SARDU as a Multiboot DVD Option

I had previously used XBOOT to create a multiboot DVD. (I had wanted a multiboot DVD because my laptops with Windows 7 loaded on mSATA drives were not recognizing bootable USB drives.) The resulting XBOOT DVD had worked. Unfortunately, some of the programs that I had loaded on that DVD did not work. The problem was not in the programs; I had been able to boot them in other configurations. The problem appeared to be in XBOOT, which had not been updated since its version 1.0 beta 14 in 2011.

SARDU was an alternative to XBOOT. When I had tried it in summer 2014, it had virus and crapware problems. But I saw, on SARDU’s homepage, that it had most recently been updated in fall 2014. It seemed I might want to try it again, so I downloaded its version beta 8 (what’s with the betas, anyway? just take the big leap to!) and set to work.

When I unzipped and ran it, I saw that SARDU was running as a portable (i.e., no installation required; just move the whole folder to relocate it). It was kind of odd. For one thing, the program’s webpage suffered somewhat from the phrasing of its developer’s limited English. Also, I inadvertently discovered that right-clicking on its empty space would close the program. No menu; just boom! shutdown. So, you know, when they say “beta” in Italy, they aren’t kidding.

SARDU came pre-equipped with a dinky little list of programs that it was apparently preset for: AVG, BitDefender, and a few others. The idea seemed to be that the developer was just offering a few illustrations — unlike YUMI, which offered an extensive list of preset programs that users could add to the multiboot smorgasbord.

I tried adding Precise Puppy Linux to the list. To do so, from the menu I selected Extra > Add Extra ISO. This gave me a form to fill out. Only some of the blanks were available: Name, for example, and ISO Name, but not Type or the unexplained Derivate field. (I say “unexplained,” but that may not be accurate. The developer offered an FAQs page with multiple videos of assorted lengths, as well as a Guide page with a brief introduction to using SARDU to create a multiboot USB (not DVD) drive.)

(An ISO, by the way, is a single file, generally large, that contains an entire program. ISOs are commonly used for burning DVDs with disc-burning programs like ImgBurn. You indicate where the ISO is located, you click Go, and the burning program puts the contents of the ISO onto the DVD in bootable form. Many programs that you might want to boot are available for download in ISO form. It is also possible to create an ISO containing a program that is not already available in ISO form.)

At that point, I was a bit stalled. I gathered from one video that perhaps I should have started by assembling the desired ISOs in the proper SARDU folder. But where was that folder on my machine? In SARDU, I clicked the File menu pick > Open ISO Folder. That opened a session of Windows Explorer targeted on the ISO subfolder, under the folder where I had put the SARDU portable program files. In other words, let’s say the name of that program folder was called D:\SARDUPROG. In that case, this would be the address of the ISO folder: D:\SARDUPROG\ISO.

I tested that assumption by putting one ISO there. This was the ISO for Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN). At 15MB, it was an easy move. I was not fond of the idea of having to move gigabytes’ worth of ISOs from elsewhere on my computer — although, for purposes of burning a DVD, it would be less than 5GB in total.

Now I saw that perhaps this move was not necessary after all: SARDU’s File menu pick included a Choose ISO Folder option. I pointed to the folder where I kept my ISOs. That folder had subfolders; I wondered whether SARDU would work with that, or instead needed all ISOs to be available in precisely the target folder. Designating my ISO folder did not have any visible effect on SARDU — for example, it did not repopulate its original brief list of random ISOs to show my ISOs instead.

I wasn’t sure what to do next, but this little voyage of discovery was more interesting than watching that video (which pertained to an old version of SARDU, and anyway was accompanied by really distracting music, which of course I could have muted except I rather enjoyed it). I tried File > Select All ISO Availables (probably meant “all ISOs available”). That didn’t have any obvious effect either. I guessed it meant that it would click the checkbox next to any item on the predefined list (e.g., AVG Rescue CD) if the corresponding ISO was in the SARDU\ISO subfolder.

I was just about to try another step, but I guess I must have right-clicked in the wrong place, or maybe did something else forbidden. Poof! SARDU was gone again. I could see that it might get irritating to spend ten minutes configuring a DVD, and then accidentally wipe it all out. I was really kind of surprised that the developer had not noticed this problem. But, not to complain: at least this time around, so far, I was not getting deluged by crapware. (In fairness, I did notice an indication, somewhere along the way, that maybe the crapware came from a website or service that had bundled previous versions of SARDU, possibly without any such intent on the part of the developer.)

Now, while I was playing around with right-clicks on various parts of the SARDU interface, I noticed that the program did not die if I right-clicked on a row listing one of the predefined programs. Instead, I got a context menu including an option to Search ISO. So possibly the way to proceed was to enter an item into the list, right-click on it, and tell it where its ISO was located.

In that case, I would have liked to remove most of those predefined items from the list, since I didn’t plan to include most of them on my multiboot DVD. Sadly, there did not appear to be an option, on the main menu or via right-click, to achieve that. Checking the box next to any such listed item merely brought up a question: “Do you want to download” the ISO corresponding to this item?

But now I arrived at what could be a deal-breaker. I had already seen, in the proffered Guide webpage, that it was possible to add what the developer called an Extra item not already listed. For this, the menu pick was Extra > Item Extra Menu > Add Item to Menu. This brought up a dialog asking me for the name of the program (e.g., DBAN) and two other pieces of information that I could not answer: “Kernel of Software” and “Append of Software.” The example given for the former was “/boot/grub.exe”; the example for the latter was “APPEND –config-file=.” This was evidently what the developer was talking about, on his FAQs page, when he said that the Extra menu was not supported: “For customize the extra folder, user must have knowledge of multiboot and isolinux.” That pretty much ruled me out.

A Google search led to various tutorials and reviews. These gave me the impression that SARDU had previously been more capable and coherent. I thought that perhaps the developer had called what I was using a “beta” for version because he had decided to completely remake the program and was still very much in the process of getting it to work as desired. That suggested the option of seeking out an earlier version, where maybe I wouldn’t have these problems; but I had seen one or two other references to spyware. I wasn’t too keen to go back in time with this program.

For the moment, I decided to postpone further investigation of SARDU, and to experiment instead with another approach that had just occurred to me: using YUMI to create a multiboot DVD, even though it wasn’t designed to do that.

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4 Responses to SARDU as a Multiboot DVD Option

  1. SteveSi says:

    Why not try Easy2Boot? Once you have made the Easy2Boot USB drive, you just copy over (or delete) your ISOs using Windows Explorer. It boots 99% of all linux ISOs and you can add as many Win XP,Vista,7,8,10 install ISOs as you like.

  2. Ray Woodcock says:

    Steve — how do you get from the multiboot USB drive to the multiboot DVD?

  3. owlatech says:

    Damn. I had high hopes for Sardu but I struggled as well. Was wondering if it worth spending more time on it. Know I now. Thanks, Ray. Good post!

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