Sysadmin Key Ring

(Note: this is a guest post by Tenox)

I have accumulated a bunch of loose pen drives with different OS installers, imaging and rescue tools. I could never find them when I needed so I have decided to put an order to it. A System Administrator’s Key Ring was born!


This one is Windows centric, however doesn’t have Windows 8 and 2012 yet. I’m now working on Linux key ring with various distributions I use.

Note that I actually do have valid licenses for all the software.

If you want to make your own here is how to make it:

  • Windows media are easiest. Diskpart clean and create an active Fat32 partition. Extract DVD to the USB key.
  • Linux media similar but apart from diskpart and extracting media you need to use Syslinux to create the MBR.
  • For bootable floppies use DiskImager to write the image directly to pen drive.

7 thoughts on “Sysadmin Key Ring”

  1. for FD images, Linux Live CD, and Windows PE, I’d use bootloader(for example, GRUB4DOS) to combine them into 1 USB.

  2. I’ve got an USB key which can boot 32 and 64-bit Windows PE (32-bit includes some imaging software), SystemRescueCD, memtest86, disk tests for all the major manufacturers, and it also includes installers for Windows XP, 7 and 8 (which can be run from PE), Office (2003-2013), and a bunch of other software. It’s indispensable when troubleshooting problems at clients.

  3. Okay and how did you combine all of the operating systems on a single pendrive? I’m aware of YUMI and Sardu, however I have some reservations. For instance I’m getting mixed opinion about possibility of installing ESXi from such drive. Also how do you “swap” CDs at a runtime, that is with the OS booted? So for instance after PE is booted and running how do you access files between 32 and 64 bit versions?

    1. I’m using syslinux as bootloader. Booting everything from syslinux is pretty simple – the only problematic part was getting both WinPE’s to work (I had to use bcdedit to make a boot menu for them, so when I choose winpe in syslinux, I’m then asked which one I want).

      Thanks for reminding me of ESXi – I’ve got that, too. It’s not much of a problem either – copy files off the install CD to a subfolder on the drive, then edit boot.cfg to remove /’s (so that files will be loaded from the subdirectory instead of root of the drive). Syslinux 4 can run mboot.c32 directly.

      1. I get the part where you boot certain OS from a subfolder. My question was more along the lines – you are already running the OS and the system is asking you “insert CD xxx”. How can you “select” the right contents? Do you browse through a subfolder on the pendrive?

        Also my WindowsPE pendrives are all NTFS formatted. How do you “combine” NTFS usb stick with a Fat32?

  4. > My question was more along the lines – you are already running the OS and the system is asking you “insert CD xxx”.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this – I either boot WinPE (from which I can then start some other Windows installer – including XP, though for that I have to format the disk before starting the installer, and copy the entire i386 folder to the disk), or I boot one of the other things.

    Windows PE boots just fine off FAT32, and my USB key is FAT32-formatted (same goes for Vista/7/8 install media – there’s no need to format the USB drive to NTFS first, you can easily keep it FAT32, and make it bootable with \boot\bootsect.exe; in fact, AFAIK this is the only way to make an USB key that can be booted in EFI mode).

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