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How to modify or merge several linux Live distros into one and then use it for USB booting

Posted on 2006-11-19
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Last Modified: 2013-12-05
Hi gurus,

Im new to linux but know enough to get around. I would like to combine several Live Linux distributions into one and then use that to make a bootable USB flash drive.
I have Knoppix-STD, PHLAK and PLAN-B.

I need Step-by-Step instructions on how to merge them into 1 and prepare it to make it into a bootable USB drive.
I do not want a custome boot menu.
This is a challenging quesion but worth it.

Im basically looking for a complete Rescue, Recovery, Forensic, Auditing Etc.. Distro for learning, but cant seem to find the complete package.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

thanks
-J
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Question by:Junior161
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_iskywalker_ earned 43 total points
ID: 17978171
get the dam small linux usb stick, better than this you wont get alone.
but if you really want, just take knoppix and 1-gig usb-stick, this is ok also.
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by:_iskywalker_
ID: 17978179
you can always build your own knoppix, there is lots of instructions to do it, step by step, like:
open knopiix, insert the files you like, then close knoppix, and put on a image.
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by:alextoft
alextoft earned 41 total points
ID: 17981338
Merging different distro's in the way you seem to want is always going to be almost impossible. They might all have different kernels, different libraries, and the apps in the distro will be compiled for those particular versions. Best bet is to use Knoppix, compile the extra apps you want from source and remaster it. Once that's working you can drop it onto a USB stick, run syslinux on it and off you go. It's not the simplest of things to do, but neither is it a mountain.

Remastering: http://www.knoppix.net/wiki/Knoppix_Remastering_Howto
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by:ctwaley
ctwaley earned 41 total points
ID: 18013725
I'm not aware of any way to merge different distros into one distro.  About the only way to achieve what you want is to make your own from scratch.........

However, take a look at BackTrack, which is a merging of Auditor and WHAX (formerly WHoppix)
    http://www.remote-exploit.org/index.php/BackTrack

Because this is a SLAX-based livecd, it is easily customizable with it's modular design.  What's also neat about it is you can transfer the files (as is) from the CD to a hard drive and use grub, lilo or syslinux to boot from it.  This setup will run it as a livecd, but from a hard disk instead of the CD.

This also works using an USB drive (flash or external hdd).  If using a pen drive, you will be able to keep its original FAT partition intact  Just copy the files from the original CD to the USB drive and use syslinux to boot from it.

SLAX compresses everything with squashfs, including the individual addon modules, and combines everything with unionfs to make it pseudo-writable.

As I mentioned, BackTrack is based on SLAX, but to give you some idea of the size difference between the two, the current version of SLAX is under 200 MB, while BackTrack is almost 600 MB. This means BackTrack is crammed full of security-related tools (compressed with squashfs).  And if it doesn't contain everything your looking for, you can always create and add modules or just add to the base filesystem for simple utilities.  You will be able to save any changes to the drive when exiting the system.

Here are a few links to get you up to speed:
BackTrack
    http://www.remote-exploit.org/index.php/BackTrack
Wiki-based site with lot's of info and links about security, auditing, bluetooth, wireless, etc., and a forum.

SecurityDistro.com - Review of BackTrack
    http://www.securitydistro.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=74&Itemid=2

SecurityDistro.com - Interview with BackTracks William Hidalgo
    http://www.securitydistro.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72&Itemid=2
Q: "Who should use your distribution?"
A: "Security professionals, enthusiasts, and anybody else already interested learning about security.
     It's all about learning and becoming more knowledgeable in what we do."

SLAX (Slackware-based livecd)
    http://www.slax.org/
Includes documentation, repository of modules, and other SLAX-related stuff.

Linux Live CD/USB scripts
    http://www.linux-live.org/
Set of shell scripts which allows you to create your own LiveCD from every Linux distribution.  These are the scripts used to create SLAX, written by the creator of SLAX.

SYSLINUX
    http://syslinux.zytor.com/

README on using SYSLINUX with USB keys
    http://syslinux.zytor.com/usbkey.php

How to make a Multiboot USB key based on syslinux
    http://acd.ucar.edu/~fredrick/linux/multibootusb/
Shows a step-by-step process of using syslinux to boot a USB pen drive.  This is specific to installing their particular setup, but can be adapted to different setups.   Also, the example SYSLINUX.CFG file shows the correct way to use syslinux to fall back to booting the primary hard drive, after a set period of time, instead of the USB drive.

HTH :-)
---CTWaley
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