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When I first evaluated SARDU, there was very little competition and some things that have been added in later versions, were not present. Version 2.x is different and version 3.x is further developed. Now there is competition and both Adware and pirated software (warez) have been added (adware, which you can decline to install, in the installation process and at least one warez option as a downloadable file once you have installed SARDU). Also several of the ISO downloads that used to be free are now no longer free. For instance, the Parted Magic link in SARDU is no longer free, although you can download an earlier version here for free. Even given these problems, I believe that SARDU remains the best solution for the creation of multiboot devices.
I will admit right up front that I was an ardent SARDU fan (Shardana Antivirus Rescue Disk Utility) and only discovered YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Integrator) after having it suggested by another user. Originally I thought that there was no contest between the two (SARDU would win) but they both have pros and cons. In the end though, I continued to use SARDU; it is in my opinion a superior product. I would probably have switched to YUMI from SARDU (well maybe) if it wasn’t that the menu system was sooooo bad (yes that bad). So what do they do and what makes them differ? I knew someone would ask, hence this article. So let's go through this step by step. I decided to try both of them from scratch, just to be fair.
Both of the softwares have their own websites http://www.sarducd.it/ and http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/ (although this last is more of a subdirectory of the site). But is it a little more difficult to find the download link (if you want to download from the SARDU site, make sure you right-click on the download link and save the target. It may be easier to just download it from the Softpedia site) on the SARDU site , it is better from the paid www.sardu.pro site for SARDU 3.x. It is a lot easier to click on a "downloader" link for something that is being advertised rather than the SARDU application itself. Although this didn't use to be the case, I can see how this might be financially necessary. I finally did download both software applications, so on to step two.
This is another mixed bag. YUMI wins this one hands down, but I am kind of comparing apples and oranges here. YUMI is not actually an installation - and this is good! YUMI and its predecessor, UniversalUSBInstaller, never really installed; they just ran. SARDU does need to be unzipped and then the setup needs to be run. This would not be so bad except that like the download, the installation is loaded with adware. Make sure you DECLINE the 3 requests that occur during installation. Read the text, because they are trying to install other software that will redirect your browser!
You can checkout my Experts Exchange Micro Tutorials on downloading and Installing SARDU 2.x on Windows 7 and Windows 8.
I also made an Experts Exchange Micro Tutorial on using SARDU 2.x on Windows 7.
Once you have the software downloaded, and installed in SARDU's case, you will want to run it (they both will automatically run after installation). There are several aspects to running these applications.
Which brings me to another point: the image name. Both applications require that the image name be what the application expects, although the wildcard character of * is used to denote anything (thisimage_*.iso could be thisimage_version-70f8.iso), that can be helpful in keeping track of which image is which (one of mine is named Win7Rescue_spotmau2012.iso because SARDU expects Win7Rescue_*.iso).
Note that the creation of the multiboot device/ISO happens slightly differently. SARDU makes sure you have everything listed and creates all of it at once (if you don't have enough space for the entire amount of data as a temporary file in the temp area - generally the drive you installed SARDU to - SARDU will generate an error and quit). YUMI, on the other hand, creates the image one ISO at a time. The other side to this is that with SARDU you can set it and leave it, while with YUMI you must be there to choose each of the distributions you want to install, after the previous one has completely finished.
The one problem with doing it all at once like SARDU is that if the program gets stuck extracting one of the ISOs, it hangs and there is nothing to do but start over. With YUMI's one at a time strategy, that particular image won't install, but you will still have the others. Once you create either an image or a bootable device, either program will easily update it. SARDU goes farther with a tool to just update the menu.
You might be wondering if after you create all these bootable images on a USB stick, can you put your own licensed images there (see above I put my spotmau image on)? The answer is YES for both applications. It is easier with YUMI as long as you know if the image uses syslinux, GRUB or GRUB from RAM. With SARDU you can do the same, and it is fairly easy if you replace one of the expected images with your own (as I did with the spotmau image). If you want to add your image and not use the replace option that becomes a little more complicated, although it is doable.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. When you start collecting ISO images, you realize that you have gigabytes of them (I have close to 50gb in just SARDU's ISO directory, which doesn't count the almost 100gb of images I have in another directory). This is problematic if you are having to copy them, then you have repeats. With SARDU all the images have to be in one Directory. Because it is doing it all at once, I believe, you can only define where the image directory is located, not where each image is located. With YUMI it doesn't matter, each image can be housed anywhere.
So did they both work? Yes. But how do they look and how usable are they? Both utilities produce a DOS like interface (white lettering on a black background with some graphics). Nothing surprising there. But the real difference shows up when you look at the submenus.
A SARDU created boot device has submenus that reflect exactly what was shown in the interface of the program that created the device. For instance, if it is called Windows 7 PE in the menu to create the boot USB then that is what you see when you use the USB. With YUMI all windows install disks are called the same thing - Windows Vista/7/8 Installer - I have 4 entries on the YUMI created boot disk with the same exact name, which is needless to say USELESS!
The rest of the entries on the YUMI created device bear the name of the ISO that was used to create them, which can be equally confusing. My version of AVG is called avg_arl_cdi_all_120_120525a5064.iso so the entry is called avg_arl_cdi_all_120_120525a5064, while my Linux mint distro is called linuxmint-14-mate-dvd-32bit.iso and even though YUMI has a choice for Linux Mint, the resulting menu calls it linuxmint-14-mate-dvd-32bit.
What do you do if you need help (other than asking me I mean :-D )? YUMI has an extra help link that sends you to their website. I didn't find a lot of help there. SARDU has a help link that opens a help file, which is blank. SARDU does have a great Help Forum.
So my conclusion is that SARDU is the better product and version 3.x is even better and without adware. Any software that works better than SARDU, but produces gobblety-gook at the end is useless. The menu that YUMI produces at the end is unusable by anyone other than the person who made it, and even that is questionable. SARDU does have several problems, not the least of which is the adware that one could easily install during installation of the program. Read everything carefully and you will be okay. You don't need to agree to any of the third party EULAs in order to install SARDU.
What about Easy2Boot? This is by far the easiest of all to install and configure. E2B has a separate item to update the menus once you have created the multiboot device. One can create your own submenus and helpfiles. IT is all very easy to do - the product is aptly named - Easy2boot. Check it out at http://www.easy2boot.com/!