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I have been trying to no avail to find a USB Distro/installer that I can use to run a single install on multiple machines. Every install I have tried (Mint ...
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  1. #1
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    Cross-Machine USB Distro/installer?


    I have been trying to no avail to find a USB Distro/installer that I can use to run a single install on multiple machines.

    Every install I have tried (Mint 10, Mint 14, Ubuntu 12) using Unetbootin and/or LiLi has failed the cross machine test. They work great on one machine, but fail on the other. I am running an ACER Netbook and an Asus Laptop, but want to have a relatively consistant experience on both - files/applications/etc.

    I understand the hardware differences, but couldn't it detect the differences when it boots?

    So anyway, does this exist? If so, where can I get it?

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure what you want. Are you saying the Live CD of the distributions mentioned put on a flash drive will work on some machines but not others? Will not boot? Should not be a problem. Or are you installing from a flash to an external hard drive and moving the drive from one machine to another? More details on what you're trying to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    I'm not sure what you want. Are you saying the Live CD of the distributions mentioned put on a flash drive will work on some machines but not others? Will not boot? Should not be a problem. Or are you installing from a flash to an external hard drive and moving the drive from one machine to another? More details on what you're trying to do.
    I have used the utilities listed to create either a persistant or a live install on a USB drive (8 gb sandick cruzer). It will boot on one machine, but fails on the other. If it boots on the laptop it just boots to a black screen on the netbook.

    What I want is a USB drive with a Linux install that I can use across multiple machines and keep any upgrades, installs, etc over time. Once upon a time, many years ago, I had a CD I could boot on any machine, but of course any changes weren't saved.

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    I'm not familiar with LiLi but unetbootin basically creates a bootable Live CD and puts it on a flash drive. It's just a Live CD on a flash drive and there should be no reason why it would not boot on different machines. I don't use persistence so can't help with that. Persistence usually lets you save some changes but AFAIK it has its limits. If you actually installed a system to the flash drive rather than putting it on the flash drive as a Live CD that is a different story.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    I'm not familiar with LiLi but unetbootin basically creates a bootable Live CD and puts it on a flash drive. It's just a Live CD on a flash drive and there should be no reason why it would not boot on different machines.
    That is not necessarily true. I can think of lots of reasons that a live cd in any physical fomat (usb, CD, DVD) would not boot on a particular machine. The first two things that comes to mind (because they seem to be the most common culprits that prevent achieving an x session) are ACPI or video driver issues.

    My suggestion:

    If you want something that will "plug and play" anywhere then build a self contained custom distro that is installed to the pendrive with not only the standard video drivers but also the vesa driver and maybe a few different kernels too. Set it up to boot to the shell and then manually start x after boot with a kernel or video drivers or power options appropriate to the system in question.

    Or, set up a boot menu with various options.

    Maybe you can find a program that will probe the machine from the shell and return the info you need to get an x session on that machine. Or just script some basic bash probes to auto run on boot and spit the info out and drop to prompt so you have all the info you need to start x as soon as you boot.

    You may also want to google around a bit and see if any of this has already been done so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

    Of course, all of this is assuming that you have the ability to reboot every machine you encounter and tell it to boot from usb. Which is true at home, but necessarily the world at large.

    If you want something that is almost truly plug and play anywhere then do some googles for portable linux computer / computer on a stick, etc. Lot's of work has already been done on that and you won't need to do much from scratch.

    Basically this will set you up with a computer you can take anywhere. You just need access to a usb port, but won't need to be able to boot from the system in question to get it working. FYI ISFAIK this setup requires some OS (any OS) on the host system and will not run from boot.

    But, this also assumes that you'll have access to the usb port. Which you will in most places as most admins are not bright enough to turn off usb even on critical systems. Just be aware that if you try to access usb in a very small number of work places it either won't work or you'll be getting a call from your boss who got a call from IT wanting to know what you're doing. Also be aware: At a government installation replace that with the possibility of a cop pointing a gun at you asking the same questions.

    Even if none of that is an issue for you then you still have not achieved true universal plug and play; just either / or solutions.

    So, you can google for how to build a muiltiboot pendrive computer (don't reinvent the wheel, it's already been done). Then set it to boot your custom "probing" disto or the ready to run anywhere set up just depending on which one you need and have the two "systems" share a data partition.

    That will get you to as close to "universal" as possible for any place where you won't get in to trouble for plugging in a usb stick.

    -----------------
    EDIT: Just realized that you want a universal installer too. So in your custom probing bootable distro include remastersys. Start x with the options needed for the system in question. Run remastersys, which will copy the current system to an installable iso. Then move that ISO to another bootable partion and setup your bootloader to include booting that partiton as an option (so triple boot instead of dual). Set that third partition up with unetbootin or something similar. Reboot and install.
    Last edited by Steven_G; 03-20-2013 at 03:57 AM.

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