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grub4dos multiboot multipass usb boot iso

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#1326 steve6375

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Posted 03 April 2019 - 07:40 PM

I have now added a dual partition image containing both MiniPE-32 and MiniPE-64 to the Alternate Download Area so that you can now UEFI-32 and UEFI-64 boot from the E2B drive and then change the partitions to switch-in another payload, purely from within a UEFI environment.

 

Check out the blog article here if anyone wants to test it.

 

First, you need to select the .imgPTN payload file from a CSM boot or using SWITCH_E2B.exe under Windows.
But from then on, you can boot from any UEFI-32 system or any UEFI-64 system and select any partition image you want.

 

I cannot (i.e. don't want to) add rEFInd to the E2B menu partition for two reasons:

 

1. The E2B partition would need to be FAT32 which would limit the size of the ISOs it could hold (e.g. large Windows Install ISOs).

2. Some UEFI BIOSes will not offer the user the choice to CSM-boot if the E2B FAT32 partition contains an EFI boot file, so you could never boot to the grub4dos E2B menu and run Legacy ISOs, etc. on these systems.



#1327 Rootman

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Posted 4 weeks ago

Steve,

Again, I can't thank you enough for this utility.  I can't count the times it's saved my cookies by booting to a PC outside the devices OS and allowed me to fix a situation or retrieve data.

 

I have made several ISO payloads and use them, I also have a few .imgPTN files and use them to boot via EFI.  Some are over 4 GB unfortunately, so I must use NTFS / ExFAT in order to hold them on the Easy2Boot boot drive.  I am now seeing a few devices come in that totally lack CSM / MBR support and can only be booted EFI.  It's easy enough to insert my E2B thumbdrive into another device and set the .imgPTN file I want to boot to.  Although there have been an occasion or two that I didn't have another device close by to use (and couldn't boot to the PCs own OS). So I created a pure EFI boot USB drive and use it - I copied the boot.wim from my PE environment over the boot.wim of a rescue disk.   

 

It sure would be nice to have this EFI environment available on my regular E2B drive.  If I could keep the main partition FAT32 I could do this by plunking the boot files from my EFI only USB drive on it.  I could then choose EFI or MBR boot on the same thumb drive with no intervention. 

 

My thoughts, is it possible to use FAT32 on the main E2B partition, and then create a folder on the second partition (which can be NTFS) and boot from it there?  Is this a feature that's possible to add to E2B? A 'special' boot folder that actually located on a second NTFS / ExFAT partition?

 

Thanks again!



#1328 steve6375

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Posted 4 weeks ago

You can create an E2B drive that will UEFI-boot to WinPE - from there you can run SWITCH_E2B.exe and switch in any .imgPTN file you like.

So you don't need an MBR-booting system. See here and watch video.

 

Note that some UEFI BIOSes which have CSM mode will NEVER MBR-BOOT from a USB drive that has a valid FAT32 partition with EFI boot files - it only gives you the choice to UEFI-boot (no CSM\MBR boot option even though you have enabled CSM mode in the BIOS). This means if you do add the FAT32 partition, you may find you can't MBR boot from the E2B drive on these systems (and so cant run XP, some Hirens, DOS, etc.).

 

eBook #3 has all the details.



#1329 Rootman

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Posted 4 weeks ago

Thanks, I had some time this morning and experimented.  I already had a EFI only USB HDD with a FAT32 first partition. I had the boot.wim from my WinPE environment on it, so it worked via EFI.  I used RPPrepUSB to install Grb4DOS onto it and then copied all my E2B files from another stick to the drive (sans my >4GB payload files).  It will boot straight EFI to my WinPE environment and then also allow me to boot via MBR to any of the other payloads and even other .imgPTN files via EFI.  So it works a treat.  Even if I do run into a PC that won't boot MBR if the valid fat32 EFI partition is present, I can still generally use it either way on most of the machines I have around here. 

 

I saw ( and bought the 'Make an EFI Multiboot' book and downloaded the files) about booting to the mini WinPE and using Switch_E2B and switching that way.  I found it works but is sort of messy and slow.  

 

All I really wanted was a fast way to boot to either EFI or MBR on the same drive, (generally only to my WinPE environment) and use it to perform tasks on the PC.  If I need another environment on the EFI only device I can still use SWITCH_E2B on another PC to load the imgPTN file I want.  I had a situation last week where I was a bit isolated, had my E2B drive in my pocket and no close by working PC to load it up Switch_E2B. on to switch imgPTN paylads. I had to travel back, pick up my laptop and use it.   Teaches me to walk out without my laptop (and extra EFI only boot media too)

 

I just Googled up your article on using payloads on other partitions: http://www.easy2boot...ions-or-drives/ and am checking it out. 



#1330 Rootman

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Posted 4 weeks ago

Well, this was a lot easier than I anticipated.

 

I reformatted my 1st partition on my drive to fat32.  I used RMPrepUSB to install GRUB4DOS on it.  Copied all my E2B files back to it (excluding the files > 4gb) and also copied the boot files from my direct to EFI boot stick which booted directly to my Win PE environment.

 

I found the PTN2_MNU.mnu file in the E2B DOCS Examples folder and edited it for the folders I wanted to put payloads on the second partition (NTFS). I then created the _ISO\WhatEver folders on the NTFS partition #2 and copied the files that were more than 4GB to them.

 

I can boot to the drive directly via EFI with no intervention and get to my WinPE environment immediately.  I can also boot to it via MBR and choose any payload I want to boot to.  Direct to all the ISO files on it, or I can also choose .imgPTN files from the first or second partition to boot to via EFI. 

 

Too cool!  Makes it twice as handy. 

 

Now, if I could just come up with a way to make this work for MBR boot EASILY on the couple of 4TB USB HDDS I have it would be cool  



#1331 steve6375

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Posted 4 weeks ago

Sure, but what happens if you switch to a .imgPTN that is not UEFI-bootable (e.g. DOS or Hirens or non-UEFI-Linux) and then you go to a UEFI-only system. You can't UEFI-boot and you are stuck!

 

but if you do it the other way round (which is what I use)

 

Ptn1: NTFS E2B

Ptn2: FAT32 with WinPE files

 

You can still UEFI-boot to the 2nd partition or MBR boot to the first partition.

 

AND you can store your Portable Apps, Office installer, tools, etc. on the 2nd partition too.

 

Then if you use  .imgPTN23 file extensions instead of .imgPTN file extensions, whatever image you switch in will also still have access to all the files on the 2nd partition.

e.g. you can UEFI-boot to Strelec, or Bob Omb PE or DLC PE and still have access to all your apps on the 2nd partition.

AND because the 2nd FAT32 WinPE partition is still there, you can always UEFI-boot to it.

 

But, as I said, not all systems will MBR-boot to the E2B menu system (they will always UEFI-boot!).

 

If you want to be 99% certain of booting on ANY system, you need to make one E2B drive for UEFI booting (two partitions) and the other for MBR booting.



#1332 Rootman

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Posted 4 weeks ago

OK, well, all my .imgPTN files ARE EFI bootable, I don't create them if I don't need to EFI boot them. I don't really use anything that needs an .imgPTN and isn't EFI bootable.  I suppose I would get stuck if I did though.  And I do have 2 drives for both situations, I just didn't happen to have in my pocket when I visited the other site and got nailed about a system that was down.  

 

Isn't there an issue with trying to boot EFI to a Fat32 partition that's above like 128GB? I have 256 GB USB drives and multi TB drives. I need the NTFS partition for storage of at least 180 GB of stuff, so the 1st partition would be very large. 

 

I'll try the .imgPTN23 extension out.



#1333 steve6375

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Posted 4 weeks ago

There is no issue with UEFI and the 128GB limit (AFAIK).

 

But you need to be careful about where the large ISO files are located on ptn 2

 

e.g. Your scheme...

 

Ptn1 FAT32  E2B (up to 32GB)

Ptn2 NTFS 230GB (containing large ISOs) 

 

If the ISOs located past 128GB from the start of the drive, then buggy BIOSes cant access them.


Edited by steve6375, 4 weeks ago.


#1334 steve6375

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Posted 4 weeks ago

If you do not use Linux ISOs + persistence files, then you can have 3 partitions

 

1. up to 128GB NTFS E2B

2. FAT32 WinPE UEFI files

3. large NTFS for files, apps, drivers etc.

 

Using .imgPTN23 will keep both ptn 2 and 3.



#1335 Rootman

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Posted 4 weeks ago

OK, thanks for the tips. I have to say I was a bit confused on all this partitioning and best practices.  Up until recently I avoided multi partitions because I supported a good number of Windows 7 PCs and it could not see second and third partitions on removable media. 

 

I've taken your advice, resized and converted my E2B 1st partition to 60GB, a 2 GB 2nd partition (my WinPE boot.wim is small) and created the rest as an NTFS data partition. I've also switched to using the .img.PTN23 extension to gain access to the other partitions.

 

So, I've got a E2B bootable USB stick that I can also boot directly to EFI with to my WinPE environment without any intervention as well as boot to any other payload via MBR and E2B, including larger payloads over 4GB.

 

Thanks again for your patience and advice. .   



#1336 steve6375

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Posted 4 weeks ago

And you can run SWITCH_E2B.exe from your WinPE OS to switch in any .imgPTN file.



#1337 alacran

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Posted 4 weeks ago

OK, thanks for the tips. I have to say I was a bit confused on all this partitioning and best practices.  Up until recently I avoided multi partitions because I supported a good number of Windows 7 PCs and it could not see second and third partitions on removable media. 

 

 

I had this problem, an easy way to solve this is to have a folder with BootIce x86 and x64 versions on each partition, from it you can make visible any partition on a removable USB stick from any running Windows OS or WinPE if required, just don't forget to change back partition order as it was before unplug your USB.

Select your USB stick, select Parts Manage on main screen of the program and later select the partion and click on Set Accesible, that's all, attached pictures.

 

alacran

Attached Thumbnails

  • Part-Manage.png
  • Bootice.png


#1338 steve6375

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Posted 4 weeks ago

SWITCH_E2B.exe also has a button to switch partition 1 with partition 2 on removable USB drives. Click to see ptn2 and then click again to see ptn 1.



#1339 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 4 weeks ago

... and if you are into (good ol') batch, a "base" is here:
http://reboot.pro/to...try-float-to-0/
 
Whether it works or not:
a. in 64-bit windows
b. on (stupid) Windows 10
is up to the users to find out, if it doesn't, the issue is likely not with the batch but rather with rawcopy.exe and the way it accesses physical drive, in which case another dd-like utility will be needed, bootice (command line) could be a good alternative for writing the MBR to physicaldrive.
 
Also, there is USB_Part_Flip.exe :
http://reboot.pro/to...ble-usb-drives/
 
Some history:
https://web.archive....showtopic=24392
https://web.archive....pic=24392&st=20
 
and now, for no apparent reason, attaching the ol' chptnord.cmd.

Nowadays it would probably be an idea to have (additionally) a grub4dos batch capable of swapping/switching/re-ordering partitions at boot time, so that even if you forget to "reset" the partition order, you can correct the issue at next boot before actually booting (or failing to boot) the OS containing BootIce (or RMPREPUSB/SWITCH_E2B.EXE or USB_Part_Flip.exe, etc.)
 
 
:duff:
Wonko





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