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Thread: Unmodified Knoppix 6.2.1 on GRUB-booted external Unix USB device, from scratch

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    Sep 2006

    Unmodified Knoppix 6.2.1 on GRUB-booted external Unix USB device, from scratch

    You don't need Unetbootin, extlinux or brain-damaged HD installs to run Knoppix on "pure Linux".
    I haven't tried several variations of the method yet, and I know too little about what made the first attempts not work, but I got a USB-mounted harddisk up and running with GRUB and 6.2.1 without any great expertise. The same should work with sticks, but hard disks are maybe less variable in their interactons with computer BIOSes???

    I did all steps running the Knoppix 6.2.1 from the internal HD install.

    1. Partition the drive, one 20+ GB Linux partition plus eventually some more. I used 250 GB for ext3, plus 40 GB for FAT32 (Data exchange+++). I could have added swap, but that's not strictly necessary. As GRUB happily boots multiple systems, you could have multiple partitions to have room for more systems.

    2. Setup ext3, possibly with smaller block size, turn off fsck. See instructions on this site.

    3. Mount a partition with a plain working GRUB installed. Without this, I seemed to get problems.

    4. Mount the ext3 partition, /media/sdb1 works just nice.

    5. Run grub-installer
    grub-installer --recheck --no-floppy root-directory=/media/sdb1 /dev/sdb
    6. If this does NOT work, you'll have to analyze why. Check that there is a boot-directory with subdirectory boot/grub. Check the contents of there. You may have to repair your MBR if things have gone terribly bad - cheer up, it's not too hard to fix.

    7. Prepare for booting Knoppix. Make a subdirectory under boot and copy the necessary files there. (See my harddisk install post)

    8. Create or edit boot/grub/menu.lst. There may be a lot of confusion as to which drive is which during the early stages of booting. I used the entry for the HD install as template, but added the cheat code fromhd=/dev/sdb1 to make sure the KNOPPIX on the partition would always be used.

    9. You can check the booting with qemu
    qemu /dev/sdb
    10. Copy the entire KNOPPIX 6.2.1 structure to the partition, without any modifications in the first place. I used a backup to copy from, avoiding copying from the live system.

    Now you should be able to boot from the USB, and choose the resident Knoppix 6.2.1 to run. At least, I was

    There are several advantages to this approach compared to syslinux/extlinux. One possible great advantage vs FAT32 installs, is that we can make larger persistent storage. But I haven't tried out that yet.

    This method should also be usable for setting up disks outside their target machines for mounting later. Only drive/device names should have to be modified, or are there more complications?

    I'm still sure someone can come up with some perverse reasons for still doing "ordinary" HD installs of Knoppix, but to me, those excuses are getting more perverse all the time.
    Last edited by Capricorny; 06-07-2010 at 11:12 AM.

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