How to install Linux (CentOS preferred) using 128MB CF as BOOT and USB as storage

Posted on 2010-03-25
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-05-22
I've been digging through the internet trying to accommodate a need I have to install CentOS (5.4) on a machine with the following configuration:

IDE0:0 Compact Flash (128MB card)
SBA: USB mass-storage device (1GB or so)
RAM: 512MB (however, trying to AVOID ISO loading into memory)

What I "want" to do is have the CF boot the machine and tend to HAL...  but have the actual "OS" on the USB drive (which could also be used for swap if needed) however I have yet to find a way to accomplish this.

How to format the CF to manage GRUB, etc. and then switch over to sba: for the actual operating system.  I have running Windows and Linux machines at my disposal to accomplish the task.

In the end, what I'd like to end up with is a flash drive that holds an OS that the CF "calls onto" thus allowing somewhat of a plug-n-play environment where the OS could be switched out without having to do much of anything to the /boot (CF)

Thoughts and/or ideas welcome!
Question by:CentralWare
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Accepted Solution

noci earned 2000 total points
ID: 28703183
That can be done by setting up your USB drive as Root and
setup /boot as the CF card. Grub needs to be on the CF card as does the boot partition with  a kernel and initial ram disk.

But keep in mind that you mind need to change some settings in the grub.conf file as RHEL/CENTOS use UUID's (part of the volumelabel of the disk) to identify disk, the initial ramdisk software uses that to search for the right volume.

This UUID scheme esp. makes sense when RHEL/CentOS etc are deployed in laarger environments where SAN's (iSCSI and/or FibreChannel) are used.
For smaller environments they are not that kind of nuisance.
In your case you are best of (IMHO) when you make multiple boot entries one per disk needed.

Author Comment

ID: 29821167
Had to come up with a different solution...  the amount of information found online relating to what I had in mind is horribly limited at best.  (Everyone HAS answers...  or so it seems...  but very few if any actually DISCUSS what they are.)

For example, I was reading through DSL, Puppy, etc. and everyone claims these mini-linux distros CAN be set up as Live CDs and in some cases, bootable floppies...  but when it comes to installing the same distro onto a hard drive...  I'm lost.
LVL 41

Assisted Solution

noci earned 2000 total points
ID: 29899538
during the setup of CentOS (when booting from the cd/dvd) select manual setup and when selecting partitions create a partition on your CF disk and mark that as /boot volume.
Then select your USB disk and partiotion it, mark the partition you intended as root as /.

And continue with the install. That's about all that's to it.
Select grub as your boot loader later in the process and be sure to use an initial ramdisk (as it is needed to load the usb drivers).

See also:

Expert Comment

ID: 41609426
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

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Expert Comment

ID: 41609427
i disagree, at the time this was the right answer, now more possibilities exist

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