The question examined here is whether it is possible to use YUMI to create a multiboot USB drive or SDHC card that can then be converted into a bootable ISO and burned onto a DVD. The purpose of the exercise would be to produce a multibootable diagnostic DVD for use in machines that are not bootable from USB or SDHC.
I had been using YUMI to create USB drives capable of booting multiple programs. This was very handy: instead of carrying around and digging through a pile of program CDs and bootable USB drives, I just needed one.
On two laptop computers with Windows 7 installed on mSATA drives, however, I had run into a problem. Those systems had previously been willing to boot my YUMI drive, but ceased to do so when I began booting Windows from the mSATA. Now the only way to boot those machines, other than the Windows 7 mSATA drive itself, was via the CD/DVD drive. If I wanted to boot a non-Windows utility or operating system (from, say, a live CD), I would have to go back to booting from selected CDs in my stack.
There was an exception. I found that I could create a multiboot DVD using XBOOT. The problem there was that not everything I loaded onto that DVD would boot. ISOs that had worked in other contexts (on e.g., a YUMI USB drive) would not work from the XBOOT DVD. Later, I realized that this might have been because I chose GRUB instead of SysLinux, or vice versa. But at the moment, it seemed that I needed another way of creating a multiboot DVD.
I took a brief look at SARDU, as an alternative to XBOOT. There, unfortunately, I ran into problems. SARDU did not seem ready for prime time. But then it occurred to me that there might be another way. Could I use YUMI, which was designed only to create multiboot USB drives, to create a multiboot DVD?
The concept I had in mind was that I would go ahead and load a USB drive with up to 4.7GB of programs, that being the capacity of a DVD. Then I would create an ISO of the contents of that USB drive. Finally, I would burn that ISO to a DVD. Would that work?
I tried 1 2 3 Google searches for guidance, but I wasn’t getting far. It seemed it would probably be easier to just go ahead, set it up, and see what happened. So here were the ISOs I ran through YUMI and installed on an 8GB MicroSD (SDHC) card (not having any suitable USB drives available at the moment, and pleasantly finding that YUMI 2.0 recognized MicroSD drives as well):
Darik’s Boot ‘n’ Nuke (DBAN) 2.2.8
Precise Puppy Linux 5.7
Acronis True Image Home 2011
Memtest 86+ 5.01
Parted Magic 2014
MiniTool Partition Wizard 8.1.1
Windows 7 x64 System Repair CD
Kaspersky (antivirus) Rescue Disk 10
F-Secure Rescue CD 3.16
System Rescue CD 4.2
Ultimate Boot CD 5.3.3
That filled about 3.9GB on the MicroSD drive.
Creating the ISO: First Try
Now I started ImgBurn (a free CD/DVD burning program) and chose its option to “Create image file from files/folders.” (In terms of menu picks, I believe that was equal to Mode > Build, Input > Standard, and Output > Image File.) Sadly, ImgBurn did not recognize the MicroSD drive. I could have copied the files from the MicroSD drive to a location on my hard drive, but I was not sure whether that might impair the larger project. Bootable drives were tricky things.
(Note: I was using ImgBurn 2.5.6. Attempts to download a more recent version, even from Softpedia, triggered AVG antivirus quarantine efforts. I didn’t understand that. I had been using ImgBurn for years. But discussions tended toward the same conclusion: ImgBurn was now including unwanted software in its download, though perhaps the crapware could be uninstalled or avoided later.)
Since ImgBurn wasn’t working too well for this purpose, I took a look at alternatives. A CNET list pointed me toward Ultimate ISO Maker and ISO Recorder. Neither was very heavily used or highly rated, but I thought they might be worth a try. I downloaded and ran ISO Recorder. It seemed to install, but I couldn’t tell where it went. Along the way, I noticed that it dated from 2009. I uninstalled it and was about to try again with Ultimate ISO Maker, but then noticed the somewhat more appealing Free Video to DVD Converter 5.0.52. I downloaded that — but it, too, triggered an AVG warning. An alternate download from CNET (watch out for crapware!) met the same fate when I tried to install it. That left Ultimate ISO Maker. It, too, tried to install crapware when I started installing; I hoped AVG caught it all. I also had to decline an offer for more crapware during installation. Unfortunately, Ultimate ISO Maker, a very bare-bones program, did not see my MicroSD drive either. Another possibility I discovered later: Free Create-Burn ISO Image — though it, too, was unable to detect the MicroSD drive, and would therefore apparently need SUBST, discussed below.
It seemed I might have two options at this point. I could do the YUMI process over again, this time to a USB drive, so that ImgBurn would recognize it; or I could try to do something with the MicroSD drive. In the latter vein, I tried using the SUBST K: F:\ command to persuade Windows that drive F (where the MicroSD card was located) was actually drive K (where I did not otherwise have any drive mounted). That worked. And ImgBurn was able to see drive K, a virtual drive with nothing actually there. So that got me past the previous problem within ImgBurn: now ImgBurn was willing to produce an ISO from the files and folders, on drive F, that it believed were really on drive K. (When I was done, I would use “SUBST K: /D” to kill drive K, so that that drive letter would be available again — though I believed a reboot would achieve the same thing.)
Now that I had that ISO, all I had to do was to burn it to a DVD, and see if that would work. I had just discovered the ISOBURN /Q [path and filename] command. (Older variation: install the Windows 2003 Server Resource Kit and then try using the DVDBURN command.) In that command, /Q apparently meant “quick” — in other words, you’d better have your blank DVD in the burner, all set to go. In my case, if I had used ImgBurn to create that ISO at F:\Path name\File name.iso, my ISOBURN command would probably have been ISOBURN \Q “F:\Path name\File name.iso” with quotation marks — though possibly the spaces in that path and filename would have been a bad idea regardless of whether I used quotation marks around them.
Since I already had a working copy of ImgBurn, I used it to burn the ISO image to the blank DVD. Then I tried using that DVD to boot a laptop that could not boot from a USB drive. The DVD was not bootable. The machine was bootable from my XBOOT multiboot DVD, however. I concluded that the ISO and DVD creation process described above did not work. Nor did that laptop boot from the MicroSD drive created by YUMI — though that was no surprise since, as I say, the laptop would not boot from a USB drive either.
One solution would have been to incorporate an ISO-creation capability in YUMI. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was supposed to specify, in ImgBurn, that I wanted the resulting DVD to be bootable.
As I thought about it, that part was puzzling. I had noticed that the MicroSD drive had no files in its root. It had only two subfolders: .disk and multiboot. That didn’t seem right: how could that be bootable? A quick comparison with a working YUMI USB drive confirmed: that was not normal. It seemed the use of a MicroSD card may have added a complication that a USB drive would have avoided. Here, again, an ability to produce an ISO from YUMI would have been great: it would have avoided the need to rerun the YUMI part of the process.
Creating the ISO: Second Try
I had an empty 4GB USB drive, offering 3.75 GB of net space. On that drive, I repeated the YUMI process described above, leaving out only the Kaspersky ISO. When that process was complete, I took a look at the resulting USB drive. Here, again, there were only the .disk and multiboot subfolders, with no bootable files. Was my version of YUMI not working?
I updated my installation from YUMI 184.108.40.206 to 220.127.116.11 and made another try with the USB drive. This newer version indicated that there were incompatibilities with the previous version (which would seemingly call for a higher version number), so I formatted the USB drive and redid the whole process. But after reinstalling one or two packages, I saw that, once again, no files were being installed in the root folder of the USB drive. A search led to an indication that some kinds of drive emulation (which may have been what was happening in YUMI) would create a boot sector that was “not accessible when viewing the CD in a file manager such as Windows Explorer and might appear to be a blank disk if no files are contained on the disc root.” I wasn’t sure that applied exactly, but at this point I had to assume that the YUMI people knew what they were doing and the process was working as expected.
Upon finishing the reinstall, I tried using ImgBurn directly to create an ISO from the USB drive, without involving the SUBST command. But in its “Create image file from disc” option, ImgBurn was still not recognizing anything other than the DVD drive as a disc. (I did not think of trying Virtual CloneDrive until later.)
At this point, I thought I might have erred in choosing ImgBurn’s “Write files/folders to disc” option in the first go-round: if I wanted a bootable DVD, I probably had to choose its “Create image file from disc” option. It seemed that I was dealing with a funky set of files and folders on the USB drive (i.e., a set prepared in Linux, not Windows, and thus not amenable to simple Windows-files-and-folders treatment). One source suggested that, in the case of a USB-to-ISO process, the solution was to use ImgBurn’s “Create image file from files/folders” option but, after designating the source (i.e., USB) drive, go into the Advanced tab > Bootable Disc tab > Make Image Bootable. But those instructions then proceeded to refer to a “boot” folder that did not exist on the YUMI USB drive.
I seemed to be running out of ideas. I believed there probably was a way to make this work, with ImgBurn or with the Free Create-Burn ISO Image program mentioned above or with some other ISO creator, using the USB drive directly or something like the SUBST command. The problem was just that this was taking a lot more time, and becoming a lot more complicated, than I had intended. I decided to suspend this line of inquiry for the time being.