Differences between revisions 80 and 81
Revision 80 as of 2011-08-14 17:07:50
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Revision 81 as of 2012-02-07 00:13:25
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Comment: Remove the old complex outdated USB instructions, link to the Debian CD FAQ instead
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 * 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 (e.g. just about all Dells) made today have a BIOS that supports the USBHDD method so it's expected that this will eventually become the standard way of booting a USB device. However, many motherboards will support BOTH methods, and many older motherboards have USBZIP support.
 * 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 vast majority of machines work this way these days.
 * The other method (necessary on some older machines) 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.
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=== Partitioning the USB key ===
Partition the USB pendrive with fdisk or cfdisk (the USB key must not be mounted!).
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Using fdisk: Press P to see the list of all partitions. Use D repeatedly to delete all partitions. Create a new partition pressing N, P, 1 and accept all defaults concerning the size (minimum partition size necessary will be around 60 MB). Set the bootable flag with A, press T, 6 to create a FAT16 partition and press W to store and exit from fdisk. === Writing an image onto the USB key ===
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The resulting partition table will look something like this: The current released versions of Debian Install images and Debian Live
images are built using isohybrid techniques, which means using them
with a USB key is simple and easy, using "dd". See
[[http://www.debian.org/CD/faq/#write-usb|the Debian CD FAQ]] for more
information.
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{{{
 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 3730 1014544 6 FAT16
}}}
Now enter {{{mkdosfs /dev/sda1}}} at the prompt to create a FAT16 filesystem, because otherwise the installation steps described under 'Unburned using DSL' later on won't work.
Older Debian images were not so easy to use with USB keys and needed a
lot of instructions. Those instructions are no longer helpful, so have
been removed from this page.
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=== Master Boot Record ===
Some USB keys don't boot. If this is the case, it may be possible to fix them by installing a new master boot record. (Most keys boot OK by default; some cannot be fixed even by doing this. However, it helps in some cases). Run the command:

{{{
lilo -M /dev/sda
}}}
=== Installation methods ===
There are two installation methods:

 * Burned: boot from a LiveCD and then use the 'Install to USB' utility. (NOTE: Which LiveCD in particular ... and is it going to install a Debian distro ? We're in the Debian wiki... so it's confusing I think -- OlivierBerger)
 * Unburned: download the ISO file and copy its contents into the USB pendrive.
==== Unburned using DamnSmallLinux ====
To install DamnSmallLinux download the ISO image and as [[root]] user go the directory with the dsl-*.iso file and type the following:

{{{
  mkdir dsl_temp
  mkdir dsl_usb
  mount -o loop dsl-*.iso dsl_temp
  cp -a dsl_temp/* dsl_usb
  cd dsl_usb
  mv boot/isolinux/* ./
  rm -Rf boot
  mv isolinux.bin syslinux.bin
  mv isolinux.cfg syslinux.cfg
  cd ..
  mkdir usb_pen
  mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 usb_pen
  cp -a dsl_usb/* usb_pen
  umount usb_pen
  umount dsl_temp
  syslinux /dev/sda1
}}}
See also BootUsb2, IsoBuster, [[Syslinux]], [[Grub]] .

=== USB Debian distros ===
 * DebianLive
 * DamnSmallLinux (uses FluxBox as window manager), upon which the majority of Debian USB distros are based.
 * Flonix : based on DamnSmallLinux, but uses IceWM instead of FluxBox .

=== More information ===
 * [[http://damnsmalllinux.org/usb.html|USB pendrive with Linux preinstalled]].
 * [[http://br-linux.org/noticias/000156.html|Memory key no linux (Portuguese)]]
 * [[http://indiboi.com/history/2003/11/18/2887223|Hardcore Geek (blog entry)]]
 * http://www.qbik.ch/usb/devices/
 * http://www.linux-usb.org/
 * http://wiki.debian.org/USB-HD_Boot_Full_Debian
=== More additional links ===
 * [[http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en.powerpc/ch04s04.html|Preparing Files for USB Memory Stick Booting]] : but use {{{zcat boot.img > /dev/sda1}}} ; if the stick doesn't boot, {{{cat mbr.bin} > /dev/sda}}}
 * [[http://www.pcquest.com/content/linux/104010505.asp|Booting Linux off USB Storage]].
 * [[http://d-i.pascal.at/|Installing Debian Sarge from a USB memory stick (USB key)]].
 * http://fuzzymunchkin.dyndns.org/tdot/usbkeyfob/index.php
 * [[http://rz-obrian.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de/knoppix-usb/|Boot KNOPPIX from a USB Memory Stick]].
 * [[http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2004/11/msg01601.html|Reboot from USB]].
 * [[http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/index.php/USB_Booting|Damn Small Linux USB boot]].
 * [[http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bootflashlinux|Mail list about booting Debian from a USB flashdrive]].
See also:

 * BootingFromFloppyToUsb .
 * {{{unetbootin}}} package : "installer of Linux/BSD distributions to a partition or USB drive"

Translation(s): none


USB > BootUsb


This page is about booting 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 preinstalled.

If you don't want to learn about the internals but just have Debian on a bootable USB stick, check out http://live.debian.net/project/about/

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 vast majority of machines work this way these days.
  • The other method (necessary on some older machines) 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.

You need a USB device with a standard mass storage interface and with at least 128 MB storage capacity (the distros generally use between 50 and 64 MB) to work with Linux.

See StandardPendrive.

Warning

The following instructions refer to /dev/sda. However, if you have serial-ATA harddisks, then the pendrive will probably be /dev/sdc. Do NOT accidentally write to the wrong drive, or you will destroy your main operating system or data!

USB pendrive location and mount

Most USB pendrives are located at device node /dev/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, along with the vendor name.

See: dmesg.

If you cannot find it, you have to load the USBStorage module. In a terminal, type:

modprobe usb-storage

and mount the usb filesystems

mount -t usb-devfs none /proc/bus/usb

Writing an image onto the USB key

The current released versions of Debian Install images and Debian Live images are built using isohybrid techniques, which means using them with a USB key is simple and easy, using "dd". See the Debian CD FAQ for more information.

Older Debian images were not so easy to use with USB keys and needed a lot of instructions. Those instructions are no longer helpful, so have been removed from this page.


CategoryQuickInstall