Easy2Boot_logoI’ve used MultibootUSB for a year or more now, and it is a handy way to create a bootable USB stick that can boot into a number of Linux or Linux-like (e.g., Ultimate Boot CD) distros. However, it does not do Windows install boots, and it requires ripping apart the ISO file to do its job. Wouldn’t it be neat if you could more or less just put the ISO on the stick and know it will boot? Well, you can almost do that now with Easy2Boot.

Pretty much what you do is prepare the stick ahead of time, put on the ISO, run a utility that squeezes the files together, and then go an boot. You cannot quite just plop an ISO on the Easy2Boot multiplatform USB stick and go, but it is a lot closer to that than the normal methods.

Best of all, I needed to boot up Windows 7 Enterprise install, and I didn’t want to overwrite what I had on my stick already (not to mention that now that they are larger, it seems such a waste to be one-use only nowadays). However, none of the normal utilities could boot crossplatform ISOs. You either had Linux, or perhaps you could find one that did Windows, but not both. This was the biggest reason I decided to try this out.

The instructions seem cryptic at first, if you aren’t used to doing it this way, but ensuring that you put the ISO files into the correct directory is the main part of it once you’ve prepped the stick. Load up the ISOs and run “MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd”.

You can create a USB stick under Linux as well. Doing minimal testing on Linux shows it works just as well on Linux, and it also points out that if you put all ISOs in the correct directories before making the stick or copy over ISOs individually without deleting them, then you don’t have to even run one of the contiguous commands.

So far, the only downfall seems to be that some initialization screens are cut off slightly on the left. I can see where this might create real problems if you aren’t careful.

To be fair, this is only scratching the surface. It can handle EFI as well as MBR, install Windows 8 from an original ISO, and it can even boot up a full Linux distribution rather than a live CD.

The possibilities seem endless.