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Thread: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan and Focal can be made persistent live

  1. #1
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    Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan and Focal can be made persistent live

    During several versions it is straightforward to create a live USB drive by cloning from an iso file with Ubuntu and Ubuntu flavours. But it has not been possible to make a cloned drive persistent by using the unallocated space behind the cloned part of the USB drive. At least, I don't know any way to make it work with 18.04 LTS and older versions.

    Today I have tested a method developed by F. Hauri which works for Debian 10, and I found that it works with Lubuntu Eoan. It is actually rather simple. I think and hope that it will work in the next LTS release, 20.04, not only with Lubuntu but with the whole family of Ubuntu and the flavours.

    I used the following commands, where the real editing commands are high-lighted.

    Code:
    strings eoan-desktop-amd64.iso |grep 'quiet splash'  # check that 'quiet splash' is there to be replaced by 'persistent  ' (12 characters)
    sed 's/quiet splash/persistent  /' eoan-desktop-amd64.iso > persistent-eoan-desktop-amd64.iso  # yes, sed works with binary files
    ls -l *eoan*  # check that the size is the same
    strings persistent-eoan-desktop-amd64.iso |grep 'persistent  '  # check that 'persistent' is there now
    dus persistent-eoan-desktop-amd64.iso  # I use mkusb-dus, you can use the Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator or another cloning tool
    sudo lsblk -fm  # It is important to check the device letter of the target drive (the USB drive, that you want persistent live
    sudo fdisk /dev/sdx  # x is the device letter of the target drive, please double-check that you have the correct letter
    n           # new partition
    p           # primary
    <Return>    # default: 3
    <Return>    # default: next free sector
    <Return>    # default: last addressable sector
    w           # write and quit
    sudo lsblk -fm  # check that things look good and verify that partition #3 is the correct partition to be used to store the persistent data
    sudo mkfs.ext2 -L casper-rw /dev/sdx3  # put label and file system into the partition of persistence
    sudo lsblk -fm  # check that things look good
    sync  # flush the buffers and wait for prompt
    After the sync command you can unplug the drive to test it in another computer or reboot to test it in the same computer.

    Edit: I added a screenshot from cloned drive running persistent live. The commands were recalled from .bash_history (and created in BIOS mode, while the system was running in UEFI mode at the screenshot).
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by sudodus; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:17 PM. Reason: This is improved and will work in Focal.

  2. #2
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    I have been playing with 19.10 and persistent partitions and syslinux.
    It is good to see they are working again.
    I have started to write up some instructions but am hung up on easiest way to copy the existing casper-rw file to the new casper-rw partition:

    Add a Persistent Partition to a UNetbootin Live/Persistent USB, (Ubuntu 19.10+)

    No additional USB drive required.

    - Back up the bootable drive, copy and preserve it's casper-rw file.

    - Boot the USB drive "toram", At the UNetbootin boot menu press the Tab key.

    - Type a space then "toram" and hit enter.

    Now the computer will boot toram (8GB max required for UNetbootin drive). You will be able to edit and overwrite the Live USB.

    We will add a persistent partition and a NTFS partition for data storage.

    - Open GParted, select the USB drive and unmount it.

    - Shrink the FAT32 partition to a minimum.

    - Add a new ext4 partition for persistence.

    - Label the ext4 partition "casper-rw".

    - In the remaining space create a NTFS partition.

    - Apply all Operations.

    - Reboot in order to populate the casper-rw partition.

    Now we copy the existing casper-rw file to the new casper-rw persistent partition:

    Mount old casper-rw file:

    Code:
    sudo mkdir /media/casper
    
    sudo mount -o loop /cdrom/casper-rw /media/casper/
    Copy old casper-rw file contents to the new casper-rw partition.

    Code:
    sudo rsync -a /media/casper/ /media/cscameron/casper-rw/
    - Reboot

    The original casper-rw file will become unused and can be deleted.

    Similar procedure should work for drives made using other bootdrive apps such as Rufus, a SDC drive can not be modified.
    Last edited by C.S.Cameron; September 25th, 2019 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Added move casper-rw from file to partition

  3. #3
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    Quote Originally Posted by C.S.Cameron View Post
    I have been playing with 19.10 and persistent partitions and syslinux.
    It is good to see they are working again.

    I have started to write up some instructions but am hung up on easiest way to copy the existing casper-rw file to the new casper-rw partition:
    I suggest that you back up the content on the file level with rsync or tar with superuser privileges (sudo) to see and preserve all files and their ownership and permissions. That way you will not backup free space and individual files will be available, not only the whole file system.
    Add a Persistent Partition to a UNetbootin Live/Persistent USB, (Ubuntu 19.10+)
    ...
    Many people like Unetbootin, and they will be happy to make persistent live drives with a partition (or partitions) for persistence to get rid of the 4 GiB size limit of files in FAT32.

  4. #4
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    Have you tried adding a persistent partition to a SDC install?
    I don't think the ISO9660 FS is modifiable.

  5. #5
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    The code chunk in the opening post shows all the steps (except downloading and md5sum-checking the iso file).

    I used mkusb-dus in cloning mode. It creates an exact clone just like the Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator. So I would answer 'Yes'.

    A. I modified the ISO file by 'binary edit' with sed taking care, that the size of the replacement was exactly the same size (12 bytes),

    Code:
    'quiet splash' --> 'persistent  '
    and every other byte was copied. I created a modified iso file and cloned that file, because

    1. I wanted to check that the substitution was correct
    2. I wanted to use the modified iso file more than once

    It would have been possible to redirect the output of sed to the USB device directly.

    B. Another crucial point is to create a partition 'behind' the cloned iso file. It did not work at all with gparted, and did not work to create a working system with parted. But F. Hauri showed that it works with fdisk. This way the partition table at the head end is 'correct enough' for the system for persistence to understand and use it.
    Last edited by sudodus; September 14th, 2019 at 06:54 AM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    I have Ubuntu-Mate ISO.
    So I extracted ISO for UEFI boot to the only flash drive I have available, 4GB and created small ext2 partition and NTFS partitions.
    After extraction changed quiet splash to persistent.

    Code:
     menuentry "Try Ubuntu MATE without installing" {
    
     set gfxpayload=keep
    linux    /casper/vmlinuz  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-mate.seed persistent ---
    initrd    /casper/initrd 
     }
    cd ISO # folder where I have all my ISOs
    # zsynced to refresh ISO & extracted to partition on USB flash drive "LIVE"
    zsync http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-mat...md64.iso.zsync
    sudo 7z x eoan-desktop-amd64Mate.iso -o/media/fred/LIVE


    Partitions on flash drive:
    Code:
    sdc                                                           
    ├─sdc1  vfat   LIVE      34E9-77B0                            /media/fred/LIVE
    ├─sdc2  ext2   casper-rw a255626a-7dce-4e8b-97ac-602673a1f392 /media/fred/casper
    └─sdc3  ntfs   data      2849D14C70F09A70                     /media/fred/data
    Booted flash drive, ran Boot-Repair and it shows it saved into casper-rw partition.
    For more info on UEFI boot install & repair - Regularly Updated :
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to change to [Solved] when/if answered completely.

  7. #7
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    @oldfred,

    Yes, your extraction method works well with persistence too

  8. #8
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    Saw somewhere that with newer Windows the extraction method does not work directly.
    The Windows install file .win now exceeds 4GB, so cannot be in a FAT32 partition. You have to create both a FAT32 for UEFI boot and a NTFS for the rest of the install files. Not sure how UEFI file is configured to find NTFS partition with more files?

    Ubuntu install files have not exceeded 4GB, so all fit nicely in one FAT32 partition.

    I normally do not use installer on flash drive, nor just one version on a flash drive. So normally I would not need persistence.

    Most of my flash drives are now larger, so get full install and then can have ISO one another partition and loopmount them. And most test full installs are just from SSD or HDD to other drive in system or to a flash drive.
    For more info on UEFI boot install & repair - Regularly Updated :
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to change to [Solved] when/if answered completely.

  9. #9
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    Quote Originally Posted by oldfred View Post
    Saw somewhere that with newer Windows the extraction method does not work directly.
    The Windows install file .win now exceeds 4GB, so cannot be in a FAT32 partition. You have to create both a FAT32 for UEFI boot and a NTFS for the rest of the install files. Not sure how UEFI file is configured to find NTFS partition with more files?
    That's right. This is implemented in WoeUSB, when running in text mode. And you can do it manually according to the following link,

    help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/iso2usb/diy/windows-installer-for-big-files

    -o-

    Some UEFI systems can boot from NTFS, and the simple extraction method works directly (in UEFI mode, but you must fix the bootloader for BIOS mode). But many UEFI systems need FAT, an ESP partition with a FAT file system. I have [computers with] both kinds of UEFI systems and have verified what works.

    -o-

    But as you say, this is no problem with Ubuntu
    Last edited by sudodus; September 22nd, 2019 at 08:24 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Cloned USB drive with Lubuntu Eoan can be made persistent live

    This new feature alias removed bug in casper makes it much easier to create persistent live drives with a partition for persistence. It is already there in Debian 10 and we have tested it here in Ubuntu Eoan.

    - So we will soon have it in Ubuntu 19.10

    - It will take months (maybe years) until it will appear in Ubuntu 18.04.x LTS.

    - We can expect to get it in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

    Risk

    General tools may start prompting people into trying to create partitions for persistence with Ubuntu 18.04.x LTS. It will fail and people will get frustrated with a USB drive that does not work at all. We should be prepared, and recognize when this happens.

    Rufus has released a version with this feature, and I have already seen a few cases at AskUbuntu, where this has happened.

    - Can't get Ubuntu 18.04 installed as dual boot on Dell Precision 7540

    - USB persistence not working with a discussion between me and @Akeo, the developer of Rufus

    This is a typical output from a USB pendrive that does not boot with Ubuntu 18.04.x, when Rufus failed to make it work with a partition for persistence:

    Code:
    (initramfs) mount: mounting /cow on /root failed: invalid argument
    overlay mount failed
    Please remember that mkusb works as usual.
    Last edited by sudodus; September 24th, 2019 at 08:31 PM.

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