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Bootable USB stick - How do YOU do it?
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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5005
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 03:17    Post subject:  Bootable USB stick - How do YOU do it?  

I have various methods for setting up a bootable usb stick - some involve creating multiple partitions (eg : 1x FAT32 boot partition, 1x Ext2 data partition + 1x swap partition) and some involve just using a single FAT32 partition of 4GB or less.

However, sometimes I encounter laptops that do not boot from any of the sticks I have prepared - I had one today (Acer) which kept telling me that my stick was not bootable and asking for me to install a bootable USB floppy - even though I had selected USB-HDD as my boot choice.

I am keen to hear what other Puppians do to prepare their usb sticks for maximum boot compatibility. What is your favourite method, and/or your most reliable puppy to boot from?

cheers!

EDIT : March 2017
See below for some specific / useful variants:

My personal favourite:
After trying various suggestions in this thread and others I have settled on a method which seems to give me the best boot compatibility across all of my hardware (none of which is UEFI capable - see other links at end of this post for UEFI).

My reason for needing a solid reliable method is that I like to carry a bootable usb stick with me so I can install and configure my favourite customised Puppy on friends machines. I prefer to work with an 8GB or 16GB stick which also contains a swap partition - as that helps me during the remaster/reconfigure phase of the installation.

This process is a combination of methods suggested in various threads by Linuxcbon and Rcrsn51 along with some comments from myself. I will post it here so I never lose it again:

Code:
How to make a bootable usb stick that has maximum compatibility and load Puppy to it:

Combo of Linuxcbon's instructions and rcrsn51's instructions,
with some steps/comments added by greengeek:

@L means steps suggested by Linuxcbon
@R means steps suggested by Rcrsn51
@G means additions by Greengeek

@G Note: I find that my hardware significantly prefers the use of syslinux 3.73 for this process.
@G: newer versions of syslinux cause boot failures on some of my PCs.

@L: If stick is not new - mount stick and backup important data from the USB stick to another place.
@G: Unmount and remove stick after copying data off.

@L: PLUG THE USB STICK IN.
@G: Type: "dmesg" to identify what device number the system sees the stick as (eg sdc sdd etc)
@L: From a linux distribution, for example the USB stick is recognized as /dev/sdc
@G: Use gparted to set up stick as follows:
@G: From "Device" menu select "create partition table" (deletes all data)
@G: Calculate your partition sizes as follows, depending on how big your stick is:
@G: Create Partition 1 = FAT32 (4GB or less).
@G: Create Partition 2 = EXT2 (Set size to however much of your stick is left after allocating space for partition 1 and 3).
@G: Create Partition 3 = LinuxSwap (up to 6GB if poss to allow maximum space for remastering etc).
@G: Set boot flag and lba flag on partition 1

@L: INSTALL THE MBR TO THE USB STICK:
@L: Stick should still be unmounted during this process.
@G: (- Add possible command here to identify what is or is not mounted)
@G: Take care to ensure you are writing to the correct device ! ! !
@L: In a terminal type the following:   
dd bs=440 count=1 conv=notrunc if=/usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin of=/dev/sdc
@G: (Note that a partition number is not specified!)

***
@G: INSTALL THE BOOTLOADER:
@R: 1) Determine the device name of your flash drive partition. It should be something like sdb1. But making a mistake with the device name can cause bad things to happen. Buyer beware.

@R: 2) Plug in the flash drive but don't mount it. In a terminal type the following:   
syslinux /dev/sdxy   
where sdxy is the flash drive partition (including number). This installs the syslinux bootloader.
@G: Note: I only use syslinux 3.73 for this process as it is by far the most compatible with older hardware in my experience.

@R: 3) Mount the flash drive and make a file named syslinux.cfg containing the following line:
default vmlinuz initrd=initrd.gz pmedia=usbflash
@G: (Note that you should also be able to see a file called ldlinux.sys which was created in that partition in the previous step)

***
@R: Load CD and mount it.
@G: (Or use some other media that contains the Puppy files you wish to boot from)
@R: Copy the 3 puppy files to the same partition as the syslinux.cfg
@G: The usb stick should now be bootable.


Here are some useful links that describe this process and other variants:

rcrsn51 tutorial:
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=54566

Linuxcbon tutorial:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=96187

L18L manual method:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=894455#894455

Festus method:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=894436#894436

Watchdog comment re UEFI setup
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=946692#946692

Sylvander highlighted isobooter from rcrsn51:
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=67235
.
.

Last edited by greengeek on Tue 04 Apr 2017, 13:33; edited 11 times in total
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watchdog

Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 1577
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 04:25    Post subject:  

Do not abandon CDs: when I had in my hands a laptop with windows 8.1 and UEFI the only way to boot puppy was the CD but only once. You had to disable Secure Boot every time. On some quirky bios I think the CD is more reliable. Newbies should begin booting puppy CDs: the easiest way to try puppy. I have some USB sticks which I never use: linux formatted and with Grub4dos installed for multiple puppies with the browser, java, flashplayer and other stuff in /mnt/home.
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cthisbear

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 4267
Location: Sydney Australia

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 05:29    Post subject:  

I finally got the Falcon Boot cd 4.6 to work...

I use this from the cd.

Links posted below...

:::::::

" The process for making this into a bootable USB stick is much
easier than in v4.5.

Here's the premise:
there are two types of boot sectors that make something bootable:

- An MBR (master boot record) is in the very first sector of the drive. Usually it just says "Boot the active partition's PBR".
It contains a list of partitions, and points to the correct PBR to boot.

- A PBR (partition boot record) is at the very start of the *partition*
(not the disk) and contains the code that boots the system from
that partition.

A Flash drive (or other removable drive, e.g. an SD card) only has
a PBR since it only contains one partition.
To create an MBR (unnecessary), you would need to reformat the drive. You can get away with only using a PBR.
Some Flash drives may be using an MBR as well -
so we just need to check that.

Here's how you do it:
---------------------

(1) Use any flash drive. --
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REFORMAT IT. -- NTFS or FAT32 will both work. FAT32 formatted with 16kb sectors is best for most Flash drives.

(2) Extract the files from the ISO (do NOT copy the ISO itself) to
your USB drive.

(You should have F4UBCD, HBCD, BOOT, etc. folders in the USB
drive root.

(3) On the USB drive, browse to HBCD\WinTools and run BootICE.cmd.

(4) In BootICE, SELECT YOUR FLASH DRIVE (important!) and do the following:

Click "Process MBR".
If it indicates "Unknown", skip this part.
Otherwise, verify that it's set to "Windows NT 5.x/6.x MBR".
Install it if needed.
You can't really mess this up.

--- Click "Process PBR".
It will usually say "Unknown" here, but if it says NTLDR or BOOTMGR,
it's been formatted by Windows to run the Windows boot loader.

We need to change this to GRUB4DOS.
Select GRUB4DOS and click "Install/Config".
Use the default options.

--- Click "Parts Manage".
If any partitions are shown here, you've got an MBR (that's OK).
Select the partition and make sure it's Active - if it is, "Activate"
will be greyed out.
Click it if needed, and hit Close.

You're done!
You've now got a bootable F4UBCD Flash drive.
No external tools needed! :)"

Took me awhile to get it right the first time.
I run multipups on this as well.

::::::::

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=884452#884452

Chris.
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linuxcbon

Joined: 09 Aug 2007
Posts: 1165

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 07:35    Post subject:  

If you look in the forum section of howtos, I wrote a howto for extlinux. Very very simple. There is also grub4dos, there are howtos for it.
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Sylvander

Joined: 15 Dec 2008
Posts: 4342
Location: West Lothian, Scotland, UK

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 07:40    Post subject:  

Here's my favourite method:
How to Make a Bootable Flash Drive using ISObooter

Here's the more specific method I use.
I use "psavemark=2" so that the pupsave files/folders are auto-placed on the 2nd [ext4] partition when I choose to create them when prompted.

Here's the ISO's I have working:
gparted-live-0.24.0-2-i686-pae.iso
LxPupSc-16.03.1.iso
slacko-6.3.0.iso
tahrNOP-2a_6.0.2.iso

Don't know if 64-bit OS's work using this method.
Can someone say?
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rcrsn51


Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 12002
Location: Stratford, Ontario

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 11:37    Post subject:  

Sylvander wrote:
Don't know if 64-bit OS's work using this method. Can someone say?

Yes they do.
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puppyluvr


Joined: 06 Jan 2008
Posts: 3474
Location: Chickasha Oklahoma

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 12:36    Post subject:  

Very Happy Hello,
Syslinux multiboot USB with 10 Puppies.

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Keisha

Joined: 18 Nov 2014
Posts: 465

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 13:46    Post subject: Re: Bootable USB stick - How do YOU do it?  

greengeek wrote:
...I had one today (Acer) which kept telling me that my stick was not bootable and asking for me to install a bootable USB floppy...
For this scenario there is wakepup. Not where I have access to a puppy atm, but if memory serves it is a menu item in TahrPup.
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gcmartin

Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 6730
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 15:23    Post subject:  

@Greengeek, your opening post is ABSOLUTELY correct. Differing manufacturers, and differing boards within manufacturers DO NOT PRESENT ANY STANDARD WAY! ... particularly how media is presented in the BIOS.

I find multiple options (and I also have a USB DVD drive).
  • On one of my PCs, the USB is presented via the Hard Drive's selection in POST.
  • On another, it is reported via USB
  • On another it is reported via the Floppy Option (even though there is no floppy)
Advice, when you boot to POST selection, if one does expose the USB, try one of the others.

Personally, I only am, now, occasionally using USB sticks/flash ONLY ON NEW PCs (UEFI). Not on any older "BIOS-only PCs". I have found (as has @Ted Dog that USB sticks/flash may not boot any faster than DVDs ... and also have found that a HDD connected via a USB cable is many times faster than any USB tested to date (this includes older 10GB IDE drives via USB ... wanna guess its build date ... OK I'm old).

USB sticks/flash are the most portable and is the ONLY benefit I find. Performance gains are from older technology, not USB sticks/flash. No BIOS PCs have USB3 controllers thus its speed benefit is not available and too costly for old BIOS PCs.

Hope this is helpful

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Last edited by gcmartin on Tue 10 May 2016, 03:45; edited 1 time in total
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Billtoo


Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Posts: 3439
Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 15:43    Post subject:  

gcmartin wrote:


USBs are the most portable and is the ONLY benefit I find. Performance gains are from older technology, not USB. No BIOS PCs have USB3 controllers thus that speed is not available and too costly for BIOS PCs.

Hope this is helpful


I have a 128gb usb-3.0 SSD plugged into a usb-2.0 port on a 7 year old lenovo and
it's working well, running frugal Xenial 7.0.1 install.
Kingston usb-3.0 flash drives (some under 20 dollars) work well in a usb-2.0 port as well.
That's what I'm seeing anyway.
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Sylvander

Joined: 15 Dec 2008
Posts: 4342
Location: West Lothian, Scotland, UK

PostPosted: Mon 09 May 2016, 17:14    Post subject:  

rcrsn51 wrote:
Yes they do.

GREAT. Very Happy
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gcmartin

Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 6730
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Tue 10 May 2016, 03:39    Post subject:  

Thanks @Billtoo for 2 things in your post:
  • The quote is missing an important phrase and has been added. When written it should have stated USB sticks...
  • Yes, you are showing what I found, too. That is; "a drive (HDD/SSD) in a USB housing performs much better (orders of magnitute better) than USB sticks".
Muchly appreciated.

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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5005
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Tue 10 May 2016, 04:38    Post subject:  

gcmartin wrote:
"a drive (HDD/SSD) in a USB housing performs much better (orders of magnitute better) than USB sticks".
I have found that devices which have an external controller (eg usb harddrives in their own housing or SD cards in an external card reader) often perform better than devices that use the internal usb controller directly (eg usb sticks) - except that many devices wont boot if there is an external controller in the path.

My biggest question is: what is the best way to do the partitioning (which format, which program?) and which is the best way to write the MBR or other structures that are required to set a usb stick up for most compatible booting across many brands and PC types.

There are some good suggestions above and it will take me some time to work through them.

Thanks all - I'm keen to hear all methods / ideas as people are using in their puppy trials via usb.
cheers
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jafadmin

Joined: 19 Mar 2009
Posts: 789

PostPosted: Tue 10 May 2016, 20:00    Post subject:  

I like to do this:

[ --- sdX1 fat32 Partition ---] [--- sdX2 ext2 bootable partition ---]

install puppy to the sdX2 partition PBR using grub4dos (all puppies have it), and use the mbr.bin MBR
Code:
cat /usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin > /dev/sdX


Why do this? It provides a fat32 partition for transfering files between different OS's, and can boot a portable version of puppy. The fat32 partition needs to be the front partition on the thumb drive for windows to see it.

I have had the best success rate using the mbr.bin MBR. I mean like 98% success rate. I have done this with every version of puppy I've worked with.
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Pelo

Joined: 10 Sep 2011
Posts: 12591
Location: Mer méditerrannée (1 kms°)

PostPosted: Wed 11 May 2016, 04:48    Post subject: solutions traduites pour les francophones ici
Subject description: feed-back to usagers francophones (translation to french)
 

feed back in french solutions traduites pour les francophones ici
Grreengeek thanks for this topic. Everything was easy for me with Puppy, but now our Puppies are mixed with Porteus boot, and to manage boot and saves on the same pendrive seems impossible to me... Should use a different pendrive for 'pup'saves.
In fact, formatting ext (Linux) my pendrives always has be source of trouble. Last week i tried different boot systems for Xenialdog, for coming back to Lili usb creator, Fat 32.
Lego.jpg
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Lego.jpg


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