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Alexvader 12-13-2009 01:48 PM

Install Slackware in a USB Stick
Hi Forum

I want to install Slackware 13 in an USB stick of about 8 Gigs.

So far, I only see two options... :

Use unetbootin to make the install, or

Make a standard install to an USB device, taking care to include a Time Delay in Lilo, so that boot has time to "see" the partitions...

Are any of these, valid alternatives...?

AFAIK, USB stick File systems are a bit intolerant to being relentlessly written on, so, If I want my USB Stick to enjoy a rather long lifetime, I have to take some precautions on Filesystem Types, as well as mount options in my /etc/fstab,

Basically I want my layout to be something like /boot-sda1;100Megs, /-sda2;4Gb, /swap-sda3;500Mb, and all the rest to /home-sda4 in FAT32 to be accessible to windoze machines I sometimes have to use...

What do you experts think of this...?

Is it advisable, or does /swap mounted in my Usb Stick will "fry" it in notime ...?



DonnieP 12-13-2009 03:17 PM

I'm no expert but I have installed many times to and from usb and flash drives. If you're installing directly from a CD/DVD to a usb drive then you don't need unetbootin. You need unetbootin when you want to transfer an install iso to usb for use on a machine with no optical drive to install from - or if you just want to save burning CD/DVDs for doing installs. The swap question is apparently controversial, but I have followed the advice not use a swap partition on a flash drive and haven't been burned.

Alexvader 12-13-2009 03:35 PM

Hi DonnieP

Thx for yor answer...

I have already heard something about ZipSlack...

What is this...? is it a "USB kind" of Slackware Install...?



EricTRA 12-13-2009 03:40 PM


I was just reading up on that too ;)


Looks very interesting for a 'carry around' Slackware.

Kind regards,


brianL 12-13-2009 03:52 PM

Or you could try:

gnashley 12-13-2009 03:57 PM

zipslack is only available up to slack-11.0 and uses the umsdos filesystem which will make it even slower.

I'd suggest following the plan you started with, except for swap. You definitely don't want a swap partition on a flash drive. Instead, write a small routine near the top of the init scripts which creates a small ramdisk, run mkswap on it and then use swapon to activate it. That probably sounds strange to use RAM for swapspace, but the only other easy alternative is to use no swap at all -which I also do not recommend. Even a very small swap space can save you from a locked up system.

DonnieP 12-13-2009 04:41 PM


Make a standard install to an USB device, taking care to include a Time Delay in Lilo, so that boot has time to "see" the partitions...
You're right about the need to append a rootdelay in lilo.conf. Just did an install myself to an SD card and it wouldn't work without this.

Alexvader 12-13-2009 04:46 PM

Hi Gnashley

What would you suggest me to put in this script....?

Probably I would have to create a custom /etc/fstab also...

What do you suggest me to do...??



sahko 12-13-2009 06:26 PM


zordrak 12-14-2009 06:02 AM


Originally Posted by brianL (Post 3790068)


Originally Posted by sahko (Post 3790241)

Be aware, the OP asked for installing onto a thumb drive, not from a thumb drive.

~sHyLoCk~ 12-14-2009 06:18 AM

I have done this many times. First format the drive and make sure you turn on the boot flag. Next check BIOS to see if the "Boot from USB" is enabled. Next go install slack in your USB and make sure you check the fdisk -l output to find out your USB drive partitions. I also use my internal HDD's swap, I actually use that single 2GB swap partition for my CentOS, Slack, and my USB devices. Install lilo to the MBR of your USB and you're done. you can configure lilo seting delay and everything the way you want to.

brianL 12-14-2009 06:55 AM


Originally Posted by zordrak (Post 3790729)
Be aware, the OP asked for installing onto a thumb drive, not from a thumb drive.

Oh yeah!! :doh: :redface:

vehn 12-14-2009 12:26 PM

vehn 12-14-2009 12:26 PM

dumdadum 07-24-2013 04:24 PM

Kinda helps, kinda doesnt...
I'm also trying to do what the author of this post said, a usb stick with Slackware that works on "all" the computers it boots from, no matter what.

My case is that I have a computer that I dont want to use the harddrive, and when I say I dont want to use it, its really important because the computer isnt mine.

When I run the "lilo" command, I get a warning that says this:


/dev/sdb is not on the first disk
Its strange cause /dev/sda is the harddrive of the computer I use and its important that I dont use it at all, at all, at all. I have no entries in the fstab concerning that ntfs partition of windows xp on the harddrive. I get a boot screen with the Slackware screen that gives me the option to boot the slackware OS. The tag is Linux, I press enter, and there it goes, gives me a notice about not being able to load slackware, and the lights on the keyboard blink, its frozen, I need to push the power button for 5 seconds in order to reboot the computer.

I was told to use UUID's in the fstab and lilo.conf files. Still, I get a warning with the "lilo" command that says what I quoted, complaining that where I install lilo its not the first disk, meaning /dev/sda, which is the windows xp device I dont want to touch or mess up. When I use the live cd of gparted, it really says that the usbkey is really sdb with the ext4 root partition with slackare and the linux swap file being /dev/sdb2 and the extra fat32 partition of the usbkey being /dev/sdb1.

I dont see myself putting sda as the usbkey cause I dont want to make a mistake and install lilo or slackware on the harddrive instead of the usbkey, just trying to avoid the error message of the "lilo" command in slackware command prompt mode.

Does the unetbootin version of have the option to install Slackware 14.0 on a usbkey? I saw a few posts talking about the usb-boot file script in the /extra folder of the slackware 14.0 DVD, and its not really what I'm looking for.

Once again, I'm in the same position as the author of this post, I want the usbkey I'm building to be able to boot on any computer and not touch a single hair of the harddrives of the computer I'm using to boot slackware 14.0 from the usbkey device.

Any help is really welcome,


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