Quick Start Instructions & Introduction
- Quick Start
- Easy2Boot basics
Quick Start (Windows users)
- Select the E2B menu language (and keyboard type).
- Select the drive letter of the USB drive you want to format (all partitions will be wiped).
- Click on the red Make E2B Drive button.
How to use any unused space
E2B USB drives should have two or three Primary partitions. If you are using a large USB drive ( >137GB) then you can use the second partition for your own files, portable apps, etc. The first partition is used by E2B and should be 128GB or less in size.
- Copy Win10 Installer ISOs to the USB drive's \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10 folder to add them to the Windows Install menu. Windows Installer ISOs will work if they are in the correct \_ISO\WINDOWS\XXXX folder.
- Copy any files that you want to be listed in the Main menu, to the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder.
- Copy linux ISOs to the \_ISO\LINUX folder to add them to the Linux menu.
- Copy antivirus ISOs to the \_ISO\ANTIVIRUS folder to add them to the AntiVirus menu.
- Copy backup and other utilities (e.g. flash utilities) to the \_ISO\BACKUP menu folder...
Do you get the idea now :-) - The menu folder that you use just determines what menu heading the file will be listed in.
Except for Windows Install ISOs, any of the other 9 menu folders can be used for any type of ISO (menu folders are in uppercase letters) .
Note: For UEFI-booting, you will need to convert the ISO file to a .imgPTN file before adding it to the E2B USB drive.
You cannot UEFI-boot to the E2B menu. To set up your E2B drive for MBR and UEFI-booting - see here for details.
Tip: If you have any problems, remove spaces or special characters such as <>()&% and non-ASCII symbols, etc. from the file name.
Linux ISOs that boot using CONTIG.ISO when they are not contiguous should not have spaces in the filename (most don't anyway).I use the _ symbol instead of a space in filenames.Once the ISO file is booting correctly, you can change it's filename and see if it still works OK. For example, start with a name of 'Win10_x64_Eng.iso' and once it is working correctly, rename it to 'Windows 10 64-bit English.iso' or you can add a .txt file to display a different menu entry including any special characters and spaces that you want, and in any language that you want.
4. After all your payload files have been copied over, run \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd from the E2B drive to run WinContig.exe.
Linux users can use the command line programs defragfs for FAT32 drives or udefrag for NTFS drives - the binaries are included in the \_ISO\docs\linux_utils folder. Please go here for instructions.
You can customise your E2B menu, add more payload files and read my blog here for more ideas.
- Use the Site Map to find more information
- For a list of 300+ tested ISO's, etc. (with instructions if required) - click here.
- The E2B Menu entries are ordered by file/folder name alphabetically - use _nnn_ as a prefix - e.g. _100_Ubuntu.iso
- To change the menu entry text, rename the ISO or add a matching .txt file
- 64-bit isos can be given an extension of .iso64 and they will not be listed on 32-bit systems.
- To use your own wallpaper, see here
- Check out my Easy2Boot blog tutorials for some specific payloads and articles here.
- How to UEFI-boot
- See the 'primer' page for a quick overview.
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 and very few, if any, support secure 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.
With E2B, you will never need to re-make your USB drive again!
Easy2Boot also can perform a completely unattended Windows install directly from the .ISO file with drivers (Snappy Driver Installer) and Applications (Chocolatey) and Windows Updates (WSUS) - either online or completely offline. When the next version of Windows is released, just change the ISO! It also includes PassPass and an automated UtilMan hack for bypassing Windows password-protected user accounts. It can boot directly to Windows VHDs and WIM files and you can have multiple WindowsToGo images too. It supports UEFI-Secure Boot of both Windows and Linux and any other payload (provided their boot files are properly signed). You can also take 'images' of all your current USB flash drives and add the image to Easy2Boot. You can have multiple linux ISOs each with their own ext2/3/4 persistent file (>4GB is supported) or run dozens of full linux installations. E2B also can also utilise grub2 which allows you to boot many linux ISOs via UEFI that are not normally UEFI-bootable.
If you mainly boot Windows payloads and often use UEFI, you may like to try WinSetupFromUSB instead of E2B, however E2B can work on a wider range of systems and can UEFI-boot non-Windows payloads.
The Easy2Boot download is a collection of grub4dos scripts plus Windows and Linux executables. The steps are simple:
1. Make an E2B USB drive using the download and the big red button
- OR -
Download and extract the E2B files to a new folder:
- \Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE (run as admin).cmd - Windows batch script to wipe and create an E2B USB bootable drive.
- \Make_E2B.exe - GUI for beginners.
- \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 an executable)
- \unattend.xml - used when installing Windows ISOs - do not change it!
- \autounattend.xml - used when installing Windows ISOs - do not change it!
- \*.ini files - used with WinBuilder PE ISOs byE2B - do not edit them!
- \_ISO - folder containing E2B files
Create a bootable USB drive - the file Make_E2B.exe makes this easy - it runs MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd and that 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.
2. Copy your bootable 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. If you want them listed in the Linux Menu, copy them to \_ISO\LINUX. Copy your linux LiveCD ISOs, Windows Install ISOs (copy to \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx correct folder), memory test .bin files, floppy and hard disk images (.ima and .img), .imgPTN partition images, Windows VHDs, WinPE WIM files, etc. to any of the E2B menu folders (the ones in capital letters).
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.
3. 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 fully contiguous.
4. 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 32-bit CPU\BIOs emulator is only for menu testing and pre-selecting .imgPTN files (see below for details of .imgPTN files), has only 500MB of RAM available and is quite slow. However, it may also be able to fully boot from some payloads too.
You do not need any special utility to add or delete 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 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).
E2B will suggest a 'better' file extension (the auto-suggest feature looks at portions of the file name for clues) when you select a payload file. Simply answer Y to accept the suggestion. If it works correctly, you can then rename the file so that it has the suggested file extension (e.g. xxxx.isowinvh).
Tip: If you answer I (for 'isoask') instead of Y, then you can test a range of different file extensions to find one that works best.
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 or use a minimal text-based menu system.
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 fixed-type .VHD file (a virtual hard disk image), or Windows .WIM files, etc. etc. Payload files can also be files that are extracted to a folder on the E2B drive.
Variety of file systems supported
Your E2B USB drive can be formatted either as FAT32, or as NTFS (strongly recommended).
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 BIOSes won't boot it!). Also, SWITCH_E2B.exe does not work on exFAT (or ext2/3/4) drives.
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, ext is 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 it 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
Standard Microsoft 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 may 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).
Some All-In-One (AIO) ISOs may not work unless you convert them to .imgPTN files first.
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 .cmd 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 or swap file 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 (fixed size NOT dynamic VHD) or a WinPE NT6+ .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 (Secure Boot supported)
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'.
UEFI-boot directly from the E2B USB drive
By adding a second FAT32 partition and placing bootable WinPE files on it, you can UEFI-boot from the E2B USB drive at any time without needing to MBR-boot to the E2B menu system or use SWITCH_E2B.exe on a Windows system. You can then select any UEFI-bootable .imgPTN file, switch it in using SWITCH_E2B.exe and then reboot to it. See here for details.