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  1. #1

    Bootable USB - CompactFlash / pcmcia setup?

    Some rough service laptops (w/o any external drives) we use can boot off a CompactFlash card/PCMCIA slot. The laptops are frequently obtained with the HDs wiped very thoroughly.
    In an attempt to make a bootable CF card, I was unable to "add device" (usb adapter w/CF card) to K3B so as to 'burn' a bootable CF card using the GParted iso.
    It doesn't work to just drag & drop the live GParted cd contents to a CF card.
    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Nottingham, England
    Have you tried using the DSL (Damn Small Linux) distro to achieve this? It can fit in really small spaces, and will allow you to install it onto a flash/usb device. Boot it on a regular PC, stick the dongle in the drive, and get DSL installed onto it that way; then you can boot from it on the laptop or any device that allows usb booting.
    Linux user #126863 - see

  3. #3
    K3B is for burning CDs & DVDs. Your CF card is not a CD and the BIOS will not be able to read a CD file system from the flash. Linux and the BIOS both treat the USB flash devices as either a floppy or more commonly a hard disk type device. You need to create a normal disk file system on the CF then copy the files (not the file system image) to the CF.

    Immediately after you plug the device into the USB you should type the command "dmesg" which lists all the kernel messages since bootup. Somewhere toward the end you should see some lines that indicates the device name assigned to the new USB device. Something like:
    sda: assuming drive cache: write through
    sda: sda1
    sd 1:0:0:0: Attached scsi removable disk sda
    sd 1:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg0 type 0
    usb-storage: device scan complete
    This means that /dev/sda represents the CF device.

    I really can't post a tutorial here, but you want to treat the /dev/sda device either a an oversized floppy or more typically as a hard disk device, depending on the BIOS.

    Normally you would use one of the disk tools to partition /dev/sda, install a bootloader like grub and some sort of linux distribution on one of the partitions. I think Knoppix has a freature to install in a USB stick ,and that would be nice if you have 600MB+. Alternatively DSL has a good rep and a nice description of installing on a bootable flash.


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