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Old 10-01-2007, 07:16 PM   #1
IsItFridayYet
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Diagnostics on bootable CD to bootable thumb drive


Hey folks...first post here. So much knowledge contained on this forum, but my brain is too small, or too old, to figure it out.

Background: I've been a PC Hardware Tech for the same company for 23 years. I know very little about software, because it is not required of me at work. In fact, their attitude is, they don't want me to know anything BUT hardware - it's my sole responsibility there. Very little about Windows, nothing about Linux. So I ask for your patience.

It is my job to set up the PCs that have been returned from client and inhouse locations - 24 at a time - on my huge bench, run the vendor-specific diagnostics, and repair any hardware problems I find. These diagnostics are currently on CD, of which I have 24 copies. I can have all 24 PCs testing at the same time.

My problem is, more and more of our PCs have neither CDROM or DVD drives - only hard drives. In order to do my testing, I have to attach a CDROM drive to the IDE or SATA connector on the system board. After testing is complete, those drives have to be unattached, then returned to the shelf. This is not a problem when testing just a few units, but when you are talking 24, it can get a bit tedious.

My thought is, why not put those diags on a thumb drive? Then, I could insert the thumb into the front USB port, set the BIOS to boot to the USB device, and away we go!!

I just don't know how to make it work, and I'm getting no support for this idea at work. The people with the knowledge to possibly make it work tell me they don't have time; not a priority.

I believe the diags are linux-based. There are two folders on the CD, one of which is named isolinux. I can give you more info if needed.

Another website forum told me to use this to make my thumb bootable:

Sorry, was just told I can't put links in the first post.

Then just copy the files from the CD to the thumb.

Well, that didn't work. All I got was something like

"Can't find kernel: Linux
:boot"

Over the past week, I've searched the web for hours for a how-to, but have been unable to find one.

Maybe what I'm trying to do is impossible, but it just seems logical to me that if those diags will boot from a CD, they'll boot from a thumb also.

I apologize for the long post, but I thought the more you knew, perhaps the easier it would be. Any help would be appreciated much.

Thanks in advance, and again, sorry for the long post.
 
Old 10-01-2007, 08:30 PM   #2
{BBI}Nexus{BBI}
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This thread will give you the info you require: http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...d.php?t=381819 Take it from post #3.
 
Old 10-02-2007, 11:32 AM   #3
cacycleworks
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i did something similar...

I did something similar. Maybe my thoughts can help, too?

http://mbfreight.googlepages.com/del...ensionandlinux

Read the parts below where I talk about the Dell computer.

Chris
 
Old 10-02-2007, 02:23 PM   #4
seaplane
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Wink Diagnostics on bootable CD to bootable thumb drive

My experience also spans 24 years, fortunately as a past re-seller and consultant I owned my own company so I didn't have restrictions placed on me.

Many of the businesses I dealt needed outside of the box so I got to experiment and research in a more creative environment, I was only limited by time since I was only "part-time" as I had a full time job.

I've run the gambit from Dos 1.10 thru Windows 1.03 (yuck) to 3.11 (not bad) upgrades all the way to XP tried Vista (don't care for it).

I single boot openSuse using XP in a vmware machine. This was decided on after running various "linuxes" Debian, Redhat, Knoppix, Mandrake, Mepis, Ubantu, and many more builds I can't remember now (getting old).

My decision was only based on what I liked, drivers and the such and am happy with my final choice.

I guess that's what it's all about choice, I like that aspect about computing be it hardware, operating system, or programs and I resent whoever it is limiting my choice be it M$, Apple, or whoever.

Choice Rules
 
Old 10-02-2007, 02:24 PM   #5
seaplane
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Diagnostics on bootable CD to bootable thumb drive

Here is a source for creating a bootable USB from a popular boot cd set of utilties:

http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd-on-usb-disk

These instructions are too convenient and complete to be re-written by me.

Hope this helps
 
Old 10-03-2007, 06:22 PM   #6
IsItFridayYet
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Thanks for all the responses - I really appreciate it.

Nexus, I thought I'd try your suggestions first, since you were the first to respond.

I followed all instructions, with an exception of maybe part of #5:

5) Make sure your thumb drive is formatted for FAT and not FAT32. Run winimage and use it to extract the boot image you downloaded onto your usb thumb drive. This process will erase all other data.

This was a little confusing to me because I did not d/l anything to the thumb...I only formatted it for FAT. I am assuming it means to try to extract the floppy-usb.img, and that is what I attempted to do.

Did everything else in Post #3 as instructed. Then rebooted my PC, hit
F12 for boot menu, chose USB device, and all I got was:

Disk error
Press any key to restart

Really don't know where to go from here....as I said before, only thing I know about Linux is how to spell it.

I thank you again for your patience.
 
Old 10-03-2007, 07:48 PM   #7
saikee
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Here is an example of putting 7 distros into a rewritable DVD and later into a thumb drive. Only trouble is only 3 boots successfully thumb drive. It does contain details how you can replace isolinux with Grub.

A distro is normally supplied with isolinux for booting off a CD with iso9660 filing standard. This boot loader does not work in a hard disk. That is where Grub comes in.

I have Systemrescue CD bootable in the DVD but haven't try to make it boot in the thumb drive after it failed because I was just experimenting with it. I got a feeling that it wouldn't take much to make it work on the thumb drive.

You can also consider carrying a USB hard disk loaded with distros of your choice. Here is an example.
 
Old 10-04-2007, 03:59 AM   #8
cacycleworks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsItFridayYet View Post
Thanks for all the responses - I really appreciate it.

Did everything else in Post #3 as instructed. Then rebooted my PC, hit
F12 for boot menu, chose USB device, and all I got was:

Disk error
Press any key to restart
i've seen only a few different bioses since playing with usb stuff and they're ALL different. :P in the boot device section, some just say "usb". another lists out usb hard drive, usb device, and usb cd-rom.

better still.... they all behave differently! i've tried a bootable cd-rom and it works in one but not another. i've found a hard drive attached via usb is pretty consistent at booting. i have a normal notebook HD in one of these:
2.5" aluminum sata enclosure
and it is amazing to have 120G hanging on that! there are only a few on the market that are sata, most are pata. if you only have ide, this neat toy may work; i haven't had the need to use mine yet, but when i saw it, i realized it's potential! it can attach CD-ROM or HD or anything via usb.

further, you have to check that the usb stick is bootable. some say they are... some say nothing. the two i bought that work for me is this but i recommend 2G or higher so more than just an image will fit. I installed Slax on the sticks no problem at all. Knoppix would probably work, too.

another possibility: on the usb stick, i used syslinux, not grub. on that webpage i link there is an ISO of the usb stick ... format/make active your stick then extract/copy that to it and it should boot to slax.
 
Old 10-10-2007, 08:57 AM   #9
IsItFridayYet
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Hey guys...(and gals)

I've almost got this working...it's booting to the thumb drive, but then it defaults to searching for the CD, and locks up. If I put a non-bootable CD with nothing but one of the folders on it, it quits hitting the thumb after boot, hits the CD, then the program runs.

So, question is, where is/how do I change this thing to quit looking for a CD, and begin looking for the files it needs, which are already on the thumb?

Many thanks.
 
Old 10-11-2007, 06:01 AM   #10
cacycleworks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsItFridayYet View Post
Hey guys...(and gals)

I've almost got this working...it's booting to the thumb drive, but then it defaults to searching for the CD, and locks up. If I put a non-bootable CD with nothing but one of the folders on it, it quits hitting the thumb after boot, hits the CD, then the program runs.

So, question is, where is/how do I change this thing to quit looking for a CD, and begin looking for the files it needs, which are already on the thumb?

Many thanks.
It is possible that the thumb is trying to launch isolinux and it needs to be changed to vmlinux (or something). I recall specific instructions about editing the list file and also moving the boot images from the sub directory to the root of the stick. Also you have to rename isolinux file to the normal "flopp drive" or "hard drive" name traditionally used.
 
Old 10-11-2007, 06:36 AM   #11
saikee
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cacycleworks,

I don't normally intervene but for the benefit of the other readers at large I have to point out

(1) If the OP manages to boot an iso on a thumb drive he does so by replacing a CD boot loader, which is isolinux (some distros also use Grub as it has a stage2 complying with the iso9660/El Torilo bootable CD standard), with a thumb drive based boot loader, which can be Grub or syslinux. Thus technically a thumb drive cannot launch isolinux because the files are not stored in iso9660 format which is only used on a CD or DVD. My point is that isolinux is only used on CD or DVD. One must change to a different boot loader for a thumb drive.

(2) In using Grub or syslinux a user can freely select the location of the kernel (vmlinuz) and the ram disk file (initrd.img) location. That is not a problem. The OP did manage to start the booting process indicating the vmlinux/initrd have been correctly loaded. His problem is the kernal fires up the installer which was originally written to fetch files from a CD. When the installer could not find the files from a CD the thumb drive fails but can be made to work successfully after a copy of the required iso in a CD is placed in the CDrom to satisfy the installer.

Feel free to point out anything incorrect. I post merely to avoid misunderstanding of the process and have no intention to upset you.
 
Old 10-12-2007, 04:02 AM   #12
cacycleworks
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overly harsh but effective. it's pretty obvious i didn't know exactly how syslinux works. ah well, i tried. will unsub from this thread now.

the only rude parts i see from your posting are the first and last sentences. the stuff in the middle looks good to me.

:-)
 
Old 10-12-2007, 04:56 AM   #13
saikee
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cacycleworks ,

I cannot be right on everything and I have been wrong before. By raising the profile others may come your aid and point out my mistakes. That way I get something out of it too. I am here to learn same as you. You should regard my last sentence in Post #11 as an admission that I was prepared to make a fool out of myself.

After on seeing a contradiction (to my understanding) in Post #10 I needed to check my sanity (to see if I have been wrong all this time) and ventured to add clarification to the following.

(1) isolinux, Grub (with stage2_eltorito) are CD boot loaders and do not work on other media

(2) syslinux is a Dos based program that boots from a Fat partition. Thus floppy and USB (formatted in Fat) can use it. It can also be used on a hard disk if launched from a Fat partition.

(3) Grub (with the standard stage1 and stage2) boots Linux block devices and suitable for floppies, USB devices and hard disks.
 
Old 10-12-2007, 05:21 AM   #14
saikee
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IsItFridayYet ,

Quote:
So, question is, where is/how do I change this thing to quit looking for a CD, and begin looking for the files it needs, which are already on the thumb?
I don't have a solution and have been keeping an eye on this thread to see a reply that can cure it.


I do have the samilar problem as my link confirms only 3 out of the 7 distros I put into the thumb drive boot up successfully. Prior to that I have been installing iso files directly off a hard disk, without burning them into CD or DVD, and found on average about 60% of distros always go back to fetch files from the CDrom. Out of 10 distros I tried only 4 managed to be booted up successfully directly off an iso file downloaded into a hard disk.

I have also asked this question before in another forum and received hints to hack some of the kernel boot up files, in particular the linuxrc which I found tough going and not readily readable/available in every distro.

I look at it this way. If we can launch an iso file directly from a hard disk for every distro then the CD/DVD could become redundant overnight as a booting media for Linux. Obviously the maintainers of Linux distros can select this route but it doesn't appear to be a standard practice. For the time being it remains a tough nut to crack.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mind you the above is to boot an original iso, downloaded straight from a web site, directly off from a hard disk. If you are only after a working system in a thumb drive you can

(1) Install the system into the thumb drive by booting up the iso burn into a bootable CD/DVD.
(2) Install the system into a hard drive from a a bootable CD/DVD and then copy the system into the thumb drive.

The above will work perfectly but you need to be aware

(a) The iso image is a lot more compact than an expanded and installed system, possible in a ratio of 1:4 or 1:6. Thus a fully expanded installed Linux may need 4 to 6 times more space to accommodate, plus similar longer time to install or copy the image over. Some distros provide an option to install the Linux to run as a Live CD to keep the image footprint down.

(b) When moving a Linux between partitions or disk you may need to update the partition reference in (1) boot loader configuration file like menu.lst for Grub and (2) Partitions that must be loaded as defined by /etc/fstab.

Last edited by saikee; 10-12-2007 at 05:39 AM.
 
Old 10-12-2007, 05:45 AM   #15
nooby
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As I remember but have no link to at the moment. Doesn't experience tell us that some thumbs are not bootable, they are different in construction. Could not that make things more complicated too. I write cause me too want a linux bootable from a thumb.

Thumbs are not forever. suppose they last 100.000 writes. So some linux providers do a "frugal" workaround that only writes once 30 minutes instead of very frequently. Not sure if the OP program would work if it has internal instructions to look up things on the CD and now all is on a thumb. Would it not ask for the CD to give it new choices?
 
  


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