Add .help user text files

You can create a plain or UTF-8 encoded text file using NotePad (.help) and add it to any standard E2B menu folder so that the user can select it from the menu and read it on the screen – e.g. \_ISO\LINUX\ 

In addition you can set a different foreground and background colour for the text file and even display a background wallpaper under the text. 

If you want multi-coloured text on the screen and\or a help menu system – go here.

Tip: As an alternative to using a .help file, make a 800 x 600 .bmp or .jpg file and copy it to a menu folder – e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU\Main Menu Help.jpg. The .jpg file could be a screenshot of a PowerPoint page and could include shaded fancy fonts and boxes, etc.

If the start of the first line of the .help text file contains “0x”, then that hex number will be used as the colour value for all the text and the entire first line will not be displayed to the user, e.g.


here is the first line
here is the second line
Press a key to return to the menu...

The 0x colour can be in grub4dos single-byte format (e.g. 0x1F = blue text on white background) or 0xRRGGBB00rrggbb (background RGB+text rgb) format.

If you wish, you can also add a comment after the colour value if you add ‘ ;; # ‘ after the hex value: e.g.

0xFFFFFF000000FF ;; # Version 1.0 2018-10-17 Added menu heading

A long file will be displayed one screenfull at a time. When the end is reached the user must press a key return to the menu so it is advisable to make the last line of your .help file prompt the user to press a key.

The file name of the .help file determines it’s order of appearance in the E2B menu. For example, use a filename beginning with $$ if you want the menu entry to appear near the beginning of the menu.

If don’t want the file name itself to be used as the menu entry, add a .txt file (e.g. and HowToUse.txt). Using a .txt file will also allow you to set a hotkey for the help file and add help text under the menu.

Screen display using above .help file.

Tip: If you don’t want to see the brief E2B messages that are displayed when QRUN.g4b is called, use set redir=1 in your \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file or use a .mnu file (see below).

You can have a generic hotkey (e.g. CTRL+F1) to display your \_ISO\ help file from any menu, by adding this line to the \_ISO\MyE2B.cfg file:

()/%grub%/hotkey [Ctrl+F1] “/%grub%/QRUN.g4b /_ISO/” > nul

Help file + background wallpaper

These instructions are for small (single screen) help files only, because scrolling does not work correctly when a background image is present. The text colour can be set on the first line of the .help file (see above). The background colour will always be transparent when text is overlaid on a background image. 0xFFFFFF000000FF ;; splashimage /_ISO/Help800x600.jpg ;; call Fn.70 2 

You can add extra commands after the colour value in the .help file, such as:

0xFFFFFF000000FF ;; # Version 1.0 2018-10-17 ;; splashimage /_ISO/Help800x600.jpg ;; call Fn.70 2  ;; splashimage –offset=0x00=400=50 /_ISO/HelpStamp.jpg

This will display a background wallpaper (Help800x600.jpg) and over-stamp it with a smaller image (HelpStamp.jpg) in the top-right corner (change 0x00 to 0x80 and use a .bmp file if you want a transparent-background stamp). The stamp could be your company logo or some text in a large fancy font.

Each command is separated by a ;;  and a # symbol is used to denote a comment. The command call Fn.70 2 enables the wallpaper to be kept on the display.

The help text must not cause scrolling of the display if Fn.70 2 is used (use one screen full of text only).

A .mnu file can be used to display multiple small help files one at a time, each with different backgrounds – see below.

IMPORTANT: You must also add a default menu background wallpaper file on your E2B drive, otherwise the help wallpaper will remain when the user returns back to the E2B menu. For instance, if you have the .mnu file in the LINUX folder, you should also have a \_ISO\LINUX.jpg default background wallpaper file so that it is loaded when the LINUX menu is displayed.

Similarly, if the help .mnu file is in the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder, you should have a \_ISO\MAINMENU.jpg file present also.

If you want to use the default E2B background, copy and rename the \_ISO\e2b\grub\background.bmp.gz file to \_ISO\MAINMENU.jpg – click here for more information on menu backgrounds. 

Display multiple help files

You can use a .mnu file to display multiple single-screen .help files with a background wallpaper – you should limit each help file to just one screen full of text to avoid scrolling. Set the text colour using the first line of each .help file (see above). If the .help file does not contain commands to load a background image, you can load a wallpaper background by using code in the .mnu file. Each help screen can have a different wallpaper. You could also add stamps too (see above) – for instance, you could overstamp each background image with your company logo. 

\_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\E2B Menus\HelpWithBackground.mnu

#This .mnu file can be used to display a small .help file over a new background
#LARGE .help FILES ARE NOT SUPPORTED - the .help file must not cause the screen to scroll
#If you comment out the splashimage line, the current wallpaper will be used.
#The new background will remain unless a default menu wallpaper (e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU.jpg) is present
#e.g. \_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU\ \_ISO\MAINMENU\MNU\HelpWithBackground.mnu
title ^Ctrl+F1 HELP with background (Ctrl+F1]\nDisplay help file with background
# suppress E2B messages
set kpredir=%redir%
set redir=> nul
#show first help screen
splashimage /_ISO/Sunset.jpg
#enable background image (bit1=1) and turn cursor off (bit0=0)
call Fn.70 2
#display text
/%grub%/QRUN.g4b $HOME$/
#show second help screen
#(optional) Show different background
###splashimage /_ISO/Sunset1.jpg
call Fn.70 2
/%grub%/QRUN.g4b $HOME$/
#show third help screen
#(optional) Show different background
###splashimage /_ISO/Sunset2.jpg
call Fn.70 2
/%grub%/QRUN.g4b $HOME$/
#restore redir settings
set redir=%kpredir%
set kpredir=
#reloading the configfile also reloads the menu wallpaper...
configfile (md)0x3000+0xA0

Note: Using the command graphicsmode -1 1024, you could switch the screen to 1024×768 mode which would allow you to show more text per screen. You would also need 1024×768 wallpaper. At the end of the .mnu file before the configfile line, you should restore the original graphics mode – e.g. graphicsmode -1 800. Not all systems  (e.g. some netbooks such as early eeePCs) will support 1024×768 however.

You can use to display a text file even if it does not have a .help file extension, e.g:

#Display any text file on a large screen (no background)
title ^Ctrl+F1 HELP (1024x768)   (Ctrl+F1]\nDisplay help file
# suppress E2B messages
set kpredir=%redir%
set redir=> nul
# switch to 1024x768
graphicsmode -1 1024 768
# change text colour to red on white
color standard=0x1F
#display text on large screen
/%grub%/QRUN.g4b /_ISO/Sample_MyE2B.cfg
#restore redir settings
set redir=%kpredir%
set kpredir=
graphicsmode -1 800
#change text colour to what it was before (usually cyan)
color standard=0x03
configfile (md)0x3000+0xA0