[sf-lug] Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) USB Installation Tips

Ken Shaffer kenshaffer80 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 23 21:17:56 PDT 2010

Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) USB Installation Tips

USB setup (no CDROM involved) had some issues, but all were soluable.
One approach is to  use the previous release's "Startup Disk Creator"
to put the new iso onto a (1-2G) live USB, then use this live USB to
install to a 4G USB stick. This approach avoids the use of a CDROM, but
assumes you have a computer which can boot off a USB device.

If you have access to an Ubuntu 10.10 system, its USB startup creator
has fewer problems than with earlier releases, but success is possible
with a fully patched Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) system.  Earlier
distributions or non-current Lucid systems will have additional
problems like "unknown keyword"s whose solutions are posted (Google
them) in great numbers, burying all other problems/solutions.

Summary for the impatient:
 1)Start with a fully patched Lucid system.
 2)From the BIOS setup, disable non-present devices in the boot order
(New problem with Maverick).  The non-present floppy causes sdb media
missing errors. I disabled the CDROM as well, since it had been
 3)Use system/administrator/ Startup Disk Creator " with the Maverick
 4)See what happens when you try to boot.  ESC at the logo will give
you the log.  Device errors like sdb seem to be related to missing
floppy fd0, sda errors to windows hibernation nonsense.  Errors seem
to repeat forever.
 5)F6 to interrupt the boot early, to get to the language selection
screen, then the usual text menu.
 6)Insert the target USB (4G+) (pre partitioned for the 128k erase
block size) and choose "Install".  I don't bother with swap, making
the whole 4G root.
 7)Rebooting the 4G stick, grub edit the boot command to reduce the
device references by one (hd2 -> hd1, and sdc -> sdb).
 8)After successful boot, sudo update-grub to fix the grub
 9)Tailor your new USB system.

I typically run Ubuntu off a USB device on a laptop with Windows on
the internal hard disk.  I prefer to upgrade without burning a startup
CD-ROM because of hardware problems, but sometimes that is not
possible, because the "old" "Startup Disk Creator" will not accept the
"new" iso.

Downloaded the i386 desktop iso and ran the md5sum check. On a fully
patched Lucid (10.04) system running on a USB hard disk, ran the
"system/administrator/Create Startup Disk" to create a live usb
startup disk. I wrote the Maverick iso to a 2G SD card in a USB reader
with no problem, but the card would not boot.

  The Maverick live USB would get to the Ubuntu logo, with the
changeing color dots, but no further.  ESC showed the errors, a get
getpwuid error followed by  a repeating set of device sdb not found,
and Windows hibernated and would not mount, with sda errors.

  The install media created from a current Lucid system did not have
any errors for unknown keywords in syslinux.cfg as reported by others
from earlier releases.

 Fix 1)In the BIOS, disable the floppy (and the removed CDROM).  This
gets rid  of the sdb errors.  This was never necessary before, sigh.

 Fix 2)Hit F6 at initial boot, select language, and from the text
menu, select install. This avoids the Windows mount nonsense, and
allows the install to run.  I installed  the system to a 4G USB
thumbdrive. See previous posts about the partitioning for the 128k
erase block for the flash memory.

The 4G thumbdrive would not boot of course, but this is an old
problem. Grub cannot find sdc since there is no longer an sdc. The USB
install media was sdb, it set up the target as sdc, but without the
boot media, the target becomes sdb.

Fix 3)Reboot and choose e to edit the boot entry, and fix the wrong
devices.  I changed hd2 to hd1, and on the boot line, changed sdc1 to
sdb1.  Control X gave a successful boot.

First thing, sudo update-grub to fix the wrong boot devices.

A USB startup disk created on my new Maverick system avoided the
Windows mount error, and in the target grub configuration, used the
UUID instead  of the  wrong sdc, but it still had a wrong reference to
hd2 instead of hd1.

Tailoring the new system

Since my laptop uses 4311/12 Broadcom chips, I need to supply the
firmware missing from the Ubuntu distribution.  I have been using the
open firmware for awhile with good success, so I just copied the
b43-open directory into /lib/firmware and network manager found my
access point.  Newer Broadcom chips may require the installation of
the b43-fwcutter package (while  hardwired to a network), and accept
the download offer of the firmware. I don't even bother to enable the
"system/Hardware Drivers" for any of the Broadcom drivers -- so
the default b43 driver works with the open firmware.

Since flash memory has a limited number of writes, I use some ramdisk
mounts for high write traffic directories.  This also speeds things up.
To set up ramdisks for /tmp and /var/log, add the following just
after /proc in /etc/fstab:

# update-manager cannot see any space in /tmp when ramfs is used
tmpfs        /tmp        tmpfs    size=256M,mode=1777    0    0
ramfs        /var/log    ramfs    mode=755        0    0

The next thing I do is to add a mkdir of /tmp/debs/partial to my
/etc/rc.local and make the deb download directory
/var/cache/apt/archives point to this location.  The update-manager
will now dump the new packages into ram instead  of onto the flash

Now run update-manager and you should be all set.  Maverick will boot
off this USB in less than a minute.  One difference I have noticed
from Lucid is that  network-manager seems to take a little longer
before it starts to connect.

All sorts of other things can still be tweaked.  I like to add a user
whose home is in /tmp (on ramdisk in my case).  Still working on ways
to have users run mostly from ram, but to have permanent storage
available if needed.  I'm back in town, and should be attending some
SF user group meetings.

Good Luck
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