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 Forum index » House Training » HOWTO ( Solutions )
Boot Puppy from usb key on a netbook and install to its SSD
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Sit Heel Speak

Joined: 30 Mar 2006
Posts: 2595
Location: downwind

PostPosted: Sat 22 Aug 2009, 16:46    Post subject:  Boot Puppy from usb key on a netbook and install to its SSD
Subject description: devised on a Dell Mini-9, perhaps applicable to others

This is in reply to a question originally posted at
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=45796. The question is, is it possible to boot Puppy from a usb key?

The answer is yes, for example here is Lighthouse Pup (current version, 4.42d) running on a Dell Mini-9, (this Mini-9 does not have the original RunCore 64GB SSD, rather a Super Talent FDM28GFDL 128GB SSD, which seems allergic to grub) but the way was tricky. Perhaps someone else can chime in and offer an easier way.

***edited inuy4sha has posted a script which, if it works for you, is much easier than this method, it is here.***

Disclaimer: this is intended just as an example procedure for how to boot, I am not recommending a particular Pup over others. Nor responsible for effects any Linux may have on you or your netbook.


Hi people,

Nowadays, it is usual for a notebook or netbook to be bootable from usb key. But some machines do not show the boot-from-usb-key option, or else they just show "N/A", unless a bootable usb key is actually inserted.

Some usb keys can take Puppy's usual grub bootloader, formatted ext3 with GPartEd, with grub then installed either to the mbr or else to the root superblock.

A few can even be formatted in Windows and then can be fitted with either grub4dos (grub.exe, started from autoexec.bat) or the Lin'n'Win method (use the Well-minded search, listed here).

Some usb keys, such as Lexar, need their own proprietary "boot-it" software to make them bootable.

In my case, I was ahem *blessed* with the gift last Christmas of the toughest challenge of all, an Emprex PD330 usb key. Modern Puppies' GPartEd (note: up through 4.23; I haven't tried 4.3beta-1 yet) can't tame the Emprex. I found it necessary to resort to an oldie-but-goodie, Rudy Puppy 2.14 and the following method, which will work to install a bootable Puppy to the usb stick and then from there onto the SSD of a netbook such as the Dell Mini-9. Once you have Puppy on the Mini-9 you can from there proceed to add any other Linux. Old, experienced Puppyists will of course see where grub can be more easily employed. This is how to get it going on the "worst-case" scenario.

The procedure:

1. Boot from the live-CD of Rudy Puppy 214, a gem created about two years ago by a competent programmer named Merci Fabrice. Use Rudy's GPartEd to format the usb key ext3 and set the boot flag, then install grub to the key's mbr, i.e. in the grub installer choose mbr.bin. (In Puppies 4.12, 4.2, and (if memory serves) 4.21, GPartEd sometimes has trouble with a usb key. GParted scans the key forever and ever and ever...but never gives you the action screen.)

2. Install Rudy Puppy itself to the usb key with the Puppy Universal Installer of that long-ago day. Hint #1: Rudy's installer differs from today's Puppies, in that the partition you are installing Rudy onto, must be mounted. Hint #2: Also unlike today's Puppy's, Rudy by default has "activate on mouse over", so the mouse must be hovering over the window you wish to type into. Then, unmount the key, take it from the desktop to the netbook, and you can boot Rudy Puppy from the usb key on the Netbook. Hint #3: Rudy Puppy was created before the era of today's netbook screen resolutions, like 1024 x 600, so just choose 800 x 600 instead. It will be OK. On the Intel-9nn video chipsets it is safe to choose XOrg.

3. But say for example you wish to boot a newer Pup(py), for example Lighthouse Pup 4.42d, from the netbook, how do you accomplish that? Well, you would simply take the usb key back to your desktop tower machine which has a frugal installation of LHP on it, and substitute for the vmlinuz, initrd.gz, and pup_nnn.2fs files of Rudy Puppy, the same from Lighthouse (newer Puppies do not always carry the fourth file in Rudy, zdrv_214.sfs, but if your newer Puppy has it, then substitute that also).

4. However, if you intend to install Puppy onto the netbook's internal SSD, wait a bit before you overwrite Rudy Puppy on the key. You still need another of Rudy Puppy's by-more-recent-Puppies-lost powers in order to make the install to SSD.

5. The following instructions assume that you are installing to a totally blank SSD. If you wish to install Puppy to coexist with an already-existing other-Linux (say, Ubuntu), or Windows, then you must consult the dual-boot literature for that particular Linux, or, for Windows, google-search "Lin'n'Win Method".

6. With Rudy Puppy running from usb key on the netbook, first create one or more ext3 partitions on the netbook's SSD using GPartEd. Maybe 2 GB for the first partition, your choice beyond that. While in GPartEd, also set the boot flag on the first partition. Do not create a swap partition on an SSD, they aren't designed for it. The higher partitions can be vfat if you like, to make coexistence easier with Windows machines on your local area network, but if only Linux will be involved then choose ext3. Mount the netbook's first SSD partition, then choose Setup --> Puppy Universal Installer. Choose Internal CF card from the types-of-drives list. When it asks how to install grub, you will see some choices which are no longer offered in today's Puppies as of this writing. One of these choices is in reality not really grub but rather the older, in-some-ways-more-powerful extlinux bootloader, it is shown as "sys-nopart.mbr.bin by Forum member Just Greg" or something like that. Choose that one, and finish the install.

7. Now you can shut down the netbook, remove the usb key, and boot Rudy Puppy from the netbook's internal SSD.

8. Now take the usb key back over to the desktop machine on which you have a frugal LHP install. Make a new folder on the usb key, call it (without the quotes) "puppy442d-LHP". Into this new folder copy the vmlinuz, initrd.gz, and pup_4nn.sfs (in LHP it is called pup_442d_lighthouse.sfs) files. Unmount the usb key using PMount, then take it back over to the netbook and boot Rudy Puppy once again from the usb key.

9. Use Menu --> Filesystem --> PMount or MUT to mount the netbook's internal SSD, and create a subdir on it named (w-otq) (you probably guessed this already) "puppy442d-LHP". Copy Lighthouse's vmlinuz, initrd.gz, and pup_442d_lighthouse.sfs into this new subdir.

10. Now open the extlinux bootloader's configuration file, extlinux.conf, from the top directory ( / ) of the SSD (not the usb key) in a text editor, and change it to look like this (all one line):
default /puppy442d-LHP/vmlinuz root=/dev/ram0 psubdir=puppy442d-LHP vga=normal initrd=/puppy442d-LHP/initrd.gz ide=dma PMEDIA=ideflash

11. Save extlinux.conf, shut down the netbook, remove the usb stick, reboot. You now have Lighthouse Pup 4.42d running from the internal SSD on your netbook. It will ask whether to create a savefile and shutdown, answer yes, size 512 MB, create it in /puppy442d-LHP, and then it will restart. Run Menu --> Refresh Menus then restart JWM and now you have the regular Puppy menu and you are up, up, and away in Lighthouse.

The same general procedure works, I have no doubt, for all other Pup(pie)s, and after you read the friendly manual and learn about (hd0,0) you can make extlinux.conf point to other Linuxes on other partitions.

Perhaps someone else will chime in here, with a suggestion for a newer Puppy than Rudy, which is capable of putting the Puppy magic on a difficult usb key such as the Emprex and thence onto a challenging netbook such as the Mini-9.

Or maybe even a few simple command-line tricks to make it all happen Wink

who opens his beers with his teeth
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