibooting of over 60 different Linux ISOs and unlimited Windows 8/10 install ISOs from one UEFI-boot, you can set up E2B with the grub2 menu system, however this is more complicated to set up and use, and may not be as reliable as the E2B menu system.
 
Booting on UEFI-only systems: It is possible to set up your E2B drive for UEFI-booting so that a UEFI-only system can be used to select any .imgPTN file you want to use - see here for more details.
 

Make an E2B drive

  • If possible, use a large (at least 16GB) and fast (any SanDisk Extreme but avoid the SanDisk Go as it is too slow!) USB 3 Flash drive. USB Hard disks and SSDs can also be used.
  • Download and run the .exe (self-extracting file) (it runs Make_E2B.exe) to make an NTFS E2B drive (if your language+keyboard combination is not listed, click on the Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd wrench\spanner button instead of the big red button).
  • E2B uses two partitions, 128GB max for Ptn1, and a small 31K Ptn2 (two partitions must be present for BIOS compatibility reasons but the second partition is not actually used by E2B). If you have a larger E2B drive, delete the small (may be hidden) 2nd Ptn2 and create a second Primary NTFS partition to use the rest of the disk space (e.g. using Easeus Home Partition Master free version). Make_E2B.exe may make a large second partition for you. Keep the E2B Ptn1 size below 128GB for best BIOS compatibility due to a commonly found USB BIOS bug which cannot access files past 128GB on USB drives.
  • Check your drive menu works by using the green QEMU button or run \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd from the E2B drive.
  • Now simply copy over your payload files/ISOs (see below) to one of the menu folders under \_ISO.
  • For UEFI booting, you must copy .imgPTN files to the E2B drive and then select one of them before you can UEFI-boot. You can make .imgPTN files using the MPI Tool Kit. .imgPTN files must be contiguous.
  • You can add your own folders and files, e.g. \MyFiles\.
  • Press F1 in the E2B Main menu for help.

Types of files

  • E2B can Legacy\MBR-boot from .iso, fixed-type .vhd, fixed-type .vhdx, bootable WinPE .wim, .ima, .img, .zip (floppy disk image), .bin (e.g. memtest86.bin), .dmg (single partition only), .isoHW, .isodef, .isoDOS01 and .isowinvh and many more special types...
  • E2B menu folders can also contain .bmp and .jpg (to load as the wallpaper), .cfg (overwrites\replaces MyE2B.cfg which must be larger than the selected .cfg file), .uni.gz and .f24 font files (to load a different font) and .help text files (displays any text you like)
  • .mnu files contain grub4dos menu entries and the contents are automatically added into the E2B menu (they should start with a 'title' or 'iftitle' line and are then be followed by more lines of grub4dos commands)
  • .txt files (optional) should have the same filename as the payload file (they only contain a 'title' or 'iftitle' line),  e.g. Ubuntu64.iso + Ubuntu64.txt
    Example .txt file contents:  title Ubuntu 64-bit v1.9.3\nFirst help line\nSecond help line.
  • .imgPTN files are partition image files. They will replace the E2B partition when selected. They can be used for both UEFI and MBR booting, but one must be selected and 'switched-in' first. 
  • Use .imgPTN23 if you want the second partition to be kept after switching.

Add payload files

  • Always check the List of tested ISOs/payloads page before adding any new payload file - this page may include special instructions for adding a payload.
  • Copy the payload file to any suitable menu folder under \_ISO (e.g. \_ISO\LINUX) - the E2B payloads folders are in capital letters and are under \_ISO\ and under \_ISO\WINDOWS\
  • You can delete any payload file from the USB drive if it is no longer wanted (in Windows use SHIFT+DEL so it is not just moved to the Recycle Bin).
  • Run \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd to make the payload files contiguous. .imgPTN and most Linux ISO payloads need to be contiguous (usually Windows install ISOs, VHDs and WIM files do not need to be contiguous)
  • For a first test, do not change the name of the payload file and ensure the filename does not contain spaces - E2B may suggest a better file extension after selection
  • Windows Install ISOs work best when used in the correct folder - e.g. \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10\
  • E2B will try to boot Windows Install ISOs using WIMBOOT which requires 2GB+ of RAM - if you have less than 2GB of RAM, you can skip WIMBOOT by pressing ENTER when prompted and use a Removable USB drive for E2B (or add a WinHelper USB flash drive if your E2B USB drive is a hard drive).
  • WinBuilder-based files must end in .ISO with no spaces in the filename (Win10PESE.iso) - Tip: add a .txt file for a nicer menu entry.
  • Once a payload is working OK, change the file name to add spaces and make it look nicer in the menu and then check that it still works OK - e.g. Ubuntu v13.1 (64-bit).isodef
  • If a payload does not seem to be work correctly (e.g. multi-payload ISOs), convert it to a .imgPTN file
  • You can fully automate a Windows install+drivers+apps+updates using SDI_CHOCO
  • Menu entry order - payload file names starting with _ followed by some characters and another _ will be sorted by the 2nd character onwards and the _*_ part of the filename will not be displayed in the menu - e.g. _010_Ubuntu.iso will be ordered in the menu as if it begins with 010_ and will be displayed in the menu as 'Ubuntu'.
  • Payload files which have _. at the end of the filename and before the extension will override the actual file extension - also the characters after _. will not be displayed in the menu - e.g. Hirens_BootCD_.isoHW.iso will boot as if it had a isoHW file extension but will be displayed in the menu as 'Hirens_BootCD'.
  • File extension suffixes can be added to standard E2B file extensions, such as PWD, QUIET, QUIETP, NCQ, 4GB, 3GB, 32 or 64 - e.g. Ubuntu 64-bit.isopwd644GB.
    Example file names:
  • Ubuntu_x64.iso  - standard Ubuntu ISO
  • Ubuntu version 13.1 (63-bit) 2018-10-03.iso - changes the filename so it looks nicer in the menu
  • Ubuntu version 13.1 (64-bit) 2018-10-03.isodef - use .isodef so no suggestions and boots immediately
  • _100_Ubuntu version 13.1 (64-bit) 2018-10-03.iso - add a sort prefix so filename will be sorted as if it started with '100_'
  • _200_Win10PESE_x64.iso - standard WinBuilder WinPE ISO (must end in .iso - no spaces in filename)
  • _130_Win10PESE_x64_.isoNCQ.iso - does not complain if not contiguous and run without suggestions (extension must be .iso for WinBuilder ISOs)
  • _150_ChrisR's_WinPESE_(64-bit)_.isoNCQ.iso - change name so looks better (spaces not allowed for WinBuilder ISOs) - can add a .txt file
  • _155_ChrisR's_WinPESE_(64-bit)_.isoNCQ64.iso - only listed in menu if 64-bit CPU and no messages/prompts
  • \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10\Windows 10 32-bit.iso3GB - only listed in menu if system has less than 4GB of RAM (spaces are allowed in the filename)

Menu entries

  • Files and folders are enumerated in alphabetical order and are not case-sensitive
  • The file name is listed in the menu (unless a .txt file with the same file name is also added)
  • Add a .txt file of the same name as the payload file to specify your own menu entry text, a different hotkey and menu help text
  • Do NOT change any of the E2B files (except \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg which is the menu configuration file)
  • The Menu entry order can be changed by using a sort order prefix - e.g. _100_Ubuntu64.iso, _130_Mint.iso, _150_blank_entry.mnu
  • Add your own grub4dos menu entries by adding .mnu files. .mnu menu file examples can be found at \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\ (open with NotePad to read the instructions) e.g. .mnu files for blank menu entries, Linux+persistence, directly booting to Windows ISOs with a specified XML file, TrueCrypt disks, change menu language and keyboard type, change font, etc.

Configuration

  • To remove the startup blue-and-white text eBook banner and 5 second delay - see the instructions in eBook #1
  • The \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file is the user E2B configuration file (Main Menu heading and Menu Footer text, language, colours, menu size and position, etc.) - quick reference here
  • The \_ISO\Sample_MyE2B.cfg file contains many examples of all possible configuration settings (uncomment the settings to use them)
  • Use \_ISO\E2B_Editor.exe to design and configure your 800x600 or 1024x768 E2B menu (change wallpaper, layout, colours, Main Heading, Footer Help text, etc.)
  • Each menu can load a different background wallpaper - see here.
  • Check your menu works using the QEMU button in Make_E2B.exe or run \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd on E2B drive
  • Example MyE2B.cfg 'themes' can be found in \_ISO\docs\Templates folder
  • Run \_ISO\PimpMyDrive.cmd to add example menu files to the E2B menu which allow you to change the language, theme, wallpaper image, etc.
  • Use set pwd=fred in the MyE2B.cfg to change the menu password to 'fred' (default is 'easy2boot')
  • One animation can be added to the menu and up to 10 wallpaper STAMPS can be added to the menu - edit the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file to remove any animation and\or STAMP. Tunes can also be played on the internal speaker.
  • Global hotkeys can be defined in the MyE2B.cfg - see \_ISO\Sample_MyE2B.cfg file for examples
  • E2B supports different text fonts and also large 24-pixel high fonts (mainly English characters only)
  • For linux+persistence use a .mnu file (usually you need to create another xxxxx-rw file)

UEFI

  • You cannot UEFI-boot to the E2B menu system but you can directly UEFI-boot after a .imgPTN file has been selected and 'switched-in'
  • The Utilities - Memory Test menu contains a ready-made MemTest86 (UEFI+MBR) .imgPTN file which can Secure UEFI boot after it has been selected and switched in
  • Select the .imgPTN file from the E2B menu  (OR use \_ISO\SWITCH_E2B.exe to select it) to replace the E2B partition
  • Make a UEFI-bootable FAT32 .imgPTN file using the MPI Tool Kit and MakePartImage.cmd (Windows app.) - just drag-and-drop an ISO onto the MPI_FAT32 Desktop shortcut. If a file in a Windows Install ISO is larger than 4GB, use SPLIT_WINISO.exe to make a FAT32 .imgPTN file
  • Copy the .imgPTN file to the E2B drive
  • All .imgPTN files must be contiguous (run \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd)
  • Once the .imgPTN file has been selected and 'switched-in', it will replace the E2B partition
  • You can then UEFI-boot from the 'switched-in' partition if it is a FAT32 partition and contains suitable EFI boot files
  • If you want the 2nd Primary partition on the E2B drive to be kept, use the file extension .imgPTN23 instead of .imgPTN. This will also keep the 3rd Primary partition if one is present. Tip: MBR-booting may be more successful with some BIOSes if you use a .imgPTN23 file extension rather than the .imgPTN file extension.
  • UEFI-multibooting directly from the E2B drive can be done by adding a FAT32 partition (and optionally adding rEFInd into the .imgPTN file) - see here for details.
  • .imgPTNX4cccc file extensions can be used. e.g. FRED.imgPTNX4swpefat32 will load the file as partition #1 and the file swpefat32 as partition #4 (E2B v1.B0+). 

FAQ

UEFI-only systems: It is possible to set up your E2B drive for UEFI-booting so that a UEFI-only system can be used to select any .imgPTN file you want to use - see here for more details.