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?

    • 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.

      • 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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