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Thread: USB Stick ISO Booter

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    93

    USB Stick ISO Booter

    dear experts---

    I would like to keep a couple of iso files on my USB stick and be able to boot into them, just as I am able to boot into them if they had been a CD-ROM. I have seen YUMI. Besides the irony that it is a windows program, it has the drawback that ISO selection and installation has to be done at USB copy creation time. It is not dynamic. I would much prefer a booter that could scan all existing *.iso files in the top directory of the USB drive, and then present me with a list of choices of OS that I can boot into. any further OS installations thereafter would only require copying of their iso files into the USB stick.

    does this exist?

    regards,

    /iaw

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Chicago Suburbs
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    Distro
    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    Grub will loop mount the ISO, but you have to create your own menu in with grub.cfg. I just copied examples and updated to my newest ISO.

    MultiBoot USB with Grub2 (boot directly from iso files)
    Basically you just install grub2, create a folder for the isos and edit a grub.cfg to loop mount the isos.
    HOWTO: Booting LiveCD ISOs from USB flash drive with Grub2
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1288604
    http://ubuntu-ky.ubuntuforums.org/sh....php?t=1535864
    Install grub2 to USB -general info
    http://members.iinet.net/~herman546/....html#GRUB_USB

    There are several scripts that automate process.
    These are scripts to install many ISOs. Some that will not loopmount by installing a kernel and boot image.
    MultiBootUSB - Install and boot multiple Linux from Pendrive / Flash drive / USB disk w/grub2
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/In...shDriveUSBDisk
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1518273
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/multibootusb/files/
    MultiSystem Another LiveUSB Multiboot French(translate) w/grub2
    http://liveusb.info/dotclear/

    My system sees a flash drive as another hard drive, so these instructions also apply if that is the case.
    This will boot an ISO from a hard drive.
    ISO Booting with Grub 2 from Hard drive - drs305
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2/ISOBoot
    Examples - you may copy & edit for your path & ISO version
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Gr...OBoot/Examples
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1549847
    Boot ISO from harddrive. To install it would have to be different partition
    [SOLVED] Using grub 2 to boot an iso off hard drive old examples
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1535864
    Oldfred on vacation. Back Sept 9. Will not have much if any Internet access.
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    93

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    thanks, but not dynamic enough . it should read available ISOs at boot time, so that iso installation is copying a file and nothing else. once I have to edit configuration files before reboot, it ain't the same thing.

    I guess it doesn't exist (yet).

    /iaw

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Chicago Suburbs
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    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    You now have an opportunity.

    Just write a script to scan ISO's and add them to grub.cfg or a liveimage.cfg that grub calls. The real issue becomes every ISO has different boot parameters, so you have to in effect have all the scripts rewritten like the multi-boot scripts.
    Oldfred on vacation. Back Sept 9. Will not have much if any Internet access.
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Arizona
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    93
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    I did this, kinda
    I created a custom grub script
    I still have to copy the iso (to a specific directory), and run update-grub which find the iso, and add it to the menu choices

    I don't think it is quite as automated as the OP wants though.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beans
    93

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    indeed. I mean something much more dynamic. A setup that works without running grub or creating config files. sort of like a chainloader that scans iso images, presents images, and then mounts them per user request.

    it would be a lot more convenient.

    /iaw

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Chicago Suburbs
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    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    While that would be nice, the issue is every ISO has different parameters. So you cannot mount them all the same.

    While my Ubuntu entries are the same, and my server entry does not work as it is different from a desktop most other installs have files in different directories on the "CD" and need different parameters. If everyone did it the same then it might be possible.

    Code:
    # livecdimage.cfg
    # Add this to 40_custom to load this file:
    # menuentry 'Live ISOs' {
    # configfile (hd2,4)/iso/livecdimage.cfg
    #} 
    
    
    menuentry "Uubuntu 12.10 Quantal ISO 64bit" {
        set isofile="/iso/quantal-desktop-amd64.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
        linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset
        initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz
    }
    
    menuentry "Uubuntu 12.04 Secure Remix ISO 64bit" {
        set isofile="/iso/ubuntu-secure-remix-12.04-64bits.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
        linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset
        initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz
    }
    
    menuentry "Ubuntu 12.04 Precise ISO 64bit" {
        set isofile="/iso/ubuntu-12.04-desktop-amd64.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
        linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset
        initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz
    }
    
    menuentry "Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Server ISO 64bit" {
        set isofile="/iso/ubuntu-12.04-server-i386.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
    #    linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile 
    #    initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz
        linux (loop)/install/vmlinuz boot=file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-server.seed iso-scan/filename=$isofile vga=788
        initrd (loop)/install/initrd.gz
    #  kernel /install/vmlinuz
    #  append  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-server.seed vga=788 initrd=/install/initrd.gz quiet --
    
    }
    
    menuentry "Ubuntu 12.04 Precise mini ISO 64bit" {
        set isofile="/iso/mini.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
    #    linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile 
    #    initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz
        linux (loop)/vmlinuz iso-scan/filename=$isofile vga=788
        initrd (loop)/initrd.gz
    #  kernel /install/vmlinuz
    #  append  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-server.seed vga=788 initrd=/install/initrd.gz quiet --
    }
    
    menuentry "Try ms_lts_precise_r4 without installing" {
        set isofile="/iso/ms_lts_precise_r4.iso"
    loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
        linux    /casper/vmlinuz  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile quiet splash --
        initrd    /casper/initrd.lz
    }
    
    
    menuentry "Fedora-17 ISO 64bit" {
    
        set isofile="/iso/Fedora-17-x86_64-Live-Desktop.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
        linux (loop)/isolinux/vmlinuz0 fromiso=$isofile root=live:$isofile rootfstype=auto ro liveimg  rhgb rd.luks=0 rd.md=0 rd.dm=0 
        initrd (loop)/isolinux/initrd0.img
    }
    
    
    menuentry "Kubuntu 11.04 Natty ISO 64bit" {
    
        set isofile="/iso/kubuntu-11.04-desktop-amd64.iso"
        insmod part_gpt
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile 
        linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset
        initrd (loop)/casper/initrd.lz
    }
    
    menuentry "Parted Magic (Boot ISO Image via Grub2) " {
        insmod part_gpt
        set isofile="/iso/pmagic_2012_05_30.iso"
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile
        linux (loop)/pmagic/bzImage iso_filename=$isofile edd=off load_ramdisk=1 prompt_ramdisk=0 rw vga=normal loglevel=9 max_loop=256 vmalloc=256MiB
        initrd (loop)/pmagic/initrd.img
    }
    
    menuentry "gparted (Boot ISO Image via Grub2) " {
        insmod part_gpt
        set isofile="/iso/gparted-live-0.12.1-5.iso"
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile
    #    linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz live-media=iso=$isofile keyb=us gl_kbd=us gl_lang=en_US gl_numlk=off gl_batch boot=live union=aufs  #toram=filesystem.squashfs noswap noprompt vga=791
    #        linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz fromiso=$isofile boot=live noswap
            linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz boot=live config union=aufs noswap noprompt ip=frommedia findiso=$isofile toram=filesystem.squashfs
        initrd (loop)/live/initrd.img
    }
    # linux /workdir/vmlinuz fromiso=/dev/sda11/debian-live-6.0.3-i386-lxde-desktop.iso boot=live config BOOT_IMAGE=/live/vmlinuz
    
    menuentry "Boot-Repair ISO 64bit " {
        insmod part_gpt
        set isofile="/iso/boot-repair-disk.iso"
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile
        linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz2 boot=live config union=aufs noswap noprompt ip=frommedia findiso=$isofile toram=filesystem.squashfs
    #    linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz2 boot=live config
        initrd (loop)/live/initrd2.img
    }
    
    menuentry "Rescatux" {
        recordfail
        insmod part_gpt
        insmod ext2
        set isofile="/iso/rescatux_cdrom_usb_hybrid_i386_486-amd64_0.30b4_sg2d.iso"
        loopback loop (hd2,4)$isofile
    #    linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz2 boot=live config fromiso=$isofile
        linux (loop)/casper/vmlinuz2 boot=casper iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset
        initrd (loop)/casper/initrd2.lz
    }
    
    menuentry "SystemRescue CD on hard drive" {
                  set root=(hd2,4)
                  linux   /sysrcd/rescuecd subdir=sysrcd setkmap=us
                  initrd  /sysrcd/initram.igz
    } 
    
    
    menuentry "Reboot" {
        reboot
    }
    
    menuentry "Halt" {
        halt
    }
    Oldfred on vacation. Back Sept 9. Will not have much if any Internet access.
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beans
    93

    Re: USB Stick ISO Booter

    > While that would be nice, the issue is every ISO has different parameters. So you cannot mount them all the same.

    why not? if my computer can boot the iso file if it were burned on a CD, my computer surely can do the same in principle from an iso file. ok, it would be nicer if we could add command line arguments, and/or have some popular default choices (rescue, single-user, single-user readonly).

    the whole grub2 system is outdated. I am trying right now to transfer a linux system from one drive to another. the filesystems are easy enough to cp (via -ax). it is only grub that requires contortions.

    OSX shows how to do it right.

    you hold down the "ALT" key during boot time, and some ini bootloader scans all available partitions for operating systems. then it presents a menu of what you can possibly boot. done. want to boot a new OS? attach the hard drive that contains it, and it will simply show up on a list of choices.

    now, linux does not have control over BIOSes, of course, but every linux grub-like boot loader could have a stage 1b minisystem, which is always executed first. then, this stage 1b minisystem has some smarts. if the user holds down a key---any key---it could scan for bootable systems. once it presents a list, we would want the ability to enter optional boot parameters. finally, it would start the real boot process.

    grub complications, sooner or later, are a serious problem for non-experts.

    /iaw

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