Multi-Boot for UEFI
by Alan German
previous article (Yumi - A Workhorse of a Different
discussed the creation of a bootable USB drive that would
provide a platform from which to boot multiple operating
systems. This makes efficient use of todays high
capacity drives since several Linux distros and utilities
can be loaded and run from a single USB flash drive.
However, one problem with Yumi is that it doesn't support
UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) so, if you
have a relatively new computer, creating multi-boot USB
drives may not be possible for you. At least, it won't be
possible unless you are prepared to switch horses and use
some different software. This is where Easy2Boot comes
The setup procedures for Easy2Boot are a little
convoluted but, once the software is configured, loading
multiple Linux distros and utilities onto the bootable
USB flash drive is pretty simple albeit with one
final twist in the tail! The required steps are outlined
in the following text.
You will need three things (1) a large capacity
(lets say 8 GB or bigger) USB flash drive, (2) the
Easy2Boot software (download Easy2Boot_v1.64DPMS.zip from
http://www.easy2boot.com/), and (3) the installer for the
RMPrepUSB software (download
Install_RMPrepUSB_Full_v2.1.725.zip from http://www.rmprepusb.com/).
Unpack the RMPrepUSB zip file and install the software on
your computer. This program is used to prepare the USB
flash drive for use with Easy2Boot. However, you
dont need to run RMPrepUSB program manually since
the drive preparation process is part of a batch file
that first calls up RMPrepUSB, and then runs Easy2Boot,
to create the bootable USB drive.
Now unpack the Easy2Boot zip file into a new folder on
your hard disk. Lets name this folder Easy2Boot.
This time, no software installation is required. The
batch file to create a bootable USB drive will be run
directly from your Easy2Boot folder.
However, just before we go ahead with this, note that any
files on the USB drive will be lost in the initial
formatting process so make sure that either the drive is
empty or you have nothing on the drive that you wish to
Navigate to Easy2Boot\_ISO\docs\Make_E2B_USB_Drive.
Right-click on the file MAKE_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd and select
Run as administrator. The make window will display a list
of available USB drives. The target disk is likely to be
listed as DRIVE 1. If so, in response to the prompt,
enter 1 as the drive number that you wish to erase and
format. A warning that any information (partitions) on
the selected drive will be destroyed will now be
displayed. Enter Y to authorize the disk format.
The choice is now to format the USB drive as NTFS (for
boot files over 4 GB), or FAT32 (for smaller boot files).
Entering F (for FAT32) will usually be sufficient. Press
OK in response to the final option to continue the disk
format. The batch file will format the drive and then
indicate that the Easy2Boot files are being copied. This
latter process can take some time, so be patient.
We now need to set up Easy2Boots configuration file
with choices for language and keyboard type. The defaults
are for English (US) which will normally be desired so
simply press Return for the various prompts in order to
accept the default values. The next option asks if we
wish to show file name extensions in the menus. Press Y
to allow this.
Finally, we are asked if we wish to write the
configuration file (MyE2B.cfg). Enter Y to this prompt
also. The make windows background changes to green
success! Press any key to close the batch file.
We now have a bootable USB drive. To test the system,
lets see if we can set up Ubuntu Linux to boot from
the USB. The instructions say to load Linux ISO files
into the _ISO\LINUX folder. However, what they dont
tell you is that you should rename such files with a
.isodefault extension rather than the original .iso
extension. (If this step is not taken, the boot process
will stall briefly and require that you type Y to
authorize the use of the isodefault extension.)
So, for our current purposes we will copy the
ubuntu-14.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso, a 64-bit Ubuntu distro,
to the folder _ISO\LINUX on the bootable USB drive, and
rename this file to
ubuntu-14.04.2-desktop-amd64.isodefault. Finally, we are
ready to boot into Ubuntu from the USB flash drive.
Rebooting the machine and selecting the option to use the
USB flash drive (using F12 = Boot Options in my case)
leads to the display of Easy2Boots main menu. We
now select Option 4 - the LINUX menu. A sub-menu is
displayed with the first option numbered as 0
Selecting this option boots the machine into the live-USB
version of Ubuntu 14.04.
Providing other Linux distros as optional boot targets is
as simple as copying the distro files (ISOs) into
the _ISO\LINUX folder of the bootable USB drive (and
renaming them with a .isodefault extension). Similarly,
including bootable utilities, such as Gparted and
Clonezilla, is achieved by copying their ISO files into
the _ISO\UTILITIES folder of the bootable USB drive. The
individual Linux distros may be selected from the LINUX
option of Easy2Boots main menu, while the utility
programs may be similarly selected from the UTILITIES
So, there you have it, a somewhat complex setup process,
but a decidedly simple means of booting one of a number
of Linux distros or utilities from a single USB drive on
a modern computer system.
Originally published: March, 2016
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