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Ventoy, Ventoy, Ventoy

Posted 06-05-2020 at 10:30 PM by zaivala
Updated 06-07-2020 at 10:00 AM by zaivala

If you've been reading my blogs or listening to my podcasts (mintCast, Distrohoppers' Digest), you know that I love checking out various distros, and that I keep a box of USB sticks with various distros ready to go in case I need to change something or someone I know would like to try Linux. A box. There are 10 color-coded USB sticks and 5 other sticks.

I have been looking for a way to use one large USB stick to install several distros. Either due to my lack of acumen, the lack of good software, or my hardware, I have failed to install and use at least 3 different multiboot setups.

I mentioned that in the Linux Mint Telegram group, which is unique in that it includes a lot of users in India. The friends I have in that group started talking about Ventoy, of which I had not heard a whisper among my American/UK friends. So I looked into it.

If you use Windows, you have it easy, as there is a GUI version for Windows. But there is a version for Linux, you install it by extracting a .tar.gz file and following instructions after extracting it. Sadly, I looked at 4 or 5 different sets of instructions, and each of them left out an important step -- different important steps, sadly, and one of them (perhaps otherwise the best of the sets of instructions) stated you do have to unmount the stick to install Ventoy to it, which is inaccurate.

You have to download a .tar.gz file and extract it into a directory; you’ll probably want to create a Ventoy directory to keep things easy, but you don’t have to. You open a Terminal and CD to that directory. And then you run this command for a simple Ventoy stick:
sudo sh Ventoy2Disk.sh -I /dev/sdx
...where “sdx” needs to be changed to the address of your USB stick, probably sdc. The complete command, with switches, is:
sudo sh Ventoy2Disk.sh { -i | -I | -u } /dev/sdx
(from https://www.ventoy.net/en/doc_start.html )

Either I'm not as stupid as I thought or I got lucky or something. I got Ventoy loaded to my Memorex USB 3.1 64Gb stick. And there is nothing but fun from here on in. You don't have to extract ISOs, you just copy the whole bloody ISO to the stick. When you go to use it, you get a graphical menu to select which one to load, and Ventoy does the extraction itself.

Installing Ventoy formats the stick as exFAT, so you can't add Ventoy to a stick you’re already using without losing the files on it; however, after installing Ventoy to the stick, you can use the stick to store other files and access them.

Not every ISO has been approved for Ventoy. I found I cannot use Feren OS. But I installed the latest BionicPup64, Pearl, any Ubuntu or Mint, SuSE... Calculate Linux can be installed using Ventoy but cannot be run as a live disk (also true of a few other distros, mostly determined by the distro, not Ventoy). But here’s an extra thing: You can also install Windows ISO from Ventoy.

For some distros, you can even set them up, add and delete programs, and the ISO gets saved with those changes -- this is called “persistence”, and you can check the Ventoy site for more information on what has been tested, as well as for lots more information on this app. Caution: the devs of Ventoy are not well-versed in English, so checking other sites may be helpful as well, such as https://www.ostechnix.com/how-to-cre...ntoy-in-linux/

My current feeling is that I should have 3 sticks -- one for Live ISOs, one for Install-only ISOs, and one for Persistent ISOs which I have modified.

I heartily recommend Ventoy with no reservation.

After writing this as a LQ blog post, I got permission from my mintCast homies to include this text in Episode 337.5 of our show. I have enhanced the blog post greatly as a result, and you can hear it along with the comments of my co-hosts on that episode.
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