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September 19, 2020

Admin Toolkit: Create multi-OS install media with Ventoy


I had never heard of Ventoy, until reading what my Win10.guru partner Ed wrote about it last week. Testing it, I found out that it is an excellent, perfect tool for someone like me, constantly installing and deploying custom Windows images and other operating systems. The beauty of Ventoy is that I can create a multi-OS USB install media simply by adding various ISO images to it, boot from that media, and select which OS to install:

Click to open enlarged in a new tab.

Screenshot from a PC booted from Ventoy USB flash disk containing ISO install images of Windows 10 version 2004 build 19041, latest Fast Ring Insider build 19613, and Linux distros CentOS 8.1 and Ubuntu 20.04.

Ventoy is really simple. Run it, select a USB flash drive to use, add ISO images of any Windows version or Linux distros. Boot from that USB, and select the OS to install. Ventoy mounts that ISO, and starts setup to install your selected OS.

How does it work? When installing Ventoy on a USB flash drive, it creates a small (32 MB) FAT32 partition which contains everything to make the USB bootable and to enable it to mount ISO images. The rest of the USB flash drive is formatted as an exFAT partition. This latter partition –named Ventoy — is the one where you put all your ISO files.

Ventoy is a good example what Open Source is at its best. In itself, it contains nothing new. The ingenuity of this excellent tool is in how it uses various Open Source projects, combining them into a powerful and capable tool. See the list of Open Source code used to create Ventoy at http://www.ventoy.net/en/doc_composition.html. You’ll be amazed.

My problem has always been that my customized Windows WIM images are bigger than 4 GB (the maximum file size in the FAT32 file system). I have used a workaround to create my install media as described here: USB install media with WIM file larger than 4GB

With Ventoy, I no longer have to worry about that. I can use my custom WIM images, create an ISO, and copy those ISO images to my Ventoy USB stick. Booting a PC from that USB stick, I simply select an OS to install, and that’s it.

As a Windows purist, I am doing my best to avoid any third party tools, as long as the same can be done with original Windows tools and commands. However, after initial tests, I realized that Ventoy is my preferred install media maker for now and the future. It is beautifully simple, easy to use, and does exactly what’s promised: it creates install media for all your Windows versions and Linux distros. It has not happened often, that I promote and recommend a third party tool, but Ventoy really is fantastic! Get it, use it!

See Ed’s story to get a Ventoy download link. I think this qualifies as an Admin Toolkit item, and beat Ed to that punch. Suffice it to say: we both heartily endorse this tool!

Kari

Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

One Response “Admin Toolkit: Create multi-OS install media with Ventoy”

  1. April 29, 2020 at 21:44

    The more I use this tool, the more I like it. Consider how few third-party tools I know you use and endorse (DriverStore Explorer aka RAPR.exe is the only other one I can think of right now), this is a real surprise. So nice to have you be the one to promote it into the Admin Toolkit. I approve wholeheartedly!
    –Ed–

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