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RMPrepUSB can make most USB drives bootable and includes a specially modified version of grubinst.exe, but some older BIOSes may have problems booting from USB devices. I recommend FlashBoot if you need to create a USB drive that will boot on these badly behaved systems.
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How to prepare a Easy2Boot USB drive using FlashBoot
Before starting any tests:
- Download the LATEST VERSION OF E2B to a new folder and run the UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd script to update your E2B drive. If you did not make the E2B USB drive using the Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd batch file, make a fresh USB drive using it.
- Check the E2B Version History for a new Beta version + bug fixes.
- Ensure the MBR partition table contains two primary partitions (RMPrepUSB - Drive Info - 0)
- Delete or rename the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file, if it exists - some settings may adversely affect E2B or hide informational messages.
- If there is a STRINGS.txt or MENU.LST file in the \_ISO folder, then delete it.
- If you are having a problem with one particular payload file - delete the .txt file for it, if there is one.
- Make sure your BIOS is configured to MBR-boot (BIOS has CSM enabled).
- grub4dos allows for a limited number of environment variables (approx 60). You cannot specify too many 'set' commands in your MyE2B.cfg file or you may get strange grub4dos errors. If your MyE2B.cfg file seems to be causing issues and uses a lot of environment variables, you must reduce the amount of set commands that you use. Tip: do a fresh boot to the Main Menu and exit to the command line and type varsleft in the grub4dos command console - E2B v1.B8+ should report at least 18 free variables at this point.
Step 1 - Check MBR-booting using QEMU
Test booting to the Main Menu using QEMU
For a 'boot to menu' test, run the \QEMU_MENU_TEST (run as admin).cmd file as Administrator on the E2B USB drive. No matter what Windows system you have, a freshly-made Easy2Boot USB drive should ALWAYS boot to the E2B Main Menu when using QEMU. QEMU_MENU_TEST runs a 32-bit CPU emulator - i.e. it emulates a PC system which contains a 32-bit CPU and a standard 32-bit non-UEFI BIOS (and no internal hard disk).
E2B not detecting some payload files?
- Rename the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file to a different name so E2B does not use it.
- Use NotePad and create a file called NEW.txt - edit it and add some characters so it is not 0 size, save it and rename it as DUMMY.ISO.
- Make sure the file extension is .ISO and not .ISO.txt (configure Explorer to show file extensions).
- Copy the DUMMY.ISO file to various different E2B folders - e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU, \_ISO\LINUX, \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN8.
- Boot using QEMU, you should see the MAINMENU files being detected and the WINDOWS .iso and .imgPTN files counted (if any) - press SPACEBAR to pause the screen and check it. Press SPACEBAR twice quickly to continue to the next point.
- Press ENTER to continue to the Main Menu. You should see E2B report that at least one Windows Install file is present if you previously copied an iso into one of the \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx folders.
- Go to the UTILITIES Menu and choose 'ls (DIR)' and then choose one of the menu folders.
- Check the name, extension and size of any payload file that was missing from the menu.
Step 2 - Test on several different REAL SYSTEMS (can't boot to E2B)
Tip: If you suspect a problem with your BIOS (e.g. boots with flashing cursor), always SWITCH OFF YOUR SYSTEM and then switch it on again to test a USB drive. Do NOT reset or reboot the computer (warm reboot) because the BIOS may detect the USB geometry and device type only on power up.
Always switch off between tests.
For instance, on power-up, your BIOS may determine that your USB drive should be treated as a USB ZIP drive or USB Floppy drive. If you then re-partition and reformat the USB drive as a USB HDD, the BIOS may still attempt to boot it as a USB floppy unless you switch off and then switch it on again so that POST re-detects and re-enumerates the USB drive on power-up.
- Legacy or CSM = Enabled
- Fast Boot = Disabled
- USB Legacy = Enabled
- Secure Boot = Disabled
- Boot - Boot Priority - Legacy First
Step 3 - Try a different USB drive and on different USB ports
Step 4 - System Setup Menu (BIOS Settings)
MBR BIOS systems
- Disable Secure Boot (if UEFI system)
- Enable USB 2.0 or 3.0
- Ensure the USB drive appears in the boot list (as a hard disk, not as a Floppy or ZIP drive)
- Enable Legacy/CSM/MBR/BIOS mode if a UEFI system
- Disable Fast Boot
- Make sure that no \EFI folder is present on the E2B USB drive (this sometimes prevents MBR booting to the grub4dos E2B Menu) if a UEFI system.
- Some UEFI systems will not show the non-UEFI CSM boot option if a .efi boot file is present on the USB drive partition.
- Ensure there are two primary partitions in the partition table on the USB drive
- If it starts to boot to E2B but then hangs\crashes, try a USB 2.0 port or attach a USB 2.0 extension cable to force it to use USB 2. speeds.
Note: Some systems (e.g. Acer AO725) will not allow you to even see the Secure Boot or Legacy/MBR BIOS options in the Setup Menu unless you set a Supervisor Password first. Choose a simple password that you will never forget (or write it on the underside of the PC/laptop)
Step 6 - Update the BIOS\Firmware
Step 7 - Disconnect all other USB devices
Step 8 - Contact Me
- Case 1: HP Pavillion Model XYZ + Mushkin 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive - works in QEMU but not when booting from other real system
- Case 2: HP Pavillion Model XYZ + Corsair Voyager GT 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive - works in QEMU and when booting from other real system
- Case 3: Dell Model XYZ + Mushkin 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive - works in QEMU and also when booting from real system but not DELL XYZ
Recommended for Easy2Boot (fastest flash drive!)
SanDisk Extreme SDCZ880-128G-G46
Fastest USB 3!
See Blog post