Live USB boot problems
May 25, 2008 4:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to put a bootable, persistent Linux install on my USB drive, but it won't boot!

I am running a dual boot of Ubuntu 8.04 and Win XP SP3, on an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600.

I have tried using the LiveUSB-Creator tool for Fedora with these disk images:
Fedora 9 i686 Live KDE
Fedora 9 x86_64 Live KDE.

I have also tried using UNetbootin with the same Fedora ISOs.

I have set my BIOS to boot from the USB drive (which is an OCZ Rally2 btw) but everytime I try to boot from it, it simply says 'Boot error', and nothing else. I have checked and the first partition on the drive is set to bootable.


posted by edbyford to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Is "boot error" the only thing that's showing on the screen?
When booting the usb stick, edit the grub line and try adding:


to the end
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:07 AM on May 25, 2008

On second thought, do you get ANY kernel messages or doe it dump straight to the boot error?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:10 AM on May 25, 2008

This article details how to install Ubuntu 8.04 as you want. There are more on that website for different situations, and it has worked for me.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:57 AM on May 25, 2008

I've seen "boot error" occur when trying to boot Linux kernels from USB sticks on computers with crap BIOSes. The fix appears to be to make the BIOS think the stick is a Zip disk, which means that there has to be only one partition, and it has to be partition 4, and it has to be formatted FAT16.
posted by flabdablet at 9:42 AM on May 25, 2008

Response by poster: I do not get any kernel messages, it simply says boot error (after a little flashing from the activity LED on the usb drive).

The mobo is an Intel, only a year old so the BIOS should be ok. It recognises the make of the usb drive and everything, so I'm not sure that's the problem.

FYI, the usb drive I'm using was recommended by, so it should work ok with the Linux, no?
posted by edbyford at 9:50 AM on May 25, 2008

Best answer: "boot error" is what the Syslinux first stage bootloader says when it can't read the second stage for whatever reason. Sometimes it's the BIOS not handing sectors back correctly (even some newish Award BIOSes still get this wrong for USB sticks) and the Zip disk workaround will generally fix this. Sometimes it's because the syslinux command that builds the list of blocks to load had a different idea about the BIOS device numbering than the BIOS does. Sometimes it was because I'd forgotten to re-do the syslinux command, and had done something to the USB stick that had moved the second stage file to different disk blocks; this one was a pain, since the boot loader kept working using a second-stage boot held in blocks marked free, and didn't fail until those blocks happened to get overwritten by something else. It's all a bit of a black art.

Try downloading the Trinity Rescue Kit, burning it to CD, booting it (let it run from CD, don't make it run from RAM) and using trk2usb to make your pen drive boot it. TRK uses the zip disk workaround. Betcha it works. If it does, set your own Linux up the same way.
posted by flabdablet at 10:57 AM on May 25, 2008

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