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I am trying to install Backtrack 4 BETA on my USB thumb drive. I have set up two partition, a swap on /dev/sdb1 and the root or main partition(not sure exactly what its referred to as) on /dev/sdb2. It seems the install went ok but I am having trouble configuring GRUB.
I have turned the bootable flag on for /dev/sdb2 and have grub installed on it. The installation of grub went smoothly. I tried configuring the device.map, menu.lst, and /etc/stab files to just boot Backtrack, no dual-boot or anything. I get grub to come up when I boot from my flash drive and I choose to boot into linux it goes for a while and then has an error saying "VFS: Unable to mount root partition" or something similar to that and says that sdb2 is not a valid boot option and then tells me valid options are sda1 or sda2 which are the internal hard drives for the laptop. I have googled this for a while and tried multiple solutions but to no avail.
What I did was install grub on /dev/sdb. I had sdb2 mounted at /mnt/bt so I did a grub-install --root-directory=/mnt/bt /dev/sdb. I'm still fairly new to all of this so I'm assuming that the MBR is located on sdb2 since sdb1 is just a swap space.
I have only dealt with Lilo and GRUB so far and haven't heard of syslinux before but I'll check it out. Thanks for the advice. I'll let you know how it goes when I get a chance to try it out.
You mentioned that booting went good for a while. So when does the error appear? In first stage (uncompressing and setting up kernel), or second stage (setting up processes, mounting filesystems, etc)?
Great link, thank you. I'm still in college as a Comp Sci major so some of that stuff is a little overwhelming but I'm learning from it.
I'm pretty certain the error occurs during the second stage of the boot. I can say for certain when I get home from work. With the research I've done it seems my menu.lst, device.map, or /etc/fstab might be configured improperly. Is there anything you can see that would cause a problem with mounting the root partition?
From what you provided I can think of two possible problems.
1) you specified wrong device. Meaning that /dev/sdb2 us not actually your USB thumb drive. For example on my laptop if I boot (from hdd) with my usb stick inserted it is assigned to /dev/sda. But when I plug it during runtime it goes to /dev/sdb. It is caused by wrongly (or insufficiently) configured udev.
2) I am not familiar with BackTrack linux. Is it designed for USB booting? If not that is most likely where the error is. By the time of mounting filesystem kernel will not have usb modules loaded. So either use distro designed for USB, or modify you initrd accordingly.
I can't be sure but from what I've read only Backtrack should be able to be installed to a USB drive. Your first suggestion makes a lot of sense though and I might have mistook the avaiable options it gave me for root= as the internal hard drive but it could be referring to the two USB partitions. I'll try that when I get home and see how it works.
----/dev/sdb2 / reiserfs defaults 0 0 # AutoUpdate-----
Try change to:
/dev/sdb2 / reiserfs user,auto,rw 0 0
-to eliminate possible unwanted issues re perms and dev
=If above solution does not work, try this next:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sdb2-----
If you have configured BIOS to ignore the hardisk and boot directly to usb-thumb this should have no problem. However, for curiousity try change the root line: (and also the device.map)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sdb2
This entry should have been okay per your configuration.
However, "b)" above, if you test run grub at root (hd1,1) you should also add here-
However, please note, that my first conviction tells me that your current problem is not in the mbr nor at grub. It is in the fstab: either user or partition format issue. So you should try a) above first and reboot.
though I could err here, there is of course no guaranty except my earnest will to help. My memory is a bit hazy about grub now.
Are you sure that your distro uses "raiserfs" by default? or was it you who specified it? What if it runs over ext3? or the last time I was on, ext4 was not yet supported in Grub.