Extended Hiatus

The project has been in extended hiatus due to various reasons.

The intention of the project was to provide an easy to use script to pull useful tools into a directory – there’s plenty of those in existence – how do I make this one stand out?

In previous releases, everything was batch-scripted, which is still used to this day in many useful tools. PowerShell is gaining traction, especially since it’s gone multi-platform. Pulling useful tools into a directory structure that makes sense, and keeping them up-to-date was the main goal of the project — and still is.

Where to go from here? There’s proof of concept code I wrote nearly a year ago. PowerShell is ideal, since it now runs on practically anything with an oscillator – Linux, Windows, X86, AMD64, ARM64. Making it possible for all techs to get their tools synced to a USB stick with a single script, without having to modify configuration options is key.

Going forward, BootZilla will exist as a multi-platform-compatible script, relying on native technology (no external libraries, aside from p7zip or 7zip), deployable on a server for maximum functionality.

13 years have transpired since the creation of BootZilla as a public release. In that time, I’ve worked 14 years in the tech industry, and a handful of months as a podcaster. I always wanted to make money off this project, but never did. If I can implement the script the way I wanted to many years ago, I may implement a WindowsPE variant with some of the unique tools that require a clean environment – and market it.

But that’s all in the future. As for the present, BootZilla exists only in name. All code is to be re-written, all tools, re-selected, and ultimately, a new, fresh start for the toolkit!

Thoughts…

As I redevelop this toolkit, I’ve come to a point where I have a proof of concept working.

With the POC, I can grab programs from the ‘net, extract them into appropriate folders, and keep a cached copy of the programs, so re-downloading everything isn’t necessary for files that haven’t been updated.

Now I’m starting to think that it may make more sense to approach this via PowerShell.

PowerShell offers the ability to download programs just as well – or at least bootstrap the toolkit’s basic bits — 7zip and aria2. Since we want to be as portable as possible, there are solutions out there, but they require the end-user to change their ExecutionPolicy. This alone is a slight barrier to entry. I’m unsure if I want to progress with this barrier in place or not. It may also send up red flags to users that my project requires them to lower their security for a moment, just to grab a few utilities.

Personally, I’d rather not go this route, even though it makes it so BootZilla can be released as a single script – something that would be ideal in the long run. No need to package any external utilities with the script, and easily package the program urls within the script itself. This would also (potentially) allow something like appveyor to be used to automate the build, and provide a single ‘distro’ to be built and released daily.

At this point – I’m probably going to write the necessary bits to implement this approach, at least to see if it provides what I need. Perhaps the barrier to entry is necessary anyway – the tools I’m including aren’t your standard run-of-the-mill utilities – they require a sysadmin who knows what they’re doing, in order to utilize properly.

There’s some fear still associated with altering a user’s ExecutionPolicy, even temporarily. I don’t anticipate getting things signed cryptographically, which may also be a thorn in my side.

Perhaps I’m being too anal about my own security. I don’t know. This point in time is important, as if I go one way, things may be easier in the long run, albeit with the security implications aforementioned. If I go the other way, I’ll be stuck in the past, and have to distribute a slightly larger bootstrap, taped together with batch scripts from a bygone era.

Batch scripting isn’t dead – but it has certainly evolved. PowerShell offers a lot of new functionality, but requires you to lower your shields for a moment in order to be useful.

I’m going to write the .psh, and hope for the best.

BootZilla: Alive Again

It’s been a few years since BootZilla has seen the light of day. I’m no longer in the computer repair business, or the sysadmin world. Despite that, I feel like BootZilla deserves one last release, for the sysadmins out there.

The life of batch scripting has not ended. Several scripters still utilize batch scripting to get useful stuff done, even while PowerShell continues to be enhanced and developed by Microsoft. Such tools, like MSMG Toolkit, for instance, which is a tool to update and modify Windows 10 installation media – these tools are integral to a sysadmin’s job. They are the bread and butter to get a Windows 10 install setup just the way you want it – And they’re all based around simple batch scripting.

BootZilla began its life as a set of batch scripts that would go and update a few apps in a folder. This progressed into offering a build-script system that would not only update apps in a folder, but also grab new versions of applications, unpack them, and even create a bootable ISO image.

The goal of the BootZilla project was to build a set of useful tools, provide update scripts to keep the tools up-to-date, and be available all the time.

Since going dark in 2016, due to time-constraints and loss of interest in the project, development of the highly-anticipated powershell-based version has been dropped. I deleted all the work I did on it. It wasn’t up to snuff, and would not get off the ground. I don’t intend on repeating that on this last release.

The final release of BootZilla is not the end — it’s simply a new beginning. I’ll be re-writing the entirety of the project, completely from scratch. There’s better downloader tools available now, which will help in grabbing tools from complicated ‘php-session’-based download links. There’s far more resources for batch scripting — even though it was said that batch was done for.

BootZilla will utilize Batch Scripts once more!

Aria2 will be our downloader app. It’s got a whole lot of features that I think will make BootZilla actually manageable. Update functionality is a must-have feature. USB image creation is a must-have feature, as ISOs are not really all that useful these days. Copying and updating a USB drive with the data is a must-have feature. Network drive functionality is not going to be supported, as there are far too many problems that occur when running apps via a network drive that are outside the scope of the project.

This post signifies the focus of this new project.