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Boot Disks: UBCD4Win and SARDU

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Thomas Zucker-Scharff
Veteran in computer systems, malware removal and ransomware topics.  I have been working in the field since 1985.
I have written before on the benefits of using a Boot media other than your HDD when it has become infected.   The article I wrote about creating a bootable CD/DVD/USB was mainly concerned with building a UBCD4Win on CD or DVD.   Since then I have played around with SARDU (Shardana Antivirus Rescue Disk Utility) and it has not only been translated into English, but it has also impressed me so much as to prompt me to write this article.  

There are many Boot CD images (ISOs) you can download and immediately Burn to CD.  My favorite one of these is UBCD.  The reason I like UBCD is that it is very versatile.  There are many  utilities included in the disk as well as AV and Anti-malware apps.  There are many others and you can find them on this webpage and download and burn them.  I am even more drawn to UBCD4Win because it has everything that UBCD does as well as being a lot easier to configure and update.  But SARDU surpasses both of these because I can update UBCD4Win and put that image as one of the many that will be included when SARDU creates it's ISO, DVD or bootable USB.

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WARNING: I wrote this article by reviewing a previos version of SARDU, the version available as of this edit is 2.0.6.5 and the download has become more difficult and perilous to find.  Once downloaded, the installer has had Adware added to it.  You should DECLINE all EULAs (there are 3) as they are unwanted programs which will install with SARDU.  the download is just a ZIP, with no need to agree to any EULAs.

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Basically SARDU is a utility that makes it simple to create a bootable DVD or USB.  The main Menu is comprised of 4 sections, Antivirus, Utility, Linux and PE.  Each section has a list of possible software you might wish to include, represented by a button each.  This button links directly to the ISO, IMG, or Torrent file you need to download.  There is no searching around for the correct files or arcane file naming in order to get it to work.  Just click each button you wish to include and download to SARDU's ISO directory.  If the file is zipped, you will need to unzip it.

Note that the way SARDU informs you of what is available is through the checkboxes and radio buttons.  A greyed out area (checkbox/radio button) means it does not detect the image file, An unchecked white box or unclicked radio button indicates that the file is there but you have unselected it (ISOs are renamed with an IS extension, IMG with IM extension), and a checked box or clicked on radio button indicates the file is both present and active (will be used to burn ISO or USB).  If you know you downloaded a certain file, but the checkbox remains unchecked (SARDU will automatically check anything it finds), then check the ISO directory and make sure it isn't in ZIP form (unzip it), in RAR form (UNRAR it), or in torrent form (download the torrent using a torrent tool).

SARDU 2.x runningThe first time you do this is the most bothersome because it just takes a long time to download all the files (if you download everything it comes to almost 5 gb).  I suggest downloading everything, even if you already have the ISO, because if it is named differently SARDU won't recognize it.  For instance I've been using UBCD4Win for some time and have my own specially configured ISO, but when I downloaded the default ISO using SARDU it named the file U_B_C_D_4_WIN.iso.  If I want to use my version I just rename from UBCD4Win.iso to U_B_C_D_4_WIN.iso and put a copy in SARDU's ISO directory.

One of the best things about using SARDU is that it combines all the best AV boot CDs and utilities, along with all your windows rescue disks (windows 98SE, XP, Vista, and 7), a Windows PE environment and a Linux distro like ubuntu, into one bootable image.  If that isn't enough, SARDU also includes an extras folder (Sardu->ISO->Extra), many things which you put in that folder will be included as well.  

To use the Extra section of SARDU (for instance, if you wish to include a bootable ISO you have but which is not included in one of the tabs, you first enable the extras by clicking File -> Enable extra, then you can use the Extra menu to add ISOs.  Only some ISOs are suppported, so beware.  There is a very good forum page that is maintained regularly and gives information on using the Extra menu  and which ISOs are supported in what ways (sometimes it is easiest to rename an ISO to something that already exists in SARDU - this page tells you which ISOs will work with which renamings).   In the images below I first enabled he Extras as above, then used the Extras menu and chose the "Add Extra ISO/IMG in RAM (memdisk)" option then followed the prompts and it worked like a breeze!

Below is a screencapture of the main menu of the boot image I created (4.4gb) running in VMWare Player (Note that this is a SARDU 1.x image):

My SARDU build running in a Virtual Machine
Here is an screenshot of SARDU 2.05 with Extras enabled running in VMWare Player:

SARDU with Extras enabled running in VMWare playerThe Extras menu works almost seamlessly with only one exception, by default it is labeled as "Antivirus" when you click into it (see screenshot)

extras menuTo change this edit the .cfg file located in the sardu -> ISO -> ISO_Extra directory called ISO_Extra.cfg.  You need to change the Menu label to "Extras" instead of "Antivirus".  The text below shows you where I changed it.

The file starts at the pound sign below.  Only change the one word at the end so it looks as this one does (this is only part of the file starting from the top).

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#File creato da Shardana Antivirus Rescue Disk Utility 'SARDU'
#
default vesamenu.c32
prompt 0
menu title     SARDU 2.0.5  
MENU SEPARATOR
menu background /SARDU/SARDU
MENU TABMSG  http://www.sarducd.it
menu color hotsel 30;47      #40000000 #20ffffff
menu color sel 30;47      #40000000 #20ffffff
menu color scrollbar 30;47      #40000000 #20ffffff
menu color help            37;40      #c0ffffff #00000000 std
MENU WIDTH 76
MENU MARGIN 10
#
MENU ROWS 15
MENU TABMSGROW -10
MENU CMDLINEROW 23
MENU ENDROW -1
MENU TIMEOUTROW -8
MENU HSHIFT 4
MENU VSHIFT 4
LABEL -
MENU LABEL Extras:  (where it now says "Extras" it used to say "Antivirus")
...
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The other menus look like the following screenshots:

AV menulinux menutools menuwindows menuutilities menuBy the way this build ended up being about 25 gb.  I can put the whole thing on my 32gb stick with no problem or a 250/320/500gb passport drive, which then has enough room for backups of the computers I'm fixing.

The benefit here is amazing.  You can boot to virtually any Antivirus/Utility bootdisk just by choosing from the menu.  They are all on one USB stick or DVD (depending on the size of the ISO).

So what exactly do you need to do?
Download SARDU
Run SARDU
Click on each of the buutons to download the relevant ISO/IMG/Torrent

If it's a torrent folllow instructions on page for downloading torrent files

If it's compressed, uncompress it
When you have checked off everything you want included, I first suggest making the ISO. NOTE: The first time I made an ISO with SARDU it created a directory called ISO CREATED, and put sardu.iso in there.  Subsequently, the sardu.iso file appeared in the ISO directory instead - be careful the program does prompt you for where you want to put the completed ISO, but it will overwrite anything called sardu.iso.
If the size indicated by SARDU is less than 4.4gb you can then burn a DVD, otherwise you will need to use the USB option
This is an excellent and easy way to make a bootable USB. (I did it with a passport drive and it was relatively simple in comparison with other methods)
sardu-ss.JPG
sardu-running-in-vmplayer-with-e.JPG

UPDATE: SARDU 3 is now in beta.  The developer asked me to be one of the testers.  Here are some initial changes that are at least in the beta, I don't know how the final product will look.  After a brief exchange with the developer, I need to amend some statements I madein the above article.  First, the warez in the item that rhymes with sirens.  There is only one piece of software left that could be potentially illegal and that is the Windows XP PE environment.  Microsoft has discontinued XP and has not attempted to prosecute the distributor.  Also, according to SARDU's developer, that particular ISO is legal in some countries, although still not in the USA.

Currently, the beta has none of the adware that I warned about when you install, but it is still just a beta.  The download link is a little easier to find than it used to be, but you still have to avoid some ads on the developer's website and scroll to the bottom of the download page in order to find the link.

Several people are now working to identify bugs in the beta, for instance currently the beta has some broken download links and some functions are not yet working.  The interface is different and, IMHO, much cleaner.  The beta can be downloaded from this page near the bottom (don't click on any of the buttons - the download is just a link to the beta).
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