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This page is about boot Linux via ["USB"] pendrives in any computer with or without USB-BIOS capability (in this last case, using a BootFloppy). This page is about boot Linux via ["USB"] pendrives in any computer with or without USB-BIOS capability (in this last case, using a BootFloppy). You can install Linux in your USB pendrive or buy it installed.
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 * [http://damnsmalllinux.org/usb.html USB pendrive with Linux preinstalled].

This page is about boot Linux via ["USB"] pendrives in any computer with or without USB-BIOS capability (in this last case, using a ?BootFloppy). You can install Linux in your USB pendrive or buy it installed.

BIOS and USB standard mass storage interface

There are two common BIOS methods for direct USB booting:

  • One method is called the "USBHDD" method and it is used to support the booting of standard USB mass storage devices that are configured like a normal PC hard drive.
  • The other method is called the "USBZIP" method and it supports booting from a USB storage device that behaves like the original IOMEGA ZIP drive with USB support.

Most computers (just about all Dells, for example) made today have a BIOS that supports the USBHDD method so I expect that this will eventually become the standard way to boot a USB device. However, many motherboards will support BOTH methods, and many older motherboards have USBZIP support.

You need a USB device with standard mass storage interface and with, at least, 128 MBytes (the distros uses generally 50 -64 MB) to work with Linux.

See StandardPendrive.

USB pendrive location and mount

Most USB pendrives are located at device name ["sda"] after they are plugged into the USB port.

However, you can verify this location by typing this command inside a terminal window:

  • dmesg | grep scsi -A 3

and it should tell you the device name for your USB (SCSI emulated) devices and vendor name.

See : ["dmesg"].

If you cannot find it, you have to load the ?UsbStorage ["module"] (type in a ["terminal"] modprobe usb-storage) and ["mount"] the usb FileSystem s (mount -t usb-devfs none /proc/bus/usb ).

Format the USB key

Store your USB pendrive data and the ["root"] used must format it with ["fdisk"] (the USB key must not be mounted).

Press P to see the list of all ["partition"]s and D to exclude the first partition. Unmark all partitions and clean them. Create a new partitin pressing N , P and L . Make it a boot partition selecting the A option (t > 6 create a FAT16 partition, that detects upto 4 GB volumens) and finally press W to store and exit from fdisk.

Installation methods

There is two installation methods:

  • Burned: from a LiveCD using the utility Install to USB.
  • Unburned: downloading the files and installing them in the USB pendrive. There is two file types : ISO and other types.

Unburned using DSL

To install DamnSmallLinux download the ISO image and as ["root"] user go the directory with the dsl-0.9.2.iso file and :

  • mkdir dsl_temp mkdir dsl_usb mount -o loop dsl-0.8.3.iso dsl_temp cp -a dsl_temp/* dsl_usb cd dsl_usb mv boot/isolinux/* ./ rm -Rf boot mv isolunux.bin syslinux.bin mv isolunux.cfg syslinux.cfg cd.. mkdir usb_pen mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 U usb_pen cp -a dsl_usb/* usb_pen umount usb_pen syslinux /dev/sda

See also IsoBuster, ["Isolinux"], ["Grub"] .

USB Debian distros

  • Debian:
  • DamnSmallLinux, that uses FluxBox , where the majority of Debian USB distros are based .

  • Flonix : based on DamnSmallLinux, but uses IceWM instead of FluxBox .

  • Fedora / RedHat:

  • ?PuppyLinux , that uses FVWM-95 graphical environment.

  • Gentoo :
  • SPB-Linux , with XFCE4 environment

More information

See also:

  • ?BootingFromFloppyToUsb .

  • ["growisofs"].