EasyBoot v5.02

Reviewed by: Jim Huddle CNE MCNE MCSE CBS, Sept 2004, send e-mail
Published by: EZB Systems, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 95 OSR2, 98, 98SE, ME, NT4 SP6a or higher, 2000 or XP; Pentium 166MHz or faster, 64MB RAM, 10MB free hard disk space
MSRP: $29.95

I like utilities. I like them better than productivity software because utilities let you do interesting things both for and to operating systems. Some will automate tasks, others fix problems and others let you probe into the operating system to see what the heck it's doing. There's another class of utilities that attempt to make operating system installation simpler. Ghost is a good example. Another is EasyBoot.

EasyBoot allows you to create a bootable CD or DVD that will install one or more operating systems selected from a menu. To my way of thinking using the program is a bit quirky, but once you fathom its slightly different approach, in about an hour you can make a bootable CD with a couple of Windows operating systems ready to install. You can also make Linux installation CDs and mix a Linux distribution with a Windows installer on the same CD. You won't see that in EZB System's information on EasyBoot, but if you dig into their forums you can find out how.

Installation is simple and presents no problems. When you start EasyBoot it presents you with two windows. The first is the EasyBoot configuration window where you will define your menu and the tasks that menu will perform. The second is the Menu Preview which reflects the choices you make. The menu is very configurable and you can customize it to fit your particular needs. For example, you can insert a 640x480 background graphic of your choice (e.g., one showing your company's logo).

The first time I cranked up EasyBoot I was a bit irritated to discover that nowhere in the EasyBoot window was there a way to pull in the operating system installation files with which to create the CD. I eventually opened the help file, which is only available via the Windows program menu (go to Start> Programs> EasyBoot> EasyBoot Help).

Fortunately the help file is pretty good, which is great because it's the only EasyBoot documentation supplied with the utility. The User Guide is in the help file itself and it covers the basic operation of the program fairly well. Just under the User Guide in the program submenu is the important part called the Practical Guide. Here, finally, is where you get detailed instructions on creating operating system images. It only covers the Windows family but it is clear and easy to follow.

Actually creating the bootable CD is a multi-step process that while not difficult, is as mentioned before a bit quirky. If you use the help file you can get it done fairly simply, but be prepared to bounce around the sections a bit. The utility will burn an ISO image for you. The image will contain the operating system(s) you've set up, the boot graphic and the menuing system. If you have Nero Burning ROM installed you can burn directly from EasyBoot. Otherwise you will need to load your CD burning software and create the disc from there.

I'm of two minds about EasyBoot. On the one hand I like what the utility can do. It does create bootable CDs and DVDs with multiple operating systems ready to install. On the other hand I'm annoyed with the utility's documentation and the lack of any documentation about creating non-Windows images. At a list price of $29.95 I really can't complain, but to be honest I'd be willing to pay more for better documentation in the form of start-to-finish procedures and instructions about creating Linux images. Interesting utility. Check it out.

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