Saturday, May 21, 2011

ASUS Eee PC: Booting from USB: First Cut

I needed a way to boot an ASUS Eee PC with Windows 7 installed.  The mission was to look at, and possibly replace or delete, a certain file in a particular directory on the Eee's drive C.  The Eee didn't have a CD/DVD drive, so it seemed that what I needed was a bootable USB drive with file management capabilities.  I knew the Eee was capable of being booted that way, because I had already successfully booted it with USB drives containing Acronis True Image and GParted.  Unfortunately, I had not succeeded in previous attempts to boot Ubuntu or some other program or operating system, so as to examine files and folders.  This post describes some more attempts along those lines, oriented specifically toward getting various programs to boot an Eee from a USB drive.

Hiren's Boot CD

More than a year earlier, I had made a similar attempt related to Windows XP.  In that attempt and previously, I had become familiar with various bootable USB jump drive packages, including the Universal Boot CD for Windows (UBCD4Win) and BartPE.  It now appeared that Hiren's Boot CD (HBCD) was an especially good option.  I noticed that it included DBAN, GParted, and other tools that I would like to have on a bootable USB thumb drive.  Following the instructions provided by Hiren and Pankaj (as also shown, somewhat confusingly, on a different website I found later), I took these steps:

  1. I plugged in my USB flash drive -- 4GB, though they said 512MB was sufficient.  I suspected that a drive larger than 4GB would fail due to their use of FAT32 formatting.
  2. I downloaded and ran their USB formatting program (changing no settings).  Then I downloaded and ran their grub4dos program as Administrator.  The device I selected was a Disk (not File).  It was a 4GB USB drive, so on my system that was hd3, which they described as "3851M" (i.e., not quite 4,000 megabytes).  I clicked Refresh next to Part List and selected Whole Disk (MBR).  I clicked Install.
  3. I downloaded the Hiren's BootCD zip file.
  4. I unzipped the BootCD zip file and found that it contained an ISO.  I didn't want to burn a CD in order to proceed with the next steps, so I tried using Virtual CDROM to position that ISO as a virtual CDROM drive. Specifically, in VCD, I clicked Mount, navigated to the ISO, selected it, and clicked OK. The mount failed.  I saw that Virtual CloneDrive (VCD) seemed to be more frequently downloaded, so I tried that.  When I started it, it gave me only a few options.  I adjusted those.  Now I had an icon in the system tray.  I right-clicked on that and got an option to mount drive G, which Windows Explorer was now showing as "BD-ROM Drive."  That opened up a dialog.  I navigated to the ISO.  That seemed to work.  The HBCD instructions said to copy everything from the mounted ISO to the USB flash drive, so I did.  There was some flaky behavior here:  at one point I basically had to restart Windows Explorer to see the contents of the mounted ISO again, but in the end I was able to copy those contents to the jump drive.
With those steps done, I plugged the USB drive into the Eee and rebooted.  I had to hit F2 repeatedly when it first started booting, because I had learned it did not remember boot settings.  I set the USB drive as the first drive to boot.  The USB stick did not boot.  The relevant error message seemed to be, "Cannot find GRLDR."  In other words, the grub4dos step seemed to have failed.  I looked at the directions and tried again.  This time, I skipped the formatting step -- the drive was already formatted -- and went directly to the grub4dos step presented on the alternate HBCD webpage that I had more recently discovered.  But everything seemed the same.  I tried booting the Eee again with the USB stick.  Same result.  I looked at the HBCD FAQs page.  It said this:
If you are getting GRLDR error, or if usb booting is halting with a blinking dos window, or if you are facing with smilar situations, try using syslinux to boot grub4dos. To do that, download (145 KB), extract its contents, run ‘RunMe.bat’ inside of the extracted folder and follow its steps.
Oy.  But, OK, I downloaded and unzipped and clicked on its RunMe.bat file.  It did copy files to the USB drive, as promised.  Now what?  I tried booting the Eee with the USB stick again.  That definitely worked.  I was now looking at a GRUB4DOS menu that listed a half-dozen programs.  Unfortunately, none of them was HBCD.  I tried a Google search for info on the HBCD "cannot find GRLDR" error.  Got a couple dozen hits, mostly in Vietnamese.  Bizarre.  I didn't like Bing, but an equivalent Bing search didn't have that problem.  Regardless, I didn't see a solution.  Back at one of the HBCD instructions pages, I noticed that they said I should have run grub4dos as Administrator.  I hadn't done that.  I was already logged in as Administrator, but maybe that wasn't sufficient.  I right-clicked on grubinst_gui.exe and clicked Run as Administrator.  That brought up the same Grub4Dos Installer dialog as before.

I went through the steps again.  In the process of abandoning the one HBCD instruction page for the other, I had also overlooked another step:  "Copy grldr and menu.lst (from HBCD folder) [actually found in the grub4dos\grub folder] to the usb drive."  I did that now.  The menu.lst (that's MENU.LST, with an L, not MENU.1ST, with a one) file overwrote the one that syslinux had placed on the USB drive.  I wasn't sure how this was going to work:  I hadn't removed syslinux from the USB drive.  But I gave it a try.  This time, I got a somewhat longer Grub4DOS menu.  Unfortunately, I didn't see most of the tools that had interested me originally; and after a moment, the computer went ahead and tried to load Windows 7, even though I had not to my knowledge issued any command of that sort.  I rebooted.  It seemed I must have left the cursor sitting on the option for "Custom Menu ... (Use HBCDCustomizer to add your files)," because that one was ready to boot automatically in just a few seconds.  Hitting Enter on that item opened a longer list.

What I wanted, in the particular situation, was something like Ubuntu, with which I could use a GUI to change files in a particular folder on the Windows 7 programs drive C.  I decided to try Eeebuntu 3.0.1 Netbook Remix.  It gave me an error message, and within 10 seconds I was back at the Grub4DOS menu.  I tried Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Remix.  I tried Ubuntu 10.04 (GNOME Desktop x86).  All of these were giving me "Error 15:  File not found."  They seemed to be trying to load an Ubuntu (or whatever) ISO.  Was I supposed to have that on a separate USB drive, also plugged into the netbook?  I tried Eeebuntu again.  It seemed to be looking for eeebuntu-3.0.1-nbr.iso.  A search led to Aurora and Wikipedia webpages indicating that Eeebuntu 3 was based on Ubuntu 9.04, which at this point was two years old and outdated in a number of ways.  I wasn't that much more excited about the HBCD option to load Ubuntu 10.04, also a year old.

I had been thinking, or hoping, that HBCD would somehow miraculously combine all those dozens of CDs on one USB stick, but now that was just not materializing.  If I was going to be using HBCD just to boot Ubuntu, why not have the latest Ubuntu on a stick?  Make it simpler and more up-to-date.  I went to the Ubuntu download webpage and noticed that they were providing instructions that simply involved the Universal USB Installer and a downloaded Ubuntu ISO.  I ran my copy of Universal USB Installer and saw that it was willing to install Ubuntu 11.04 on a stick.  I was about to proceed with that, but then I wondered whether some other Linux distribution would be better for the Eee.  A search led to one webpage in which some people said that plain old Ubuntu was fine.  Another webpage suggested Leeenux.  I was familiar with Ubuntu, so I decided to try that (again).

When I had pretty much settled on the approach of using Universal USB Installer to download and install the ISO on my USB drive, it occurred to me that the advantage of HBCD was that I could have a bunch of ISOs on a companion USB drive, and could boot them all with the HBCD USB drive.  In this concept, I couldn't do it all with one drive, but I could do it with two, especially now that USB drive capacities were increasing:  my second USB drive could hold a dozen ISOs.  I revisited the option, presented in HBCD, of using HBCD Customizer (above).  I was thinking this might be a way to run Ubuntu 11.04 among others.  Thing is, I couldn't find it.  I didn't want to download it from just any random webpage -- it could be virus-ridden -- but it seemed like WOT-banned sites were featuring it.


Another search led to some indications that the UBCD4Win was also customizable, so I turned to that possibility.  This search seemed more promising.  On closer examination, though, it appeared that creating this device required a Windows XP CD.  I had one, but others might not.  That requirement would also presumably have prevented me from using it to install Ubuntu.  So I turned to its cousin, UBCD (not for Windows).  A search led ultimately to, where I discovered XBoot, which was yet another possibility (along with YUMI and the Linux-based MultiSystem. The XBoot instructions required me to download the latest XBoot as well as the other ISOs that I would want to use.  I decided to start with ISOs for GPartedUbuntu 11.04 (which, as I recalled, would not automatically contain GParted), Darik's Boot & Nuke (patched for XBoot), and Acronis True Image Home.  I had purchased a copy of Acronis, and would have been glad to recommend a freeware alternative, but I wasn't immediately finding one with an ISO.  There would probably be other ISOs I would want to add later, but this would do for now.  I wasn't as interested in some of the programs that were supposedly included in Hiren's Boot CD, for instance, because I was keeping a copy of my customized Start Menu (containing portable applications) on a separate USB drive, and many of the programs included in Hiren's were already on that Start Menu.  Many of those programs required an operating system (especially Windows) to be booted already, so I wasn't sure how or why I would be using them on a multiboot USB drive, though of course it could be handy to have everything on one large USB drive.

So anyway, I downloaded, unzipped, and ran XBoot.  It was a portable, which was nice.  I had created a folder for the four ISOs mentioned in the previous paragraph (i.e., GParted, Ubuntu, DBAN, and Acronis), so now I just dragged those ISOs over and dropped them on the XBoot program.  The instructions seemed to say I was supposed to do something with the QEMU and Edit MultiBoot USB tabs, but I couldn't quite figure it out.  I decided to start simply, by clicking the Create USB button on the first (Create Multiboot USB/ISO) tab.  This brought up a dialog giving me the options of using Syslinux or Grub4dos as my bootloader.  They recommended Syslinux, so I went with that.  The dialog automatically identified my USB drive.  XBoot then seemed to be copying my ISOs to the USB drive.  When it was done, it said, "USB created successfully!!  Check by running it on QEMU?"  I wasn't sure if that meant it was going to reboot the system into the QEMU operating system.  I wasn't in the mood to have my desktop system rebooted right then, so I said no.  Then I looked and saw that QEMU was just an emulator, so I probably could have tested it safely.  It wasn't too late:  the QEMU tab within XBoot allowed me (after a Refresh) to run the USB drive and, by golly, it seemed to work.

I plugged the USB drive into the Eee and rebooted it.  As in QEMU, it gave me the option to go into Utility, Linux, or Help.  The Utility submenu had Acronis, GParted, and DBAN.  I went into Linux in the main menu.  Ubuntu was the only option there.  I chose that option.  It ran.  I was able to access folders and go online in Firefox in Ubuntu.  Later, I discovered that, unlike the three other ISOs,  Acronis did not boot.  Acronis could be made bootable on a USB drive by installing the Acronis software and using its Bootable Rescue Media Builder.  I had already done that with another USB drive.  What I needed now was apparently not an ISO of the Acronis CD, but rather an ISO of that USB drive.  I used ImgBurn to create that.  Then I went back into XBoot.  There didn't seem to be an alternative to redoing the whole bootable USB creation process, so I did that.  This time, when the process finished, I tested all of the USB drive boot options in QEMU.  I saw that it had not deleted the previous options; I now had two Acronis entries.  One hung the system; the other successfully started Acronis.  I wanted to edit this menu, so I went to XBoot's Edit MultiBoot USB tab.  When I clicked the "Edit Syslinux menu file" button, I got an error:  "No application is associated with the specified file for this operation."  When I clicked Edit Grub4dos Menu File, it asked what program I wanted to use to edit it.  I tried Notepad.  That worked.  It opened menu.lst, which turned out to be in the root (top level) of the USB drive.  Menu.lst told me that the menu for the Utility section was on the USB drive too, in /boot/grub4dos/utility.lst.  My editing efforts were not too successful, so ultimately I just wiped the drive and started over.  I was not able to get Acronis to work, and in a subsequent retry the Ubuntu also stopped working.  I reformatted the USB drive (not Quick Format) and then redid the XBoot process without Acronis, and now the Ubuntu was failing to load.  I tried that twice.

Assuming I could get Ubuntu working again on the USB drive, the solution, so far, was to use XBoot, a Windows program, to load several program ISOs on a single USB drive.  The Eee would boot from this USB drive and would give me a menu allowing me to choose among those programs.  There seemed to be no practical limit on the number of ISOs that could be loaded this way.  The USB drive seemed to be capable of running just one ISO at a time, and Ubuntu loaded from the USB drive did not seem able to see the contents of the USB drive itself, so it did not appear that stray utilities added to the USB drive would be available to operating systems (e.g., Ubuntu) booted from the USB drive.


I wanted to try again to get a multiboot USB drive that would work with Acronis as well as with Ubuntu, DBAN, and GParted.  I found detailed instructions on using Grub4DOS in a way that seemed to meet this need.  The steps were as follows:
  1. Download and unzip the needed files.  These were Grub4DOS 0.4.4 (2009-06-20) and the Grub4DOS installer (
  2. In the Grub4DOS-Installer folder, right-click and run grubinst_gui.exe as Administrator.  (This was familiar from the steps described above.)  Select Disk, click its adjacent Refresh button, and select the drive on which you want to install Grub4DOS.  The size of the drive was a clue.  In my case, I was installing to a 4GB flash drive, so I selected the one that was 3812MB in size.
  3. Still in the Grub4DOS installer, click the Part List Refresh button.  This time, I got an error:  "Invalid partition table, if you still want to install, use the --skip-mbr-test."  This was presumably why Ubuntu had failed to boot on the last couple of tries with XBoot (above).  But I had already reformatted it!  Some advised using the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool (HPUSBDisk.exe).  I closed down the Grub4DOS Installer and tried that.  I set it to do a quick format and not to create a DOS startup disk.  That did the trick; I was now able to go back in and select "Whole Disk" next to the Part List, as advised back in the Grub4DOS instructions.
  4. Unlike the situation above, the instructions this time advised checking the "Don't search floppy" box (but nothing else) and then clicking Install.  That succeeded.  I closed the Grub4DOS Installer.
  5. From the unzipped Grub4DOS download folder, I copied grldr to the USB drive.
  6. Skipping to section 3 of the instructions (since I wanted multiple ISOs on the USB drive), I ran Acronis True Image Home on the desktop computer, where I had installed it.  I went to the Main Screen > Create bootable media.  When I got to the Bootable Media Type Selection section, I chose ISO Image.  I saved it to the same folder on the hard drive where I had my GParted and other ISOs.
  7. I created menu.lst in that ISOs folder, so I'd have it in case I wanted to create another USB drive or retry with this one.  To create menu.lst, I started by copying and pasting this text into Notepad:
    timeout 10
    default 0

    title Acronis True Image Home 2011
    map --mem (hd0,0)/AcronisTrueImageHome2011.iso (hd32)
    map --hook
    chainloader (hd32)

    title CommandLine

    title Reboot

    title Halt
    The parts that could be edited were the title (Acronis True Image Home 2011), which could be anything I wanted, and the ISO's filename (AcronisTrueImageHome2011.iso), which had to match what I had actually called the ISO.  (Spaces in the ISO's filename would apparently have been a bad idea.)  I didn't change the (hd32) part of the "map" line.  The "--mem" part of the first "map" line was optional.  It apparently made the ISO load into RAM.  With 2GB of RAM on my Eee, I felt that I could do this with all of my ISOs.  If that had failed, I could have removed "--mem" from that line.
  8. I copied the finished menu.lst over to the root of the jump drive. So now the USB drive contained two files:  grldr and menu.lst.
  9. I copied the Acronis ISO over to the USB drive, so that menu.lst would be able to find it.  The instructions said I could have put it into a folder of its own, as long as the map command in menu.lst could find it (by referring to e.g., /subfolder/AcronisTrueImageHome2011.iso).
  10. While I was at it, I copied the other ISOs (GParted, Ubuntu, DBAN) as well.  I used the patched DBAN ISO mentioned above.
  11. I edited menu.lst so that it would include references to all four ISOs.  As just shown, it already had five lines referring to the Acronis ISO, beginning with "title."  So I copied, pasted, and edited those five lines for each of the other ISOs I wanted to boot.  Here, again, I was allowed to change only the title itself (e.g., changing "Acronis True Image Home 2011" in the copied "title" line to GParted, DBAN, or Ubuntu) and the name of the related ISO on the first "map" line.
  12. I changed the timeout from 10 to 20 seconds.
  13. Again, I made these changes to the copy of menu.lst that I had created in the ISOs folder on the hard drive, so that I would have a copy of it, and then copied it over to the jump drive.
I tried booting the resulting USB drive in the Eee.  It came up with a genuine menu.  First time around, it tried to boot Ubuntu automatically after 20 seconds' delay (that being the first item on my menu.lst), and failed.  Second time, I didn't let that happen; I arrowed down to Acronis (next item) and tried that.  That worked.  When I exited Acronis, it rebooted, and this time I tried DBAN.  That worked too.  Another reboot, another program:  GParted did not work.  It gave me a screenful of information, including this:
This Debian Live image failed to boot.
Please file a bug against the 'live-boot' package or email the Debian Live mailing list at, making sure to note the exact version, name and distribution of the image you were attempting to boot. . . .
Unable to find a medium containing a live file system.
BusyBox v.1.18.4 (Debian 1:1.18.4-1) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
/bin/sh: can't access tty; job control turned off
It seemed that the Ubuntu/Debian live images (Ubuntu 11.04 and GParted) were not working with Grub4DOS.  A search suggested that others were having this problem too.  One post suggested that changes involving "kernel" and "initrd" might help, but I was not sure how to configure them.  I wondered if the --mem option was screwing up the Linux items, so I edited menu.lst to remove that option from those items.  For GParted, that worked, to the point of giving me the initial menu, but then it led back to the BOOT FAILED! screen (above).  For Ubuntu, I wound up back at the same message as I had gotten first time -- similar to the one just quoted, but much briefer.  It said something about BusyBox but then said, "(initramfs) Unable to find a medium containing a live file system."

Grub4DOS:  Ubuntu

I was perhaps experiencing the problem that "Some linux distributions just refuse to boot from an ISO file on a USB drive."  Of course, Ubuntu could be booted from a USB stick; it was the ISO part that was causing the problem.  This was apparently "experimental."  It seemed that the "kernel" and "initrd" commands could be copied literally, at least for Ubuntu 10.10; I wasn't finding much advice for 11.04.  The approach shown in a couple of websites was like this:
title Ubuntu 10.10
find --set-root ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso
map ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper iso-scan/filename=ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso splash
initrd /casper/initrd.lz
I adjusted menu.lst to replace the previous Ubuntu entry with these lines, copied the Ubuntu 10.10 ISO to the USB drive, and tried that.  (Note:  the line beginning with kernel is long; it wraps.  The next line after "kernel ..." is "initrd ...")  This gave me "Error 60:  File for drive emulation must be in one contiguous disk area."  A search led to the advice to use either Contig or WinContig to defragment the ISO on the USB drive -- to defragment a single file, that is, not necessarily the whole drive.  I was curious whether this kind of separate tool was necessary.  In Windows Explorer, I right-clicked > Properties > Tools tab > Defragmentation.  I selected the USB drive and clicked "Defragment disk."  In seconds, it said, "0% fragmented."  I tried booting again.  Now it said "Error 15: File not found" for the Ubuntu 10.10 ISO.  I couldn't figure this out:  the file was right there.  I re-copied the ISO over from the hard drive to the USB drive and, this time, I defragmented it with WinContig.  It offered to run on the whole USB drive after all, so I went ahead with that.  Basically, I was wondering if there was some kind of magic about the WinContig way of defragmenting.  It took much longer than the Windows defragmenter had taken -- a couple of minutes, altogether, just for that little USB drive.  Eventually I realized that it was hung.  I tried to use Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del) to kill it, but that didn't work.  I rebooted the system.

I tried booting the Eee again with the USB stick.  This time, I got "Error 27: Unrecognized command."  I thought that maybe the Ubuntu ISO could not be in the root folder, so I put it into a subfolder called ISOs, and modified the three references to it (in the menu.lst lines quoted above) accordingly.  (The final menu.lst is shown below.)  Since things were not going well, I went back and re-did the 13 steps listed above.  This time around, they were like this:
  1. Run the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool on the USB drive.
  2. Run grubinst_gui.exe as Administrator.
  3. Copy grldr from the unzipped Grub4DOS download folder to the "MultiBoot" folder on the hard drive where I was saving everything that I would be copying to the USB drive.  That folder now contained grldr and menu.lst in its top level, and the ISOs in its "ISOs" folder.
  4. Copy the contents of the MultiBoot folder to the USB drive.
This time, we were back to the good old days, when the Ubuntu ISO would actually get as far as loading its splash screen and seeming like it was going to start.  Evidently it helped to start over and/or to put the ISO in a subfolder.  (I wondered whether properly ejecting the USB drive from the desktop, rather than just yanking it out, made a difference too.)  And then, woo hoo, we had liftoff!  Ubuntu was operational.  I fiddled with it for a minute.  Nautilus worked; Firefox worked.  Fantastic.  I quit Ubuntu and tried the other ISOs on the menu.  GParted, splash screen ... BOOT FAILED.  Rats.  Acronis:  Orbit!  Finally, DBAN:  no problem.

Grub4DOS:  GParted and Parted Magic

So how to make GParted work?  A search led eventually to some suggestions that Parted Magic (which evidently contained GParted among other things) or RIPLinuX (which evidently contained Parted Magic plus) might be the superior tool and easier to put on USB.  I was willing to use any of the above, as long as I could figure out how to put it on a multiboot USB -- preferably, at this point, using Grub4DOS.  I looked into Parted Magic, reasoning that, again, I probably wouldn't need all the stuff on RIPLinuX, and it might load slower.  The contemporary way to put Parted Magic on a USB stick by itself was to use Unetbootin.  But how to put it on a multiboot USB?  One webpage claimed that I could download and unzip a USB version, install its contents to the root of the USB drive, and it would run with a modification of menu.lst.  Sadly, that version was no longer available at the cited SourceForge link.  That webpage made similar claims for Memtest86+, BartPE, and UBCD, and I was tempted to experiment with those as well.  I found other webpages providing seemingly easy instructions for adding Hiren's BootCD and Memtest86+ as well.  Most tempting was the option of adding a Windows 7 Recovery CD.  I decided to return to these possibilities later, time permitting.

But continuing with the Parted Magic investigation, I began to find that I probably should have called the subfolder "images" rather than "ISOs" -- referring, there, to the folder on the USB drive where I had put the ISO downloads.  So I made that change in menu.lst and in the folder structure now.  Then I found a thread that seemed to offer a way to make Parted Magic 5.10 work with Grub4DOS.  I downloaded the ISO of that fairly recent version and put it into the images folder on the desktop computer.  I replaced the GParted lines of menu.lst; and when the Parted Magic 5.10 ISO was finished downloading, I opened it with 7zip, extracted the pmagic folder, and put that into the images folder as well -- because that's what they did in that thread, for what reason I had no idea.  I copied the revised contents of the MultiBoot folder on the hard drive to the USB drive and tried booting the Eee with it.  The Ubuntu ran (again); the Parted Magic ran too, though for a minute there I thought it was hung.  Apparently it was taking it a while to load itself into memory.  It really had a lot of tools in it -- not only GParted but also Ghost for Linux, Partition Image, etc.  I didn't think I would be needing much else in the near future.  This success with Parted Magic version 5.10 made it unnecessary for me to look further into other posts relating to versions 5.9, 5.8,, 5.5, 4.5, or 4.3.  Acronis still ran, and DBAN still ran.  I was nearly home.

Grub4DOS:  Windows 7 Recovery CD

That discovery (above) of the possibility of adding a Windows 7 Recovery CD to my multiboot USB stick was just too good to pass up.  The instructions said that I would need to start by downloading Microsoft's Windows 7 System Recovery Disc.  This gave me a small torrent link called "Windows 7 32-bit Repair Disc.torrent."  I had already installed uTorrentPortable, so I used that to run that link and download the 143MB recovery disc.  When that was downloaded, I had an ISO that, once again, I could mount as a virtual CD using Virtual Clone Drive.  I downloaded and ran WinSetupFromUSB.  It looked like this might be destructive of my hard-won success on the USB drive, so I did this with another, blank USB drive.

In WinSetupFromUSB, I clicked Refresh to see the correct USB drive.  I clicked the Bootice button.  A dialog popped up.  I selected Process MBR and then Grub4DOS and clicked Install/Config.  I checked "Don't search floppy for GRLDR" but otherwise left everything else as it was, and clicked "Save to disk."  That seemed to be the end of Bootice, so I backed out of there; but then the Bootice dialog returned.  I killed it again, and this time it stayed dead.  Back in the main WinSetupFromUSB dialog, I realized I was suffering from a dearth of guidance.  The webpage I had been loosely following really wasn't cutting it.  Back to the previous one.  It seemed I should have formatted the USB drive while I was in Bootice, so I did that now:  USB-HDD, single partition, FAT32.  Now redo the Process MBR - Grub4DOS step just mentioned.   Now, back in the WinSetupFromUSB dialog again, I clicked the Vista / Win7 option, navigated to the virtual CD drive, and clicked GO.  A minute later, it was done.  I clicked Test in QEMU > GO.  It said, "Windows is loading files ..."  That took a while.  Then QEMU produced a BSOD.  This, I decided, was a project for another day.  A worthy one, if it worked, but a whole new undertaking, by the time I got all these other tools (Parted Magic, Acronis, DBAN, Ubuntu) working on that other USB drive.


It seemed that WinSetupFromUSB might be a good place to start, for someone who was beginning a voyage of discovery, on the way to creating a multiboot USB drive, and had some time to spare.  WinSetupFromUSB allowed the same Grub4DOS tool that I had found useful in the approach I took.  My approach is summarized in the four steps enumerated above:  run the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool on the USB drive; run grubinst_gui.exe as Administrator; copy grldr from the unzipped Grub4DOS download folder to the "MultiBoot" folder on the hard drive where I was saving everything that I would be copying to the USB drive; download the relevant ISOs to the "images" subfolder in that MultiBoot folder; and then copy the contents of the MultiBoot folder to the USB drive.  Those contents included the menu.lst file, which in the end looked like this:
timeout 20
default 0

title Ubuntu 10.10
find --set-root /images/ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso
map /images/ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)
map --hook
root (0xff)
kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper iso-scan/filename=/images/ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso splash
initrd /casper/initrd.lz

title Parted Magic 5.10
root (hd0,0)
map --heads=0 --sectors-per-track=0 (hd0,0)/images/pmagic-5.10.iso (0xff) || map --heads=0 --sectors-per-track=0 --mem (hd0,0)/images/pmagic-5.10.iso (0xff)
map --hook
chainloader (0xff)

title Acronis True Image Home 2011
map --mem (hd0,0)/images/AcronisTrueImageHome2011.iso (hd32)
map --hook
chainloader (hd32)

title Darik's Boot and Nuke
map --mem (hd0,0)/images/dban-2.2.6_i586-fixed.iso (hd32)
map --hook
chainloader (hd32)

title CommandLine

title Reboot

title Halt



ignore all that, its the 8GB fat32 thing. i feel stupid. hard to find what exactly the cause is (seems related to old fat16 limits?)

luckily it looks like I can partition a USB drive so to have a small chunk for booting (nice that, why does nobody tell me these important details :)