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What you'll need :

  • Knoppix or an already stripped down version with a kernel with cloop-support (i.e. Debian).
If you want to boot Knoppix from USB stick, you must also modify miniroot.gz to include usb-uhci.o, usb-ohci.o and usb-storage.o, otherwise /linuxrc can't mount the stick and find the cloop image.
  • bootable USB keydrive.
  • Computer with BIOS capable of booting from USB keydrive (select USB-ZIP).
  • syslinux or grub for booting.

You can see how in:

Full method using Knoppix 3.6:

Poor Man's USB Based Boot (Boot from USB flash memory stick and then continue boot with Knoppix image stored on a harddisk or a CD or an external USB harddisk ) How To:

What you will need:

  • Computer with BIOS capable of booting from USB keydrive (select USB-HDD). (Unfortunately, some buggy BIOS just wont boot from my USB stick, such as all versions up to F9 for the Gigabyte GA-8IEXP motherboard).
  • USB keydrive that can boot as USB-HDD device. Make sure you read the product specification, only some USB flash sticks support this feature. (or see this 4/05 review on Ars Technica . Only 3 of 10 reviewed sticks are bootable.)
  • Linux with GRUB grub boot loader already installed. I just use Knoppix.
  • Read Win Partition Poor Man Installation for the more versatile boot mechanism we gonna utilize here.

Steps: (Cautions: Unmount usb stick before you remove it from USB slot to avoid data loss. Backup the MBR of harddisk and USB stick, see the link above)

  1. Insert the USB stick, use cfdisk to create a partition with boot flag on this device ( cfdisk /dev/sda ). Create a file system on the newly created partition.(eg. mke2fs -m0 /dev/sda1)
  2. Mount the partition and install grub boot loader on this device ( mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb && grub-install --root-directory=/mnt/usb /dev/sda ). Now the USB stick is already bootable, you will enter the interactive GRUB shell enviroment if you boot with it.
  3. Copy kernel and initrd to USB stick. To continue boot from an knoppix 3.6 ISO image stored on a NTFS/FAT harddisk partition, you will need the kernel and miniroot.gz files from Ruymbeke's files.
  4. Create a file menu.lst under dir /mnt/usb/boot/grub, I just copied the one from Ruymbeke's files pasted in Win Partition PMI. Specify the location of the newly copied kernel and minirt files in this file, note (hd0,0) is the first partition on USB stick when you boot from it, and the first harddisk likes to be hd1. To find out how GRUB map devices, press key c when you see GRUB boot menu at boot time, then type root ( and press TAB key, see the GRUB texinfo for detail.


I have created a 32M boot partition on a 128M USB flash stick, and use it to boot Knoppix ISO image stored in a FAT32 partition shared by Windows, or to boot ubuntu live CD (basemodule is Morphix) already copied to another partition. The purpose is to reduce the time to burn these Linux Live CDs and less CDs to carry with.