Full install to a USB flash drive [SOLVED]

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pbear
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Full install to a USB flash drive [SOLVED]

Post by pbear » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:52 am

In a prior thread, phd21 mentioned the option of installing to a USB flash drive:
Of course, you could just install a full version of Linux Mint onto a USB stick very easily, but you would need a 16gb or greater USB flash drive. This is what I have done for a portable full version of Linux Mint that can be updated, programs installed, utilities installed, etc... You just create a normal live DVD or USB flash drive of Linux Mint, then put the USB drive that you want to install a full version of Linux Mint onto into a USB port (or another USB port), boot up to the Live DVD or Live USB flash drive, double click the install desktop icon, and when asked where to install, select the other USB flash drive.
I want to do this so I can set up a friend to play with LM without the restrictions of a live session but without him having to install a dual boot. Of course, a USB system will be much slower, but this is simply a trial. If he likes, he'll do dual boot later (probably using two drives rather than partitions).

So, I opened a live session, plugged in a USB drive and started the install, selecting "Something else" for installation type. Chose the USB drive (/dev/sdc) in the first dialogue box and also for installation of boot loader. Hit "Install" and got error message: "No root system is defined". Tried clicking "New Partition Table ..." button, but that just bounced me to sda (my hard drive), which I very definitely don't want to modify. For the visually inclined, here's a screenshot:
Screenshot 2017-07-28.jpg
Probably this is obvious and hopefully it's simple. What does the installer want me to do? Or to have done, say with GParted, before running the installer?
Tried searching the archive, but the terms are too common to zero in on this particular topic.
Last edited by pbear on Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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chrisuk
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by chrisuk » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:51 am

You've not selected a Mount Point - sdc1 will be root, so select "/" from the edit partition drop down. Also needs to be formatted, so select "ext4"
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by pbear » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:16 pm

Thanks, that helped. Part of the problem, apparently, is that I had selected the drive (sdc) rather than the partition. Pretty sure I tried it the other way earlier, but not certain. Anyhoo, selecting the partition then Change took me to the dialog where I could select table type, have it format and mount / as root. Hit install and away it went, copying files. Took a while, as doing this on a machine with only USB 2.0.

Alas, though, when get to "Installing system," seems to have gone into a loop (no read/write activity on either flash drive). Have to go to work, so will leave to see whether manages to complete (expect it won't). Will pick up conversation later.
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by JerryF » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:32 pm

Is your computer set to selectively power down USB ports (possibly found in BIOS)?
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by pbear » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:35 am

Pretty sure that wasn't the problem, Jerry, as both flash drives were blinking for over an hour as files were copied. Rather, I assume it was just one of those things, where processes sometimes lose their way. To eliminate the issue, I did check BIOS and didn't find such a setting.

Anyhoo, as expected, the install didn't complete. Ended up having to do a hard shutdown, but booted up fine afterwards so at least the hard drive is okay. As is the flash drive from which I booted the live session (a Multi-System drive with multiple ISOs). Unsurprisingly, the drive to which I was installing doesn't work, though it does have 7.2 GB of data in nineteen folders, same ones as the hard drive File System except no folder for cdrom. What is surprising is that, when I went to cue up another go at installation, using a DVD instead of the multi-ISO flash drive, the installer wasn't able to recognize the target drive had been installed. Presumably I could get around that by restoring the status quo ante, i.e., reformatting the drive in FAT32 and letting the installer have at it again.

Meanwhile, I've thought of another issue which may be a show stopper. It occurs to me the procedure I'm going through, even if it works, will only produce a USB drive which works with BIOS/legacy boot. Considering what's required to install to UEFI (see, e.g., this tutorial), I suspect something similarly complicated is required to create a USB drive which will work there. Notably, the friend for whom I'm doing this uses Win10, so I'm sure it's a UEFI machine. Meanwhile, I've only installed LM to an old Win7 machine, though I do have a Win10 machine (running Windows), so I probably can do this if it's possible.

So, that's become the most important question. Does anyone know whether this is even possible? If so, I'd appreciate if you could direct me to a tutorial on what's required. Franky, I may decide this is beyond my skill and simply give my friend a live USB with persistence. But would like to give it a try before giving up.
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by pbear » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:09 am

With further research, I may have answered my question. Apparently, yes, a full install USB drive can be set up to boot in UEFI, but it's very complicated. Here's the best tutorial I found on the subject. If anyone knows a simpler way, I'm all ears. Failing that, I think I'm going to let this go.
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by gold_finger » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:26 am

Tutorial you found is very good and had some useful tips, but should not be necessary in your case. Author was making UEFI mode full install to USB from a UEFI computer and ran into problem of Ubuntu's grub automatically installing to EFI System Partition (ESP) on internal drive instead of USB -- therefore listed steps to fix that. (Could have just unplugged internal drive during install and made ESP on USB from the get go to avoid all of that.)

Since you're making install USB from Legacy mode computer you won't run into that problem. Also, vast majority of UEFI computers support booting in either UEFI or Legacy mode, so your Legacy mode install USB should be fine booting on friends computer. S/He just needs to press whatever key is needed to invoke boot menu on startup (eg. F9, F12, etc.) to select USB and there should be option to boot in either mode there. Go ahead and do your full install to USB remembering to designate mount point for root partition and format it ext4 and select MBR of the USB for boot loader destination, (eg. /dev/sdc). See here for more in depth steps for install to USB.

When done, test booting to it on your computer to make sure it works. If have problem trying to get it to boot on friends computer see tips at beginning of tutorial you found to see if any of those are causing the problem.

P.s.
If/When friend decides s/he likes Mint and wants to install it permanently on computer, then follow install tutorial you found before.
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by pbear » Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:33 am

Excellent points, thank you. Unplugging the hard drive in my Win10 box isn't feasible as it's a laptop, but of course you're right I don't have the issue with the old Win7 (now LM18) box. As you suggest, I'll go ahead and retry the install. The flash drive to which I'm installing cost a whopping ten bucks, so I can afford to do it for the learning experience. Probably be a couple days before I can find the time, though.

Thanks, all, for the help.
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Re: Full install to a USB flash drive

Post by pbear » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:42 am

Following up, was indeed able to do the full install. Turned out had made a couple of mistakes. On second attempt, hadn't mounted the flash drive, but it needs to be for the installer to know it's there. Also, based on advice from a couple of sources, had disabled the install slideshow, but turns out this bollixed the installer. With those fixes, plus using the correct settings for partition and format, went through like a charm.

Thanks again, all, for the help.
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