Persistent USB boot not working

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Persistent USB boot not working

Postby ajgiampa on Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:25 pm

I just did an install to a 1GB USB flash drive per the instructions on pendrivelinux.com. The OS boots up fine and looks great, but it is not saving my settings. The boot menu does give me the option to boot up with a persistence option, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Is there a setting I have to enable once I've booted to Mint Linux? The line in the syslinux.cfg file that pertains to the persistent menu options is as follows.

Run Linux Mint Persistently
kernel /casper/vmlinuz append noprompt cdrom-detect/try-usb=true persistent file=/cdrom/preseed/mint.seed boot=casper initrd=/casper/initrd.gz quiet splash

Should the /cdrom/ path be changed to something else since this is a USB boot?
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby mschilling on Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:07 pm

As you can see from my other two posts here, I've been testing out the pendrive install too. I think your problem is possibly that you have run out of room on the stick. Go "File System" and check the free space. When I ran out of room, it stopped saving the changes too. The problem that I have now is that even though I'm using an 8gb stick, after following the steps to a persistent install, starting off with a format of the whole stick to FAT32, the File System only shows 1.0GB available. Now I can't install and update the system without running out of room. For some reason the procedure only allows me less than 3gb of space on my 8gb stick. How do I fix that?
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby ajgiampa on Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:13 pm

The free space on my 1GB USB stick is over 200 megs, so it seems odd that a couple of "settings" would require so much space. From the other threads, it seems like people formated to ext2, I wonder if I should have done that instead...I'll try it. Your issue with reduced pen drive availability is also concerning since I was planning on getting a huge pen drive after I figure out how to get all this working....let me know if you get it resolved.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby mschilling on Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 pm

I read about the ext2 format installation, which is what I would prefer, but it wouldn't recognize the partition to boot. It seems that other people have had the same problem with ext2 and sticks as well. The persistent boot is ok, although quite slow to boot, seems fine when finally booted up, and gives the generic "live session" user. I've noticed that not many people have responded to these posts, probably because 8gb and larger sticks are relatively new to the market for so cheap. I used the windows (vista) install procedure on pendrivelinux, which probably caused the small partition for my stick, maybe because they didn't think anyone would try it on a large capacity stick? Maybe the linux version of the installation would work better. Which one did you use on your stick? I did manage to update successfully and download my wifi driver after connecting to ethernet, etc., until it ran out of space. At that point, I could not get any apps, like Firefox to launch due to the lack of space. As soon as you get your larger stick, let us know how it works out.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby mschilling on Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:55 pm

Well, I tried mounting my 8gb stick on my mac to see what it showed. It has a total of 1.85gb of files (I have not updated on line yet, or loaded any software or drivers), with 5.6gb of space left over. It shows as still formatted as FAT32. Since my fresh install is larger than your 1gb stick, that could cause the problem of persistent memory not working on yours.
I can't see how my 1.85gb install could be the same as your 800mb install? I would guess that it still installs for you, but does not include the persistence part of the install due to not enough room. Of course, this does not explain why in mint I don't see the 5.6gb or room left on my stick. I would think it has to do with linux running on a non-native formatted stick (FAT32). That is why I would prefer to install it as if it were a hdd, with the EXT2 filesystem, and gain a super fast boot up time at the same time.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby Guest on Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:10 pm

Thanks for the info. I guess I'll have to try getting a larger pendrive. So it seems like a 4gig USB pendrive might work best since it would have the least amount of wasted space (not recognized by Linux, even though your MAC or a PC might see the extra space). When I get one, I'll do the pendrivelinux.com install via Windows (the same method I used on my 1gig pendrive), and let ya know how it goes. Maybe by then the unusable space issue will be solved.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby mschilling on Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:50 am

Yes, hopefully we'll figure out the best way to run Mint from a stick. I'm wonder how much space would be left on your stick when plugged into windows, after you saw the 200mb left while it was running Mint. I bet the space shown would be different. It seems that when Mint starts running, it is operating on a virtual filesystem, separate from the FAT32 stick. The stick only supplies resources to the system when needed, along with the persistent memory file to store your settings. I'd like to be able to expand that virtual file system limit to beyond 2 or 3 gb, or better yet, install the system similar to a hdd on the stick. Check back on this thread if you get any more info, and I'll do the same if I make any progress. I found this tut while googling which shows exactly what I tried with Mint, and it would not boot from the stick, yet it shows it working using Ubuntu? I'll let you know if it works. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/2008/04/14 ... e-install/
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby Guest on Mon Jan 05, 2009 5:27 pm

The latest Ubuntu did install normally on my stick, the same as if it were a hdd. For some reason Mint does not work this way even though the installers look identical. Pendrivelinux.com must realize this difference, because the guide they show for Ubuntu is different than the one for Mint on their website. I'm looking forward to a fix to the bootloader in Mint to allow stick system installs. Ubuntu works great on my 8gb stick, as expected, using the default ext3 filesystem, and shows 4.1gb of space remaining after doing all the system updates available, plus some driver downloads. As a bonus, I was able to easily boot this stick off both of my laptops, with all my settings retained! I am amazed at the silent performance of the stick. Next I'm going to take it work, hehe!
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby ajgiampa on Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:31 pm

Well, I just got my 8GB stick, installed mint per the pendrivelinux.com instructions and got the same results you got. Persistence works, but only 1GB of free space. I'll use it for now, until I fill the 1GB. Maybe by the time I fill that, Mint will accomodate the larger sized pendrives. I also tried changing the formatting to ext2, but it wouldn't boot....so for now I guess we wait.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby kwatson512 on Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:43 am

I've done a lot of experimenting with USB installs, with over two dozen distributions. I'm currently running Ubuntu 8.10 from a 16GB stick with a 4GB persistence file (which is called casper-rw, BTW). I'm typing this from there. I found that a larger persistence file (8GB) didn't work--I ran out of room, couldn't save changes, etc. Also, a smaller file didn't give me enough room for photos and files. 4GB works well. The Ubuntu Live CD includes a brain-dead simple Live USB creator, and you use a slider to select the size of the persistence file.

I have never succeeded with Mint on a stick, but I notice that Pendrivelinux has a process for Mint 6 now. (I did successfully install Mint 4 natively to a USB stick, but it ran so slowly it was unusable.) It includes installing the ubuntu live USB creator, but you use a custom syslinux.cfg file because Mint has different files and directories than Ubuntu.

I'll have to say that I've had mixed success with USB sticks. Sometimes the Pendrivelinux process has worked for me, and sometimes it hasn't. That could be something unique with my hardware, or even a difference between my USB devices and those they used to develop the processes. Persistence varies by distro. Size of the persistence file is usually (but not always) specified in the syslinux.cfg file.

Here's what I've learned so far--hope this helps.
- Syslinux is the best bootloader for USB. It works much more quickly than others, and it works on the FAT filesystems, which makes it convenient to install from Windows and to have a multi-purpose stick. Syslinux does not work with Ext2 or 3 (that's where extlinux comes in).
- You can format a USB stick to EXT2 or 3 and install to it from a Live CD (usually with the HDD physically removed from your computer), but I have found that to be too slow for all but the smallest distros (Puppy, DSL, TinyMe, MiniMe).
- When you're running from a USB, you can't mount the unused portion of the stick, no matter how large it is. (You can go to the trouble to create a separate partition on the stick, give it a mount point, and ensure /etc/fstab allows your system to recognize it, but I've found that to be too much trouble for a temporary, carry-around sub for my desktop.) So you can "see" all the partitions on your computer, additional devices plugged in, but not the rest of the stick that you booted.

Mint is a very refined, user-friendly distro, and I'd like to get it working on a USB stick. I'll try to make time to try the Pendrivelinux procedure for Felicia and report back here. Looking at both the Windows and LiveCD versions, I believe the LiveCD one will work better. I don't know what's in the USBMint.exe file, but the procedure for Windows doesn't show how to use the Live USB creator. If you don't move the slider, the default is the smallest possible (I think it's 256K).

I'm sure others have experimented with this--good luck and let us know what you find out.

BTW, I have a Lenovo X61s laptop with 4GB RAM, triple-booting WinXP, Mint 5, and Fedora 10; a Dell XPS400 with 4GB RAM dual-booting WinXP and Mint 5; and Ubuntu 8.10 on a 16GB Corsair Flash Voyager USB stick.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby Nevart on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:50 am

Hi,

I'm having the same problems but... my drive is a whopping 160GB and it still is not saving changes (it's a Memorex Ultra TD USB2.0). I went to all the trouble of downloading and configuring packages only to find they are not there on the next boot.

I believe the problem may have something to do with Mint thinking that it is running from a CD (this also will happen on a normal flash drive, so it is not just because of the type of drive I am using). I am using FAT32 so that I can use the drive if I need to switch to Windoze for some reason.

In Ubuntu there is some command that you add to the start-up script to tell it that we are running a "live" copy and not a CD, but I have no idea how to do it. Should probably mention that I had exactly the same problems in Ubuntu as well. I installed that first, and then switched to Mint.

I have absolutely no desire at all to install the OS onto the internal hard drive. Ubuntu and Mint both make the assumption that we will eventually want to install them internally. I certainly am very attracted to the idea of being able to have a portable OS that I can just plug into another computer and use anywhere, so that everything is just the same no matter what the location. Installing it on the computer would not achieve that result, so I really don't want to do that.

Nev : :?


Edit: wanted to add, I think I have discovered some evidence to suggest I am right in my supposition that Mint thinks it is running from a CD even when it is not. This is because it is reporting that it has something like 393MB free, which I take to be the difference between the actual size of the installed files and the maximum capacity of a standard CD.

Strangely, while Ubuntu can declare the Memorex disk as a separate entity to the file system, Mint does not seem to have this ability. Ubuntu and Slax both are able to allow normal access to other parts of the disk, but Mint not only does not allow disk access, it does not even seem to have an awareness that the disk exists.

Another Edit: I renamed "isolinux" to "syslinux", so maybe it no longer thinks it is a CD. Because for some reason Ubuntu (and probably Mint) does not recognize a USB HD as a USB Flash Disk - a trait that seems to be unique to them - I can't set the persistence file using the "create USB disk" tool. Does anybody want to instruct us with information on how to manually create a persistence file and then tell Mint where to find it (if indeed this is necessary)?
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby kwatson512 on Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:01 pm

I just went through the Pendrivelinux process to install Mint 6 to my 16GB USB drive using the Live CD method, and it worked flawlessly. I have a 4GB persistence file, and it is saving all my preferences, new apps, network specifics, etc.

One thing I always do first with persistent USB installations is to add a new user (me) and disable automatic login, then log out and back in as myself before starting with configuration. "Liveuser" may not save changes with some distros.

Nevart,

In Ubuntu there is some command that you add to the start-up script to tell it that we are running a "live" copy and not a CD, but I have no idea how to do it. Should probably mention that I had exactly the same problems in Ubuntu as well.


Can you describe the steps you took to install, and precisely what failures you experienced?

I renamed "isolinux" to "syslinux", so maybe it no longer thinks it is a CD


There's no need to go through any of these esoteric steps. With the Ubuntu Live USB Creator, it's really very simple. For Mint, you do need to replace the Ubuntu syslinux.cfg file with the one on Pendrivelinux.

Try this Pendrivelinux method. I'd be happy to respond to questions or clarify any small steps.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby ajgiampa on Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:43 pm

kwatson512 wrote:I just went through the Pendrivelinux process to install Mint 6 to my 16GB USB drive using the Live CD method, and it worked flawlessly. I have a 4GB persistence file, and it is saving all my preferences, new apps, network specifics, etc.


When you view the filesystem folder after booting from the pendrive, does it show around 14gigs of free space (of some logical number based on the size of you install)? On my 8gb drive, I only see 1 gig of free space when booting from the pendrive. I did not use the liveCD install method though, so maybe that has something to do with it.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby kwatson512 on Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:16 pm

Mine shows 3.3 GB used and 1.4 GB free space. That adds up to slightly more than the 4GB persistence file I set up. As I said before, the system can't read the rest of the USB drive while you're booting from the persistent USB install. The USB drive shows, but can't be read because I haven't set up a mount point for it.

I'm not sure you can set the size of your persistence file with the Windows version of the Pendrivelinux process.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby ajgiampa on Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:32 pm

Ok, so all we should have to do is install to the USB stick via the liveCD method and during that install, I'll set the size of the persistant file to be equal to the size of my USB stick. Does the LiveCD install method prompt for this or is there a setting I must change somewhere else during the install?

This may be another topic entirely, but I've used some other distros (DSL, Puppy) that have something called a frugal install, which works great because it loads the OS into RAM, which makes everything run really fast on PC's that have a lot of RAM. Does Mint have any options to do this from the USB pendrive, since I've noticed that running from the USB stick seems to lag for some processes (such as media playing).
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby kwatson512 on Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:07 pm

ajgiampa,

When you go through the Pendrivelinux LiveCD process, it will become very obvious to you. After installing the live USB Creator, you can select it in the menu. There will be a slider that you can move to select from the minimum to the entire stick. I'd like to know if you are successful using the entire stick--I haven't had success doing that.

The Live USB runs just like a Live CD, but with persistence you can save changes (like additional users, changed look and feel, additional apps and other packages, etc.). The only thing I have found that doesn't persist is time zone. I have to set it after booting every time (minor annoyance). Booting is quite slow, since it's pulling up the equivalent of the entire Live CD and the multi-GB persistence file. After boot it runs almost as fast as a HDD install. You do have to be a little patient with resource-intensive applications (multimedia, large file transfers, etc.).

Yes, with Puppy I prefer the frugal install. Puppy is structured entirely differently from every other Linux distro I know. There are others that can be loaded entirely into RAM, but none of those have all the user friendliness or completeness of Mint (IMHO).

Good luck.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby Nevart on Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:53 pm

kwatson512 wrote:There's no need to go through any of these esoteric steps. With the Ubuntu Live USB Creator, it's really very simple. For Mint, you do need to replace the Ubuntu syslinux.cfg file with the one on Pendrivelinux.

Try this Pendrivelinux method. I'd be happy to respond to questions or clarify any small steps.


Hello, and thanks for your response. Unfortunately the USB creator method will not for me with the disk I am using because even though it is a USB disk and Windows and Slax both recognize it as such, for some reason Ubuntu and Mint do not. It may have something to do with how the drive identifies itself (System Volume Information folder?).

This is further complicated because Mint will not allow it to be installed via the "Install" method either, because that will only detect the internal SCSI and IDE drives.

Can you tell me how to manually create the persistence file? I think this is the possible solution, but I don't know what is involved in doing that. I could not find a utility in the menu to allow post-install modification of such things.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby mschilling on Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:08 am

kwatson512 wrote:- You can format a USB stick to EXT2 or 3 and install to it from a Live CD (usually with the HDD physically removed from your computer), but I have found that to be too slow for all but the smallest distros (Puppy, DSL, TinyMe, MiniMe).

OK, now this is what I was able to do without a problem using Ubuntu, but I have found that it is not too slow, and is very usable. I don't have Ubuntu installed on a usb hdd for comparison, but I have set up my email, skype, etc., and everything works normally with the stick. The system doesn't run fast, but it does run at a normal type speed, and I don't mind using it at all. I have even done all available updates and installed vlc, etc.
Does anyone know why the Mint installer does not see the usb drives to install to? Does the Mint installer have a problem installing and booting from a usb hdd as well as a usb flash drive? Seems to me that it should work the same as ubuntu. Why pursue the persistence type of installation when a normal installation (like a hdd) does, in fact, work very well on a stick? Unless you need to install a system from your stick, I don't see any advantage to using the persistence installation with its FAT file system which is wrong for linux. I doubt there is a speed advantage to the persistence installation. Why bother with it when a normal installation seems quite possible?
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby kwatson512 on Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:50 am

Nevart,

Creating a persistence file manually is pretty involved. Here's a comprehensive tutorial on all types of USB installs.

mschilling,

I don't know why my native installations on USB sticks are so slow, but they have consistently been that way for all of the full desktop-top distros (OpenSUSE, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Mint, etc.). By slow I mean click on something and wait 15 or 20 seconds for the action to happen. However, using syslinux on Fat32 and running a persistent live version works pretty well for me. However, this is just a backup desktop for me. I have Mint on my laptop, but keep an equivalent copy of my desktop (files, e-mail, configs, applications) on the USB for when I don't have (or don't want to carry) my laptop and I have access to another computer that can boot to USB.
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Re: Persistent USB boot not working

Postby mschilling on Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:38 pm

I would hate a 15sec delay like that! I get a tiny delay, maybe half or one second before something happens when I click on an app or choose from a drop down menu, etc., quick enough, and nothing like what you experienced. My flash stick is a higher speed one, but I can't see it making that much of a difference. Maybe you should give it another try with the latest ubuntu distro. Here is the flash stick that I bought, nothing fancy for $20 http://www.canadacomputers.com/index.ph ... id=990.420
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