[sf-lug] how to make a usb stick bootable

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli at cal.berkeley.edu
Wed Aug 19 17:18:52 PDT 2009

May or may not be precisely what you want, but Debian's got some
excellent information on how to do this.  Just follow the documentation
trail.  Start by tracking down (pretty easy to find) the information on
how to install Debian - from various media ... from there quite easy to
find the information about how to install from USB ... and there they
don't give you an already prepared USB image, but tell you how to
easily make one (at least for x86 hardware - they may not cover that
for all supported architectures).  Once you dig into that, one quickly
finds the information on the "easy" way to do it, and also,
alternatively the more detailed "roll your own" (or however they term
it) - where one does it more manually, and more specifically customizes
how one constructs that USB image.  That should be more than enough to
get one started, and if the pieces of the process are reasonably
studied, one should get at least a pretty good understanding of most
everything involved ... and if one wants more details or any more
precise control with any of those steps, just dig into them deeper -
that's likely feasible in all cases (the tools themselves are pretty
straight-forward - it's mostly that and some configuration bits -
either copying such over, or manually configuring such).


> Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 18:00:41 -0700
> From: jim <jim at well.com>
> Subject: [sf-lug] how to make a usb stick bootable
> To: sf-lug <sf-lug at linuxmafia.com>
> Message-ID: <1250298041.8052.12.camel at jim-laptop>
> Content-Type: text/plain
>    we want to put linux on a usb stick. we want
> the usb stick to be bootable.
>    we used fdisk to put on these partitions:
> /dev/sdb1 bootable ext3 128MB
> /dev/sdb2 ext3 4GB
> /dev/sdb5 ext2 512MB
>    we've put no directory names on the partitions.
> # man grub-install
> says we can put grub on a device name and also
> use the --root-directory option to specify a
> directory in which we list grub images.
>    we want to have the / namespace on /dev/sdb2
> and we want the /dev/sdb1 partition to be mounted
> on the /boot mount point (specified in the root
> directory on the /dev/sdb2 partitioned.
>    we've successfully mounted the thing on /zzb1
> and /zzb2 and /zzb5 mount point directories on our
> working box.
>    we've not put any files on the usb stick, we've
> not used any installer to put any linux or other
> os on the usb stick.

> Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 18:26:26 -0700
> From: jim <jim at well.com>
> Subject: Re: [sf-lug] how to make a usb stick bootable
> To: vincent polite <vpolitewebsiteguy at yahoo.com>
> Cc: sf-lug <sf-lug at linuxmafia.com>
> Message-ID: <1250299586.8052.33.camel at jim-laptop>
> Content-Type: text/plain
>    thanks vince. i don't have any windows machines.
> i've googled this and can't find anything that
> satisfies me: directions are often insufficient
> (some step omitted or something, maybe just not
> okay for my system); also the purpose is not to
> have a bootable stick, it's to learn how to make
> a bootable stick at a low level (not just use
> some program that does it, but use standard,
> available linux tools to
> * partition the usb stick
> * put an MBR on it
> * put grub on it
> * put the kernel and /etc/ /lib/ /usr/ and other
> directories on it.
> * have it boot up and work as we expect a linux
> distro to work.
> * whatever else i don't know to do the basics.

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