creating a bootable filesystem

I am trying to make my flash drive bootable. I have the USB support, I can "see" the volume as /dev/sda1, I just need to mkfs and make it bootable with the same driver support that the kernel already has built into it.

I am running  suse  8.2.

How do I do this?
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

I'm not quite sure this will work or not, you may thinking of using those small linux and put into your flash drive and make it bootable, have a look here and try.

or try the mkbootdisk and create the boot disk into your flash drive but I'm sure it will work or not, since I havn't try, but I think it can.
making a filesystem bootable means putting a bootloader on it, along with a kernel, modules and basic utilities you'll need
to get started.

though lilo might be a good choice, it needs a running linux system to update it's conf, so if you plan to have a
real standalone  linux in your pocket, you might prefer SYSLINUX ( , wich can be configured by editing
it's text only configuration file on any ascii - FAT compatible OS.

a complete step by step procedure can be found at :

an other way (the one i use) is to make your usb-key DOS BOOTABLE, and store loadlin + a boot / root image on it.

by "bootable",  do you mean that when you  power  on your PC, the BIOS will detect and  select your USB drive?  I  am fairly sure there is no USB option for my BIOS- but, I will check on my next reboot.
Protecting & Securing Your Critical Data

Considering 93 percent of companies file for bankruptcy within 12 months of a disaster that blocked access to their data for 10 days or more, planning for the worst is just smart business. Learn how Acronis Backup integrates security at every stage

johndarpinoAuthor Commented:
First, thanks to everyone, I'll get started .

I am looking to create a backdoor for my computers. I administer about 175 dell pcs, (all of which support USB boot) and I have quite a few linux-based exploits that I once ran from CD that would allow me to basically crack windows systems open. Since these exploits ran from CD and where inherently read only, and since I cannot write to my mounted NTFS partitions, the idea of having a true, somewhat miniaturized RW file system sounds really good to me.

Unlike my CD linux boot discs, the USB kernel could load only drivers prevalent to Dell's HW, which should allow me to decrease it's size & improve loading efficiency.

So any input would be greatly appreciated. My Flashdrive is 256 Megabytes. I would prefer to avoid Minix. And if any one knows of a way that I CAN mount NTFS RW, I 'm all ears.

Try tomsbrt linux-on-a-diskette from PAULLAMHKG's post. toms  can be unpacked and customized.  You can build a custom non-modular kernel with USB  (and maybe NTFS) support, and tailor/add the utilities/scripts of your choice.

After customizing, and tailoring lilo.conf, Lilo should be able to set up your mounted flashdrive.

Basic toms, with kernel, fits on 1.7MB, so 256MB  should be fat-city.

BTW, do those DELL's have diskette's?
Almost forgot- You should also look at peanut linux,
johndarpinoAuthor Commented:
Yep. They have diskette drives.

johndarpinoAuthor Commented:
..but that's not sexy.
using tom's from diskette would ba quickie
johndarpinoAuthor Commented:
Yeah, but I wouldn't have much room for scripts.

Plus you wouldn't be able to have much of a kernel, would you? I'm looking for NIC support, CDRW support, etc.

I have seen the minix fs boot off of a 1.44 diskette, but the only time I've used it is for rescue purposes (fsck) .
have you looked at the toms or peanut sites?  - to evaluate them as the base for creating an exciting flashdrive?

you can rebuild toms for a diskette or flash.

as  I recall, toms kernel (which is monolitihic)  includes a number of  drivers (e.g., scsi) which you would not require, so you could  delete those, add the  drivers you need and probably  still end up with a smaller kernel and have room for scripts on a diskette.

I also forgot to mention with toms on flash, you would have to modify/add/create partitions on the flash as vanilla tom's uses a ram drive
if you feel the toms or other small/mini linux can't help, you can thinking of using the mkbootdisk to create a bootable device and imply the kernel you need, and during mkbootdisk instead of make it into floppy, try to make it into your flash drive or copy all the files from the floppy into your flash drive, it should work.
I think john wants a  "reasonably  capable" linux distribution with a custom kernel and
a  "decent size" /tmp (read/write capability) which will all  fit in  256 MB and be bootable. Of course, john might disagree.

toms and peanut are a very good base for achieving this.


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Yes toms can do, I'm not sure abt peanut (since havn't try)

That's why I said if other small/mini linux can't help, john can thinking of using the mkbootdisk to put those bootup thing into the flash drive, mkbootdisk will base on the PC/server kernel and create the base driver and boot device to boot up, and even you can create a small kernel and put into the flash drive.
johndarpinoAuthor Commented:
Again, thanks everyone for your input and guidance. I have collected the information on toms & peanut and will begin playing around until I get something hashed out.

Unfortunately, I recently learned during my trial with syslinux that while my computer model supports booting from USB, my flash drive (Memorex Thumbdrive) apparently does not. As I understand it, this is a result of the actual flash product itself. This fault, while frequently alluded to in the information I've come accross, was never fully elaborated upon.

I like the minimalist approach, but if I do need to buy another (boot-supported) flashdrive I would consider getting the 512M version, and it appears that the 1024M models will be coming down in price over the next few months.

For the record, the Memorex Thumbdrive is capable of booting. I have tested a Memorex ThumbDrive 2.0; it says Memorex TravelDrive on the packaging, but between BIOS and Linux, the drive has been recognized as Memorex ThumbDrive2 and TREK Thumbdrive, which the Memorex model is essentially based off of.

I nearly avoided buying the Memorex due to the previous post, but I decided to test one anyway, and it booted using SYSLINUX without a hitch. It is possible that your drive was defective, but you might have not installed syslinux properly. I couldn't really tell that I did a good job of setting it all up until it booted error free. If you would revisit your case, I'm interested in any details you can muster (motherboard, revision number for the ThumbDrive).

I really wanted to post that Memorex drives do work, so if anyone needs a bootable drive and there is a good deal on the Memorex, don't pass it up.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.