Friday, January 18, 2008

Getting something to boot from a usb key

Well, I've now got some experience with these usb keys and it seems they do have quite a few limitations.
First, they don't seem to tolerate any more partitions than two
Second, FAT32 and FAT16 seem to be the favoured file systems and you can have twoo partitions with these fs's. However, I wasn't able to get any more than one partition with either EXT3 or reiserfs.
Then, it just doesn't seem to be quite as straightforward to copy stuff to and from a usb key as it is to a usb HDD.
Another problem, is that my MacBook seems even more reluctant than the Dell desktop to even "see" the usb key.
Nevertheless I did manage to get a Linux OS onto my key. This is Puppy Linux which i got from this guide.
This was actually very straightforward apart from two minor problems.
First, my Mac just didn't see the usb key so I couldn't do the installation there. When I moved over to the Dell, everything worked fine.
Secondly, the guide is meant for computers that will allow booting from a usb drive which, unfortunately, neither of my computers do.
So, I had to add the following to my /boot/grub/menu.lst on the Ubuntu partition on the Dell:

title PuppyLinux 3.01 (on /dev/sdc1)
root (hd0,5)
kernel /boot/puppy/vmlinuz root=/dev/sdc1
initrd /boot/puppy/initrd.gz

as well as putting the two files, vmlinuz and initrd.gz inti /boot/puppy/ on the Ubuntu partition.
Then it booted without problem.
I'll talk a bit about Puppy Linux itself tomorrow.

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