Booting Linux from a USB thumb drive

Michael L Torrie torriem at
Mon Oct 9 16:38:31 MDT 2006

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:

- 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

> Any suggestions?
> Thanks.
> --sk.
> ========================
> Sean Kirkby
> Concentrico, Inc.
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