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 preinstalled.
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 (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.
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.
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.
If you cannot find it, you have to load the ["USBStorage"] ["module"]. In a ["terminal"], type:
and ["mount"] the usb filesystems
mount -t usb-devfs none /proc/bus/usb
Partitioning the USB key
Partition the USB pendrive with ["fdisk"] of ["cfdisk"] (the USB key must not be mounted!).
Using fdisk: Press P to see the list of all ["partition"]s. 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.
Enter mkdosfs /dev/sda1 at the prompt to create a filesystem because otherwise the installation steps described under 'Unburned using DSL' later on won't work.
There are two installation methods:
- Burned: boot from a LiveCD and then use the 'Install to USB' utility.
- 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 syslinux /dev/sda1
USB Debian distros
Fedora / RedHat:
?PuppyLinux, uses FVWM-95.
- Gentoo :
- SPB-Linux, with XFCE4.
[http://damnsmalllinux.org/usb.html USB pendrive with Linux preinstalled].
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://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/Main_Page Damn Small Linux USB boot].
[http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bootflashlinux Mail list about booting Debian from a USB flashdrive].