Today we will create a multi-boot flash drive. Why is it needed? A multiboot flash drive is a set of distributions and utilities with which you can install Windows or Linux, restore the system and do many other useful things. When you call a computer repair specialist at your home, it is very likely that he has such a flash drive or an external hard drive in his arsenal (which, in principle, is the same thing). See also: a more advanced way to create a multi-boot flash drive
This instruction was written relatively long ago and at the moment (2016) is not entirely relevant. If you are interested in other ways to create bootable and multiboot flash drives, I recommend this material: The best programs for creating bootable and multiboot flash drives .
What you need to create a multiboot flash drive
There are various options for creating a flash drive for multi-boot. Moreover, you can download a ready-made media image with many boot options. But in this instruction we will do everything manually.
The WinSetupFromUSB program (version 1.0 Beta 6) will be used directly to prepare the flash drive and then write the necessary files to it. There are other versions of this program, but most of all I like exactly the one indicated, and therefore I will show an example of creation in it.
The following distributions will also be used:
- Windows 7 distribution ISO image (Windows 8 can be used in the same way)
- Windows XP distribution ISO image
- ISO image of a disk with recovery tools RBCD 8.0 (taken from a torrent, for my personal purposes, computer assistance is best suited)
In addition, of course, you will need the flash drive itself, from which we will make multi-boot: such that everything that is required fits on it. In my case, 16 GB is enough.
Update 2016: a more detailed (compared to the one below) and a new instruction for using the program WinSetupFromUSB .
Flash drive preparation
We connect the experimental flash drive and run WinSetupFromUSB. We make sure that the desired USB drive is listed in the list of media at the top. And click the Bootice button.
In the window that appears, click “Perform Format”, before turning the flash drive into a multi-boot, it must be formatted. Naturally, all data from it will be lost, I hope you understand this.
For our purposes, the USB-HDD mode (Single Partition) item is suitable. Select this item and click "Next Step", specify the NTFS format and optionally write a label for the flash drive. After that - “OK.” In the warning that the flash drive will be formatted, click “Ok”. After the second such dialog box, visually nothing will happen for a while - this is directly formatting. We wait for the message "The partition has been formatted successfully ..." and click "OK."
Now in the Bootice window, click the "Process MBR" button. In the window that appears, select "GRUB for DOS", and then click "Install / Config". There is no need to change anything in the next window, just click the “Save to Disk” button. Done. Close the Process MBR and Bootice window, returning to the main WinDetupFromUSB program window.
Select sources for multiboot
In the main window of the program you can see the fields for specifying the path to distributions with operating systems and recovery utilities. For Windows distributions, you must specify the path to the folder - i.e. not just to an ISO file. Therefore, before proceeding, mount the images of Windows distributions in the system, or simply unzip the ISO images to a folder on your computer using any archiver (archivers can open ISO files as an archive).
We put a checkmark in front of Windows 2000 / XP / 2003, click the button with the ellipsis icon right there, and specify the path to the disk or folder with the installation of Windows XP (this folder contains subfolders I386 / AMD64). We do the same with Windows 7 (next field).
There is no need to specify anything for a LiveCD. In my case, it uses the G4D loader, and therefore, in the PartedMagic / Ubuntu Desktop variants / Other G4D field, we simply specify the path to the .iso file
Click "Go." And we wait until everything that we need is copied to a USB flash drive.
When the copy is complete, the program issues some kind of license agreement ... I always refuse, because in my opinion it is not related to the newly created flash drive.
And here is the result - Job Done. The multiboot flash drive is ready to use. For the remaining 9 gigabytes, I usually write down everything else that I need to work - codecs, Driver Pack Solution, free software packages and other information. As a result, for most of the tasks for which I am being called, this single flash drive is quite enough for me, but for solidity I, of course, take a backpack with a screwdriver, thermal grease, unlocked 3G USB modem, a set of CDs for various goals and other tricks. Sometimes come in handy.
You can read about how to install boot from a USB flash drive in the BIOS in this article .