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  1. #1

    Damn small linux usb boot

    I'm trying to install a linux application on a usb driven external hard drive to use as a file recovery application for crashed systems. I see that Damn Small Linux will boot from a USB pen drive.

    Question is: If I install this distro on an external hard drive with the bootloader installed on the harddrive, will it boot in the same manner as a live CD and will it affect my other OS s on my primary hard drive - Ubuntu, Mepis, Freespire?

    Thanks a lot for the help,

    Appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    You should be able to install to an external drive and put grub on the MBR of the external drive.

    Provided you can select boot from the USB device you should not affect internal drives. Are you sure you are better off having DSL on a USB hard drive rather than just running the live CD & mounting the USB hard drive to save data to?

    You could also consider using something like PartedMagic which can be run as a live CD or from USB pen drive.

  3. #3
    Thanks a lot for the response Johnathan. I was hoping to have a self contained system on the external hard drive. I've had some trouble getting the drives to mount on a live cd. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong.

    The point I wanted to arrive at was having an external harddrive with two applications (DSL to provide a USB booting with Grub or other bootloader) and Kubuntu. That would give me plenty of room to save file recovery and a linux application to carry with me to USB boot to any computer. The Ubuntu application would be used to run a number of applications that DSL may not.

    I was hoping, on starting the computer I would see the bootloader from the USB hookup and select one of two LInux applications. With the USB driven external hard drive disconnected from computer, I would see my normal internal harddrive Grub with Kubuntu/Mepis/Freespire.

    Does this way of doing it make any sense or am I asking for too much?

    I appreciate your input,

    Thanks a lot, Bob

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  5. #4
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Bob - a self contained system on an external hard drive is an option, I just thought from your initial description that PartedMagic seemed like a better fit. Booting the external hard drive, you will still need to mount your internal hard drives afterwards. PartedMagic has a mount utility, and will mount partitions as root for you to aid with data recovery. I have a couple of PCs and only one of them at the moment is capable of booting from USB so I have to use the CD option anyway.
    If you intend using the USB drive in more than one system and want to be able to start kubuntu then I think you will need to leave entries out of fstab for the internal drive and use a manual mount - otherwise kubuntu will grumble during boot.
    You may also find the USB drive is identified as a different drive in each system, requiring multiple entries in Grub to boot Linux on the USB drive as well.

    To mount usb drives you should always be able to run fdisk -l in a root terminal. Identify your external drive partitions to mount eg sda1, sda2 etc. Create directory to mount the device to eg mkdir /manmount. Then mount the device eg mount /dev/sda1 /manmount.

    Ed: I think you can get a self contained system on an external hard drive but to use it will probably require manual mounting of internal hard drives. I put PartedMagic on a USB pen drive (version 1.9) but abandoned the idea when version 2.0 was released (as it allowed loading to RAM and ejecting the CD - making the CD drive available for use).

  6. #5
    Thanks a lot for the information, Johnathan. I'm more of a novice at this. I think it's more complicated than I hoped. I didn't want to take a chance on messing up the boot on my other distros - seemed like it took forever to get those going.

    I wasn't catching how the Parted Magic worked into this. Now I get the idea.

    Thanks again,


  7. #6
    Updating and having another hangup = another question.

    I have my DSL on the external hard drive and it's working very well. I'm at the point of getting my full size linux application (Kubuntu) to boot.

    To date I have installed Kubuntu and, with other linux distros on my primary harddrive, I used Super Grub to move Grub for my primary back to where it was (on the Ubuntu partition). Then I edited the Grub on DSL by pasting the entry from the menu.lst of Kubuntu to the menu.lst of DSL.

    What I have now is the usb booting of my external harddrive, showing the Grub for DSL and Kubuntu. However, DSL will boot and Kubuntu will not, saying there is a file missing. So the question is; is there anything I can add to Kubuntu to get it to boot? I'm assuming it has something to do with the USB bootability.

    Any input greatly appreciated,

    Thanks a lot.

  8. #7
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    If you remove the USB drive does each OS on you internal hard drives boot correctly?

  9. #8
    Thanks for the response, Jonathan.

    Yes, everything works very well, except the Kubuntu on the Passport (external hard drive). I tried to boot it outside the installed boot loader by using Super Grub and I couldn't get it to boot that way either.

    Before I moved Grub from the external drive/Kubuntu partition (which is where the install put it) I tried to boot it from the installed Kubuntu Grub, but no luck. Since the DSL was booting fine from its Grub before I added Kubuntu, I thought it had to be the USB boot configuration of DSL vs Kubuntu.

    Thanks again

  10. #9
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    OK I suggest you boot from dsl, open a terminal and run
    fdisk -l
    and post the output here.

    Also indicate which partitions you have installed Kubuntu and dsl on.

  11. #10
    Thanks for the help

    I'm working between two computers, this one is the one I have to work with right now. It isn't USB bootable. This output is from Ubuntu 7.10 on my primary hard drive.

    bob@Farming:~$ sudo fdisk -l
    [sudo] password for bob:

    Disk /dev/sda: 80.0 GB, 80026361856 bytes
    240 heads, 63 sectors/track, 10337 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 15120 * 512 = 7741440 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x9800481f

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sda1 * 1 1355 10243768+ c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
    /dev/sda2 1356 10336 67896329 f W95 Ext'd (LBA)
    /dev/sda5 1356 2981 12292528+ b W95 FAT32
    /dev/sda6 2982 4607 12292528+ 83 Linux
    /dev/sda7 4608 5963 10249438+ 83 Linux
    /dev/sda8 5963 6081 891576 82 Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sda9 7734 10336 19671561 bc Unknown
    /dev/sda10 6081 7734 12498538+ 83 Linux

    Partition table entries are not in disk order

    Disk /dev/sdb: 80.0 GB, 80026361856 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 9729 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0xb23aa840

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sdb1 1 3188 25607578+ b W95 FAT32
    /dev/sdb2 * 9723 9729 56227+ 83 Linux
    /dev/sdb3 3189 9722 52484355 5 Extended
    /dev/sdb5 3189 4495 10498446 83 Linux
    /dev/sdb6 4496 4559 514048+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sdb7 4560 5834 10241406 b W95 FAT32
    /dev/sdb8 5835 9722 31230328+ b W95 FAT32

    Partition table entries are not in disk order

    DSL is on /dev/sdb2
    Kubuntu is on /dev/sdb5
    Swap is on /dev/sdb6(external Hdd) and /dev/sda8 (primary HDD)

    When I started with the Passport HD, the DSL installation installed to SDB2 with the SDB1 being about 74 GB of Fat32. The SDB1 is where I put the extended partition and the logical partitions for Fat32 Storage and a variety of Windows programs which I installed on two of the Fat partitions to be be ran from the Harddrive. I put the program files on one of those partitions and left the other two for storage of files and a backup image of a computer system.

    Thanks a lot

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