Small Complaint

Forum: USB booting
Topic: Small Complaint
started by: emunity

Posted by emunity on Aug. 06 2007,01:12
I have a decent linux background.  I use to beta test the 2.4x kernels.

SO I had a good knowledge of linux but not all the scripts and commands as much as I know now but did not know then.

I have spent nearly 2 weeks on DSL , reading over the wiki doc's how to and asking questions in here.

I recently joined the Damnsmalllinux channel in the freenode network and found some disturbing information.

First of I was told those Wiki Doc's are outdated. maybe why I am having some issues with the booting.

Secondly making a USB Bootable from a LIVE DSL CD is another issue I have.

No where does it state that the pendrive should be 512MG or less.  It does say a minimum of 64MB which of course makes sense.

Another problem is when you create the bootable pendrive from the DSL tools Desktop from the Live CD it partitions it as fat16.

SO when you try to install a Frugal grub you get an error that its not a linux partition.

So tell me what is going on here?  Is there any chance of updating documentation so others like myself do not go in circles.

I have finally made a working pendrive but it is 512MB.  I have not been able to get a working pendrive over 2GB on one of my systems following WIki's DOcs.

I was told in the IRC channel that there is a problem with the way you create the Grub from WIki's docs is why I probably cannot get the knoppix image to be  read during the boot process.

If that is the case then maybe some updated documentation for DSL on pendrives over 2GB and Newer Machines that rund USB version 2.0 and backward compatible to 1.1 might want to address as well.

THanks for reading!!

Posted by ^thehatsrule^ on Aug. 06 2007,06:33
some quick points:
- why are you trying to install it twice?
- afaik fat16 is used due to compatibility, although it does have its limitations esp. on capacity.  However, it is not a problem in your context... see the above point.
- from what I have seen, the 512MB limitation depends on the system/drive... and (that determines) the installation method.
- since there are so many different ways and problems, the USB-install scripts were deemed to be removed from the base image (still pending)
- for relatively newer systems, using an ext2 partition (at the end of the drive if you plan on using the rest with windows) with extlinux should be fine (w/ usb-hdd system capability I think)
- in any case, I have seen DSL on various sized usb's... perhaps searching the forums would be better in this case

EDIT: Anyone feel free to correct/add to these, since most of this is just coming from what I've read over somewhat, and concluded from it

Posted by roberts on Aug. 06 2007,13:35
Correct. The scripts in the core DSL are for the smallest of drives, which are still a viable choice. However using various FAT have limitations on size and efficiency. With so many new and much larger pendrives, these in core scripts are often not the best choice. Also consider the many ways to iinstall.

1. usb-zip - geometry based on zip specs < 250MB not windows friendly.
2. usb-hdd - single fat < 512MB (not capable of supporting permissions)
3. usb-hdd - ext2 - limit ? windows needs extra software
4. usb-hdd -grub 2 partitons (first larger one fat32, the second smaller one 50MB for DSL+grub)
5. some variation on the above.

The Wiki is user contributed documentation.
DSL development is ever evolving and as such the wiki will always be in need of more users willing to keep it updated.

Posted by JohnnyH on Aug. 06 2007,18:46
I know that this is a bit off-topic for the people who have BIOS that supports booting directly from USB, but I normally only have access to older machines and so I have to configure for other methods :-

Copied the DSL /KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX and /lost+found files to an ext2 partition on the USB stick.

I use a FAT16 partition (could be FAT32 depending what size you might want to be windows-readable) at the 'start' of the USB stick where settings and so on can be saved.

There is also a SWAP partition.

Add MyDSL extensions to taste  :;):

Boot from the 'vanilla' DSL bootfloppy.img (or a DSL CD remastered omitting the KNOPPIX file on floppy-less hardware) with the cheatcode


This set-up should be tolerant of a variety of partition configurations.
NB it assumes that there is not another KNOPPIX image on the host system that would be found earlier.


Posted by ^thehatsrule^ on Aug. 06 2007,23:13
- why copy lost+found?
- why create a swap partition on your usb stick?
- you could use the bootfloppy-usb instead

Posted by JohnnyH on Aug. 07 2007,08:27
1] Default practice - harmless if nugatory in the circumstances  :;):

2] If there's already swap on the host I would use that & swapoff the USB, but would always assume that I should never make swap on the host - it might be somebody else's machine  :;):
Oh, BTW I have DSL working up to a sizable system, with and so on ...

3] My first attempt was indeed to use the DSL script tool installation of frugal on USB, and the bootfloppy-usb.img  that goes with it.
But on my system it would only load the USB drivers if booted in 'expert' mode.
I messed about with the linuxrc startup script in minrt24.gz for a bit, but not making quick progress I just went for the 'vanilla' bootfloppy.img instead, which does the job perfectly for the way I use the system.

To summarise, this set-up could be viewed as a 'standard' DSL that is distributed across a bootcd|bootfloppy and USB stick, bringing the convenience of recordability on the USB, although in over-all functionality it's not much different to a DSL CD with USB as an auxiliary data repository.

Posted by ^thehatsrule^ on Aug. 07 2007,14:28
2) okay, but afaik using a swap on a flash-based drive will kill it much faster due to all the rw operations.

3) uhh, not sure what you did here, as I think the bootfloppy-usb just is the vanilla bootfloppy image with the "fromusb" code.

Posted by JohnnyH on Aug. 07 2007,16:21
2) Yes those are my thoughts too, that's why I would swapoff the USB unless forced to use it.

3) From examination of the respective linuxrc scripts, the bootfloppy-usb seems to be adapted from the 'vanilla' bootfloppy, being tailored to suit the frugal usb configuration produced by the script in DSL tools. The fromusb cheatcode is available in the 'vanilla' bootfloppy (and CD) and luckily that's what works best in my systems  :)

Posted by tinker on Aug. 07 2007,18:48
Quote (JohnnyH @ Aug. 07 2007,12:21)
2) Yes those are my thoughts too, that's why I would swapoff the USB unless forced to use it.

If I were doing this I would choose to do it the opposite way, turn on swap on the USB stick only when I needed it, if I needed it. If you wait until the end of boot up to turn it off, on a low RAM system, it might already have written to swap, thus using up some of the life of the USB stick, if the stick is flash memory. YMMV.

As far as I can tell, DSL does not make a swap on a system hard drive unless a linux swap partition already exists on the drive. So, you could choose to run without one or turn the one on your USB stick on when needed.  

However, if the reason you don't want to use an existing swap on the system is because you're worried about leaving traces behind when you shut down, there is a thread about encryption in the archives somewhere.

Posted by JohnnyH on Aug. 07 2007,20:42
If I were doing this I would choose to do it the opposite way, turn on swap on the USB stick only when I needed it, if I needed it....

Good point :)
...However, if the reason you don't want to use an existing swap on the system ...

I would happily use an existing swap, but I would not create one on somebody else's system (afterthought - at least not without asking for informed consent :;):     )

Thanks for the responses everybody - all stimulating thought  :)

Posted by JohnnyH on Aug. 09 2007,17:57
Quote (JohnnyH @ Aug. 06 2007,14:46)
Copied the DSL /KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX and /lost+found files to an ext2 partition on the USB stick.

Oh, when I wrote this I should have added that, to do a harddrive installation from the DSL on the USB stick, the /boot directory should also be copied to the USB DSL partition   :D

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