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  1. #1
    Just Joined! srj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Bootable USB - Windows installation kit and linux rescue partition

    Hello all,

    First of all I want to thank everybody for past threads and replies and of course in advance for any answers on this post. This forum helped me a lot in the past and this is my first post because I can't find an exact resolution for my issue.

    I want to make a bootable USB with 3 partitions.

    One to contain my 'Windows XP' installation CD to perform quick installs on different machines.
    Another to contain a Linux installation such as Knoppix for 'rescue' purposes. (Partition managers, boot rescuers and different applications I might choose and need)
    And the third one, empty for data transfer.

    I use a 16GB Transcend USB device and I made the partitions like this:

    /dev/sdb1 (13.00 GB) - for data transfer. I want this partition to be the first one, because I saw that 'Windows' can only recognize the first partition from the USB.
    /dev/sdb2 (1.00 GB) - for knoppix or any other similar installation
    /dev/sdb3 (750MB) - for my windows xp installation iso file

    Now, while I find this USB to be really helpful I'm really doing this for learning purposes, therefore I want to use GRUB bootloader to help me choose between the 2 options.

    I'll keep my questions to you as simple as I can and try to succeed on my own as much as I can.

    1. Please tell me if the command 'dd if=myXPinstallation.iso of=/dev/sdb3' will be enough to transfer all the ISO files to the selected partitions including boot sectors needed to chainload using GRUB.
    2. I saw that Knoppix uses a RAM-disk to load the root directory at every boot, therefore I can't install / uninstall software at my choosing. I guess my question is: if I manage to install any linux distro on that partition (with software such as Gparted, memory test, etc) will that installation run on any / multiple computers or just on my own (where the installation was made)?
    3. I initially wanted to install GRUB using the dd command 'bs=512 seek=1' and avoid the grub-install script. Is this possible on the USB stick or just on floppies / hdd?

    *I choose to play with Knoppix because I've heard that it can detect most hardware without issues and the installation size (700MB) is really compact.

    Sorry if this was too long in just one post, I just want to learn anything I can.

    Thank you,

  2. #2
    Linux Newbie arespi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Monterrey , Mexico
    I think it is going to be very complicated to make it work as you want it. I tried once to do something similar but the XP install partition never worked. I ended up using separate USB for everything, here is a nice tutorial about making a usb booteable with the XP install, I've tested it and it works:

    How to Install Windows xp using USB Flash Disk | Jcmiras.Net_02

    Good Luck

  3. #3
    Just Joined! srj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Thank you for your reply,

    I really think I can do this in the end and even if I won't manage to do it exactly as above, I'm trying to gather as much knowledge as possible.

    Also, thank you for your link. I've done that in the past from the 'windows' platform using the 'wintoflash' application. Simple and safe for that purpose only.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Just Joined! srj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Hello everybody,

    After a few hours I actually managed to solve it.

    This is what happened:

    *Note: I changed the partition order initially planned as below:

    /dev/sdb1 - data transfer partition
    /dev/sdb2 - used for the 'Windows XP' setup files
    /dev/sdb3 - used for 'Puppy Linux'

    1. First, the command dd if=/file.iso of=/dev/sdb2 with any of the options bs=4; bs=1MB; bs=512 or sync never worked for me. I couldn't boot from the original ISO (perhaps the boot sequence is different on XP setup CD's). Ex: boot.ini, etc was missing in my copy.

    2. So I used 'Wintoflash' from the Windows interface. While I still wanted to keep the first USB partition empty for data transfer in 'Windows', I only created the second partition /dev/sdb2 (650MB) with fdisk, thinking I can create the others later on.

    At this point I only had /dev/sdb and /dev/sdb2 and when I logged in to Windows all looked OK. I could only see a 650 MB available fat32 partition.

    Installed 'Wintoflash' and transferred the iso file to that partition. While the installation files were successfully transferred, my USB stick was formatted by 'Wintoflash' and again, the only partition available was /dev/sdb1 (the full 16GB).

    3. Back in Linux I mounted that partition and saw that all the files were different from before (boot.ini, and other files were there).

    I ran dd if=/dev/sdb1 of=/home/xpsetup.img bs=650MB count=1 to save what 'Wintoflash' did, on a 650 img file. Re-created all the partitions and again ran dd if=/home/xpsetup.img of=/dev/sdb2 to copy them back and that finally made my /dev/sdb2 bootable.

    4. Installed GRUB using grub-install and grub-mkconfig on the /dev/sdb MBR.

    5. Ran 'Puppy Linux LIVE CD' in Virtualbox and installed it on /dev/sdb3 (user Virtualbox to save a blank CD I never had in the first place)

    6. Changed grub.cfg manually and both entries were fully operational.

    *I dropped out the Knoppix installation because I found 'Puppy Linux' everything I ever wanted.

    ** The 'Windows' installation is not really usable yet. After it loads the needed files a Blue-Screen pops up every time, but at least I managed to boot form that partition. (I think I'll solve that by integrating an USB driver with the setup files).

    So, those were all the steps I made and it worked out just fine for me. I replied hoping this will help others too.


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