Monday, December 19, 2011

More booting USB drives with ISO images

So in a previous post (Linux bootable USB Drives )I discussed making USB drives that booted directly from a ISO. I first wanted to mention that I find this very useful when I want to install a new distro of Linux and do not want to fight my way through burning a CD or solving the mystery as to why uNetBootIn does not work for me in Linux. In theory, all I have to do is drop a new ISO in the thumb drive and reboot! How simple is that?
Not simple enough as to immediately after posting that I tried to reinstall my computer with the latest official version of Linux Mint12. When I dropped in the new ISO and rebooted I was greeted by:
"ERROR 60:File for drive emulation must be in one contiguous disk area"

I immediately invoked my Google Genius and started searching the web. Apparently booting from an ISO requires that the ISO be a contiguous file and is sensitive to FAT's issue of fragmenting files. The web offered the options of running windows tools to defragment the file, so I tried Contig.exe(Contig.exe). Maybe it does not work on linux, maybe it does not work with Wine, maybe I am a bonehead. I could not get it to actually fix anything as I ran the tool and then rebooted over and over. The real issue was that I had backed up a few files on the thumb drive then deleted the old ISO then added the new one. The thumb drive was actually fragmented, so I moved off all the files and then moved them back and it worked! So if you try the method in the previous post and you get a ERROR 60, try cleaning the thumb drive and then copying the files back.
In my haste in getting the files back together for the drive, I managed to edit the menu.lst too many times. I messed it up hard. When I was back and booting to the thumb drive, I started getting another error:
"Unable to find a medium containing a live file system" at a "(initramfs)" prompt.

Now what? Well Google told me that there are issues with people's motherboards where the thumb drive must be plugged into a port that Linux can see without extra drivers. Linux must also need to see the hard drives so if you have SATA on an unsupported 6meg connection, youmight need to move it to a 3meg connection. There are also problems on some motherboards where the SATA is in IDE mode and must be changed to AHCI mode. My problem was none of these, my problem was my Menu.Lst. I had goofed and put a space on the line that reads:
"kernel /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/mint.seed boot=casperiso-scan/filename=/mint.iso splash quiet --"

The space was after the "iso-scan", so if you have a problem like Idid you can save yourself a few hours and check the syntax closely. I hope this helps someone someday!

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