03. November 2015 · Comments Off on Concatenating Audio Files in Windows with FFmpeg · Categories: Audio, Multimedia · Tags:
This guide demonstrates how to automate concatenating two or more audio files of the same format using FFmpeg while preserving the metadata in the merged file. A tested example batch file is provided to help illustrate. This guide is related to a previous post for concatenating audio files also with a batch file, but with using a different set of command-line tools for joining them.

clapper board

What is FFmpeg?

FFmpeg is an open-source and cross-platform command-line set of SW programs for recording, converting and streaming audio and video. First developed under Linux, compiled versions are available for most operating systems and platforms. It has since become one of the best-known and most widely used products of its type. FFmpeg is compatible with a large number of SW applications and it’s used in many popular SW products such as VLC Media Player, YouTube, and Handbrake. Although FFmpeg includes over 100 codecs and a mind-boggling number of possible combined command-line options, it’s not that difficult to use.

To demonstrate how easy it can be, FFmpeg.org provides this example command for converting input.mp4 to output.avi on its homepage:

$ ffmpeg -i input.mp4 output.avi

While the above example is simple, FFmpeg commands can also be more complex.

Main FFmpeg Tools

The FFmpeg version used for this guide is a Windows complied version availiable from Zeranoe FFmpeg. Simply download the latest 32 or 64-bit static build from the builds page here and extract it to a folder (builds are compressed in 7z format). The version used was git-dee7440 (2015-11-01).

The FFmpeg package contains the following three main executable tools in the bin folder:

  • ffmpeg.exe – a command-line encoder and media converter
  • ffmprobe.exe – a command-line tool to analyze and display media information
  • ffplay.exe – a simple media player

Note that there are a number of commands that are common between the three tools. Only ffmpeg.exe and ffmprobe.exe are used in this guide.

FFmpeg Help Files

FFmpeg provides three levels of help files: basic, long, and full. To view the commands available in the help files, click the ff-prompt.bat file in the root directory to open a command window or open your own in the bin folder and type in one of the following commands:

ffmpeg -h -- print basic options
ffmpeg -h long -- print more options
ffmpeg -h full -- print all options (including all format and codec specific options, very long

Here are links to the basic help file: ffmpeg_help and the full help file: ffmpeg_help_full. When printed to text, the help file sizes are: 5kB for the basic, 25kB for the full, and 487kB for the long help files. The long help file contains about 7,000 lines, which provides a hint as to how many commands are available.

Batch File

Batch file link: tasks_FFmpeg.bat

The link for the batch file used for this guide is provided above. Be sure to remove the txt extension before using it. The batch file is setup to work by the drag and drop method only.

To concatenate the audio files and write the metadata to the merged file, the batch file steps through the following:

  1. Delete any previous metadata text files, listfiles, or json data files.
  2. Write metadata for each audio file to a separate metadata text file
  3. Write the filenames of the audio files to confiles.txt (see below format), a listfile FFmpeg uses to identify the audio files to concatenate
  4. Concatenate the audio files and write the metadata from the first audio file’s metadata.txt file to the joined audio file.

For FFmpeg to use a listfile (confiles.txt), the filenames must be written to the confiles.txt file on separate lines using the following format.

file 'filename1.ext'
file 'filename2.ext'

The provided batch script should work for most audio formats of the same type provided they were encoded using the same codec (although they can be different containers). It was tested with opus, mp3, and aac files on a PC running Windows XP.

The batch script also provides options to separately print out audio file metadata, basic data, or stream and container (format) data to screen or to a file in json format (human readable form), with options to change the format in the script.

Command-Line Description

The main FFmpeg commands for extracting the metadata and concatenating the audio files are explained below. Although the ffprobe command was also used, it’s fairly simple to understand and should be self-explanatory by examining the code and the help files. The filenames used below are not actually in the batch script but have been simplified for explaination purposes.

The below command extracts and writes the metadata to a text file:

ffmpeg -i infile.ext -f ffmetadata metadatafile1.txt
  • ffmpeg – calls ffmpeg
  • -i infile.ext – specifies infile.ext as an input file
  • -f ffmetadata metadatafile1.txt  – formats the metadata to file metadatafile1.txt

The metadata1.txt file is formatted as below:

album=Name of Album
artist=Artist Name
genre=Music Genre Name
title=Title Name
track=Track #
encoder=Encoder Used

The next command is used to process mp3 files only. It concatenates the mp3 files and writes the metadatafile1.txt contents in id3 format of the first mp3 file to the merged mp3 file:

ffmpeg -f concat -i confiles.txt -i metadatafile1.txt -map_metadata 1 -id3v2_version 3 -write_id3v1 1 -c copy filename1_merged.mp3
  • ffmpeg – calls ffmpeg
  • -f concat -i confiles.txt – use concat demuxer to concatenate the mp3 files listed in confiles.txt (treats confiiles.txt as a single file and specifies it as input file 0)
  • -i metadatafile1.txt – specify metadatafile1.txt as input file 1
  • -map_metadata 1 – map input file 1 as the source for metadata (metadatafile1.txt)
  • -id3v2_version 3 – select ID3v2 version 3 to write
  • -write_id3v1 1 – enable ID3v1 writing
  • -c copy filename1_merged.mp3 – stream copy to filename1_merged.mp3 (-c copy = stream copy)

The next command listed processes audio files other than mp3. It functions the same as the previous command but writes standard metadata (if present) from the first audio file to the merged file:

ffmpeg -f concat -i confiles.txt -i metadatafile1.txt -map_metadata 1 -c copy filename1_merged.ext
  • ffmpeg – calls ffmpeg
  • -f concat -i confiles.txt – use concat demuxer to concatenate the files listed in confiles.txt (treats confiiles.txt as a single file and specifies it as input file 0)
  • -i metadatafile1.txt – specify metadatafile1.txt as input file 1
  • -map_metadata 1 – map input file 1 as the source for metadata (metadatafile1.txt)
  • -c copy filename1_merged.mp3 – stream copy to filename1_merged.ext (-c copy = stream copy)

Additional Help – Online Command-line Generators

There are a number of online FFmpeg command-line generators that can help construct various audio and video FFmpeg commands. A few of them are listed below:

FFmpeg Little Helper – Rodrigo Polo

FFmpeg Command Generator

FFmpeg Helper

FFmpeg Command Generator


Useful FFmpeg Commands

Concatenating media files


FFmpeg & FFprobe Cheatsheet




16. October 2015 · Comments Off on Where to find Command-line Utilities for Batch Files · Categories: Development, TechBits · Tags:
Command-line utilities are useful for expanding the capabilities of batch files. There are many more available, but the below list can be used as a starting point.

Free Command-line Utilities for Batch Files

NameDescriptionSourceSize Uncompressed (kB)More info/License
NircmdA small command-line utility that can perform many different tasksNirSoft43kFreeware. 32 and 64 bit versions also available
SwissFileKnifeCombines many functions into a single, portable executableStahlWorks Technologies 1,576kBSD License. Binaries and source code available. Versions for Mac and Linux.
Util32Twenty 32-bit useful command-line utilitiesPersoft23-180kFreeware
Gow (Gnu On Windows)Over 100 useful open source UNIX applications compiled as native win32 binariesBrent Matzelle1-1795kOpen Source MIT License
BusyBoxA single binary with many common Unix tools. Often used in embedded Linux systems. Fewer options than originals due to size optimizationRon Yorston647kGNU General Public License
GnuWinOver 160 separately downloadable native Win32 open source utilities for Windows 2k-Win7GnuWinVariousGNU General Public License
Gammadyne's Free DOS UtilitiesSixteen various utilities including timers, file management tools, and a DOS shellGammadyne Corp76-421kFreeware
SystemTools UtilitiesA dozen utilities focusing on user account and networking tasksSystemTools SoftwareMost under 50kFreeware
Rob nan der Woude's Scripting PagesDescriptions and download links for a many utilities. Probably the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of its kindBatch UtilitiesVariousAlmost entirely Freeware
Ritchie LawrenceA somewhat outdated (2005), but still useful list of command-line utilitiesRitchie LawrenceVariousMostly Freeware
Horst Schaeffer's Software PagesSeveral various utilities  CMD 32/64 bit 4-35kFreeware
F2KO SoftwareOver 40 utilitiesCMD ToolsVariousFreeware
HexatomiumAbout a dozen utilitiesWindows Apps by FS112-320kFree for personal use

19. September 2015 · Comments Off on Create YouTube Playlist Links – No Login Required · Categories: AutoHotKey, Video, Windows
YouTube playlists are a useful way to watch videos in sequence or for sharing a list of videos with others. However, at times it may be insecure to share playlists created from your personal account or inconvenient to log in into your account to create them. This guide describes how to create playlists in a single link that allows you to view your videos immediately, save them for later, or to share them with others – without logging into your YouTube account.

youtube filmstripA YouTube playlist can be created manually by concatenating the unique videoIDs, separated by commas, to the URL:


A completed playlist will thus look like so:


Just paste the completed link into your browser to start the playlist. A more complete explanation of this process can be found at the following blog post:  How to Create YouTube Playlists without Logging In.

Creating playlists manually can be inconvenient, so a way to accomplish this automatically with a script was sought. Because the Windows command-line doesn’t easily support the clipboard without 3rd part tools, AutoHotKey was used instead since it can manipulate the clipboard more easily. AutoHotKey version was used for the script and tested on a system running WinXP.

AutoHotKey script: youtube_playlist2.ahk

To use the script, run it to monitor the clipboard for youtube.com/watch, youtube.com/embed/, or youtu.be; text which is used in normal, embedded, or shortened YouTube video links. The script generally ignores any other text, so in most cases, the script can be active and not interfere with normal clipboard activity.

After starting the script, a popup message (shown below) appears to alert the user that the script has started and informs the user that CNTL +Y will create the playlist link and copy it to the clipboard, and CNTL + Z exits the script.

AutoHotKey popupEach time a YouTube video link is copied to the clipboard, a Traytip displays the link that was processed and how many video links in total were copied and processed. Hit OK to continue. Wait 2.5 seconds between selecting videos (when the Traytip disappears) before selecting another video.

After selecting all your videos, use CNRL + Y to copy the final playlist to the clipboard. Another popup message (screenshot below) will appear. This popup indicates the total number of videos in the playlist, the final playlist link, how to exit the script, and reminds the user that the playlist link has been copied to the clipboard. The playlist link is ready to use by pasting it into a browser or in an email. After hitting OK you can continue adding videos or use CNTL + Z to exit. Exit and restart the script to clear everything out and start over.playlist final popupThe script can be customized by the user as desired.

14. March 2015 · Comments Off on Automate mp3 File Concatenation with Windows Command-line Tools · Categories: Audio, Batch Files, Windows · Tags:
Although it requires a bit more technical effort than GUI-based applications, merging mp3 files with the command-line allows for a faster and more complete merging process and more flexibility and customization options. This guide demonstrates how to use a batch file and free Windows command-line tools to concatenate two or more mp3 files, preserve the ID3 metadata, and repair and verify the integrity of the combined file. The information in this guide was tested on system running XP SP3 32-bit and should be similar for other Windows versions.

merging mp3s

Command-line vs GUI tools

Command-line tools generally provide more options than GUI-based tools and that’s especially true for tools working with complex SW such as media files, which can be created with many different types of codecs, containers, and formats. Most GUI-based tools use command-line tools on the back-end, but GUIs are rarely able to incorporate all the possible combinations of complex commands and options of those tools into their designs. It’s difficult to design GUI’s that can accomplish difficult tasks and still be easy to use. Because GUI-based application designs are often driven primarily for ease-of-use and wide appeal, functionality and complexity are necessarily reduced in order to accomplish those goals. Command-line tools are the opposite, they are more difficult to learn and to use, but are generally able to accomplish a wider and more sophisticated range of tasks.


Advantages – faster execution, specialized tasks can be accomplished by executing a single script, flexibility/customization (adding tools, changing options, etc.), free, uses less system resources

Disadvantages– requires coding or understanding code, takes more time and effort to configure, less intuitive


Advantages – quicker learning curve, more intuitive visually and for multitasking, more complete viewing and listing of information, easier switching between commands

Disadvantages – slower execution (additional programs are often required  for processing ID3 tags or to repair VBR headers), requires more system resources (video, drivers, mouse, etc.), limited options for advanced tasks (especially for free versions), limited availability of easy-to-use but highly configurable applicaions

Command-line Tools for this Guide

The command-line tools used in this guide are:

MP3Wrap (ver 0.5) – Wraps two or more mp3 files into a single file. The command-line executable is mp3wrap.exe.

ID3 mass tagger (ver 0.78) – Copies the ID3 tag to the merged file. This is the download link for the older freeware version, which is the version used in this guide. A newer version (1.21.25) is available here for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems, but it non-free shareware. It includes a GUI and a command-line version.  [hide for=”!administrator”]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.[/hide]

MP3Val (ver 0.1.8) – Validates and fixes MPEG stream, frame, and header errors. Includes both GUI and command-line versions. The command-line executable is mp3val.exe.

Because MP3Wrap strips and replaces the ID3 tags with its own information, ID3 is used to copy the tags from one of the files. MP3Val repairs any errors in the pre-merged files copied into the merged file or produced during the merging process.

Command-line Examples:

Command-line syntax useage for this guide and in the batch script:

Merge Files

The batch file provides an option to use either the Windows command-line or MP3wrap to merge the files.

The command to merge mp3 files with Windows command-line:

copy /b file1.mp3+file2.mp3+file3.mp3 outputfile.mp3

/b = binary file

Command to merge mp3 files with MP3wrap:

mp3wrap outputfile.mp3 file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mp3

additional commands for MP3Wrap (ver 0.5): mp3wrap_cmd_help:

Copy Tags

The command-line syntax to copy the ID3 tags from input file1 to the output file with ID3:

id3.exe -D file1.mp3 outputfile.mp3

-D = duplicate tags from filename

additional commands for ID3 (ver 0.78): id3_078_help

Fix and Validate

Command-line syntax to fix and validate the output file with MP3Val:

mp3val outputfile.mp3 -f -nb -si

-f = try to fix errors

-nb = delete .bak files (suitable with -f)

-si = suppress INFO messages

additional commands for MP3Val (ver 0.1.8): mp3val_cmd_help

Merging mp3 Files: Process


If using the provided batch file (see below), two steps are required.

1. Prepare the mp3 files

Ensure that the mp3 files to be merged have the same frequency, bitrate, and MPEG coding and layering. Otherwise, the output file may contain non-apparent errors, even if no errors were displayed during the merging process.

2. Drag and drop the mp3 files onto the batch file to merge

Drag and drop the mp3 files all at once and in the order to be processed by the batch script. Rename/renumber the files as necessary to obtain the right order.

Batch File Processing Steps:

  1. Display the order of the mp3 files to be processed
  2. Ask the user to select between merging the files with the Windows command-line or MP3Wrap
  3. Merge the mp3 files into a temp file, “temp_MP3WRAP.mp3”
  4. Transfer the ID3 tags from the first mp3 file to the temp file with ID3
  5. Fix and validate the temp file with MP3Val
  6. Rename the temp file to the first mp3 file and append “_merged” to the file name
  7. Exit

Example Batch File:

Ensure that the file extension is changed to “bat” before using.



blogferret.com – id3.exe – ideal tool for tagging and renaming MP3 files

alexenglish.info – Concatenating MP3 Files in Linux

cephas.net – Merge multiples MP3 files into one

ghacks.net – ID3 Mass Tagger

02. December 2014 · Comments Off on Formula and Data Protection for Excel Worksheets · Categories: Windows · Tags:
This guide demonstrates how to lock cells in Excel worksheets to protect formulas or other data from being changed, while allowing selected cells to remain unlocked. This is useful to prevent accidental changes to the worksheet and to enhance navigability by allowing users to select only the modifiable cells. The information in this guide was tested on a Windows XP system using Microsoft Excel ver. 2003. The steps in this guide should be similar for other versions of Excel. An example worksheet provided for this guide is provided here.

Steps to Protect Excel Worksheets

1. Use the Control or Shift key to select individual cells that are to remain unprotected and modifiable by the user. The screenshot below shows the selected cells in grey. All unselected cells will be protected.

selected cells

2. Right-click over one of the selected cells and select Format Cells… from the right-click menu.

select format cells

3. In the Format Cell dialog that appears, select the Protection Tab and unselect both the Locked and Hidden options and then click OK.

format cells dialog

4. From the application menu, select Tools->Protection->Protect Sheet…

protect worksheet menu

5. In the Protect Sheet Dialog that appears, ensure that Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells a the top and Select unlocked cells from the list are selected and then hit OK.

protect sheet dialog

That’s all there is to it. The Tab key can be used to move between the selectable cells. All other cells are protected. To make changes to the worksheet, select Tools->Protection->Unprotect Sheet…

13. September 2014 · Comments Off on Retrieve and Embed Cover Art into Audio Files · Categories: TechBits · Tags:
bluenotegreen notemusic folder

Useful information from Tinyapps.org that shows how to retrieve and embed cover art into audio files with MP3Tag and the command-line application DisCoverArt. The blog post is reproduced in its entirety below:

Batch download and embed album cover art #

If you have a huge MP3 collection and just want to batch download and embed cover art without verifying each cover individually (and iTunes’ “Get Album Artwork” is insufficient):

  1. Download and install Mp3tag
  2. Download DisCoverArt and unzip contents to the Mp3tag program directory (e.g., C:\Program Files (x86)\Mp3tag)
  3. Open an elevated command prompt and cd to the Mp3tag program directory
  4. Run regsvr32 custommsgbox.dll and click OK when the success dialog appears
  5. Open Mp3tag
  6. File > Add directory… > navigate to your music folder > Select Folder
  7. Create a new tool:
    1. Tools > Options > Tools
    2. Click the New (yellow star) button
    3. Name: DisCoverArt Google 300×300 Artist+Title NoQuotes
    4. Path: Browse to the Mp3tag program directory and select DisCoverArt.exe
    5. Parameter: “%artist%” “%title%” -discomusic.com 0 1 300 300 jpg 1 1
    6. Check “for all selected files” > OK > OK
  8. Create a new action:
    1. Actions > Actions (you need to select at least one song in the main interface for this menu item to be available)
    2. Click the New (yellow star) button
    3. Name of action group: Save Coverart
    4. Click OK > click the New button again
    5. Select action type: Import Cover From File > OK
    6. Format string for image filename: %artist% – %title%.jpg
    7. Import cover as: Front Cover
    8. Check “Delete existing cover art” > OK > OK > Close
  9. Right click on column header > Customize columns… > check “Cover” > click “Move up” until it is at or near the top of the list
  10. Click the Cover column to sort
  11. Select all files without an entry in the Cover column (the author recommends selecting no more than 300 at a time to avoid problems)
  12. Right click on highlighted files and click Tools > DisCoverArt Google 300×300 Artist+Title NoQuotes
  13. Wait for all console windows to close
  14. Actions > Actions (Quick) > “Import cover from file” > OK
  15. Format string for image filename: %artist% – %title%.jpg
  16. Import cover as: Front Cover
  17. Check “Delete existing cover art” > OK > OK
  18. Close Mp3tag
  19. Getting the artwork to show up in iTunes:
    1. Open iTunes and click “Albums”
    2. Edit > Select All > Right click > click “Uncheck Selection” (album covers will appear)
    3. Edit > Select All > Right click > “Check Selection”

Another option is to download cover art with Album Art Downloader and embed with Mp3tag:

  1. Download and run Album Art Downloader
  2. File > New > File Browser…
  3. Enter path to music directory under “Search for audio files in:”
  4. Click Search
  5. Click “Select all albums with missing artwork”
  6. Click “Get Artwork for Selection…”
  7. Click “Automatically download and save results for the remaining queued searches”
  8. Click “Download and save results automatically”
  9. Click “Start”
  10. When the process is complete, embed the album art with Mp3tag by starting with step 14 above. The only change is in step 15, where you’ll need to use Folder.jpg as the format string.


Source: Tinyapps.org


12. September 2014 · Comments Off on Multi-boot UFD with Hi-Res Menus using Windows and Syslinux 6.xx · Categories: Batch Files, Graphics, Multiboot USB · Tags:
screenshot of main menuThis guide provides everything needed to create a customizable multi-boot USB flash drive in Windows with high resolution menus and customized splash screens. It provides a framework for creating a basic but functional multi-boot flash drive using Syslinux 6.xx as the primary bootloader. Basic menu configuration files and splash screen examples are provided. Experienced users shouldn’t find it difficult to follow this guide to create a ready-to-use bootable flash drive that can be customized to their needs. Users should already have some familiarity with Syslinux, installing Linux distros, and with formatting and partitioning flash drives.

For the sake of simplicity, this guide is limited to setting up Syslinux for a single partition using the BIOS modules. The instructions were tested and verified on a system running Windows XP SP3 and using Syslinux 6.02.screenshot of menu3 This guide is essentially a more up-to-date version and combination of two previous posts, Create a Multiboot Multipartition USB with Syslinux and Grub4Dos and Create Custom Grub4Dos, GRUB and Syslinux Compatible Splash Images.

Syslinux 6.xx

Syslinux provides two menu systems, the Simple Menu System and the Advanced Menu System. The advanced system must be compiled while the simple system includes the ready-to-use vesamenu.c32 and menu.c32 modules. This guide uses the vesamenu.c32 module.

Splash Screen Resolutions

Syslinux 6.xx can use splash screens in the .png or jpg formats at resolutions from 640×480 up to whatever is supported by the system. If the flash drive is going to be used on multiple systems, it would be best to use a typical resolution such as 800×600 that would work across most systems.


Since version 5.xx, modules are no longer stand alone and need additional libraries to work. A description of the changes can be found on the Syslinux Wiki at http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Library_modules. In most cases, Syslinux will alert you of any additional libraries required when you try to use them.

(U)EFI (Unified/Extensible Firmware Interface)

Although there has been a lot of hype about (U)EFI (Unified/Extensible Firmware Interface) in general and support for (U)EFI began with Syslinux 6.xx, the (U)EFI modules are still fairly new, have a number of unresolved issues, and are not widely used at this time. UEFI in Syslinux is buggy and has problems on both Windows and Linux. Arch Linux describes some of the more relevant ones at http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/syslinux#Limitations_of_UEFI_Syslinux. Some of the issues with UEFI are:

  • UEFI Syslinux does not support chainloading other EFI applications like UEFI Shell or Windows Boot Manager.
  • UEFI Syslinux does not boot in Virtual Machines like QEMU/OVMF or VirtualBox or VMware and in some UEFI emulation environments like DUET.
  • Memdisk is not available for UEFI.
  • UEFI Syslinux application syslinux.efi cannot be signed by sbsign (from sbsigntool) for UEFI Secure Boot.
  • Using TAB to edit kernel parameters in UEFI Syslinux menu leads to garbaged display (text on top of one-another).

Other Syslinux issues/limitations:

  • Using Syslinux 6.02 on BTRFS volumes corrupts the superblock.
  • Syslinux cannot access files from partitions other than its own.
  • Using the memdisk module to boot most ISOs is often difficult or impossible.

Syslinux.org has admitted to these limitations and has often recommended other bootloaders such as GRUB, Grub4Dos, or Plop Boot Manager to compliment Syslinux. In spite of this, Syslinux remains one of the most functional and popular bootloaders not only for flash drives, but for other bootable devices like CDs, for most operating systems, and for chainloading partitions and hard drives. It’s very flexible and is an excellent choice as the primary bootloader for most situations. Adding another bootloader such as Grub4Dos however, greatly enhances the flash drive’s booting options.

Creating a Multi-boot Flash Drive steps:

  1. Format the flash drive
  2. Install Syslinux 6.xx
  3. Install modules and files
  4. Install or create splash screens
  5. Customize menu configuration files (optional)

1. Format the Flash Drive

Format the flash drive with FAT16 or FAT32.

2.  Install Syslinux 6.xx

Download and unzip the latest .zip version of Syslinux 6.xx from Kernel.org. The file size should be about 12mB before unzipping. Open a cmd window and cd to C:\syslinux-6.xx\bios\win32. Type the following to install Syslinux to the flash drive where x is your flash drive:

syslinux.exe -sfma x:

This installs ldlinux.c32 and ldlinux.sys to the flash drive.

3. Install Modules and Files


Look for and copy the BIOS versions of the modules shown in the directory tree for the root of the flash drive. An easy way to locate the modules is to use something like AgentRansack. Modules have a .c32 extension (except memdisk) and are located in various folders in the C:\syslinux-6.xx\bios\com32 directory. Place all of the modules in the root directory.

Configuration Files

The help text, menu.cfg, syslinux.cfg and other configuration files required can be downloaded from the configfiles download link below.  Download and extract them to the root of the flash drive.

Download the latest version of Grub4Dos from grub4dos-chenall. Extract the grub.exe and menu.lst files to the root of the flash drive.

4. Install or Create Splash Screens

Install ready-made Splash Screens

To get started, splash screens tested to work with the configuration files are provided below. Just unzip them to the splashimages folder. After installing the splash screen images, the flash drive is ready to test or use.

Link for the splash screens: splashscreens

Nine (9) splashscreen files are provided. Download them as an album and extract to the splashimages folder. Slightly change the filenames by removing the number and dash so the filenames match those used in the menu configuration files.

The correct splashscreen filenames are:

  1. cave_800x600_14.png
  2. fallleaf_800x600_14.png
  3. grassyhill_800x600_14.jpg
  4. mist_800x600_14.png
  5. nightlight_800x600_24.jpg
  6. ny_800x600_14.jpg
  7. road_800x600_14.png
  8. Spruce_800x600_14.png
  9. winter_800x600_14.jpg.

The link below displays a directory of what the flash drive contents should look like at this point:


Create and Install Customized Splash Screens (optional)

To create your own menu graphics, use the batch file below or another graphics program to create .png or .jpg format splash screens from your image files. Since the menus are already configured with light text, you may want to use a dark color to start off with. Generally, 14 colors works nearly every time and renders more quickly.

The batch file below is configured to use ImageMagick portable installed to the Utilities folder. If ImageMagick is already installed, simply change the line set IMdir=C:\Utilities\ImageMagick\ to your ImageMagick location. Use double quotes if the path contains spaces (e.g., set “IMdir=C:\Program Files\ImageMagick\”). Be sure to use the latest version of ImageMagick since the newest version has improved image conversion options and processing.


If creating a customized splash screen, place it in the splashimages folder in the flash drive and change the file name in the appropriate menu configuration file(s) as below so it can be used on the next boot:

MENU BACKGROUND /splashimages/your image name.jpg

5. Customize Menu Configuration Files (optional)

After the flash drive is working properly, try to install bootable applications or Linux distros by modifying the boot options in the menu configuration files for Syslinux or in menu.lst for Grub4Dos. Some menu label entries are already provided in the Syslinux menus that were verified to work such as Slax, Grub4Dos, and a few others.

That’s it. If anything gets messed up, everything can just be reinstalled to start again from the beginning. Good luck.



Syslinux – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/SYSLINUX

Syslinux Menu – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Menu

Syslinux 6 Changelog – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/Syslinux_6_Changelog

Memdisk – http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/MEMDISK#ISO_images

13. June 2014 · Comments Off on Disable the Splash Screen for Independently Installed PortableApps · Categories: TechBits · Tags: ,
splashConvertallPortableApps.com provides free and open source portable SW that can be downloaded and run separately from the PortableApps.com Platform™ management system. When launching apps independently from the platform, the splash screen can be annoying. Although an option exists to  disable the splash screen from the PortableApps.com Platform’s™ “Advanced Preferences”, this doesn’t apply to independent apps not using this platform. Thankfully, this is easily fixed by modifying a single file.

How to disable the splash screen for your application

  • Open the application’s folder and drill down to the /Other/Source directory.
  • In the Source directory open AppNamePortable.ini with a text editor. In some cases an .ini file already exists with the application’s name in this directory. In any case, there will only be one .ini file in this directory. Open this file and go to the next step.
  • Change the line DisableSplashScreen=false to DisableSplashScreen=true (see screenshot below. Click to enlarge).
  • Use “save as” to save the file with the name of the application and the .ini extension (e.g., ConvertAllPortable.ini).
  • Close the text editor and copy or move this file to the application’s main directory.

screen shot of disable splash

That’s it. The .ini file will override the default configuration when starting the application. There should be a noticeable difference in how quickly the application starts. If you still have a splash screen, make sure that the .ini file just moved to the application’s main directory is correctly named. For example, if the application name is ConvertAllPortable.exe, the .ini file should be ConvertAllPortable.ini.


25. December 2013 · Comments Off on BCM4311 Mint 16 – no wireless – no Internet connection · Categories: Linux, Networking · Tags: ,

Problem – no WiFi after Fresh Install

tux wonders why wireless doesn't workUpdate 03/27/2015 – According to a recent GHacks article, the Broadcom wireless drivers exist on the Mint installation media. If correct, that would be an easier solution and certainly worth trying. If not successful, then come back and try the solution described below.

After an upgrade from Mint 13 to Mint 16 using the “fresh upgrade” method again resulted in a system without wireless connectivity, this guide was created for future reference and possibly as an aid to others experiencing the same problem. The information here applies to the B43 driver, specifically for the 4311 PCI-ID/Chip ID, but the driver/firmware solution described may be similar for other Broadcom PC-IDs also using the B43 driver (see list below) and running on Debian/Ubuntu or derivative distros; however, keep in mind that derivative doesn’t imply compatibility in all cases. For further information about B43/B43 legacy wireless devices and driver/firmware solutions see http://wireless.kernel.org/en/users/Drivers/b43.

Similar PC-IDs for B43:

Note that in most cases PCI-ID correlates to the Chip ID, but that is not always the case, so identify your device using the PCI-ID.

Regardless of the PCI-ID, always check the distro’s documentation and user forums for the most up-to-date information. Broadcom wireless solutions change constantly and often vary from distro to distro.

System used for this Guide

The system used for this guide was an Intel Pentium T2310 / 1.46 GHz ( Dual-Core ) laptop with Mint 16 (Mate) freshly installed to the hard drive. The built-in wireless device was based on the BCM 4311 chipset. No other options existed at the time for connecting to the Internet except for wireless, which wouldn’t work after the OS installation.

Broadcom Wireless Issues

In the past, wireless connectivity issues in Linux for devices using the popular Broadcom chipset were a common problem that often turned into a difficult, confusing and time-consuming task. Considerable time and effort was often spent performing multiple trial-and-error driver installations, command-line troubleshooting, reading and evaluating technical documentation, and following suggestions from other users to get wireless working.

Although some Linux distros support Broadcom wireless out-of-the-box or provide options within the OS to install the correct drivers/firmware, most do not because of a variety of ongoing development, proprietary and support issues. When users search the Web for answers, this often results in page after page of possible solutions and troubleshooting suggestions, many which may be out-of-date and therefore may no longer work. The amount of information can overwhelm and confuse users desperate for an easy and quick solution. An informative Archlinux.org Wiki entry (2013), Broadcom Wireless, describes many of these issues and illustrates why so much confusion and seemingly conflicting information exists about getting wireless to work for Broadcom devices in Linux.

Current Support Issues

Fortunately, driver/firmware support and installation options for Broadcom wireless devices have steadily improved and don’t require as much user effort or technical expertise as before; however, this doesn’t mean that problems are now a thing of the past. Many users may still need another PC to hunt the Web for the correct drivers, may find themselves the frustrating catch-22 position of needing a LAN connection in order to install the drivers, or learn that the correct drivers are not clearly specified, or when specified, are not included with the installation media.

For some Linux distros, B43 driver/firmware installation can be an automated or a semi-automated process. Some distros feature automatic installation for B43 devices by detecting and installing the appropriate driver package during the OS install from the installation media or through a LAN connection, and some may include them with the kernel image. Others, like Ubuntu/Debian and their derivatives, may even provide customized installation files (like a deb file) from their support forums or web site that can be downloaded and double-clicked to automatically install the appropriate drivers/firmware. Note that some deb files don’t include the drivers and may require a LAN connection in order to download them separately (another catch-22 situation if you don’t have a LAN connection).

When any of the previously mentioned B43 wireless driver/firmware installation options are not available or easily identified, users can still enable wireless using an extraction tool and the open source or proprietary drivers to manually install the firmware – this is the process described in this guide.

Generally, three categories of wireless driver/firmware solutions exist for Linux users with Broadcom chip-sets:

1. brcmsmac/brcmfmac/brcm80211 – Open source kernel driver (newest, often included with the latest kernel images)
2. B43/B43 legacy – Open source reversed-engineered kernel driver (B43 only is covered in this guide, B43 Legacy is not covered)
3. broadcom-wl – Proprietary Broadcom STA driver

The necessary driver/firmware is dependent on the chipset/PCI-ID, type of wireless device, operating system, CPU architecture, and the OS version (note that some Broadcom wireless devices are still unsupported in Linux). Regardless of the chipset/PCI-ID, the distro’s documentation and user forums should always be checked for the latest information since driver solutions and installation options vary from distro to distro and even between versions within a distro.

Identifying the Wireless Device

To identify a Broadcom wireless device in Linux, type the following command (case-sensitive) into a terminal:

lspci -vnn -d 14e4:

lspci terminal
The above is the output of the lspci command. The PCI-ID is identified within the brackets on the 2nd line by 14e4:4311, where 14e4 is the identification code for Broadcom, and 4311 is the device. In this case, 4311 also identifies the Chip ID. The <access denied> after Capabilities is displayed because the lspci command was executed without using administrator privileges (sudo or su).

Additional wireless identification and troubleshooting commands can be found at the Ubuntu Community Help Wiki.

Tested Solution – Install firmware from driver source file

The verified solution for this guide was to use another PC to download the necessary files onto a USB flash drive and then transfer those files to the user directory on the Linux Mint 16 PC with no Internet connectivity. The files needed were fwcutter (a deb file) and the Broadcom-wl proprietary driver source file. Fwcutter is a tool written for BCM43xx driver files to extract firmware from driver source files.


1. Download b43-fwcutter for your architecture (bottom of page) from http://packages.debian.org/squeeze/b43-fwcutter. In this case, b43-fwcutter_013-2_amd64.deb was used, but an older version or a 32-bit version probably would have worked as well.

2. Download the source file from http://mirror2.openwrt.org/sources/. In this case, broadcom-wl- was used. Scroll down the page to locate the broadcom files entries.

3. Transfer the files to your user directory on the Linux Mint PC and double-click the b43-fwcutter file to install it. Ignore any warnings about the version being out-of-date.

4. Run the following commands to extract and write the firmware to /lib/firmware. Ignore any warnings.

tar xfvj broadcom-wl-
sudo b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware broadcom-wl-

5. Reboot the PC.

6. The wireless should now work. If so, look for and install any updated B43 wireless firmware/fwcutter/drivers using the Synaptic Package Manager. Do not use B43 legacy.

Other Possible Solutions

Broadcom driver is actually on the installation media. How to install:

Ubuntu community wiki. Solutions for a number of PCI-IDs (not tested):

Deb files. Automatically installs driver/firmware for deb-compatible distros from pkgs.org. Double-click to install (not tested):


B43 wireless information page:

B43 Driver download:

Linux Mint solution:

Ubuntu Community Help Wiki:


Recreating directory structures can be a tedious and error-prone chore, especially if using the right-click method to create multiple structures and folders. This guide describes three methods to easily copy directory structures (without files) in Windows: (1) with the command line, (2) with GUI tools dedicated for that purpose, and (3) by configuring a freeware file manager, FreeCommander, to enable this function.


Copying Directory Structures from the Command-line

For those comfortable with the command-line, two commands that can be used for this purpose are the Xcopy and Robocopy, both of which have tons of options. Although others, such as the FOR command could also be used, Xcopy and Robocopy are by far the most popular tools used for this purpose.


Xcopy is included in systems up to Vista. It’s a more powerful version of copy with additional features that can copy files, directories, and whole drives. Note that although Xcopy is included with Vista, it has been deprecated in favor of RoboCopy.

To use Xcopy to clone a directory without files, use the following syntax:

xcopy /t /e "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder"

/t = Copies the subdirectory structure, but not the files

/e = Copies subdirectories, including any empty ones

When using Xcopy with the above switches, you will be asked to specify whether the target is a directory or a file before the Xcopy command executes, but if the command is executed from a batch file, no user interaction is required.

Note: Xcopy doesn’t display any progress or completed operations information when executed.

Additional Xcopy commands can be found here.


Robocopy stands for “Robust file copy.” It’s a standard feature for Windows starting with Vista. It’s can also be installed in WinXP as part of the Windows Resource Kit.

To use Robocopy to clone a directory without files, use the following syntax:

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf *

same as above but without displaying the status:

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * >null

same as above and creates a log (overwrites existing log):

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * /log:yourlogfile.log

same as above and appends to log (appends to existing log):

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * /log+:yourlogfile.log

/e = Copies subdirectories, including empty ones.

/xf = Excludes files matching the specified names or paths. Wildcards “*” and “?” are accepted

Additional Robocopy commands can be found here.

Note: Robocopy displays progress and completed operations information when executed as shown in the below screenshot.

Freeware GUI Tools for copying Directory Structures

Two easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface) apps dedicated specifically to creating directory structures without files are TreeCopy and Miroirs:

TreeCopy – Portable and freeware. Runs on Win95 to Win8.

treecopy screenshot

Miroirs – Freeware. Requires installation. Runs on XP/Vista/Win7

Miroirs screenshot

FreeCommander setup to copy Directory Structures

FreeCommander is a freeware file manager that can be configured to copy directory structures using a customized batch file with the Xcopy and/or Robocopy commands. FreeCommander Ver. 2009.02b was used for this example. These instructions are modified from those provided on the FreeCommander forums.

FreeCommander Instructions

Create a batch file with the following code and save it with any name desired such as “copyFolderStructure_freecommander.bat.” For Xcopy the batch file’s main code consists of:

xcopy %1 %2 /t /e

%1 and %2 are the first and second parameters passed to the batch file (structure to copy and target)
The /t and /e options are the same as above

For Robocopy the batch file’s main code consists of:

robocopy %1 %2 /e /xf *

%1 and %2 are the first and second parameters passed to the batch file (structure to copy and target)
the /e and /xf * options are the same as above

Note: a pause can be entered at the end of either of the batch files above to keep the command window open for viewing the output

Example batch files for FreeCommander:

From the menu, select Extras->Favorite Tools->Edit or use (SHIFT+CONTROL+Y). Click the image below to enlarge.

freecommander menu

Select none from the left-hand column named Categories, then click once in the Items column.

FreeCommander Tools Configuration

Use the Items:Add to list button that appears above the Items column to create an item, for instance Copy Folder Structure.

Select Seek program by clicking the blue arrow next to the program field to navigate to and select the saved batch file’s (e.g. C:\tools\copyFolderStructure_freecommander_robocopy.bat) full path into the program field.

Enter the following into the parameter field:

"%LeftDir%" "%RightDir%" %Dlg%

The variables, %LeftDir% and %RightDir%, pass the address of the left and right folders to batch file parameters %1 and %2. The %Dlg% variable is optional and may be omitted if desired. It is used to display a Run program window (screenshot below) before actually starting the script to allow the folder names to be verified. It also provides a way for the operation to be cancelled.


If desired, add an icon by using the blue button next to the icon field to navigate to the icon’s location.

Make sure the boxes are checked as in the Define Favorite Tools screenshot above before hitting OK.

Tool Selection
The toolbar now contains an entry for copying Folder Structures. The tool can be selected from the menu with Extras->Favorite Tools->Name of your tool or by using the favorites icon (make sure Extras is enabled in Extras->Settings->View->Toolbar if it’s not visible on the toolbar).

Using FreeCommander

To use, select the structure to copy in FreeCommander’s left pane and select the target directory in the right pane. Select and click your tool from the toolbar or menu as described above. After the Run program dialog appears, click OK to continue.

FreeCommander Select

Xcopy doesn’t provide an option to display progress or completed operations. However, with Robocopy, the output will display the copy operation details as shown below (a pause was used in this batch file):RoboCopy Output

If no errors occur, the folder structure will be copied as in the following screenshot:

FreeCommander copied


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