Quick Start Instructions & Introduction

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The instructions below will quickly get you going with E2B. If you have special requirements then read the 'Make E2B' pages.

Contents

  • Quick Start
  • Introduction
  • Easy2Boot basics

Quick Start (Windows users)

1. Download Easy2Boot and run the .exe file - Tip: turn off your AntiVirus program first, in case it causes trouble. 1000's of E2B drives are made every day - if E2B contained a virus you would have heard about it!.
 
Windows 10 is recommended.
 
The .exe file extracts the E2B files to a new folder on your system and then automatically runs MAKE_E2B.exe. It does not install any programs onto your Windows system.
 
If your Anti-Virus program blocks the download of the self-extracting .exe file, you can download the .zip file from the Alternate Download Area, then extract the E2B files to a new folder and run MAKE_E2B.exe (right-click and run as Administrator).
 
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 because it will make a more compatible, two-partition drive for you automatically.
 
2. USB volumes (C:-Z:) will be displayed in the drive list box (the USB drive must have a drive letter already assigned by Windows.
 
If it does not display the USB drive letter, then use the large Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd button at the bottom of the form.
 
  1. Select the E2B menu language (and keyboard type).
  2. Select the drive letter of the USB drive you want to format (all partitions will be wiped).
  3. Click on the red Make E2B Drive button, or...
    (3) Make_E2B_USB_drive.cmd button for more options, including specifying up to three partition sizes and types.
This automatically makes an NTFS-formatted E2B USB drive (max. partition size 137GB/128GiB).
E2B v.2 will make a 2nd FAT32 partition for UEFI boot files (unless you are using Windows 7 or 8 and have a Removable USB Flash drive).
If your USB drive is >128GB, you will be asked for partition sizes.
 
Simply ignore (or cancel) any Windows pop-up box that wants to format the new volume.
 
If you get an error message about 'CLEAN' or 'MBR' or 'Write errors' , etc. it is because one of your Windows Anti-Malware apps is blocking writes to the USB drive - look in Task Manager and kill them (e.g. Acronis Active Protection Service may be installed even though you did not know it!).
 
How to use any unused space

E2B USB drives should have two or three Primary partitions. The first NTFS partition is used by E2B and should be 128GB or less in size - it is mainly used to store ISO and other payload files. You can store your own files, portable apps, backup images, etc. on any partition (create a new folder).
You can test the new E2B USB drive after it has been made by clicking on the 'Test with QEMU' button to run a 32-bit emulator and check your menu.
 
You will not need this utility again, so click Exit to quit.
 
3. Copy over your ISO/VHD/IMG/IMA/WIM, etc. files to the USB drive. 
 
Just Drag-and-Drop your payload (.ISO) files into one of the E2B menu folders under \_ISO on the USB drive (menu folders are in uppercase letters - except for the \_ISO\WINDOWS and \_ISO\AUTO folders, all the other folders behave in the same way - the menu heading will just be different. You can put FreeDOS ISO files in the LINUX folder if you really want to!).
 
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) .
 
  • 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 better 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 the file will be listed in. 

Note: if you have a USB Hard Disk, Windows Vista/7/8/10 Install ISOs may not work unless you also connect a WinHelper USB flash drive or convert the ISO file to a .imgPTN file. If you are using E2B v1.A8 or later, a WinHelper USB drive may not be required because E2B will use WIMBOOT.
 

Note: For UEFI-booting

If agFM is present on the 2nd partition you can immediately UEFI-boot - otherwise, to UEFI-boot you must switch-in a UEFI .imgPTN file. You can convert the ISO file to a .imgPTN file before adding it to the E2B USB drive. 

See here for more details about the Easy2Boot folders - you can add your own menu folders too if you wish..
 
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. When you run an ISO file, E2B will give you suggestions about what file extension you can use.
 
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 E2B 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.

This step is only required if .imgPTN and linux ISO files are fragmented, but you might as well do it now.
 

Large Windows ISOs and VHDs do not need to be made contiguous (unless they are very fragmented), so don't worry if these files cannot be defragmented due to insufficient space on the USB drive.


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.

5. Now BOOT from the USB drive and have fun (watch this video or this video if you are not sure how to boot from a USB drive and this video for UEFI-booting).
 
Note: Legacy\MBR systems will boot to the E2B Menu system. If agFM is present on the FAT32 partition, then UEFI systems will boot to the a1ive grub2 File Manager (agFM) instead of the E2B menu system.
 
Tip: You can test that it boots to the E2B menu by running \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd from the USB drive (this can also run some 32-bit payloads - but it may be slow).
 
Note that the E2B menu system will only boot in Legacy, MBR or CSM mode. Make sure you enable CSMdisable Secure Boot and disable Fast Boot in your BIOS settings.

You can customise your E2B menu, add more payload files and read my blog here for more ideas.
 
E2B recognises many different and special file extensions.
 
Linux ISOs usually just work with a .iso file extension.
For some other files, you may need to change the file extension so that it boots correctly.
 
E2B may suggest a better file extension (e.g. .isofira01) when you select the ISO from the menu...
 
If you see this message, just wait 6 seconds or press ENTER to continue or press Y to use an alternative boot method (this behaviour can be changed).
 
If the ISO boots correctly with the suggested file extension, then change the file extension of the ISO file on the E2B drive and E2B will not prompt you with this message again.
 
There are 100's of ways to configure E2B - you can use \_ISO\E2B_Editor.exe to change the menu.
 
If you update to a later version of E2B, you do not have to re-make your USB drive - just click on the Update E2B Drive button.
 
  • 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.
Tip: You can test that it boots to the E2B menu by running \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd from the USB drive (this can also test some 32-bit payloads - but it may be slow).

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 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!

E2B v2 can now add a second UEFI-bootable FAT32 partition which contains the a1ive grub2 File Manager. This allows us to UEFI-boot from the USB drive and then select and boot from .ISO, .WIM, .IMG, .VHD, .EFI and some other types of bootable payload files.

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 even 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.

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. Make an E2B USB drive using the download and the big red button. E2B v2 may also add the agFM UEFI boot files onto a second FAT32 partition (Windows 10 recommended).

DOWNLOAD CONTENTS:

  • \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.

agFM is used for UEFI booting and is based on grub2. You will need to navigate to the correct partition and folder and then select the payload file. The E2B menu system and the agFM file manager system are two completely separate systems.

On a Legacy\MBR boot, 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 (NTFS is 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: 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. If E2B v2 + agFM is present, you can directly UEFI-boot and select any ISO file (no .imgPTN file is needed).

Boot via UEFI (Secure Boot supported)

agFM may allow you to Secure UEFI-boot if the boot shim is not blacklisted in your UEFI BIOS DBx list. agFM can also switch-in .imgPTN files too.
 

As an alternative, UEFI booting can also be 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.