If you have an older computer system, your BIOS might not support USB-HDD boot. In this case, it may still be possible to boot Linux from USB if your BIOS does list USB-ZIP as a boot option. In order for this to happen, we need to trick the BIOS into thinking that the USB flash drive is a zip drive.
We can trick the BIOS by modifying the number of heads and sectors being displayed from the USB flash device to match that of a zip drive. Then we partition the drive using partition 4 (the partition that zip drives typically use). For this tutorial we will use the mkdiskimage application that comes with syslinux.
Warning: This tutorial is old and may be outdated. We have not tried this on USB Flash Drives larger than 1GB. Backup any information you wish to save before proceeding.
- Ubuntu or an alternate working Linux environment (a live CD should work)
- USB flash drive (tested to 1GB) with a Live Linux Distro Installed.
The Basic Process:
Before proceeding, see how this process works at http://syslinux.zytor.com/doc/usbkey.txt
- Insert your USB Flash drive
- Open a terminal window and type sudo su
- Type apt-get install syslinux (if you don’t have syslinux installed)
- Type apt-get install mtools (if you don’t have mtools installed)
- Type fdisk -l to list the available disks (make note of your flash drive from the list)
- Type mkdiskimage -4 /dev/sdx 0 64 32 (replacing x with your actual flash drive letter)
- After the process has completed (takes a while) type fdisk -l and confirm the new geometry of the flash drive “64 heads, 32 sectors”
- Type syslinux /dev/sdx4 (replace x with your flash drive letter) to make the drive Linux bootable