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Thread: Wish-list entry: "Manually" edit the BCD Store from within EasyBCD

  1. #1

    Default Wish-list entry: "Manually" edit the BCD Store from within EasyBCD

    Here's a real head-scratcher for you.

    Though it's not something that you would want to use every day, there are occasionally times when it would be PRETTY DARN CONVENIENT to be able to edit the listing you see in the "view" window.

    In my case, I very frequently install dual-boot configurations on my computers - Win7 and Ubuntu Linux. Of course, neither one plays well with others, (at least Grub/Grub2 tries to play well), which is one of the reasons EasyBCD is so darned convenient.

    Also, for asthetic reasons, I prefer the Win7 boot loader menu.

    Of course, installing Ubuntu next to Windows clobbers Win7's carefully crafted Master Boot Record. So, prior to installing Ubuntu (while the live CD is running), I save a copy of the Windows MBR to a file, and stash it away I then do the install - which overwrites the MBR - forcing the boot to Ubuntu instead of Windows.

    So, I let it do the reboot, let it boot into Ubuntu, and - when everything has settled down - I make another backup copy of the MBR, save it using a different name, and stash that away too. I then take the stashed copy of the original Windows boot loader and put it back where it belongs (copy it back where it belongs is a better way of putting it.)

    I then boot back into Windows and fire up my Trusty Ole' Copy of EasyBCD. I create a 2nd boot entry for Ubuntu, and save it.

    Here's the nub:
    EasyBCD boots a Grub2 install via a carefully crafted "hack" chainloader. It works, but (IMHO) jumps thorugh a few hoops that it really doesn't need to.

    The path to the chainloader file is hard-coded as C:\NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr

    I would then copy my "linux.mbr" file to the same directory. Unfortunately, I cannot ask EasyBCD to use MY file instead of the one IT wants to use. So, I am forced to rename my mbr file to "AutoNeoGrub0.mbr" so that EasyBCD can find it. (Or, manually hack at the BCD Store via the command-line using BCDedit!! )

    That being done, selecting the "Ubuntu" entry boots directly into the Grub2 boot loader and gives me the standard - though inelegant - Grub2 boot menu.

    This is one situation - I have run into others, just as odd-ball, just as annoying, and requiring the same kind of bait-and-switch hack, or hacking at the BCD store, that I describe here.

    Being able to simply go into the listed content of the BCD store and change one or two little things as if using Notepad, would be so convenient that it would not be funny. Of course, I realize that this would be an very advanced option with a significant risk of borking the system ( ) - that, perhaps, should be hidden away in a "tools" menu somewhere. Or, like Avira does, require the user to switch to a special "advanced/expert" mode. Or, maybe, require the use of an enabling command-line parameter within the shortcut to EasyBCD. (which would require the user to have enough of a clue to know how to do this. . . .)

    So, waddaya think? Idea? Or am I just outta my mind.

    Jim (JR)

    Addendum:

    Hmmmm. . . .

    Just saw a reference to the 2.2 beta - allowing you to select the target of a grub2 install - which might be worth investigating. However my suggested feature would be handy too.
    Last edited by jharris1993; February 13th, 2012 at 12:05 AM. Reason: Automagically-merged double-post.

  2. #2
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    You don't need to save and restore the MBR.
    Ubuntu used to let you avoid taking over the MBR, in an early "custom" or "advanced" menu. If it's no longer doing that, all you need to do when it grabs the MBR, is let grub boot Vista/7/8, then run EasyBCD > BCD Deployment > Install Vista/7 bootloader > Write MBR
    That will put bootmgr back in control of the boot.
    Terry

    Baker of fine scones.



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  3. #3

     

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry60 View Post
    You don't need to save and restore the MBR.
    Ubuntu used to let you avoid taking over the MBR, in an early "custom" or "advanced" menu. If it's no longer doing that, all you need to do when it grabs the MBR, is let grub boot Vista/7/8, then run EasyBCD > BCD Deployment > Install Vista/7 bootloader > Write MBR
    That will put bootmgr back in control of the boot.
    Terry,

    That's almost true. However - my being contrary - I do things a little differently. . . .

    My usual boot setup goes like this:

    BCD (Windows) boot:
    1. Boot Windows (7, etc.)
    2. Boot Linux (Ubuntu, grub2, the whole nine yards.)

    Grub2 (Ubuntu/Linux) boot:
    1. Boot Ubuntu or whatever.
    2. Boot Windows (7, etc.)

    With this, each boot loader points back to the other O/S - so that if O/S "a" steals the boot process, I can always go back to O/S "b" to fix it. Or vice-versa. Or if I boot to O/S "b", and then decide I REALLY wanted O/S "a" - I have the equivalent of a "back" button.

    I guess my original posting was one of my usual senseless ramblings about this and that.

    What I wanted to say is that if I have a specific, saved, MBR that I want to use for the chainloader boot (to Linux, for example, but this could be true for other O/S's too), I have to jump through some hoops to use it. And (for the sake of argument) say I want to boot several O/S's and if we assume they all require a MBR chainloader type of boot, it would be nice to have (in the chainloader's boot folder) MBR's with sensible names: Ubuntu.mbr, OSX.mbr, FreeBCD.mbr, OpenSolaris.mbr, whatever.mbr.

    Names like AutoBootHack1, AutoBootHack2, . . . AutoBootHack17, etc. are not nearly as readable or maintainable. Though, that's me. I tend to (ahem!) want to do things the hard way sometimes. ( :laughing!: )

    Another situation where manually editing the BSD via EasyBCD - which case I have already run into - is if the UUID on a partition changes for whatever reason. Maybe everything about the partition is exactly the same - no differences whatsoever except that (for whatever reason) the UUID is different. As it is now, I have to completely re-create the BCD entry from within EasyBCD - perhaps loosing any "tweaks" I have built into it - whereas being able to simply "cut and paste" (or manually re-enter) the corrected UUID would solve the whole problem in one fell swoop.

    Again, that's me. I tend to (shall we say) "follow the road less traveled" with this stuff sometimes. Maybe that's why developers hate me so much? ( :laughing: )

    Jim (JR)

  4. #4
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    Hi Jim,

    That's not the first time something like this has been requested, actually. Seems a lot of advanced users want to be able to just edit what the BCD says without having to use bcdedit.

    I'm contemplating a feature along these lines for 2.2, it depends on whether I can implement it in a way that doesn't interfere with the existing interface while keeping it easy to use.
    Mahmoud Al-Qudsi, Director



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  5. #5

     

    Quote Originally Posted by Computer Guru View Post
    Hi Jim,

    That's not the first time something like this has been requested, actually. Seems a lot of advanced users want to be able to just edit what the BCD says without having to use bcdedit.

    I'm contemplating a feature along these lines for 2.2, it depends on whether I can implement it in a way that doesn't interfere with the existing interface while keeping it easy to use.
    Mahamoud,

    Here's a thought:

    You could implement it as one of the "push button" extras that is on the last tab of your product. In essence it would become a totally separate app that provides just the "editor" function for the BCD store. This way you can have your cake and eat it too - ZERO impact on the existing EasyBCD product, (like trying to deal with Windows 8 - which I think is hideous - isn't enough trouble?), and yet allows you to provide an app narrowly tailored to the needs of the more advanced user. It would be ESPECIALLY righteous if it would also allow the advanced user to "save" particular instances of their edits as off-line files.

    Potential features:
    • Undo - redo.
    • Multiple save options
      • "Save" (Save to an external file, not the BCD itself, for subsequent recall and re-use.)
        Possibly as plain-text? That would be darned useful if you had to post on some forum - like this one! - for help.
      • "Commit" (Save to the actual BCD store.)
      • Both of these having distinctly different icons/buttons, with the "commit" button asking for confirmation and/or being scarier looking. (?)

    • Ability to switch between "friendly" and "gibberish" BCD listing modes. (How this would interact with "save"? Could be interesting.)
    • The ability to include some kind of "comments" - which could be filtered out when doing the actual save to the BCD store.
      • This could also "auto-include" (!) a "Created by EasyBCD Editor version 1.2.3 - www.easybcd.com" title line. ( )
      • There could be a "mandatory" comment or tag, like you see in a saved registry file, that allows the editor to identify what it's seeing.



    Real wish-list features: (The "You're gettin' better drugs than *I* am" list.)

    • Auto-Goof-Check (you typed in a comma instead of a semi-colon, wrong data-type, etc.)
    • Help / context sensitive help. (Keep dreaming!!)
    • Syntax highlighting. (Keep dreaming in Technicolor!)
    • Auto-indent between the various types / classes of statements.


    Maybe you / I / whomever should open up a new thread to discuss this in greater detail?

    What say ye?

    Jim (JR)

    p.s. Can you change the method for the unsubscribe links in the notification e-mail? I accidentally clicked on the "unsubscribe" link instead of the "show me" link and BLAMMO! I am instantly unsubscribed!! ( +1 on the "abysmal UI" ranking)

    A better, and more user friendly, way to handle this would be to bring them to a page that says something like "Please click [HERE] to confirm that you want to unsubscribe to %listname% "

    Hopefully, replying to this message will "re" subscribe me to this list. . . .
    (Note: It does not. I had to "Go Advanced!" and re-select my subscription preference for this thread. . . . +2 more on the Abysmal UI list. . . It should - at least - be offered as a tic-box.)

    p.p.s. I get a giggle out of your signature. Though I totally understand what you are saying - and the reasoning behind it; it reminds me of the signs you see at some burger joints and other stores that say "We do not accept currency larger than $20." Every time I see that, I 'm tempted to reply "OK! *I* will take ANY $50's $100's, (etc.) that you don't want!!"

    Addendum:

    Update to "Multiple Save Options" above:
    (i.e. Thoughts I had right after I hit the "Submit Reply" button!)


    • Save:
      Saves in an "internal" format - perhaps even as a copy of the BCD database? - for subsequent recall and reuse.
      • This would accomodate the ability to allow for the switch between friendly and gibberish modes after recall.
      • The "schema" of the saved format could be changed/extended to allow for embedded comments, assuming that the current BCD schema does not allow for them.
      • This should interact with the "exit" method so that the user is warned of changes that have not been saved and/or committed.

    • Commit:
      Does the actual commit to the Windows BCD store.
      • This might need to do some error-checking prior to the commit - if not done within the editor itself.
      • This should interact with the "exit" method so that the user is warned of changes that have not been saved and/or committed.

    • Export:
      Allows the current view, or a choice between friendly and gibberish, to be saved as plain-text.
      • Embedded comments should be included.
      • An embedded "tag-line" or identifier might not be a bad idea.
      • To facilitate re-importing the exported file - if offered as a feature - a series of some kind of definition statement could be included at the top of a "friendly" listing export, relating the friendly names to the actual internal "'gibberish" UUID's, because otherwise there would be no way to understand what they should refer to.
        (You could "guess" by trying to relate them to the current "as committed" BCD store itself, but, (IMHO), that would be potentially dicy for more than two or three reasons.)



    What say ye?

    Jim (JR)
    Last edited by jharris1993; February 13th, 2012 at 04:48 PM. Reason: Automagically-merged double-post.

  6. #6
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    Every time I see that, I 'm tempted to reply "OK! *I* will take ANY $50's $100's, (etc.) that you don't want!!"
    You're welcome to take any support emails or PMs, even the ones I don't reject
    Mahmoud Al-Qudsi, Director



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