Tuesday 20 January 2009

Ubuntu on a Stick with Persistence

Here is a quick note about issues that I faced when creating a USB version of the Ubuntu 8.10 LIVE CD.

On the face of it the process is very simple.

1. All you have to do is boot up into Ubuntu 8.10 or use the CD to boot into a live version of Ubuntu.
2. Make sure Ubuntu 8.10 Live CD is in the CD drive or download an ISO of the LIVE CD.
3. Insert a USB flash drive into a spare USB port
4. Next go to System > Make USB Startup Disk
5. You will see the screen below. If the CD is in the drive it will automatically populate the source section. If not you can browse for the iso file.
6. Your USB drive will show up in the source section.
7. Set the amount of space that you want to use to save your settings. Remember that this space will be reserved for Ubuntu and you will not beable to use it for anything else. For example if you plug the usb stick in to Windows machine it will not show the space that you reserved for the persistent file as free space.
8. Click on Make Startup disk to start the process.
9. The speed of the process will depend on if your source is CD or ISO and if you have USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 ports.
11. Reboot your computer and set it to boot to USB first.
10. This is where the process should end. However recently I have got an error when trying to boot from the USB stick.

The error states “Pen Drive Without Operating System. Remove Pen Drive And Reboot”


I did the following to troubleshoot the issue.

1. Check the USB stick to see if all the files are there. (All required files seemed to present and correct).

2. Check if the USB stick partition is set to be bootable.

This is done by the following command

fdisk -l

(It was set to be a bootable partition)

3. Next I turned my eye to the version of usb-creator that was being used.

In Terminal typed in following

usb-creator –version

This brought back the result 0.1.8. This was strange because I thought that 0.1.10 was the default for Ubuntu 8.10.

Got got version 0.1.7 deb file from Launch Pad and uninstalled current version and installed the deb file version.

When I checked the version again it said it was 0.1.5. Mmmm strange maybe the version number are different for the Ubuntu versions.

4. With version 0.1.7 installed I tried the process fo creating the Ubuntu 8.10 Live USB Stick. This time it created and booted into the usb stick as it should do. Unfortunately it didn’t persist changes after a reboot.

5. So the default version of usb-creator (0.1.10) doesn’t make the usb stick bootable and the older version of usb-creator (0.1.7) doesn’t persist changes

6. Now I was getting somewhere. I thought that the newer version was better because previously I had that working correctly with persistence. So I decided to concentrate on that. Now I needed to get this version booting correctly. After abit of googling I came across a page about creating a master boot record on a usb stick.

7. Used the following code fixed the problem.

install-mbr /dev/sdX

where /dev/sdX is the location of your USB stick

This worked a treat, I had a Ubuntu 8.10 Live USB with persistence and it is quite fast


VeXeD said...

Just noticed in the post that you linked to that your solution might not work if the USB is formatted in FAT32 (how ironic is that?). He suggested using "grub" instead, but I'm still stuck on where to start. Also, I don't have 8.10 actually installed on my PC (there's an issues getting it to auto partition and I'm not excited about setting the partitions manually, so I'm just using the DVD to run 8.10).

Is there some type of terminal, like there is with a mac where I type all this in?

Thanks again ... in advance :)

VeXeD said...

Odd, this was my first comment, but for some reason it never posted. Luckily I had copied it to the clipboard prior to posting, so I was able to repaste it.

Ok, so I'm a little stuck, like you. But unlike you, I'm totally new to Linux.

I've installed 8.10 on a 2gig usb using the entire usb as the partition. I ended up getting an error message that said something about "could not find OS". Googled and discovered that one user fixed his issue by reformatting the stick to fat32 and then reinstalling 8.10. So I tried that and I got a different msg, "missing operating system". So I googled that and I got to your post.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to copy the files onto the usb drive using linux, since I'm a new user. On a pc I'd use a comand prompt, where is that on linux?

I guess I'm hoping for more dumbed down step-by-step instructions for the total n00b. Can you help me out?

Thanks in advance.

theboomboomcars said...

The command prompt in gnome (Ubuntu) is in the main menu under accessories - terminal.

In KDE is it called konsole, I am not sure where in the menu it would be located but you could hit alt-F2 and type konsole in to run it. To run the gnome terminal from the alt-F2 quick launcher you would type in gnome-terminal.

Sony said...

Thanks for the comments. I wasn'r notified of any of these comment by blogger.

Anyway...BoomBoomcars is absolutely correct with his comment about getting on to the terminal (command prompt in windows).

So I hope this has fixed it for you.

sorry for the late reply

Giovanni Botta said...

hi everybody
i tried to make my pendrive bootable using ubuntu utility (using fat32 partition) and then i got the "missing operating system" error. i checked the flags and tried to install-mbr as you suggested but now i got another error: the booting stops with the on screen message

MBR 1235AF:

or something like that (i'm not sure about the number) and i have to restart. does anybody have any idea about this error?
thank you!