Welcome to the most active Linux Forum on the web.
Go Back > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie
User Name
Linux - Newbie This Linux forum is for members that are new to Linux.
Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!


  Search this Thread
Old 02-08-2007, 02:29 PM   #1
Robert Diggs
Registered: Dec 2006
Location: Florida
Distribution: The ones that come in magazines and books.
Posts: 136

Rep: Reputation: 15
Boot from USB, which distro?


I just have a couple of preliminary questions in regards to booting from USB. In my time using Linux, I've gotten aclimated with a few distro's. I've most familiar with Suse 10.0, so-so with FC6, same with Ubuntu. Are any one of these distro's good for booting from USB? It's mainly going to be used for trouble shooting different machines (I'm just beginning to do this). Does Linux do a decent job of picking up on different hardware? I'm thinking that it would have a Live USB so-to-speak, right? So, I might have to get a Live CD and copy it to the USB? I'm not sure of the process of getting it onto USB either. I have all the discs for Suse, FC6 and Ubuntu. If there is a better choice of OS, I'll gladly try that Any help is much appreciated.



Last edited by Robert Diggs; 02-08-2007 at 02:39 PM.
Old 02-08-2007, 04:59 PM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 10.04 and CentOS 5.5
Posts: 3,873

Rep: Reputation: 334Reputation: 334Reputation: 334Reputation: 334
Almost any live Linux CD will be good at detecting hardware.

As far as booting from USB, I presume that you mean that you want to boot from a USB hard disk. You could use a live Linux CD with a USB connected CD/DVD-ROM drive. If you want to use an external hard disk or flash memory device then instructions for that sort of thing involve installing the operating system. That eliminates the hardware detection that is usually available in the live Linux CD. It is not unusual for a distro whose live CD can detect hardware very well to have trouble detecting hardware once the operating system is installed. So you are better off staying with the live CD if you want to move around from one machine to another.

Success booting from a USB device is entirely dependent on the computer's BIOS. The motherboard has got to support booting from a USB device.

Last edited by stress_junkie; 02-08-2007 at 05:03 PM.
Old 02-08-2007, 05:03 PM   #3
Senior Member
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: It varies, but usually within 100 feet of a keyboard.
Distribution: Fedora 10, Kubuntu 8.04, Puppy 4.1.2, openSUSE 11.2
Posts: 1,126

Rep: Reputation: 51
You might consider Puppy:

Mandriva has a commercial distribution that comes on a flash drive. (Not cheap, but not that expensive, either.)
Old 02-08-2007, 06:05 PM   #4
Robert Diggs
Registered: Dec 2006
Location: Florida
Distribution: The ones that come in magazines and books.
Posts: 136

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15

Thanks for the suggestions. I was kind of hoping to take out the live cd aspect. I'd like to be able to save things to the flash drive and boot from it. I'd like to stream line it as much as possible. Boot from the USB device, save to it, so on and so forth. I understand the BIOS needs to be able to boot from a USB device. As time progresses more and more BIOS's support this. I will take the suggestion of Puppy and run with that and we'll see what happens.

Many thanks,

Old 02-08-2007, 06:28 PM   #5
Senior Member
Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Distribution: Any free distro.
Posts: 3,398
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 112Reputation: 112
So far the standard distros, off the downloadable iso without modification, that I have managed to install into a USB hard disk and bootable are

Slax 5.1.8
Puppy 1.0.8
Mandriva Free 2007
Sidux 2007-1
Sabayon x86-64 3.0
Old 03-06-2007, 12:18 PM   #6
LQ Newbie
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Atlanta, GA
Distribution: Ubuntu 8.04
Posts: 7

Rep: Reputation: 0
just got a 2.0 GB generic USB key

  • wanted to have a Ubuntu LiveUSB key
  • would settle for a Sidux LiveUSB
If i find a working solution will post it here

So far have tried:
  • great instructions
  • just won't boot on my dell
  • simple instructions (so I followed them three times)
  • just won't boot on my dell or the compaq
This must be really simple 'cuz i spent a lotta time on this and it ain't workin yet; When I spend a lotta time, it is usu. cuz i is tryin to hard

Last edited by jHans333; 03-20-2007 at 02:30 PM.
Old 03-06-2007, 02:57 PM   #7
Senior Member
Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Distribution: Any free distro.
Posts: 3,398
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 112Reputation: 112
With booting from a USB device you must check the Bios and ensure the facility of "USB lagacy support" is "enabled", Otherwise the USB device may not be recognised by the boot loader because the information from the Bios is not forthcoming.

Since my reply by Post #5 I spent a weekend installing 12 operating systems into a USB hard disk. The write-up is here. It seems to be easier than I thought, as I managed to boot up the big names like Fedora, Suse, Slackware, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Sabayon and Knoppix.
Old 03-07-2007, 01:41 PM   #8
Registered: Jun 2005
Location: Wycombe, England
Distribution: Mepis 3.4.3 , Ubuntu & Damm Small Linux
Posts: 119

Rep: Reputation: 15

Knoppix, got it working on a USB key 1Gb, from the Install Cd, took all of 10 minutes, and save settings and files through reboots, kde, most stuff you need is on it, use it all the time.. there are a few sites which tell you how to do this, i followed one which told me how to install it to a hard disk, but chose SDA1 not HDA1


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"Installing non-distro Linux on USB key" or "Using syslinux to boot a jffs2" lymae Linux - Newbie 6 12-31-2006 10:00 PM
Boot from USB external drive, from laptop without USB boot support. darirod Linux - Newbie 2 12-19-2006 10:00 AM
WG111T USB wireless receiver is not detected on my dual boot WINXP/MEPIS 6.0 distro? PanamaJack404 MEPIS 1 11-18-2006 11:16 AM
Can someone recommend a distro that works with the USB D-Link USB dealie? Nebetsu Linux - Wireless Networking 1 11-28-2005 07:12 AM
boot from USB HDD, no MOBO usb boot support magiconexxx Linux - Hardware 0 11-03-2004 12:38 AM > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:50 AM.

Main Menu
Write for LQ is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration