This version is old and now deprecated and unsupported - please use version 1 instead!
Easy2Boot is a multiboot (aka multipass) USB flash disk or hard disk (may be limitations for HDD) that you can boot a system from. It can contain a large variety of ISO files or image files or linux files (or any bootable file) and is based on grub4dos.
No file editing is required, no special utility, just drag and drop all your ISO files to your USB Easy2Boot drive using Explorer and boot them!
For non-linux ISOs, the .mnu files are included at the bottom of this page for a selection of different OS's/applications. If you don't find the .mnu that you need, simply post a request on reboot.pro and I will make one for you!
The forum for development of Easy2Boot is here. For fastest testing of menus, etc. I recommend Oracle VM Virtual Box which takes just a second or so to boot to the E2B nmenu - see here for how to boot VMVB directly from a USB stick. Note that some ISOs may not work correctly from a VM, but will on a real system - always fully test E2B on a real system!
Note: You can boot from any linux or DOS ISO just by adding the ISO file to the \_ISO\Linux\Auto folder - no .mnu file is required. However, special ISOs such a Hirens Boot CD or Ophcrack may require additional steps and Windows Install ISOs will not work with Easy2Boot - for these you need to follow my other tutorials or they can be added together with an Easy2Boot .mnu file (if available).
Note: If you already have a grub4dos multiboot USB drive, download and copy the Easy2Boot package to your USB drive and add the following entry to your existing \menu.lst file
This project is ideal for beginners who do not want to edit files on the USB drive every time they add a new bootable image and was inspired by sambul61 of reboot.pro!
The instructions below are in four parts:
Part 1: How to add a new boot file to your existing Easy2Boot USB drive
Part 2: How to create your Easy2Boot USB drive (only needs to be done once)
Part 3: How to make a new Easy2Boot menu (not for beginners)
Part 4: How to modify your Easy2Boot menu (also not for beginners!)
The .mnu file downloads are at the bottom of this Tutorial (see Downloads)
If you don't see a .mnu file for the ISO or bootable file that you want to add, please request it at reboot.pro - you can also search the forum for .mnu examples which may not be attached to this page.
New!: you don't need a .mnu file for most linux-based ISO files and DOS-based ISOs - just copy the ISO file to the \_ISO\Linux\Auto folder and it will automatically get it's own menu entry.
v1.0 BETA03 - 2012-03-14 - Now can add all Windows Install ISOs too! Menu system re-structured. Must use FAT32 Flash drive for Windows installs to work and on real system not VM.
Currently available .mnu files (see end of this page)
ISO file sources (for AutoLinux menu) - just copy the ISO files to the \_ISO\Linux\Auto folder - bold entries have been tested and work.
tip: rename the ISO files to more obvious names because the iso file names are displayed in the user menu.
These instructions assume you have already made your Easy2Boot USB drive (to make an Easy2Boot USB drive, follow Part 2 below for instructions).
It is listed it first in this tutorial to show you how easy it is to add a new boot file or image to your pre-prepared Easy2Boot USB drive just by copying a few files. For this example, I will assume you want to add the linux OS live CD ISO of YLMF to your Easy2Boot USB drive:
NOTE: Most linux ISOs do not need a .mnu file - just copy them all to the special \_ISO\Linux\AUTO folder and you are finished! They will be automatically added to your menu!
If you have a non-linux ISO or an ISO that requires a .mnu file, then follow the instructions below (I am using YLMF as an example only):
YLMF ISO + .mnu example case:
The mnu file is usually the same name as the ISO file which you need to add (it does not need to be, but it makes it easier to check as the name of the ISO file MUST be correct). In this example, the ISO file and mnu file are called:
2. If you don't have any instructions on what to do next or where to get the ISO file, just open up the .mnu file in Notepad. The instructions will be inside the .mnu file.
Download the YLMF ISO file from here (where possible, a direct link will be given inside the .mnu file - a more general purpose link will also be given in case that particular version has been removed from the site).
3. Now copy these two files to the specified folder which will usually be under the \_ISO folder on your Easy2Boot USB drive. The .mnu file should have instructions which will tell you what folder to copy the two files to. e.g. the folder \_ISO\Linux. It is essential you copy the ISO file to the specified folder. So now we have these two files:
4. Make all files on the Easy2Boot USB drive contiguous (most ISO files need to be in one single place on the USB disk) - use RMPrepUSB and select the Easy2Boot USB drive and press CTRL+F2 to run WinContig and make all files on the drive contiguous - if you have a lot of files (thousands) or large ISO files on a small drive, this may take a few minutes, but normally it only takes a few seconds!
Now try out your USB drive to see if the new option (YLMF) boots! Note:You can test that the menu works first by clicking on the QEMU Emulator button in RMPrepUSB if you like - you don't even need to reboot your computer! If prompted to create a virtual hard disk, then type 0 as you don't need one. When prompted for a virtual memory size, use the default offered but do not enter more than approx 1024MB as QEMU does not like this!. YLMF should now boot under QEMU.
If you are short of space on your USB drive, delete one or more of the large payload files (e.g. the ISO files), but you can leave the small .mnu files on the Easy2Boot drive. You will not see a menu item if the payload file is missing and you can simply add the payload file back at a later date if you need to.
You can also use your Easy2Boot drive for normal file storage as well. Just copy any documents, mp3 files or whatever to it, but avoid copying any extra files to the \_ISO folder as this will slow down the Easy2Boot boot process when you boot from it.
If you have any other linux ISO or DOS ISO that you do not have a .mnu menu file for, just place your ISO files into the \_ISO\Linux\Auto folder of your USB drive. 98% of linux, DOS and memtest/utility ISOs should just work - no extra .mnu files are needed! Just choose the 'Boot from any Linux ISO' option in the menu.
1. Simply make a bootable USB drive using RMPrepUSB. Download and install the latest Beta version of RMPrepUSB.
I recommend formatting as FAT32 as this will then work with DOS and most linux versions that you boot.
Select your USB drive, setup options 1-4, untick option 5 and click 6 Prepare Drive to format your USB drive
2. Install grub4dos using the RMPrepUSB Install grub4dos button - see 2 in screenshot above. Choose 'Yes' for MBR and hit Enter key when prompted - say OK to copy over the grldr file.
3. Download, unzip (extract) and copy the Easy2Boot files to you USB drive - at bottom of this page (note this may be updated often as this is a new project!).
Your USB drive should now look like this - folders are in bold text - (version 0.5):
You do not need to change any of these files, just make sure they are present!
You have a folder named \_ISO on your USB drive - you will copy your payload files to folders under this \_ISO folder (see Part 1 above).
For Experts Only Here be Dragons!Easy2Boot reboot.pro forum so that other people can use it.
1. Create a menu.lst file in the root of your grub4dos USB drive. It should contain an iftitle menu title line and the required grub4dos commands.
2. Test it out and ensure that it works as expected. It is best to place the payload file in it's correct location - e.g. /_ISO/Linux (i.e. any folder under /_ISO).
3. Copy the menu.lst to the same folder as your ISO file and name it the same as the 'payload' file with a .mnu extension. For instance, if it is for YLMF linux and the ISO file is called Ylmf_OS_3.0.iso then name the file Ylmf_OS_3.0.mnu. You can have more than one menu in the .mnu file or you can have more than one mnu file for the same ISO (perhaps there is more than one way to boot the ISO?).
4. Edit the .mnu file by adding some information for the user - the easiest way to explain this is to see a before and after file:
menu.lst (before changing to .mnu format)...
iftitle [if exist /_ISO/Linux/Ylmf_OS_3.0.iso] Boot YlmF 3.0 (Windows Like OS) Non-Persistent\nThis OS boots directly from the ISO file at /_ISO/Linux/Ylmf_OS_3.0.iso
find --set-root /_ISO/Linux/Ylmf_OS_3.0.iso
The converted Ylmf_OS_3.0.mnu file...
# Download ISO file from http://www.ylmf.org/en/download.html
iftitle [if exist (bd)%MFOLDER%/Linux/Ylmf_OS_3.0.iso] Boot YlmF 3.0 (Windows Like OS) Non-Persistent\nThis OS boots directly from the ISO file at %MFOLDER%/Linux/Ylmf_OS_3.0.iso
Note that a few lines of comments have been added to indicate where to get the source file and the MD5 or SHA1 hash values have been added so the user can check this.
The other thing to note is that %MFOLDER% is used for the main folder. By default this will be set to /_ISO, however the user can change it if they wish. The variable MFOLDER is automatically set by the parameter passed to AUTOMENU.bat in /grub/menu.lst.
5. Now test out these files as follows:
5.1 Rename or delete your test /menu.lst file so that grub4dos will find the Easy2Boot menu.lst file in the /grub folder and not use your test /menu.lst in the root.
5.2 Boot the USB drive (use the QEMU button in RMPrepUSB for a quick check) and ensure that the menu entry is listed and also check that it works on a real system (or several real systems!).
If you need to debug the Easy2Boot process, just edit the /grub/menu.lst file and uncomment the line so that set DD=1 will be run - this causes lines to be echoed to the screen as the AUTOMENU.bat fileruns. You can also set EBACKUP=YES - this will copy the final user's menu that is held in the ramdrive to the file /grub/BACKUP.lst - this allows you to view and check it in Notepad after a trial boot on a real system (not QEMU). Note that EBACKUP will not work under an emulator as emulators block writes to physical boot devices.
Note: .mnu filenames can have spaces in them and do work but try to avoid filenames with spaces in them if possible as it may confuse the user!
If the ISO file has spaces when downloaded from their home website, then you will need to use "\ " in the menu e.g. for "My Big ISO.iso" you need to use, for example:
iftitle [if exist %MFOLDER%/My\ Big\ Iso.iso] Run My Big ISO.iso
map %MFOLDER%/My\ Big\ Iso.iso (0xff)
6. Now upload the .mnu file and instructions to reboot.pro (http://reboot.pro/16426/). The User Instructions should be along the lines of:
Typical Easy2Boot User Instructions to add a new boot file
Note that the .mnu files can be anywhere under the main (MFOLDER) folder - they do not have to be in the same folder as the ISO (payload) files. However, the .mnu files MUST be under the MFOLDER to be detected. If your .mnu file contains %MFOLDER% paths, then the main payload file must also be under the main MFOLDER. Also, the ,mnu file does not have to contain the %MFOLDER% path reference - you can hard-code the path (e.g. /boot/bootmgr) in your .mnu file, but you must tell the user that they can only place the payload files in specific folders on the Easy2Boot USB drive.
Always use iftitle rather than just title if at all possible to avoid misleading the user - when using iftitle with if exist - if the payload iso does not exist or is not in the correct folder, then no menu will be displayed for that OS!
The Easy2Boot USB drive uses the brilliant and highly flexible grub4dos bootloader - the boot process for Easy2Boot works as follows:
1. Your PC boots from an Easy2Boot USB drive via the grub4dos bootsectors which were installed on the boot sectors of the drive when you prepared the USB drive in Part 2 above.
2. The grub4dos file grldr is loaded - this is the main grub4dos bootloader code. The grldr file is in the root of the drive and should have been copied over when you installed grub4dos using RMPrepUSB.
3. Grub4dos will look for a /menu.lst file in the root of your Easy2Boot USB drive - this should NOT exist. grub4dos will then look for a /boot/grub/menu.lst file - this should also NOT exist! Finally, grub4dos looks for a /grub/menu.lst file and this is the Easy2Boot menu which we need and is loaded by grub4dos!
4. The Easy2Boot menu.lst file now works by running the grub4dos batch file AUTOMENU.BAT. This batch file does the following:
4.1 Loads WENV (a grub4dos utility) and a portion of the AUTOMENU.BAT batch file into memory for faster execution
4.2 Enumerates all *.mnu files in all folders below the main specified folder (this is set to /_ISO within the menu.lst file when AUTOBOOT.BAT is called)
4.3 A new menu is written to memory by copying the contents of each .mnu file that it finds into a temporary ramdrive. The menu will begin with these lines by default:
However, these two lines are replaced by the /grub/USER.mnu file - the contents of this file are used instead of the default two lines only if the USER.mnu file exists, so you can change the start of the menu if you wish. This is what you should see as it searches for .mnu files:
The variable MFOLDER is set to whatever folder was specified in the calling menu.lst file ( /_ISO is used in the standard /grub/menu.lst file).
4.4 When control returns back to the /grub/menu.lst file, it loads the new menu, which has been made from all the .mnu files, from the ram drive and presents it to the user.
If you want to change the standard menu settings (colour, size, background picture, etc.), you can modify the /grub/USER.mnu file.
See my grub4dos tutorial - 'Make your own splashimage file' - for instructions on how to make your own background wallpaper image.
Note: The reason for using a folder called /_ISO is that the Zalman VE200 CD/DVD emulator uses this folder, so you can boot from the Zalman VE200 via grub4dos or load any ISO on the VE200 via the jog wheel and LCD display.
If you want to REALLY use a different main folder for the mnu and iso files, simply change the line in /grub/menu.lst that calls /grub/automenu.bat - e.g.
and then move all your mnu files and payload files to be under /Easy2Boot (in this example) - the MFOLDER variable will be automatically set to the new main folder.
A wallpaper file should be a 14, 24 or 32--colour 640x480 bitmap in the \grub folder called either background.bmp.gz or background.bmp. If you have a suitable bitmap file, simply delete the existing background.bmp.gz file and replace it with a .bmp or .bmp.gz file (use 7Zip to compress a .bmp to a .gz using GZip compression to save file space). If you delete the background.bmp and background.bmp.gz files (to save space), the low-res bluelight.xpm.gz file will be used as a background instead.
For reference, here is the code in the User.mnu file which displays the background wallpaper...
If you want to change the linux menu wallpaper, then edit the \grub\linuxuser.mnu file and change the splashimage line.
The main menu text colors are set by the color command in the User.mnu file:
16 colours can be chosen:
0=black, 1=blue, 2=green, 3=cyan, 4=red, 5=magenta, 6=brown, 7=dark grey
15=white, 14=yellow, 13=pink, 12=red, 11=cyan,10=l.green, 9=bright blue, 8=light grey
normal = colour of most of the menu entries
highlight = colour of the current menu entry
See also the linuxuser.mnu file for the linux menu colour settings.
Note: If a bitmap is used as a background, the background colour of the text will always be transparent.
The heading colour is determined by this line in the User.mnu file:
$[ABCD] Color - specifies the text colour where A=0/1 (where 1 is blinking text), B=0/1(where 1 is bright text), C=0-7 background colour, D=0-7 text colour. (Blinking text does not work under QEMU as blinking is done by the graphics hardware and not by software).
Colours for the $ parameters are: 0=black/grey 1=dark blue, 2=green, 3=aqua, 4=dark red, 5=pink, 6=yellow/brown, 7=grey/white.
Setting B (the second number) to 1 will brighten the text colour.
hence $ is non-blinking bright aqua text (on a dark aqua background).
hence $ is non-blinking dark grey text (on a dark aqua background.)
If you always have an ISO on the USB drive and you want it to be first in the menu and automatically selected after a 5 second timeout, then modify the USB drive files as follows:
1. Add these lines similar to the USER.mnu file (change the path and filename to match your ISO or payload file)
2. Copy the text contents of your favourite ISO's .mnu file to the bottom of the USER.mnu file. You can omit any # comment lines if you like.
3. Delete the favourite ISOs .mnu file as it is no longer required. If left on the drive you will get two entries in the menu!
Sometimes, you will find that a .mnu file is not available, or that you need a special menu entry for your own ISO. For instance, if you want to add Windows 7 install ISOs and Windows XP install ISOs from Tutorial #63.
The simplest way to do this is to follow the tutorial, but where is says to make or edit the \menu.lst file, instead make a new .mnu file and place it in one of the \_ISO\xxx folders. Make sure that the menu entries correspond to paths of the files that you have added to your USB drive.
Alternatively, you can make your own custom menu as a sub-menu. i.e. when your Easy2Boot USB drive boots, the first menu item will be...
when this is selected, it will display a second menu which is your own custom menu. The advantage of this is that you control the order and appearance of the menu entries in your custom menu.
To add a Custom Menu entry:
Click on the down-arrows to download----------------v .