Test your System for USB Boot Compatibility

USB Boot Test; The following tutorial will enable a user to check if a computer system BIOS can boot from a USB device. It can ultimately help determine if the computer can boot a Linux version from a bootable USB. In most cases if the test is successful, you should have no problem running a Live USB Linux.

In addition to testing that your PC can run Linux, the included “Memtest86+” system memory diagnostics program allows the user to scan their system memory for errors by booting memtest from the USB device.

Basic USB Boot Testing Essentials

  • Windows PC
  • USB flash drive
  • Memtest86+ USB Installer.exe

Here’s the source code for those who would rather compile the Memtest 86+ USB installer.

Testing for USB Boot Compatibility with Memtest86+

The following explains how to install Memtest86+ on a USB device and further run a Memory Tester from USB. Ultimately enabling us to quickly test whether a system can boot from USB. The Memtest86 USB Installer was created per the request of Samuel Demeulemeester, the author of memtest86+.

Memtest86+ USB Installer

  1. Download and run the Memtest86+ USB Installer.
  2. (1) Select your USB flash drive from the drop down list. (2) Then Choose Create.
  3. Once the installer has finished, Reboot your Computer.

Setting your BIOS to Boot from the USB Flash Drive

  1. At the (Power On Self Test) screen, enter your system BIOS using the correct key combination for your PC; I.E. F1, F2, F10, F12, Del, etc.
  2. Use the up & down arrow keys to make your USB the first boot device.
  3. Save your changes, and let the system boot.

Upon reboot, you should have a successful launch of Memtest86+ from your USB flash drive;

Memtest86+ running from a USB Flash Drive

Memtest86+ USB Boot test

This concludes that your BIOS based system is capable of USB booting from a bootable USB device using Syslinux. If it worked, it should also be possible to run Live Linux from USB.

Notes: After booting Memtest from USB, it is not necessary to complete the system memory test. However, if you have the time, it can’t hurt to ensure that your computers memory is in good shape.

This test does not guarantee that your computers hardware is supported with a particular Linux distribution. It is possible to pass this test and still have problems booting Linux. For example: A Video Card driver may not be available by default with a particular Linux distribution which could leave you at the shell after boot.