Creating files containing ext2/3/4 filesystems for persistence
Test using QEMU under linux
How to make an E2B USB drive using linux
You can install E2B to an existing partition on a USB drive using the /_ISO/docs/linux_utils/fmt.sh (FAT32) or fmt_ntfs.sh (NTFS) linux bash shell script which is included in the Easy2Boot download files (v1.83+).
Note: E2B is now provided as a Windows self-extracting .exe and also a .zip file - download the .zip file and then extract the E2B files from it using 7Zip.
The .sh script will format an existing partition, then it will copy the E2B files onto it and then run bootlace to install grub4dos:
Download and unzip the Easy2Boot file to a folder on your internal linux hard disk - use unrar or 7Zip to extract the files (sudo apt-get install 7zip).
Open a Terminal session at the \_ISO\docs\linux_utils folder (contains utilities and scripts)
Use chmod to make the files in linux_utils executable (sudo chmod 777 *)
Type ./fmt.sh or ./fmt_ntfs.sh (this requires the bash shell - if you are using the sh shell you will get errors - or try sudo bash ./fmt.sh)
Note: be sure to select the correct partition such as sdb1or you will get a 'MISSING MBR HELPER' error message when you boot!).
Read the ReadMe file in the \_ISO\docs\linux_utils folder for more details and see the article on www.rmprepusb.com #114 or my blog post here.
To format a partition as NTFS, use instead the fmt_ntfs.sh script and use the 32-bit executable udefragto defrag the files (E2B v1.83+)
For best bootability, I strongly recommend you create a small (hidden) primary partition at the end of the USB drive as well (use gparted).
You should make all payload (ISO) files contiguous under linux:
Use defragfs on FAT32 volumes.
Use udefrag -om /dev/sdX1 for NTFS volumes, where X is the device letter, e.g. /dev/sdb1 (see ReadMe file in linux_utils folder).
E2B will try up to three different methods to boot most linux ISO files, these are (in order):
Add the ISO as an extra USB partition (ISO file must be contiguous)
Copy a non-contiguous ISO to a contiguous file (CONTIG.ISO) using dd and then use method 1 above
Try to identify the type of linux ISO from it's file name and use linux cheat codes to boot from ISO (isoboot)
How to update E2B
Simply extract the files from the E2B download and copy them to your E2B USB drive to update the E2B version (or use the cp command).
If you prefer, you can use something like:
rsync -auv E2Bnew/ /myUSBdrive/
The linux scripts only format a pre-existing partition on your USB drive.
For best bootability/compatibility with all systems, your E2B USB drive should contain 2 PRIMARY PARTITIONS.
The second primary partition can be very small and unformatted or it can be larger and formatted - it just needs to be there!
Some BIOSes will not boot from a USB Flash drive correctly unless there are two or more primary partitions. If there is only one Primary partition, some BIOSes will attempt to boot from the USB drive as a floppy disk or super-floppy or ZIP drive and grub4dos will fail to boot correctly.
Also, for best compatibility, you should ensure that the E2B partition is marked as 'Active' (has the boot flag set) and that grub4dos is installed to both the MBR (LBA0) and the Partition Boot Record of the E2B partition (PBR).
Also, do not place any EFI boot files on the E2B drive (i.e. there should be no \EFI folder on the E2B drive). The presence of valid EFI boot files can prevent some BIOSes from booting to the E2B grub4dos menu - they will always try to EFI-boot instead!
If you use the Windows .cmd script to make your E2B USB drive, these features are fully automated for you. You can still use linux to add your ISOs and defrag the files afterwards.
Copying payload files
After you have run the E2B format .sh script, you should copy your payload files onto the USB drive.
Tip: Never download an ISO directly on to the USB drive because the file may be heavily fragmented (due to multiple download threads being used). Always download the ISO to your internal hard disk first and then copy it to the USB drive.
See here for details of where to copy your payload files.
After copying payload files, make sure that all files are contiguous (see below).
If you have problems making files contiguous when the drive becomes full, you may find it quicker to use this method:
1. Delete the 500MB \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO file from the download folder (to improve the copy speed)
2. Add all your ISO files, etc., into the download folder structure
3. Run fmt.sh or fmt_ntfs.sh to make a new E2B drive
4. Defrag the drive (usually not necessary because the drive is freshly formatted)
Most ISOs and all persistence files need to be contiguous for best and fastest use.
Windows .VHD and .WIM files don't need to be contiguous.
Note that if you are using large ISOs, you will need a much larger drive because at least as much contiguous free space is needed (e.g. a non-contiguous 3GB ISO on an 8GB NTFS drive cannot be made contiguous because there is not enough free space!).
Fig. 1 FILE4 cannot be de-fragmented due to insufficient contiguous free space. The free clusters must first be consolidated (e.g. by using Windows Defraggler).
Note: NTFS volumes will usually have directory files ($MFT) at the 3GB point - these files cannot be moved.
Defragging a volume, or making files contiguous on a volume, may not always be successful due to lack of contiguous free space.
Note: udefrag is a 32-bit program, you will need to install 32-bit libraries if you have 64-bit linux (see the ReadMe file for details).
To run udefrag under Ubuntu 64-bit:
sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libc6:i386 libncurses5:i386 libstdc++6:i386
(change to _ISO/docs/linux_utils folder)
sudo chmod 777 *
sudo udefrag -om /dev/sdX1 (where sdX1 is your NTFS USB partition)
Tip: If you have problems making files contiguous, copy your ISO files into the source download E2B folder structure on your internal linux hard disk first, and then run the fmt_ntfs.sh script to copy all the files to the USB drive.
E2B includes a 500MB contiguous empty file \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO. This is used by E2B if you attempt to boot from an ISO which is not contiguous.
The CONTIG.ISO file will usually be contiguous because it was copied to the E2B USB drive immediately after it was formatted by the fmt_ntfs.sh script.
E2B will use dd to copy the non-contiguous ISO file to CONTIG.ISO and then boot from CONTIG.ISO. In this way, E2B can make non-contiguous files contiguous!
You can delete CONTIG.ISO to make more free space on the USB drive, but all files will need to be contiguous.
You can replace CONTIG.ISO with a larger file (you can use ANY larger file, just name it \_ISO\CONTIG.ISO), but the CONTIG.ISO file must be contiguous.
To use a larger file, I suggest you delete CONTIG.ISO from the download source folder and replace it with a larger file of the same name.
Be aware that copying a 3GB ISO to CONTIG.ISO will take some time however, and E2B will have to use dd to do this each time you select the ISO!
If you are booting a linux ISO and it cannot be made contiguous, E2B will use a similar technique to MultiSystem, XBOOT or YUMI and try to boot from the ISO using known linux cheat code parameters ('isoboot'). However, only some linux distros are supported and this method may not work on new releases because new versions seem to always change the boot parameters!
[SHIFT]+[ENTER] - If you hold down the SHIFT key before you press the ENTER key, E2B will only use isoboot to attempt to boot a linux ISO.
Creating files containing ext2/3/4 filesystems for persistence
LiveCd ISOs + persistence can be made using .mnu files. See here for more details.
For persistence, you often need to create a file which is formatted internally as an ext2/3/4 filesystem (instructions are always inside the .mnu file). To do this under linux AND have it contiguous (which is required for E2B) - see the thread here.
Use cd to get to the directory where you have mounted the USB drive - e.g. /media/USBDrive, then create a file as follows (example uses 1GB mint-rw, volume name is normally casper-rw)
dd if=/dev/zero of=mint-rw bs=1M count=1024
mkfs -t ext2 mint-rw -L casper-rw
or for ext3
mkfs.ext3 -F mint-rw -L casper-rw
Making a sparse file using dd may be faster, try this...
"/dev/sdc" is the usb device as listed by fdisk, 512 is the amount of memory to allocate.
Note that QEMU may prevent or delay normal file writes during or after use. After using QEMU, run sync and check that any changes you have made to the E2B drive have actually occured by dismounting and removing the E2B USB drive and re-connecting it again - then check file contents.
Unfortunately, there is no linux equivalent of the MakePartImage.cmd Windows script which makes .imgPTN files.
You can run Windows from a Virtual Machine under linux and use the MakePartImage scripts from within Windows.
If you want to try UEFI-booting to linux ISOs without using a Windows system and without needing to make the files contiguous, try the E2B grub2 menu system (for 'experts' only!).