Booting Linux from a USB thumb drive

Michael L Torrie torriem at chem.byu.edu
Mon Oct 9 16:59:45 MDT 2006


On Mon, 2006-10-09 at 16:38 -0600, Michael L Torrie wrote:
> On Mon, 2006-10-09 at 16:30 -0600, Sean Kirkby wrote:
> > Hello,
> >  
> > I am looking for suggestions re: what distro to use to install on a 2.0 GiB USB thumb drive.
> >  
> > In addition to support for booting from the thumb drive on machines with BIOS's that allow that, we also need to have a boot floppy that can boot into an environment in which "/" is on the thumb drive.
> >  
> > I have found lots of references to DSL and Knoppix, but the weak instructions I've been able to find haven't worked so far...
> 
> I was once going to work out a way to get my usb backup disk to be
> bootable over usb.  Never got it working.  But here's what you'd have to
> do on the linux side:

I remember now some of the snags I ran into. First was even though I
told mkbookdisk (Fedora Core here) to include the usb storage driver,
the linuxrc script inside the ramdisk was not loading the driver, even
though it was in the package.  I modified the linuxrc file, repacked the
cpio ramdisk, but it still didn't work.  The kernel panicked when it
tried to do the root pivot.  I believe the error was something
about /dev/root not existing.  It's been a while.  I just use the
vmplayer approach for now.

> 
> - make sure /etc/fstab points to the proper devices (ie /dev/hda1 is
> probably not correct)
> - make sure the initial ramdisk has the usb drivers in it so that the
> kernel can find the root file system
> - use mkbootdisk to make a bootable floppy drive
> 
> In the end I just made a special vmware player image that referred to
> the entire USB device (under windows) in raw mode, and then just made
> sure I had the scsi drivers in the initrd.  Grub is written to the boot
> sector of the usb disk and vmware makes it seem like it's a normal scsi
> disk.
> 
> >  
> > Any suggestions?
> >  
> > Thanks.
> >  
> > --sk.
> >  
> > ========================
> > Sean Kirkby
> > Concentrico, Inc.
> > P: (801) 221-7606 x204
> > W: www.Concentrico.net 
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> > 
> > 
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> 
> 
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