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OK, so I have a few questions regarding the set up of a bootable USB drive. I realize I can set up a USB drive to boot up an OS. ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Newbie SunshineFolk's Avatar
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    dual/triple boot USB drive


    OK, so I have a few questions regarding the set up of a bootable USB drive.

    I realize I can set up a USB drive to boot up an OS. SO, is it possible to have the USB drive partitioned correctly to boot up an OS, and within the USB drive have it partitioned to be able to open once its in the OS to open certain software/programs/utilities within the same USB drive?

    Lets say I install OS ubuntu 11.04 as a Live USB, then once I have booted up in ubuntu on the computer be able to open up folders within the USB drive and operate them or install them in the OS. I know just setting up the OS within a HDD would be much simpler as going in and just setting up the programs/utilities with the HDD but I am trying to set this up to where I can go to any computer and just run a Live OS then use the tools within it accordingly.

    If this is possible (which I presume) what programs would I use to set up/partition the USB drive to do this with? Also, which program would be the easiest to do this with?

    Better yet, could I apply more than one OS on this USB drive and have maybe a boot menu like GRUB or something similar to give me a choice of which when the USB boots of having an option of which OS I want to boot up, then use the programs accordingly?

    Another question, would be how much space or size of the USB would you recommend? I am thinking about ordering a 8G USB drive, but maybe a 16G would be better for what I'm trying to do here. Opinion, please.

    On top of this, could I still use the USB drive to just store files from my regular OS I use on a daily basis, that would of which I could add more programs/utilities to so then I could open them up with my USB Live OS?

    My OS now is Ubuntu 11.04 Natty, which I will be using to set this bootable USB drive up with to use on any computer.

    Any information would be helpful and the more the better, details/tutorial links please
    THANKS

    EDIT: What type of USB drive should I get, or can just any of them be set up to do this?
    SunshineFolk

    Don't fix it if it ain't broken, and don't break it if you can't fix it.
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  2. #2
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Can you setup a USB drive to boot - yes (but not all PCs are capable of boot from USB).
    Can you have data partitions as well as the OS partition on the same USB drive - yes.
    I tend to just use Unetbootin these days to create a bootable USB, how it works here.
    I suggest 16GB drive, that way you can have a decent range of apps installed and still have plenty of space for data.

    ... don't forget to configure the system so temporary files are not written to the pen drive, and if you intend using the pen drive on multiple systems it will need to be able to cope with multiple hardware configurations ... something like a live USB image might be worth considering

  3. #3
    Linux Newbie SunshineFolk's Avatar
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    Thank You!

    OK so I've been doing some reading up on this sort of, and instead of running the Live, can I just load Live, then click the "install" script on the desktop, and install it on the USB, so changes made every time I use the OS will stay? Like programs I install? I think this is correct but please feel free to correct me or re-assure me

    ... don't forget to configure the system so temporary files are not written to the pen drive
    Sorry, but what do you mean? Well, I understand what you mean, but how would one go about doing this? Is it different for all OS, I would assume?

    Yeh, I'm sure I won't be using this on too many random machines, so the hardware config should be up to date on whatever I'm using it on. but definitely thanks for the tip! I didn't even really think of that, at all.

    Any more tips would be very helpful if you got em , Im ordering the 16G asap, good call, sir!
    SunshineFolk

    Don't fix it if it ain't broken, and don't break it if you can't fix it.
    127.0.0.1 sweet 127.0.0.1...
    When you see pigs fly it means Window$ has become open source.

  4. #4
    Linux User TaZMAniac's Avatar
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    I've made numerous multiboot flash drives and disks.
    You can do it the hard way by manually entering the files and writing the boot menu or
    you can make it a bit easier by using a program like UNetbootin.
    Not that it will make the multiboot for you but it makes life a bit easier.

    I made a tutorial 2 years ago that explains how to make a dual boot flash drive.
    You can expand on it and add as many distros as you want to it.
    You can find it on my blog;

    Ubuntu 4 You: MultiBootin With UNetbootin. A Multiboot Flash Drive Tutorial

    While you are there you may want to check out my 20 in 1 DVD articles and links.
    A bit dated but still useful.
    Good luck and have fun.

    P.S. I've never had to partition a flash drive to make it multiboot.
    It's all in the way you set up the files and boot menu.

  5. #5
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunshineFolk View Post
    Sorry, but what do you mean? Well, I understand what you mean, but how would one go about doing this? Is it different for all OS, I would assume?
    example mounting /tmp here

    Quote Originally Posted by TaZMAniac View Post
    P.S. I've never had to partition a flash drive to make it multiboot.
    It's all in the way you set up the files and boot menu.
    the method may work but depends on kernel etc having different names - which is not always going to be the case, or requires separate folders for each distro ... thanks for sharing the link - I might give it a try with Mint Debian Edition and PartedMagic

  6. #6
    Linux User sgosnell's Avatar
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    Don't install to the USB drive as a liveUSB, do a full install, and put grub on it. You can partition as you like, and run it just like an internal drive. Doing a persistent liveUSB means you WILL run out of room all too quickly, because file deletions aren't really deleted. I've done many full installs, and in fact have one running on a netbook in an SDHC card. Get a 1GB or so USB drive, use unetbootin to make a liveUSB on that, and then boot from it and do a full install to the large USB drive, putting grub on it. Then it's exactly like using an internal HDD, as long as you configure the BIOS correctly. You can boot from the USB drive without changing the BIOS if you want, but you'll have to select it every time you boot.

  7. #7
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Don't install to the USB drive as a liveUSB ... Then it's exactly like using an internal HDD
    that's OK for a single system, but if you are going to use the pendrive on different systems then it could cause problems with hardware drivers

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