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Are you having this problem with a particular manufacture or random devices. I also do know why a USB flash drive would not be bootable. In the case you posted the problem could be due to a corrupted image when it was downloaded. Make sure the image matches sha5sum if posted.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy/Jessie/Sid, Linux Mint DE
That happened to me as well.
I recall copying a Debian netinstall ISO a 512 MB device, and whatever I did, it wouldn't boot.
The easiest way nowadays is to dd the ISO to the /dev/sdx. This will effectively overwrite every single byte with the correct image. That was successful, but the booting was not.
In addition I tried to do a full erase (writing /dev/zero to /dev/sdx), installing grub, installing unetbootin. No write errors, binary comparison to another disk was without errors, but the stick would not boot.
Copying the same ISO image to a different USB stick (256MB, 1GB or 4GB) booted without problems. The netinstall image is only 130MB or so. I don't think it has anything to do with the size, but I lacked a second 512MB stick to test that.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy/Jessie/Sid, Linux Mint DE
Originally Posted by littlebigman
As for those that sometimes boot and sometimes don't, I read somewhere that it could be due to the formatting: To be bootable, it must be partioned so as to have an MBR and at least one partition.
If you byte-copy an ISO to the stick you are copying byte-by-byte, including the MBR boot sector and everything. There is no explanation as to why such a stick would not boot. (And still it does not, see my previous post in this thread).
On the other hand, I had a case where we tried to copy one CF disk to another CF disk with dd. That disk contained (gawdforbid) Windows embedded for an industrial controller. The manufacturer of the controller was present and tried it with us. It did not boot. Only back at the factory with certain software they were ably to create a bootable CF disk. That beats me. Byte copy is byte copy, isn't it?
BTW funny that I see this coincidence now while I am writing this. That one USB stick of mine that doesn't boot was given to me as a present from this same factory which had created this Windows embedded system with unclonable CF disk.
I had already issues with USBs.
I made different things at different times:
- new fresh installation of extlinux (was an ext2 partition) because it did not boot anymore
- or used GPARTED, check-Function, then it was ok (the USB was corrupted)
- or used the plop bootloader from a UBCD for booting into the USB (the BIOS, despite having a USB boot menue, had probably an issue with the USB stick; plop was better than the BIOS)
1. Formatted USB keydrive using HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool 2.1.8. This keydrive never booted
2. Installed ISO image (Clonezilla alternative stable 20120620) using Universal-USB-Installer-22.214.171.124
3. Tried booting: OK!
4. Formatted USB keydrive using HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool 2.1.8. This keydrive used to boot, but hasn't worked in months using the three applications.
5. Installed ISO image (Clonezilla alternative stable 20120620) using Universal-USB-Installer-126.96.36.199
6. Tried booting: OK!
It's kind of embarassing that only an old application from XP days could do this :-/
1. Formatted problematic USB keydrive using XP's native formatting utility (right-click on keydrive > Format > Quick Format)
2. Used Universal USB Installer to install Clonezilla ISO
3. Booted test host: OK :-/
By "flip bit", do you mean "Removable Media Bit (RMB)"?
Incidently, after using the HP utility, I noticed that the BIOS on the test host now considers the problematic keydrives as "USB Hard Drive" while they weren't advertised that way previously. This would be consistent with the tech info available on Rufus author Pete Batard's site:
You'd think there wouldn't be much to formatting an USB flash drive for DOS on Windows, but you would be wrong. As I already explained, there's some reason why Windows doesn't do it natively.
I assume that at some point, the keydrive that used to work had its RMB turned from HD to Floppy, which would explain why the test host would no longer boot from it.
That's a relief, because that means I can buy a bunch of keydrives for a project with more confidence that they can be made bootable.