USB Pendrives and Distributions for Them

A look at three distributions you can use to boot Linux from a USB pendrive.

(Again, change sda to the drive designation your computer uses for the pendrive, if it is different from sda.)

Delete every existing partition. Then, add the 4MB partition for the boot partition. Next, create a second partition that uses the rest of the free space on the pendrive. Write the changes and quit fdisk.

Now, download the installation script for USB devices. Download the flash_key.sh installer file from the Web site, and put it in the root folder of your Flash Linux Live CD.

If the script doesn't see your device, you may need to modify the script. Replace the line:

dev=`readlink /${i}|cut -d"/" -f11`

in PICKDEVICE with:

dev=`readlink /${i}|cut -d"/" -f12`

Add execution permissions to the script, and execute it:

chmod 755 flash_key.sh
./flash_key.sh

Now, follow the easy steps given by the wizard. First, select the correct device to install Flash Linux, then the 4MB boot partition. After that, select the root partition, and install Flash Linux in the pendrive. First, the script erases the pendrive, then mounts it, and finally it copies the apps and data to the pendrive. This last step took more than eight minutes on my machine. Be patient, and after that enjoy Flash Linux.

The highlights of Flash Linux are good speed, thanks in part to the fact that it uses JFFS2 and many applications. Details such as as animated cursors and cursor shadows as well as good window decorations, make your Flash Linux Desktop nice.

The only downside to Flash Linux is that it takes many steps to get the pendrive working. Also, I don't know why Flash Linux developers don't include an installer as part of the distribution instead of making you run a script.

Final Ideas and Impressions

For the desktop user, pendrives and LiveUSB are fantastic. If you have a pendrive, experiment with it—install DSL, SLAX, Flash Linux, Feather, Puppy or other distributions on the hardware.

Your mileage may vary, but I prefer SLAX. The modular nature of SLAX offers a wide range of options and features that a Linux professional should appreciate. SLAX has security modules, the ClamAV antivirus app, a Qt GUI, firewalls and so on. If you work often with security live CDs, pendrives and LiveUSB are also ideal, because with one device, you solve two problems. You can save data, and if you are developer, have security and development modules on the other side of your pendrive.

Resources for this article: /article/8949.

Juan Marcelo Rodriguez has been working with GNU/Linux for many years. He writes articles for magazines, works with a local LUG and also works with LugAR/USLA. He likes to play the keyboard, read, write and listen to music.

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IMPORTANT

Rev. rob's picture

Dear customer service,

My name is REV.Rob .Heisler .I'm writing from Illinois,in the U.S.A and i'm looking to make some purchases of some particular products for a local church school as the first step towards our aim to help our unable brother's and sister in the work of the Lord.

Please do let me know if you can make available pendrives .I'm looking to make a purchase of about 250 pcs.Please inform me on your stock rates.

please let me know if you have some or more in stock and also please inform/advise me on your forms of payment.
I will like to pay by credit card.Also would like to use my own means of shipping.Hope to hear back from you soon.

BEST REGARDS,

REV.ROBERT HEISLER.

syslinux not available in linux

albramos's picture

The article says:

And, use syslinux to finish the process:

syslinux -s /dev/sda1

I tried to use syslinux while I was running SLAX but I didn't found the it. I had to boot to windows and run the syslinux command (availble in SLAX) under windows.

Alberto

please show grub instructions

moschlegel's picture

The article says:

"Finally, install and update MBR with LILO or GRUB:
lilo -M /dev/sda"

But oddly the command shown is only the one for LILO,
What's the commands needed to do the similar thing with grub?
Many linux distros don't install lilo at all anymore.
I have Fedora Core 5 and it doesn't have lilo in /sbin but
only /sbin/grub so I'm stuck not know how to setup grub
for my pendrive for SLAX.

Mark

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