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How To Make A Custom Multiboot USB Drive

Updated on June 24, 2013

How To Make A Custom Multiboot USB Drive

Do you repair computer? Do want to start? I will show you how to avoid having multiple boot USB drives. You have a bunch of bootable ISO images and only one USB stick. You could burn them onto CDs or DVDs but some computers cannot boot from optical drives or do not even have an optical drive! I will show you how to make a multiboot USB drive using the free utility Yumi. Then I will show you how to customize it with your own images and text.

Make The Multiboot USB Drive - Step by Step

1. Download Yumi - Does not need installed, you download the executable. You can get Yumi from there website: Scroll down to and click the dowload Yumi button. Or you can download version HERE.

2. Open the program - Go to the directory to which you downloaded Yumi. If you did not specify one, it should be in your downloads folder.

3. The Welcome Screens - You will be greeted by two consecutive windows before you get to the program, (1) the Windows Security Warning, and (2) the License Agreement. Accept these by clicking Run then I Agree.

4. Select your drive - Once the program is up and running, the first step is to select your USB drive from the drop-down menu. If you do not know which drive is the USB, open Computer (or My Computer) and find you drive, next to its name will be the drive letter in parentheses. If your drive is not in the drop-down menu, click the check box next to the drop-down that says Show ALL Drives. This will allow you to use any drive your computer sees, so be careful. You wouldn't want to format your main hard drive!

5. Format the drive - Your drive must be empty and formatted to FAT32. Yumi can do this for you. Check the box to the right that says Format.

6. Select the first bootable ISO - Now we can select our ISOs. Yumi has a huge list of ISOs it supports. If you do not have the ISO, Yumi can download it for you. Just select the Distribution and click Download the iso. If you do have the ISO, search through the list and click it.

7. Browse for the image - If the ISO is not in Yumi's directory, you can browse for it. Know that when you browse for it, Yumi will look for a file with the name that it should have been downloaded as, and it will not show you any other files. So make sure that the ISO is named as it was downloaded. If it is not, you will have to rename it. Luckily, Yumi tells you what it is looking for. Rename your ISO so it is the same as the file name Yumi gives you in step 3. Then browse for the ISO.

8. Write the file - Now to actually put the ISO onto the flashdrive. Click Create to begin the process. A warning will pop up asking you if you want to continue. Click Yes. Then wait for it to process. It will format the drive and write the files.Then, when it is finished, click next.

9. Adding the second ISO - It will ask if you want to add more files. Click yes, then repeat the process. Make sure you DO NOT format your drive again. Repeat this process for each ISO you want to add.

What If My Program Is Not Listed?

If you program is not on the list, scroll to the bottom. There will be two options, 1) Try an Unlisted ISO, and 2) Try an Unlisted ISO (Run from RAM). Select the appropriate option and browse for your file. If you do not know, go with the first one. This will add the ISO to a folder on the USB drive (located \multiboot\ISOS) and add an entry to menu.lst (located \multiboot\menu)that will allow it to run. This will work with most programs.

How Can I Edit The Drive?

In YUMI, select your drive in step 1, then check the box that says View or Remove Installed Distros. It will change to say You're now in Uninstaller Mode! It will list the programs, or distributions, located on the drive and give you the option to remove them. It will not list files that were added using the Unlisted option.

How Can I Customize The Drive?

This is the original image that will be displayed in the background.
This is the original image that will be displayed in the background.

There are a couple things you can do to change the text and images on the drive. You can change the background screens and you can change the text on each screen.

1. Changing the Background Image

There are a couple different screens on the boot loader, and they all can have different backgrounds, or GRUB splash screens. The Backgrounds are the main menu and the individual types of bootable program (such as antivirus, system tools, unlisted, etc.). First, download the backgrounds you want to use, and download the program GIMP. We will use GIMP to edit the pictures. You can download it HERE.

First, open the image file in GIMP. In GIMP, the first thing we need to do is scale the image. The image needs to be 640x480. To change this, click the Image tab and select Scale Image... Next to the section for the dimensions is picture of a link. Make sure it is unlinked. This will allow the dimensions to be at a different ratio than the original image. Then enter 640 for the width and 480 for the height. Then click Scale.

Next we need to limit the colors. The bootloader can only display 14 colors, so we will need to change the colors of the image. Select the Image tab and select Mode > Indexed... The Index Color Conversion dialog box will open. For maximum number of colors, enter 14 and click Convert.

Now we will save the image. To save the image, go to File > Export. The format needs to be BMP, so select that format and name the file yumi.bmp and click Export. Remember where you save the image.

Now we will convert the image to the appropriate format. We will use a utility called ImageMagick. You can download it from THERE WEBSITE or from SOURCEFORGE.

After the program is downloaded install it. This will add the program to your path. Open a command prompt. Hit the Windows Key + R and type cmd and hit enter. Alternatively, you can click the Start button, type cmd, and hit enter. Now change directories to the location of your image. To do this, type "cd (DIRECTORY PATH)" as shown in the picture. Once you are in the correct location, type "convert yumi.bmp yumi.xpm.gz" and hit enter

Now the image is in the correct format.

We will also need a PNG file, so type "convert yumi.bmp yumi.png"

Now to place the files in the correct directories. Navigate to your USB drive. Mine is the X drive. Then navigate to open the multiboot folder.

If you want to keep the original pictures just in case then click the PNG file named yumi and hit F2. Rename the file yumiold.png Then copy yumi.png (the PNG file you created) into this folder. From here open the folder menu. Click the file named yumi.xpm.gz and hit F2. Rename the file yumiold.xpm.gz. Then copy yumi.xpm.gz (the xpm.gz file you created) into this folder. If you choose to copy the files without renaming the old ones, you will get a copy file dialog box. Click Copy and Replace. Now the backgrounds will be changed.

2. Edit The Text

Now we can edit the text for the different screens. In the directory \multiboot\menu are the files for each subdirectory of the bootloader. The unlisted ISOs are shown in the file menu.lst. The other subdirectories are cfg files. The system tools is system.cfg and the antivirus tools is antivirus.cfg.

Unlisted ISOs

If you have any unlisted ISOs, use notepad to open the file menu.lst.

The title of the screen is on the 9th line. It is "title --- (TITLE) ---"

Replace TITLE with whatever you want it to say on the top of the screen. The default is "Directly Bootable ISOs + Windows XP".

Next you can edit the entry for the individual programs. The first line of the program is under the line that says "# Modify the follow entry if it does not boot"

The first line is the title. You can change this to what ever you want it to say. Keep the word "title". After that type the title of the program. The rest of the settings here should not be changed.

Everything Else

The rest of the entries are stored in .cfg files. Open the file you want to change in notepad. antivirus.cfg is picture below. Each file uses the same form so they are edited the same.

The forth line down is the title displayed at the top of the screen. Keep "menu title" and then type the title you want to appear at the top.

The sixth line is the words displayed at the bottom of the screen. The default is the website name. You can replace this with whatever you want. You can use your website, name, or anything else you can think of. Keep "MENU TABMSG" and type your message after that.

Next you can edit the entry for the individual programs. To edit what appears for the program, edit the first two lines of the entry. The entry start after the line "MENU SEPARATOR"

Leave the blank line there. Then to change what appears replace the text in the first two lines. Keep the word "label" from the first line and "menu label from the second line. Then you can type the name of the entry. This will appear as the name of the program. It is typical to type the name of the program with the type of program in parentheses, but you can type whatever you want. Make sure both labels say the same thing.

Repeat this process for each entry.

The Main Menu

Now we can change the main menu. Go back to the \multiboot directory. There is a file named syslinux.cfg, Open it with notepad. It is in the same form as the pervious files. Sometimes the spacing gets weird with this one, so it can be challenging to find what to change.

To change the title at the top, find where it says "menu title" and replace "Your Universal MultiBoot Installer" with whatever title you want.

Then to change the text at the bottom, look for "TABMSG". Change the following website to whatever you want.

Now we can change the links to each other screen. It makes sense to change this to the same thing as each title from the previous files. The links are in the first two lines of each entry. They start with "label" and "menu label". The line that says "menu label" ends with ->. You can keep this if you want. Then change the title to whatever you want. Save each file and exit.


Now you have created a custom multiboot USB. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!


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    • profile image

      emdadulbd 16 months ago

      This tutorial is great...I will try it as soon as possible.

    • profile image

      Pin2 3 years ago

      i want to add windows xp sp3 + windows 7 + hirenboot 15.2 any suggestion please give complete steps with pictures i have 16 gb pendrive

      i have successufully installed all saperately but now i want all in 1 usb

    • profile image

      Mark Nordling 3 years ago

      I don't seem to be able to select windows installer for vista/7/8 it always selects the last image I install.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hello , i would like mix the multiboot usb key with the pfense install from usb. have you a idea ? thanks

    • profile image

      Steve 4 years ago

      Have you tried Easy2Boot? Not as point-and-shoot as YUMI but runs 99% of all linux ISOs (just copy the ISOs over) + any number of Windows Install ISOs + the usual AV, Hirens, UBCD, KonBoot, DOS floppy images, etc. etc. It supports true-colour large backgrounds and is very configurable.