How To Boot Multiple ISO from USB using Multiboot USB Menu

Multiboot USB menu developed by PendriveLinux.com helps a user to easily boot into multiple ISO files from a USB flash drive. Multiboot USB is a very easy to use application that helps you format and prepare your USB drive to boot into multiple supported ISO disk images.

At present Multiboot USB supports a number of Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, DSL, etc. and other ISO that helps in carrying out administrative and system tasks like Memtest86+, Parted Magic, Ultimate Boot CD, etc. The complete list updated by the developers is available at this page. The page also provides direct download links to the ISO it supports.

The application uses Syslinux and loads GRUB4DOS to present you with a nice GUI MultiBoot menu when booted from the configured USB.

MultiBoot-ISOs

The basic requirements to create a MultiBoot USB Flash Drive are:

  • FAT32 formatted USB Flash drive with a minimum space of 512MB (The size of the drive will decide how many ISO’s you will be able to use at a time).
  • MultiBootISOs.exe setup file to set up your USB drive.
  • Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 host machine to create the Bootable USB.
  • The ISO files which you want to boot to.

How to use MultiBoot USB Menu to Boot Multiple ISO Files from USB?

  • Download and run the MultiBootISOs.exe setup.
  • Follow the wizard carefully to configure your USB flash drive and setup the drive for multi-boot.
  • Download the supported ISO Files (A complete list is available here) and simply place them on your USB Flash drive.
  • Restart your PC, setup the first boot device as the USB device from BIOS settings. (Please refer to your motherboard manual to configure this if you don’t know how to set up the first boot device.)
  • After booting from the MultiBoot USB drive, select the Linux distribution or Administrative tool you want to boot from.
  • If you face any difficulty or any problem, just comment below with the details about your problem, I will try my best to troubleshoot and help you out!

Note: If you don’t have a floppy drive and get fd0 errors while booting, simply add floppy.allowed_drive_mask=0 to the kernel line for that menu entry.
While trying to run an ISO from USB, If you get a Boot error saying:

Error 60: File for drive emulation must be in one contiguous disk area

You’ll need to defragment your ISO using one of the following tools:

  • contig – Command line tool to defragment ISO files.
  • wincontig — GUI tool to defragment ISO files.

Update from the developers:

IMPORTANT: Starting version 2.0, the tool copies your select ISO to the drive and adds the menu entry (in order) based on the Distro you choose to install each time the tool is run. This enables each user to create a custom Multiboot USB Flash Drive containing only the Distributions chosen.

NOTES: ISO Downloadeds are stored in an ISOFILES Directory created where the tool is run. Any matching ISOs placed there will be autodetected.

MultiBootISOs-2.1.2.3.exe — September 3, 2010 — Changelog: Now uses fbinst.exe to paritition and format the drive and then embed grldr when MultibootISOs is first run on the chosen drive. Added System Rescue CD and Trinity Rescue Kit.

Here is another good third party guide that explains how things work.

Related
  • FL

    How to do that with Linux ? Not with MS.Windows.
    Please help !

  • Robert

    When I try to boot off my disk, it does not provide any of the availble isos to boot off. It initially just goes to some sort of grub command line and then i hit ESC and it gives me the options for command line, reboot or halt, but none of the ISOs. Just to confirm, do I just dump the iso (e.g. ubcd411.iso) directly in the USB root directory or does it need to be in a subdirectory. Do i also need to configure something so that it knows that the iso is there? I am definitely able to boot off USB as I have tried successfully to do single boot for most distributions.

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      Hello Robert,

      First of all, I would like to apology for the delay in replying you.

      Can you please elaborate, if you followed the exact same procedure to create your Multiboot USB stick, as I couldn’t produce the error in my machine? Please provide some more details.

      For your second query, yes you have to just dump the ISO images of the Linux distributions in the USB root directory. If the ISO you are dumping is in the supported list, then no, you don’t have to configure anything.

      I have also sent this reply in your mail. Because, if you had subscribed to comments, we recently had to do some work in the database and all the subscriptions to comment list got lost in the process.

  • Tzvika

    Guys! I want to make a USB drive with multiple windows
    installs/isos (win7/xp/etc).
    Can I do it with this tool? If not, can some1 suggest
    a possible solution?

  • zappa79

    I have done everything on this tutorial and it works nice with linux, but I also wanted to add a windows 7 installation!

    I copied the ISO file to the USB and added this to the menu.lst

    title Windows 7
    find –set-root /windows7.iso
    map /windows7.iso (hd32)
    map –hook
    root (hd32)
    chainloader (hd32)

    When I tried to install, it first seemd to work fine, the installation started up, but when it comes to the part where you can select wich drive to install to, it´s empty! Then I get a error message saying: “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driverfloppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please insert it now.”

    I would appreciate if anyone could shed some light over this!

    Thanks

    • Feras

      Extract files of Windows 7 and put it on the root disk flash disk
      Then added this to the menu.lst

      title Windows 7 ultimate
      find –set-root /bootmgr
      chainloader /bootmgr

      It is Working 100% with Hiren’s BootCD

  • venkat

    hi

    iam installing multimboot.exe
    installing sucessfull, working fine.
    but how can i add hirenboot iso .is possible.

  • John Nelson

    I finally got this set up, and though I trimmed some of the Linux Distros, the remaining ones work great and it’s a great tool.
    I Converted one of the Ubuntu sections to run Mythbuntu and it works great.

    However, I can’t get it to run Puppy Arcade, Ubuntu Studio, or Ylmf. I downloaded the latest multibootiso file (0.4.6) and will try the Ylnf but the Puppy Arcade and Ubuntu Studio I can’t solve. Can you help.
    Thanks in advance,

  • John Nelson

    UPDATE TO EARLIER POST:
    I got Ubuntu Studio to work, or at least run the install process since there is no Live CD support. Still can’t get Puppy Arcade or Ylmf to install. I get Error 15: “File not found” for the initrd.lz file on Ylmf, and the Puppy Arcade can’t find the file PUP_420.sfs and halts. Please help.

    In the case of Ubuntu Studio, the script goes like this:
    title Install Ubuntu Studio 10.04
    find –set-root /ubuntustudio-10.04-alternate-i386.iso
    map /ubuntustudio-10.04-alternate-i386.iso (0xff)
    map –hook
    root (0xff)
    kernel /install/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntustudio.seed boot=casper persistent iso-scan/filename=/ubuntustudio-10.04-alternate-i386.iso splash
    initrd /install/initrd.gz

  • James

    Help i accidentally installed to my c: drive and now it boots up the list of iso files how can i remove it from my pc to make it boot up xp again!

  • John Nelson

    To recover XP may not be easy, but it is possible.

    Start with http://mybootdisks.com/
    You will need ot get a Windows XP recovery disk, or something similar. Running sys.com from DOS prompt. There are lots of “Windows XP Boot Disks” on the internet but be careful with them. If you have your own, or can create a recovery disk on another computer running Windows XP you are better off.

  • John Nelson

    As for th elink, I’ll follow it and see how we do. It has some interesting and useful info I think I can use.

    Thank you,

  • Joe

    I loaded this to a bootable USB, copied in a few iso’s but when I boot I get a GRUB commandline, hitting escape get’s me back to a 4 item list of commands

    find /menu.lst (This expands out if I hit e-edit)
    commandline
    reboot
    halt

    But no list of iso’s, Sounds like the same problem Robert had back in April.
    Any ideas?

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      Can you tell me which ISO files you used? I’ll try to reproduce the error at my side and see if the problem is appearing.

  • Dan

    Hi,
    i’m having the same problem as joe and robert, the files i’m using are from the pen drive site. 1 the redo backup and recovery
    2 ophcrack xp
    3 avg rescue cd iso’s , I did put one not one the list it’s a recovery console iso, but none of them show. I appriciate any help.

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      I have just now posted about Universal USB Installer. If you are facing problem with Multiboot USB Menu, please use it instead. Even though it does not support multiboot, but it will come handy in creating Live USB drive.

      I will post a solution to the problem that you all are facing soon. I am downloading the ISO’s tested by Dan now to test the installer again and see what is wrong.

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul
    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      I tried to reproduce the error but couldn’t, as you can see in the video that I took of my USB booting into Redo Backup and Recovery: http://www.mytechguide.org/wp-content/uploads/videos/05072010.html

      One thing that I have noticed is if you change the default ISO name, then it may generate a file not found error. Also, the menu is very long, so if you cannot see the name of the OS/System tool item in the first page, then scroll down, it will automatically load the second page, in my case the menu list was around three pages long.

  • John Nelson

    Okay, now Ylmf 3.0 works great but not sure what changed.

    Does anyone know what I put in my menu.list file to get the following ISO’s to boot?
    Dream Linux 3.5
    Puppy Arcade 8
    Macpup
    Meego

    Please help, and there is an update to MultiBootISO at http://www.pendrivelinux.com …great software.

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      Hi John,

      I have edited the link to pendrivelinux in your comment as it got merged with “…great” and was not working. :)

  • Sundar

    Please have a look at this page for installing and booting multiple live linux distro from
    USB.

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1518273

    https://sourceforge.net/projects/multibootusb/files/

    • http://ronnietucker.co.uk Ronnie

      BRILLIANT! Thanks for the link to Ubuntu Forums, I’m about to make a multiboot USB with Mint9, Puppy 5 and Tiny Core (as a test).

      Thanks!

  • Nate

    Getting a lot of fragmentation (error 60) when trying to boot a distro?

    The FAT filesystem is so prone to fragmentation that with just one copy of an ISO it is not uncommon for it to get fragmented. Based on this, checking for file contiguity (i.e. analyze fragmentation) of each ISO image file after it has been copied onto the USB stick is very helpful in preventing headaches later.

    Just thought I’d pass it on to those who (like myself) might not know this at first.

    So for those who might not know thishe little bit of extra effort to check (and correct if necessary) for this initially is worthwhile.

    after every ISO copy to the USB stick

    should be made a standard installation step as part of the guide – this would save some unexpected headaches later on.
    I wonder if it is possible to design this setup using something other than FAT on the USB stick. FAT is prone to fragmentation, and in copying ISO files from my hard drive to the USB stick they often fragment. I was often getting the error 60 due to this until I started anayzing and have to be de-fraged on the USB stick. In addition to the extra time and effort in dealing with this, defragmentation in flash memory can shorten the lifespan of it due to the increased frequency of read/write/deletes.

    Still, I prefer this method over the others I’ve seen. It might be good though if

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      The post has been updated.

  • voipster

    Just want to know if its possible to add Windows XP to it as I can only see it supports Vista and 7 but not xp. Is there a way to add XP?

  • carlos

    why is it when i try to run off the boot menu i get a error 15 file not found?

  • Patrick

    Hi,
    I have the same problem as some of the others. I run MultiBootISOs-2.1.2.3.exe ,select the usb disk I want to use, I tick the format box, I chose ANY of the iso’s from the list and get this when I try to boot:

    GRUB commandline, hitting escape get’s me back to a 4 item list of commands

    find /menu.lst (This expands out if I hit e-edit)
    commandline
    reboot
    halt

    Not sure what the problem is, I think grub may not be installing correctly onto the USB stick ?

    • Patrick

      I tried to boot on another PC and it worked! It seems the problem lies with some older PC’s. Strange.

      • Georgi

        The same thing here. Boots up fine on Dell Inspiron mobile computer (AMD x64 based) but shows the GRUB command line on a desktop machine (Intel x64, GA-P31-DS3L). I hope someone has a clue :-)

      • Georgi

        Got it. As they say here http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/8909-Make-A-bootable-USb-drive-For-Flashing-From-DOS, run the HP USB Boot Drive Software to make the drive bootable. Then add your ISO images *WITHOUT FORMATTING* the drive. Why does that work? – I have no idea, but it saved me with my machine :-)

        • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

          Thanks for the update Georgi! Most probably its because you may be using Windows 7 or Vista, so its good to use a 3rd party tool like HP USB Boot Drive software to make the usb bootable. :)

          • Georgi

            No, it’s a plain old XP SP2 64bit (if this may be useful)

  • Naman

    hey!!
    i really wanna include chrome os in multiboot…. like rest of the distros.. is there a way to do that??

  • Marcus

    So, no one’s gonna comment on whether or not an xp ISO will work with this? Cause Id really like to not frag my netbook just because there’s no info anywhere on this, I see its supposed to work with vista and 7 so can I assume that this will work with a slipstreamed xp ISO or no?

    • Marcus

      btw Its a legal copy that I own and have the licenses and have slipstreamed to include sp3 and the aspire one drivers. Also I’ve used this for many other distro’s and everything has worked fine, My concern is that since windows (no version) that I know of has a live desktop that this will only work for live version distros or will it work more or less like it would if I just popped the xp disk into the dvd drive?

  • Ramesh Kumar

    i have follow the above menction detail for multipal multiboot usb but usb is not bootable or not woriking
    this is not help full for us
    Regard
    rk.saini

  • Gurlal Sidhu

    hi I tried it,it boots from usb menu works fine but. not complete the task.I hav put three Iso,one windows xp,2nd is xp live cd[Bartpe] and 3rd is kaspersky rescue iso.when i select win xp cd it work till setup is starting windows crashes and drive are not loaded where to instal windows

  • Gurlal Sidhu

    hi I tried it,it boots from usb menu works fine but. not complete the task.I hav put three Iso,one windows xp,2nd is xp live cd[Bartpe] and 3rd is kaspersky rescue iso.when i select win xp cd it work till setup is starting windows crashes and drive are not loaded where to instal windows.