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Thread: Ultimate Multiboot disk from a USB Drive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Ultimate Multiboot disk from a USB Drive

    I have come across two different methods for multibooting USB sticks. Method 1 involves using a bootloader with a USB stick containing one partition. Method 2 uses a USB stick containing multiple partitions, each containing their own boot sector.

    Boot from your USB stick, copy winxp and boot from it. includes video tutorial inside on how to do it. works on my notebook with cdrom device. As the world is being taken over by Netbooks. This may come in useful. Netbooks are great but they have no CD/DVD drive with this you can Install a full size version of any XP onto a USB drive.

    The following guide will create a multi-boot USB stick with options for Linux, Windows PE 2.0 and various floppy boot disk images, an additional options can be added. You will need a 512MB USB stick if you want to include all of the options in this guide (files take up approximately 312MB, leaving plenty of room for data storage).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Re: Ultimate Multiboot disk from a USB Drive

    You may be having the following Bootable Options:

    • Memory Tester (MEMTEST 86)
    • Plain MS-DOS Boot
    • Ontrack Easy Recovery DOS
    • Norton Partition Magic 8 DOS
    • Samsung Disk Manager

    Bios support for booting from USB devices is inconsistent. I would advise you to test whether you are able to boot at this point before proceeding with the following steps, as you will save yourself a great deal of time. You will need to insert a DOS floppy boot disk to mount a disk image in a virtual floppy drive.

    • Run HPUSBFW.EXE and select the following options.

    • Device - your USB Drive
    • File System - FAT
    • Create DOS Startup Disk - check box.
    • Using DOS System Files Located at: - browse to your floppy disk

    What do you need?

    • A "Technician PC" to create the USB key
    • The Windows Advanced Installation Kit (WAIK).
    • The sources. In other words, you need the x:\sources\install.wim (x: being your CD drive) file of the operating systems you'd like to install.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Re: Ultimate Multiboot disk from a USB Drive

    Step 1: Preparing the USB key
    Since the WIM file I'm creating (see Step 2) will be larger than 4 GB, the USB stick needs to be formatted with NTFS. In a command prompt with administrative rights, do the following
    list disk
    select disk 1
    create partition primary
    select partition 1
    format fs=ntfs quick

    In Windows XP a USB stick is usually mounted as a removable disk - even if it contains multiple partitions only the first will be accessable. To access other partitions on the USB stick you will need to mount the stick as a fixed drive.
    Next, copy the contents for example of a Vista Windows 7 (*) CD to your USB key:
    xcopy f:\*.* /s /e /f h:\

    Step 2: Creating the "Monster WIM"

    Remember only partition 1 will be accessable from a Windows XP PC. The WIM format introduced with Windows Vista is basically a container for one or more OS images. You can have a look into such a container by starting the WAIK command prompt (see your Windows start menu after installing WAIK) and entering the command "imagex.exe /info x:\sources\install.wim" (assuming x: is your DVD drive).

    Step 3: Copying the new WIM file to the USB key

    Use XP's Disk Management to delete the partition you've just created. Now use Disk Management to create the partitions planned during Step 1. All that remains to do is replacing the "install.wim" on your USB key with your customized one:

    copy d:\temp\install.wim h:\sources

    Select "Yes" if prompted to overwrite the existing install.wim.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Re: Ultimate Multiboot disk from a USB Drive

    Install a boot manager - I have successfully tested BootItNG and XOSL boot managers however the main drawback with these programs is the need to use a seperate partition for the boot files, as they will not fit in the MBR.

    If you do not want to do this then at least ensure that the USB stick is listed as the first HDD in the BIOS settings.
    • Select Option A. Append Boot Item
    • Select your USB stick from the list
    • Select partition (this will be the first option in your boot menu).
    • Enter a name for this partition (which will be displayed in your boot menu)

    Repeat the above for each partition on your USB stick.

    • When you have added all partitions to the boot menu choose option G. Begin Install
    • Select option 2.MBR
    • Select your USB stick from the list

    Now reboot your PC and change Bios settings to boot from your USB Drive. If everything went according to plan you should see a boot menu.

    To dramatically increase performance during the export of the images, either mount the source OS DVDs using a .ISO mount tool or copy the install.wim to your local hard disk. You may also want to experiment with different USB key drives to find one that is fast enough for your needs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Re: Ultimate Multiboot disk from a USB Drive


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