EasyBCD Discussion

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#1
It might actually sort out a few misconceptions CG.
I've lost count of the number of times of read on here " I'm booting with EasyBCD", where people mistake the editor for the actual bootloader.
Maybe the concept of a toplevel intelligent bootloader, which determines where things are, and hands control to the bootloader of the system chosen would be simpler to understand and explain.
It's always hard to explain why Vista bootloader needs to have XP's files in the same root to a newbie, but with HnS, everything will be where the novice would expect it to be.
It would, of course, lead to the inevitable request to include options in phase 1 for Linux and OSx partitions, and the need to code for handing control to grub and whatever the Mac thing's called, but don't tell me you've not already been thinking along those lines, now it's all coming together nicely as an all purpose top level loader !
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#2
You've found me out....

A while back (I don't know if you were here then?) a member (a teacher, if I'm not mistaken) got me thinking along these lines and I posted that I had a crazy idea that would make EasyBCD directly support the GRUB bootloader, NTLDR, BOOTMGR, and more without requiring neither Vista's bootloader nor second-level bootmenus.

Afterwards once I started work on HnS I unconciously found myself developing such a bootloader that is theoretically capable of doing just that and now that's what I've created.

But I'm not sure where I want to go from here. This has a lot of potential, but it's also a very risky deal. People in the know recommend the use of EasyBCD w/ BOOTMGR over GRUB & co. because it works with what's already there, forcing the Vista bootloader to do its bidding without getting in anything's way. HnS, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.

Everything HnS does, from the way it's installed (we don't touch the MBR for safety purposes) to the way it runs (modifying the partition table's hidden and active flags, creating a virtual OS that switches the order of the drives before handing off the boot process to NTLDR so that NTLDR & boot.ini think they're on the first drive no matter where they really are, and the way it finds out where to load OSes from) is dependant on too many variables.

And, of course, the beauty of HnS is that it can be configured from any OS to do just about anything. (a la iReboot and EasyBCD running on any OS you can imagine and from any device) because it's scripted and interfaced via a text file (menu.lst).

At the end of the day though, if I do this I risk dooming EasyBCD to the long list of software that had great ambitions but failed because it tried to push a new way of doing things and didn't come from a company with the userbase to support such a revolution. Then again, unlike some of that other software, EasyBCD already has an established userbase of over several million so perhaps it's not as scary as it sounds.

What would be really cool is if a company like Microsoft implemented such a feature in their bootloader directly - that would be the most ideal solution to all these concerns.

Basically, HnS w/ EasyBCD has some great potential and can be scarily-powerful and easy to use, etc... but one misstep and it could be disastrous.

Addendum:

Found the thread I was referring to: EasyBCD for Linux - The NeoSmart Forums
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#3
Softly, softly.
Keep EasyBCD maintained and available to do its main task, editing the Vista BCD, then all the thousands of links that bring people here for the stated purpose will not be disappointed.
When they're here, of course, they'll discover the wonders of the ever mightier HnS.
Mind you, the name will need to be rethought if it becomes the all-purpose multi-boot manager, and not just the simple "hide Vista" utility.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#4
If anything, HnS would be incorporated into EasyBCD. EasyBCD wouldn't change but a little as far as end users are considered. It'd look more or less the same, and do the same stuff it always did - just it would use HnS under the covers, so to speak.

EasyBCD's interface is a bit more complicated at first than HnS, but I think (though I am very biased, naturally, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here) that it offers a good balance between functionality/customization and ease of use verses HnS' dummy-proof one-way street (HnS feels so much like a Mac program to me!).
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#5
Easy, I think, requires the user to understand much more the underlying boot structure. It's a great tool for the more advanced user in its more esoteric uses (not just renaming systems and setting timeout), but when someone hasn't read properly/doesn't understand (like the user some time ago who thought the Uninstall Vista Bootloader was the uninstall EasyBCD button !!), it can allow people to get themselves in an awful mess as they try to fix unintended consequences by pushing yet another button.
Like any tool for experienced users, it's capable of getting the novice quickly out of his depth.
HnS's approach of "describe what's what, and I'll do all the donkey work" might offend your sensibilities as a man who understands every last nuance of bootmanagers, but I think it's a much safer option for the average user. (on the assumption that most new visitors here are new to the whole subject of dual-booting).
It's a bit like MS wizards, which always annoy me too, with their assumption that I need to be led by the hand through things I've done a thousand times, but I suppose that MS does it that way because it leads to far fewer c*ck-ups in the long run.

Perhaps that's the future for HnS, as an EasyBCD wizard ?
 

GDH

New Member
#6
CG

You pointed me to this thread so I will add my twopenny worth.

Without doubt HnS does what it says - hides XP from Vista. However, I found it more confusing to get it operating than EasyBCD, which edits the Vista bootmanager to get XP and Vista running. But you can also use it to add Linux and install Neosmart grub etc.

The reason I probably found it confusing was that at present, and I understand why, there is a lack of documentation to help someone through.

Secondly, bootmananagers are not the sort of thing most people play around with, so they are a little bit confusing. I also found it very confusing when I suddenly found myself with 3 different bootmanagers all interacting! Even more surprising was that Linux grub was now not corrupting the Vista mbr which it appeared to do with previous versions.

So EasyBCD is a very useful tool, as it enables managing the Vista bootmanager. However, at present it does not edit the HnS bootmanager, and it is not possible to edit the HnS bootmanager from within HnS, but you have to edit the file menu.lst directly.

So what advantage does HnS have over other bootmanagers? It enables the automatic hiding of Xp and has been developed to cope with a lot of different scenarios. However, Neosmart grub can also hide the XP partition and so can other bootmanagers presumably? What I can't comment on is how well they do this and what are the needs to hide other OS's from each other that would make HnS superior to these.

So I suppose there is the crux of the matter. HnS has been developed into a bootmanager with a specific purpose but has the ability to do more than the original proposition. In order to survive beyond the original mission for it, it will need to move forward as at some point People will stop using XP - not for a few years obviously.

The logic would seem to point towards integrating HnS within EasyBCD as an alternative bootmanager for people to use. They could continue to use Easy to manage the Vista bootmanager, or alternatively could select HnS and use that in a fully integrated way from within Easy. This would then logically make it sensible for Easy to be compatible with other OS's. This would of course take it up against other bootmanagers such as Grub etc. However, these are mainly used in the Linux community and are not commonly known by the average user. Also, they do require some reasonable knowledge in order to edit them.

The key USP would seem to be if HnS and Easy were to brought together to make an Easy to use Bootmanager that took the work out of trying to manage booting different systems!

Gareth
 

Mak 2.0

Mod...WAFFLES!?!?
Staff member
#7
Hello Gareth,

I can understand your point on documentation. But the truth is that it is still a Beta. So there is still much testing going on. So to document it now would point useless as the documentation could change build to build.

Without a doubt as things progress HnS will get documentation and get much better support for what it does as the finer points get worked out. I am sure that Mahmoud will take into consideration your ideas about how to edit the menu and that.

Cheers,
Mak
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
Gareth,
using Neogrub to hide Vista from XP in a straight dual boot, was the way when I first came here last year. (getting it to work was my reason for first posting).
It relied on use of grub commands unfamiliar to Windows users like myself, and even when successfully completed, left a 2-stage boot which you, of all people, should know is an annoying permanent feature.
HnS was developed, not to hide Vista, but to remove the 2 stage boot whilst hiding Vista.
It worked for the stated purpose from a very early stage, but as more users picked it up, their different configurations threw up a succession of unforseen problems with identifying where the systems were located and coding a routine to cope with all eventualities.
Eventually, the rebuilds and redesigns led to a boot manager with unintended possibilities for future expansion.
Now it's a case of Guru weighing those possibilities against the demands on his limited time, and the continuing work necessary on other NST goodies.
To reinforce Mak's point, the documentation, if you can call it that, is the download thread. If you have the time and patience to trawl through it, you'll see that advice given by me or Guru, to other users on getting round problems, is now largely incorrect because of significant design changes as the builds progressed. If the early posts were followed it would lead to great confusion.
Permanizing the documentation in the wiki would have been a little premature.
 
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GDH

New Member
#9
Mak & Terry

Oops - I seem to have set you guys down the road believing I was critcising the lack of documentation. If you read my posting carefully you will see I was not and that I understood why there was a lack of documentation.

What I was saying was that I found EasyBCD quite straight forward to install and use than HnS because EasyBCD had documentation and HnS had not. Where as all the other postings had seemed to indicate that people had found HnS simpler!

I would never criticise CG as I could not do what he has done. My programming days are way in the past and very rusty - It's at least 10 years since I did any progamming!!

So in my previous posting I have made a suggestion where CG should go with Easy and HnS - I would welcome your comments!

Gareth
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#10
Gareth, I think the problem is with what the UI is designed to guide the user to do.

In EasyBCD, the UI is designed to let the user set up a bootloader, even though EasyBCD isn't its own bootloader.
In HnS, the UI is designed to let the user hide Vista partitions, even though HnS is a full-fledged bootloader.
 

GDH

New Member
#11
Hi CG

I think you confirm my point - Easy is Easy as it takes you through step by step, whereas HnS is a bootmanager and currently has no easy way to edit it etc. I do understand why!!

I would be interested in your comments on my thoughts on the way forward?!

Thanks for all your help.

Gareth
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#12
If anything, HnS would be incorporated into EasyBCD. EasyBCD wouldn't change but a little as far as end users are considered. It'd look more or less the same, and do the same stuff it always did - just it would use HnS under the covers, so to speak.
Using HnS under the covers for purposes like hiding Vista installations from any Legacy Windows entries added by the user while maintaing EasyBCD's simplicity is an excellent idea.

I know in previous posts that I suggested combining the two, but there wouldn't be the need for most users if this was implemented because there would be no need to help most users only desiring to take advantage of it for it's main purpose.