Wednesday, September 21, 2011

linux and the pen drive boot.

alright, so in this article, i will be walking you through how to get a linux distro on a flash drive. this is perfect if you like to take your operating system with you, or if your new to linux and just want to try it out before installing it.

a few things to keep in mind:
  • you will be limited to 4 gb of saved data, as your drive will be formatted in fat32 (im assuming you still want to be able to use the drive to store file in windows)
  • unless you run the installer, nothing touches the hard drive... the whole opperating system is ran from the flash drive.
  • you can still 'mount' your hard drive and use the files on the computer.

ok, now that we got that cleared up, we need to choose what distribution you want.
if you are looking at security auditing, backtrack 5 r1 is the 'standard' at the moment.
for a desktop environment based on home use, i would recommend mint over ubuntu... but its all preference.
if you want a small distribution, puppy is a ~65mb os, however it doesn't look too flashy.... peppermint is a good middle ground, at 500 mb with  a lot of built in packages and a nice out of the box look to it.

if you don't know what to start with, i would recommend mint, and just go from there.

aright, now to actually install your linux distro on to your flash drive, you will need one of two programs, pick the one based on your needs:
  • YUMI: allows you to install multiple distributions on one flashdrive and has a nice boot menu.
  • lili: unlike yumi, it only allows one distribution, but it allows you to have a persistent file system*. lili also can install a vmware so you can run linux inside of windows. the last feature lili has, is it can hide the linux files (you cant even see them when view hidden files is on) which is nice because your flashdrive is not cluttered.
in all, go with lili unless you want multiple  distributions. in this tutorial, i will only cover lili, but yumi is very strait forward to use.

alright, go download lili from their website.
once it is installed, yo should see the following screen.
pick your flash drive in the top section, if you launched the program before you plugged in your flash media, make sure to press the refresh button.

now go down to step 2, click the ISO button and browse to your desired .iso, in this case... linux mint 11.

it will take about a minute to check the file integrity, but after that is done, slide the persistent file system slider to the desired size. this is how much memory the portable OS will have to save applications in between boots.
under step 4, i recommend checking all the boxes, however... remember to back up your data before formatting. (the top box hides the files in windows, the middle formats, and the bottom one nstalls a vmware so you can run linux in windows.

step 5: click the lightning bolt! press yes to format, and now wait as your new bootable drive is made!
(it takes a while!)

now that your bootable device is made, time to boot into it!

  • plug your flash drive in while your system is off.
  • turn on your system and press your blot option key, or possibly a menu key. these are generaly an F* key or delete.
  • pick your flash drive and press enter.
  • base don the distribution, the boot should take from 15 seconds to a few minutes. generally speaking the first boot is the slowest, so read another tutorial while you wait :)
  • you should see your beautiful linux os in front of you.
here is a video of booting into the flash drive.


Agustin Slater said...

good post..

Anonymous said...

Awesome tutorial and thanks for the video.

You sound a little nervous though. Relax! You're doing a great job.

Major.Mack said...

nice work. thanks

gog said...

one step closer to switching to linux 4 me!

Michael said...

Nice blog. +followed!

Chas Kane said...

Have you ever tried to program a device driver for Linux?

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