Quick Start Instructions & Introduction

   
 
Linux users can use a shell script here to make a bootable E2B USB drive, but if possible use a Windows system to make the E2B drive.
 
1. Download Easy2Boot and unzip to a new, empty folder, e.g. make a new folder called E2B (any name will do) onto your Windows Desktop...
 
Tip: The easiest way to make an E2B USB drive is to download and run the self-extracting .exe version.
 

 
2. Run the Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd script.
 
3. To copy over your ISO files to the USB drive, just Drag-and- Drop your payload (.ISO) files into one of the menu folders under \_ISO on the USB drive (e.g. use the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder for any file you want to be listed in the Main menu). For example,
copy linux ISOs to the \_ISO\LINUX folder
copy Win8/8.1 Installer ISOs to \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN8
copy antivirus ISOs to the \_ISO\ANTIVIRUS folder, etc.
see here for more details about the Easy2Boot folders...
Copy Windows 8/8.1 Install ISOs to the \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN8 folder
 
Note: Always check the 'List of tested payload files' for special instructions for each type of payload file. For instance, a Hirens ISO may need to be renamed as .isowinvh for it to boot to Mini XP correctly.
 
Tip: To start with, remove spaces or special characters such as <>()&% and non-ASCII symbols, etc. from the filename.
In particular, .VHD and .WIM files must not contain spaces as well as ISOs that boot using CONTIG.ISO if they are not contiguous.
I use the _ symbol instead of spaces in filenames.
Once you have it booting correctly, you can change the filename. e.g. start with 'Win10_x64_Eng.iso' and once it is working correctly, rename it as 'Windows 10 64-bit English.iso'. You can use a .txt file if you require a 'nicer' menu entry with special characters.
 
4. Run \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd from the E2B drive after all files have been copied over to run WinContig.exe.

(linux users can run defragfs for FAT32 drives or udefrag for NTFS drives - included in \_ISO\docs\linux_utils folder)
 
5. Now BOOT from the USB drive and have fun, customise your E2B menu, add more payload files and read my blog here for more ideas.
Tip: You can test that it boots to the E2B menu by running \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd from the USB drive (32-bit payloads only).
 
  • Complete list of tested ISO's, etc. (with instructions if required) - click here.
  • Check out my Easy2Boot blog articles here.
  • How to UEFI-boot


Introduction

XBOOT (sadly no longer supported), Sardu, YUMI/PendriveLinux and other utilities are very good at what they do, but often you find that they don't work with a few of your ISOs, or they don't work with the latest version of a particular ISO and you have to wait for them to be updated. Many utilities do not support multiple UEFI-booting. You can also find it difficult to manually add the ones that don't work and it is often not easy to know how to modify the menus. You also have to re-run the utility each time you make a change, or you have to download a new version of the utility and completely re-make the USB stick again, just to add or remove one ISO.

Easy2Boot basics

E2B works best on a 'Removable' type of USB Flash drive (e.g. a large and fast USB drive such as the Sandisk Extreme Cruzer USB 3.0). However, you can also use an external USB HDD or SSD drive.
 

The Easy2Boot download is a collection of grub4dos scripts plus Windows and Linux executables. The steps are simple:

1. Download and extract the E2B files to a new folder:

DOWNLOAD CONTENTS:

  • \Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd - Windows batch script to wipe and create an E2B USB bootable drive.
  • \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd - Windows batch script to make all files on the USB drive contiguous.
  • \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd - Windows batch script to run the QEMU emulator which simulates booting from the E2B USB drive.
  • \grldr - grub4dos boot file
  • \menu.lst - the first grub4dos boot menu file
  • \e2b.ico - the E2B drive icon
  • \autorun.inf - used to specify the e2b.ico file as the drive icon in Explorer (does NOT run any executable)
  • \unattend.xml - used when installing Windows ISOs - do not change it!
  • \autounattend.xml - used when installing Windows ISOs - do not change it!
  • \_ISO - folder containing E2B files

2. Create a bootable USB drive - the file Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd makes this easy - it uses RMPartUSB to wipe and create the partitions and then XCOPY to copy over the E2B files. You can instead use the linux fmt.sh script if you have a linux system to make a FAT32 USB E2B drive.

3. Copy your ISOs to the USB drive - e.g. if you want the ISOs to be listed in the Main menu, simply copy them to the correct \_ISO\MAINMENU folder on your USB drive.  linux LiveCD ISOs, Windows Install ISOs (copy to \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx correct folder), memory test .bin files, floppy and hard disk images, .imgPTN partition images, Windows VHDs, WinPE WIM files, etc. 

Note: Windows Install ISOs must go in the correct \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxx sub-folder. Some types of files (e.g. .wim and .vhd) should not contain spaces or special characters in the filename.

4. Make all the files on the USB drive contiguous - E2B requires that your payload files are contiguous and not split into fragments on the USB drive. If you run the  \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd script which is on your E2B USB drive, it will run WinContig.exe to ensure your files are not fragmented (note: it does not 'defrag' the drive, only the individual files). Some files, e.g. Windows 7/8/10 Install ISOs do not need to be contiguous.

5. You can check your E2B drive will boot and see what the menu looks like by running the \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd script. Note that this is only for menu testing and pre-selecting .imgPTN files (see below for details of .imgPTN files).

You do not need any special utility to add more ISO files. Just copy the ISO file to the E2B USB drive and run the  \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd script.

Easy2Boot works by recognising the file extension

Easy2Boot itself is just a collection of grub4dos batch files that you can add to a grub4dos bootable USB Drive - it is NOT a Windows or linux application. Once you have made the grub4dos bootable USB drive and copied over the Easy2Boot files, just add any bootable payload files.

Easy2Boot automatically looks at all the files on the drive and dynamically creates a new menu each time you boot from the USB drive. Each file will be booted according to it's file extension (unlike most MultiBoot utilities, E2B does not need to recognise what type or version of linux is inside the ISO file).

Note: There are ways to speed up the initial booting and file enumeration. For instance, you can 'cache' the Main menu using the 'FASTLOAD' feature.

PLEASE NOTE: With Easy2Boot, I talk about 'payload files' because E2B can boot other files besides .iso files. Payload files are bootable files that E2B recognises and can boot from. So in many cases, a 'payload file' is an ISO file. However, a 'payload file' can also be a .BIN file (e.g. memtest86.bin) or a .IMA file (e.g. a DOS floppy disk 1.44MB image file), or a .IMG file (a bootable 'large-floppy' disk image) or a .VHD file (a virtual hard disk image), or Windows .wim files, etc. etc.

Variety of file systems supported

Your E2B USB drive can be formatted either as FAT32 or NTFS

Although ExFat will also work for most payloads, XP or Vista RTM and some WinPE ISOs will not work, so for this reason exFat is not recommended (also you may find that some systems won't boot!).

E2B will also boot from an ext2/3 USB drive (but Windows Install ISOs won't work, it is very difficult to make files contiguous and ext is case-sensitive, so again, not recommended). 

Just copy over your bootable files

Once you have made a bootable Easy2Boot USB drive, you can simply copy all your payload files (.iso, .img, .ima, .imgPTN, etc.) to any of the payload folders on your USB drive (e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU, \_ISO\LINUX folder, etc.). No menu editing is required, no cheat code knowledge is required for simple .ISO booting - just copy and boot! Your USB boot drive does not need to know what the ISO file version is, and will work with nearly all linux liveCD ISOs that you copy over - even new ones that come out in 6 months or 3 years time should just work (you don't need to keep updating E2B on your USB drive every few months for the next release of a new linux ISO)!

Install Windows directly from an ISO file

Windows Install ISOs work too - just copy them over! 

Note that if you are using a bootable USB Hard Disk instead of a 'Removable' type of USB Flash drive, then the Windows Vista/7/8 install ISOs will not work unless you also use a USB 'Helper' flash drive at the same time (see here for more details). However, if you make .imgPTN files from the Windows Install ISOs, you can boot from a hard disk without needing a 'Helper' Flash drive (in both MBR and  UEFI mode).

Add images made from other bootable USB drives

One powerful feature of E2B is that it can 'swap-in' partition images (.imgPTN files). The Windows script MakePartImage can convert most .ISO files to a partition image file. The partition image inside the file can be formatted as FAT32 or NTFS, so it is possible to have an NTFS-formatted E2B USB drive containing multiple FAT32-formatted partition images. Once 'switched in', the partition will appear to any system as a normal FAT32 (or NTFS) partition and it replaces the E2B partition. We can even add linux ext partitions too.

Do you have existing working, bootable USB drives that you would like to add to E2B? No problem, just drag-and-drop the USB drive icon (e.g. F:) from Windows Explorer onto a MakePartImage Desktop shortcut to make a .imgPTN partition image file and then copy that .imgPTN file to your E2B USB drive!

Boot directly to .VHD and .WIM files

If you have a Windows 7/8/10 .VHD/.VHDX file or a WinPE .WIM file (e.g. boot.wim), just copy it to your E2B USB drive and you can directly MBR-boot from it! No fiddling with BCD's, etc.

MBR and UEFI-booting supported

With Easy2Boot (E2B), both 'MBR\CSM' and 'UEFI\EFI' booting is supported (unlimited quantity). For UEFI+MBR-mode booting, create a partition image (.imgPTN) file from the ISO or USB Flash drive using the Windows batch file MakePartImage.cmd and then copy the new .imgPTN file to the E2B drive. To remove it from the E2B USB drive, simply delete the file.

Boot via UEFI

UEFI booting is done by creating and adding .imgPTN partition image files to the E2B drive (as many as you like). Once you 'swap-in' the new partition by selecting it from the E2B menu system, you can UEFI-boot from it. Secure Boot is not broken because the boot files and boot-chain is not changed by E2B.

You can select any .imgPTN file, by first booting to E2B in MBR\CSM mode or by running the  \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd script from a Windows system first and then selecting the .imgPTN file from the E2B menu system.  Also, SWITCH_E2B.exe is a Windows utility that allows you to select any .imgPTN file on the E2B USB drive and 'switch' it in. Your E2B USB drive will then boot directly to the selected payload image (e.g. for UEFI-booting).

For more details see 'How E2B Works'.





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