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Old 02-06-2008, 09:04 AM   #1
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Registered: Jan 2008
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Looking for easy way to make file changes and boot off USB


It's hard to explain what I'm trying to do.

Firstly, I'd like to work in the linux shell environment. No desktop needed.

I'm trying to do this:

Put Linux on a USB drive that reads AND *writes* to the file system on the USB drive. *NOT* load the whole OS into ram0 like most LiveCD distros do with no access to the origional file system.

I notice that most file systems are compressed in a single file, and then uncompressed later into memory.

I need to have the ability to:

-insert a USB drive into my PC
-run the OS with Qemu
-make changes to the start-up/coinfig files *outside* the Qemu environment (ie Just using WordPad in Windows to edit .conf files.. I'm at work).
-Reboot the with Qemu and see the changes.

The chellenges I'm facing is that everything seems to be in an .iso and LiveCD format when it comes to a smaller distrobutions. I'm realising I have no direct access to files in etc, bin, sbin, etc. I only have what is in memory which doesn't do me any good if I can not easily save the changes.

So is there a way I can just install Linux on the USB drive and see the etc, root, bin, through windows explorer when I insert the USB drive on my pc?

I'm at work and only have access to an xp machine.

Old 02-07-2008, 05:52 PM   #2
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Depending on the size of the Distro this is quite possible, as I already have it. Mainly as an emergency (on a 4gb device).

The easiest way is to install on a normal disk partition, and then copy that onto the usb, install grub on the usb, and your away. vfat support is usually compiled into the kernel and as this is what usb drives use, both windows and linux can read it.
Old 02-07-2008, 06:28 PM   #3
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Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Olympia, WA, USA
Distribution: Fedora, (K)Ubuntu
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It really depends on the size of your USB drive.

I've got a 250Gb USB drive with a full, bootable, Fedora 8 on it installed from the Live CD (since the DVD install fails, I think, to install the USB drivers in the initial RAM disk). Note: That parenthetical remark is conjecture - all I really know is that the USB drive won't boot unless Fedora is installed from the Live CD. There is a comment in the release notes that a program in the live-tools package needs to be run to make a USB drive bootable.

I also have an old 80Gb 2.5" HD I pulled from a laptop and put into an "I/O Magic" USB enclosure that has a bootable Fedora on it.
<edit>The nice thing about the laptop USB drive enclosure id that it's powered from the USB port, so no external power supply is needed.</edit>

For both of the USB installations I use the FOSS video drivers so the drive can be used on different system with few problems.

Last edited by PTrenholme; 02-07-2008 at 06:31 PM.


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