Linux Mint on a USB Stick

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Time for a Minty USB Install?

Postby mvisconte on Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:31 am

Will one of the succesful and adventurous folks who have a working Mint Bianca usb memory stick install, please document it step-by-step?

I've been struggling with this for over 4 days, and I'm frustrated and giving up.

I have another usb memory stick with a semi-working Mint Bea (semi, because if I have it running for too long, it starts giving me "could not create kio-slave, no room left of device" -- and it's starting to have problems shutting down -- so I am having to force power-off (hard power off) more and more). I did get that one running, based on various "how to's" on the net, but I haven't been successful w/ Mint at all. And I'm getting really frustrated.

I am using a reasonably fast 2G usb stick. I have obtained Bianca, and checked the MD5 sum. Burned a CD that works well, and have tried to apply the same steps from the How Tos... remove partitions, make new partitions, format, install syslinux, etc. I have re-built the stick multiple time, just in case my steps were "off".

I originall figured it was a problem with syslinux.cfg. I have hacked and re-hacked it, and see some of my problems, but I'm beyond that as an issue...

I now get it to START booting, but it still fails, and even hangs requiring the hard-boot. After removing "QUIET" as a boot option, I followed as many of the steps as I could until it choked:

Last statements on screen:
RAMDISK: Compressed image found at block 0.
(a couple of other successful steps about keyboard and net configuration)
RAN OUT OF COMPRESSED DATA
INVALID COMPRESSED FORMAT (err=1)
NO FILESYSTEM COULD MOUNT ROOT, TRIED: CRAMFS
KERNEL PANIC -- NOT SYNCING: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown block (1,0)

Then it just hangs on a blank line. No key combination will break it (Ctrl-Alt-Del, Alt-F2, Ctrl-C, etc.) -- and I have to hard boot.

I followed the standard steps, copying initrt.gz and vmlinuz from Casper to the root dir, copying ISOLINUX contents to root, rename isolinux.cfg, etc.

Does anybody know wx I am supposed to move filesystem.squashfs from Casper to root, or if I need to note it's location in the boot sequence?

Argh.

PLEASE, somebody, put together a step-by-step! It's driving me crazy.

(Lately I've been having poor luck w/ 'puters... my slax usb is hanging on shut down, I over-wrote the first 800M of my laptop as Ext2 because I ASSUMED the the HD would be hda, and the USB would be sda. And I've spent about the last week -- which I was home sick anyway -- wrestling with Bianca. And it wasn't as much fun as I had hoped. ;-) )
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Postby jonpackard on Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:29 pm

I haven't experimented with Linux Mint on a USB stick since Bea due to the fact that I do not own a USB stick. That will change this week. As soon as I receive my USB stick, I will start updating my how-to.
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Minty goodness on the stick

Postby mvisconte on Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:17 pm

I hope that a good install method is discovered... just about anything will beat my attempts.

My old (Bea) install is failing, with boot errors, failure to update or install s/w, and hard hangs on shutdown. I think that it's terminal and don't think it will be with us much longer. My attempts at Bianca are much worse, as I haven't gotten a boot yet.

If you are in the market for an inexpensive USB memory stick, most of the office supply stores seem to have sales every other week or so (the four main competitors in our area seem to rotate w/ sales), but MicroCenter has flat-priced sticks. 1G for $10, and 2G for $16. A buddy has been running by and picking up sticks at random - they sell out for some reason.

Some of the early ones were clocking at about 16 MBs -- not great, but much better than my old 512M sticks @ 6 MBs. The 1G I got is a little less... about 10 MBs, but still better than my old sticks or CD -- and, booting w/ "persistent" in the options seems to keep all my changes. MicroCenter ships, and can be found on the web. I haven't been by lately, or else I'd have another one or two for Ubuntu 6.10 and to upgrade my Slax USB. I guess I could put Puppy on one, but Ubuntu and Mint pretty much blow the socks off DSL and while I'm fond of Puppy, Mint's got it beat once we've got USBability and a reasonably quick stick.

I'll dream of Bianca tonight... on a stick.
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Postby Boo on Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:10 pm

I am going to start scripting this on the weekend.
sounds like fun.
:D
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Mixed Result

Postby imcfused on Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:11 am

Well it took a bit of digging, testing and a late night, but I managed to get this largely working with a minimum amount of changes, but I cannot get my wireless on my IBM T60 work nor can I get the image to shut down cleanly.

I started with the procedure from the first post in this thread. I fairly quickly ran into a wall because of script failure in the initrd image. Copying the vmlinuz kernel out of the casper directly and running it form the root of the USB stick is what caused this failure. To get around this, I used syslinux 3.35 which allowed me to: 1.) keep all of the files in the isolinux directory still in a directory, now name syslinux, and 2.) leave vmlinuz and initrd.gz in casper.

Once I did this, things would boot cleanly but not a lot faster but I ran into the problems that I mentioned early in this note. I think the problem here probably has something to do wth the preseed. Since I am fairly new to Mint/Ubuntu/Debian I am not familiar with this feature. The path in the isolinux.cfg file contains a /cdrom directory that is probably causing failure for me.

Here is a brief procedure that I followed.

My USB stick is a Patriot Memory 2 GB stick.

1. Created partiitions using cfdisk from the Mint Linux LiveCD. fdisk thought the stick was a 1 GB stick and created a partition twice the size needed. First Partition set to FAT16 and 750 MB in size, Second partition EXT2 filling the remaining room.

2. Created MBR using install-mbr

3. Copied all of the LiveCD contents to the first partition.

4. Renamed isolinux directory to syslinux.

5. Renmaed isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg

6. Edited syslinux.cfg to add Custom section to boot with persistence enabled. (Also deleted quiet and splash from the append line in this section so that I could see what was going on).

7. Ran syslinux 3.35 (actually from Windows Vista - because it was more convenient that tracking down the Linux package - Mint is currently at 3.11 which doesn't support subdirectories. -- Slay me if you will - I am about getting this to work, not be an elitist -- if I were an elitist, I would be using Mint :)

8. Rebooted and voila, it worked. Oddly enough though, using the generic syslinux caused the initial syslinux splash to be ubuntu and I didn't have a menu. But, I type custom and hit enter and things worked. So apparently Mint custom coded syslinux instead of creating a boot menu using syslinux/isolinux.

I'm taking a break from this for a while, my bruised ego has suffered as much as I can stand it for now. Any additional tips will be appreciated.

Cheerio!
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Postby Boo on Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:35 am

well here i am running off my 1GB USB mint.
just initial testing of the install procedure.
so i generally followed the instructions from the above link.
1. used gparted to partition and format the USB stick (do not use fdisk!)
partition 1 750MB fat32 and boot flag, partition 2 ext2.
2. copied the files and folders that existed to the USB drive.
3. renamed isolinux.cft to syslinux.cfg and modified the parts that existed as per the instructions.
eg: looks like.
DEFAULT /casper/vmlinuz
GFXBOOT bootlogo
GFXBOOT-BACKGROUND 0x9bcf61
APPEND preseed/file=preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper initrd=initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL live
menu label ^Start Linux Mint
kernel vmlinuz
append freseed/file=preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper initrd=initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL xforcevesa
menu label Start Linux Mint in safe ^graphics mode
kernel vmlinuz
append file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper xforcevesa initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL hd
menu label ^Boot from first hard disk
localboot 0x80
append -
DISPLAY isolinux.txt
TIMEOUT 300
PROMPT 1
F1 f1.txt
F2 f2.txt
F3 f3.txt
F4 f4.txt
F5 f5.txt
F6 f6.txt
F7 f7.txt
F8 f8.txt
F9 f9.txt
F0 f10.txt

4. had to install syslinux and mtools
sudo apt-get install syslinux mtools
5. run syslinux on USB drive partition 1.
syslinux /dev/sda1
6. Reboot, set bios to boot off USB-HDD. For my machine I have to put USB dirve into a rear USB port and not a front one (it comes off a USB riser) to make it boot off it.
7. This is sweet.
8. work out the cfdisk commands so i can script this.
9. time for bed.

:D
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Exciting developments...

Postby mvisconte on Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:04 am

Exciting developments...
and I am hoping I get a chance to try it soon. Not too soon, as I am heading for a bad bout of bronchitis, if I don't get some rest... soon.

Bianca, here I come... (probably get Bianca running just in time for the next iteration).

-m.
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Postby jonpackard on Fri Apr 06, 2007 12:41 am

Booting Linux Mint from a USB stick seems kind of hit or miss for me. On my own PC, it fails to boot 90% of the time. I can use it on my PC at work without any problems. I just downloaded SimplyMEPIS 6.5 and tried the USB live install option in the LiveCD and it worked great on my PC. I zipped my Mint USB files (minus the sqaushfs, initrd and vmlinuz) so that I could easily reproduce it. If anyone would like it let me know.. I don't have a place to post it, but I can e-mail it to you.
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Another walkthrough

Postby rossperk on Tue May 08, 2007 10:51 am

I found these walkthroughs for getting various Linux distros to boot from USB:

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

I followed the Ubuntu Edgy "from Windows" walkthrough, but used a Fiesty iso. It looked like an easier walkthrough than the one on the Ubuntu forums, and it did get it to boot. I think Fiesty's persistence mode is broken, though, but it still boots (just doesn't keep any changes).

Bianca should work well, though, so I plan to try it next (I just wanted to try Fiesty first since it just came out). Looking forward to Cassandra (and hoping that Fiesty doesn't break its persistence mode).
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Postby NiksaVel on Tue May 08, 2007 2:42 pm

maybe we could get a 1gb USB iso for mint? :D
Windows is extremely fast after a fresh install. If you want to make it stay that way: - don't use it.
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Postby stevenrushing on Fri May 11, 2007 7:54 am

I followed the instructions above (the first ones). There were a couple of issues... there wern't instructions as to what to name the partitions. I named the first "mint" and the second "casper-rw" (without quotes). Not sure if that is giving me my issues.

The issue is that I can't get it to be persistent. Oh yeah, I am using bianca.

here is my syslinux.cfg:

DEFAULT /casper/vmlinuz
GFXBOOT bootlogo
GFXBOOT-BACKGROUND 0x9bcf61
APPEND file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL live
menu label ^Start Linux Mint
kernel /casper/vmlinuz
append file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper persistent initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL xforcevesa
menu label Start Linux Mint in safe ^graphics mode
kernel /casper/vmlinuz
append file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper xforcevesa initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL hd
menu label ^Boot from first hard disk
localboot 0x80
append -
DISPLAY isolinux.txt
TIMEOUT 300
PROMPT 1
F1 f1.txt
F2 f2.txt
F3 f3.txt
F4 f4.txt
F5 f5.txt
F6 f6.txt
F7 f7.txt
F8 f8.txt
F9 f9.txt
F0 f10.txt


also, it shows the ubuntu splash screen, but I read that that is normal...

Any ideas?
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Postby stevenrushing on Fri May 11, 2007 10:44 am

I got it working! This is what i used...

DEFAULT /casper/vmlinuz
GFXBOOT bootlogo
GFXBOOT-BACKGROUND 0x9bcf61
APPEND preseed/file=preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper persistent initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL live
menu label ^Start Linux Mint
kernel vmlinuz
append freseed/file=preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper persistent initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL xforcevesa
menu label Start Linux Mint in safe ^graphics mode
kernel vmlinuz
append file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper xforcevesa initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw quiet splash --
LABEL hd
menu label ^Boot from first hard disk
localboot 0x80
append -
DISPLAY isolinux.txt
TIMEOUT 300
PROMPT 1
F1 f1.txt
F2 f2.txt
F3 f3.txt
F4 f4.txt
F5 f5.txt
F6 f6.txt
F7 f7.txt
F8 f8.txt
F9 f9.txt
F0 f10.txt
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Re: Linux Mint on a USB Stick

Postby mvisconte on Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:53 pm

It's been so long (it seems) since this thread was started... I had given up on "Mint on a Stick", and didn't revisit it until about last week... The PenDriveLinux users have been busy, and came up with a snazy way to do a Minty Install from Windows (unpacks the ISO to your HD, you copy the folders and files to USB stick, run a bat file FROM the stick, reboot, and voila!). It works fine except that that persistent thing ( :roll: )... It even pretents to get and install updates -- it may very well DO that, but my stick is un-bootable after that. Well, not TOTALLY unbootable... it's un0mintable, for me. It starts and drops me off in an initramfs session but I have no idea what to do once I'm there.

If there are any logs I can check, tell me where they're at, and maybe I can at least get an UPDATED Minty Stick, even if it won't keep my changes.


Oh, in reading over some other, older stuff, I did see one person state a need to make a new user -- immediately -- with admin permissions, I guess to set up a root-able user for the next boot.

I will see if I can remember how to do that...

Otherwise, it's all too cool! I rolled a quick one for me, dropped another for a friend, and even tried their Ubuntu 7.10 install (same technique)... all fail on reboot if any updates happen (I wonder if it's "next boot" period? I need to play more with it, non-destructively)

I couldn't get Compiz going (needs updates) and that was one of the first updates I tried... I also tried their plain-jane "PenDriveLinux" install... it always starts well... then updates happen. :P

Back to the drawing board. ;-)
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Re: Linux Mint on a USB Stick

Postby jonpackard on Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:46 pm

In response to a request for an update to this guide for Mint 5.0 - Please see http://linuxmint.com/wiki/index.php/LiveUSB (I have not been able to get a successful USB boot without using unetbootin, but with unetbootin, it was easy!).
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Re: Linux Mint on a USB Stick

Postby ddvvoorraakk on Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:32 pm

jonpackard wrote:In response to a request for an update to this guide for Mint 5.0 - Please see http://linuxmint.com/wiki/index.php/LiveUSB (I have not been able to get a successful USB boot without using unetbootin, but with unetbootin, it was easy!).

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/linux-mint ... #more-1019
I think..this is very good and simply tutorial...i have it...it is working properly...
Kamil
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Re:

Postby andrewchipka on Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:36 pm

the link is dead
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Re: Linux Mint on a USB Stick

Postby Troken on Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:35 am

As mentioned before, www.pendrivelinux.com has many tutorials on how to install Linux Mint on a stick. For instance install Helena using Windows:
http://www.pendrivelinux.com/install-linux-mint-8-to-a-flash-drive-in-windows/
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