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Re: Two Debian Distros on One Multi-boot USB

Posted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 1:16 pm
by hbcogil
SteveSi wrote:There are some things I don't understand about what you are trying to achieve? [...] So maybe you could explain what you are trying to achieve, rather than asking about the intricacies of various bootloaders, etc.?
You've pointed out my admitted ignorance as well as my inability to communicate what I am trying to achieve. I am apparently incapable of intelligently answering your questions. But I will attempt to make myself clear once again.

I want three live isos booting from one disk as if they were booting from single boot media. On an 8GB flash drive, this leaves room for storage and utilities. In as much as in my sphere of influence I run across those less informed than I in matters of computers and operating systems (believe it or not), some of which are shop owners who do some tech work on primarily Windows computers, I decided that I would include utilities which they already find useful in their work.

I know how to manually create bootable and multi-boot usbs using grub and syslinux. I sometimes use UNetbootin to create single boot usbs for purposes of testing and curiosity, but most often do it manually. I have attempted to use Yumi and some other multi-boot tools that did not work to my satisfaction. I had run across Easy2Boot but never paid it much attention (like some others it appeared to be ported to Windows, which I rarely use, and then only with great pain; so I passed it by) - I did not give it attention until this thread in which Distro-Don and wayne128 brought it to my attention.

When I went to create the usb I had in mind for the purpose for which I had it in mind, I followed the procedure I knew how to follow only to find that it would not work. I wore myself out scouring the web and finally posted to the Solydxk forums. Gaining no ground there, I posted to and then finally here.

Again, I envision an initial boot screen which serves as a portal to booting three isos as if they were on single boot media, and the system utilities as if they were stand alone as well (with the exception of PMAGIC, which it was simply convenient to include).

I have been experimenting with Easy2Boot to see if I could mask the initial boot screen and unattractive boot menus to my liking. But this too is a rather daunting task to me.

Your point regarding the error in my thinking in the use of the "fromiso" cheat code is well taken. Thank you.

I indicated my pleasure with your product by paying you for it. As it turns out it is good, but not good for what I have in mind.

So far as I know, I can boot the two debian isos from the same disk using grub, but not as truly live isos as I can chainloading to a single Debian iso extracted to a separate partition with syslinux. In addition, using grub requires that I boot to the utilities partition which requires (so far as I know) syslinux.

So I appear to me to be faced with a trade-off no matter which way I go. Use grub and boot desktops and the utilities partition, or exclude a debian iso, or exclude the utilities - or punt the whole thing.

I have some regret that I have brought my need to public light. Seems to be more trouble than whatever gain I initially saw.

Thanks for your time. If I have not made things as I see them clearer, then I most likely can not do so (for whatever reason, which in my 62 years of experience is never - never unilateral when there are two or more minds involved).

I have posted my progress to this point on the Solydxk forums. I am afraid that I have worn out, or of wearing out my welcome here. I think that I have reached the point where I will pursue this privately with any who may want to help me.

Re: Two Debian Distros on One Multi-boot USB

Posted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:16 pm
by SteveSi
I am happy to help because other people may also want to do what you want to do, but I am still having difficulties in understanding exactly what you want.

You explain in your post about your current menu and boot problems. The menu you show is easily achieved using E2B.

Do you want to USB-boot to a menu that simply has three menu options for 3 debian liveCDs + 1 for pmagic live CD? Do you just want a plain text menu and no wallpaper?
If so this is easily achieved using E2B and ISO files. Just put all the ISOs in \_ISO\MAINMENU and delete all the other files in \_ISO\MAINMENU and also delete the \_ISO\WINDOWS folder.
If you want a Utilities sub-menu the just put the ISOs for that in the \_ISO\UTILITIES folder (and don't delete the \_ISO\MAINMENU\ZZSubMenuUtilities.mnu file).

Then add a \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg text file with the contents

Code: Select all

set NOF9R=1
set NOF10H=1
# use text mode and no wallpaper
set GFX=none
and make sure you have at least one ISO in the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder or you won't get a menu! e.g. If you have 3 ISO files in \_ISO\MAINMENU then the only things in the menu will be the three ISOs.
You (we) can change the colours, etc. as you like by editing the MyE2B.cfg file.

It is possible to avoid the E2B auto-enumeration on startup and just make a menu for your ISOs (but you will have to edit the menu if you change the ISOs).

I am happy to help you achieve your goal, but you just haven't described your goal very well! - e.g. what is it about E2B that does not fit your requirements?
If not, you need to describe what you want it to look like and want it to do. Please email me if you prefer.

Re: Two Debian Distros on One Multi-boot USB

Posted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:25 pm
by SteveSi
P.S. Does this link ... -grub4dos/ help?

What the article in the link does, is to use grub4dos to boot to each partition via it's own syslinux boot partition which has been installed onto each partition.

I think the problem with syslinux is that whatever partition syslinux is installed onto, then syslinux references files only on that partition.
So if you have vmlinuz + linux files on partition 1 and vmlinuz + linux files on partition 2, if you boot from the drive via partition 1, then the syslinux.cfg file refers to files on partition 1 only. In order to boot to the linux on partition 2, you need to boot syslinux from partition 2.

P.S. grub4dos can actually set the 'root' as any partition (not sure if syslinux can do this - presumably not), so grub4dos can boot your partitions cleanly - no need to worry about isolinux/syslinux or syslinux versions, etc.


[SOLVED] Re: Two Debian Distros on One Multi-boot USB

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:44 pm
by hbcogil
SteveSi wrote:P.S. Does this link ... -grub4dos/ help?
Yes and no. What it does is show me that I do not know what I need to know.

I began a project with the idea that I could create a multi-boot usb device as I have done before, and encountered what I had not previously encountered. I sought and found the help of others at, here and at My objective in initiating this conversation has been realized. I have learned two ways that two different Debian isos can be booted on one usb device. (As a pleasant bonus I learned about your amazing software, which has already exceeded my initial expectations of it. I recommend Easy2Boot to all who have iso storage and booting needs.)

I think that what I have learned is that I not only want a "custom" usb device for my own reasons (which are irrelevant - unless someone thinks I am doing, or might do some harm to them or others), but that I want to be able to create it myself.

Having cleared the hurdle of including two Debian isos on one usb device has revealed another hurdle, which is more daunting to me than the first. I now want to know how to make one device loader work with isos which require different boot loaders. It appears that grub4dos is the way to go. But having already spent hours scouring the web and the documentation I have found, it seems that the further I go the deeper I get. While looking for an introduction to the concepts in a "grub4dos for dummies", I keep ending up at and, which is far from information for "dummies". I see myself as a carpenter (which I am, among other things, and intending no insult to "real" carpenters) who is thinking of doing his own brain surgery (which I have had, and thankfully did not have to do myself). I have gotten so far as to use syslinux to launch grub4dos, but am lost on getting from the grub4dos boot menu to the boot menus of the isos for which I need it. It is daunting - and frustrating. I do not know what I do not know. Again, I am like I was 15 years ago when I took the dive from Windows into Linux, only older and wiser to how little I know.

So the questions for me have become, from whom and by what means I get the help I need to proceed in learning grub4dos (and perhaps whether I need or want to proceed at all in it). Regardless of the answer, in my view this topic should probably be closed and moved to a different venue. I say this because while I use LMDE on a semi-regular basis, and contribute financially to the enterprise, my needs at this point are not specifically related to Linuxmint.

I need "hands-on" help. I need help in knowing where to get help. I need a tutor, not a tutorial.

At any rate, I think we are done here, are we not? (And to be clear, I do not necessarily mean done with one another.) I have benefited greatly from all - all of those who have conversed with me here and elsewhere. I go away from every conversation I have with any one at any time richer than I came into it, regardless of its outcome. Cheers to all!

Re: Two Debian Distros on One Multi-boot USB

Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:43 pm
by nobodynoze

RMPrepUSB didn't work at all. Trying Easy2Boot.

Re: Two Debian Distros on One Multi-boot USB

Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:59 pm
by hbcogil
nobodynoze wrote:Edit:

RMPrepUSB didn't work at all. Trying Easy2Boot.
That's it?

The topic is booting two Debian live isos on one and the same usb device. The topic is not a critique or review of RMPrepUSB or easy2boot. easy2boot was recommended as a tool with which to create mult-boot usb devices. The creator of easy2boot (SteveSi) offerred his assistance in the objective of the topic. easy2boot employs grub4dos. grub4dos will, like grub (as demonstrated by darethehair), boot two Debian distros on one usb. However, unlike grub, grub4dos is a universal bootloader that will boot almost anything that can be booted. easy2boot proves this.

RMPrepUSB works for me, and many others I'm sure. easy2boot works for me, and at least two others who participated in this discussion. easy2boot is an easy way to use (and for me, a good way to learn) grub4dos. So if you do not like RMPrepUSB, easy2boot or the author's website (which is for me a mine of useful information on grub4dos), then learn and use grub4dos. SteveSi himself will tell you that you do not need him, RMPrepUSB or easy2boot to use grub4dos.

SteveSi wrote a tutorial on precisely what I was trying to accomplish (see Tutorial 125 at RMPrepUSB). I got the same results without using YUMI (I could not get it to work with YUMI, on either Linux or Windows).

So thanks to darethehair and SteveSi, I learned two ways that two Debian live isos can be booted from the same usb.

Hope you find something that works for you!