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  #1  
Old 9th July 2006, 12:44 PM
ats_fc5 Offline
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Arrow How to install & run Fedora Core 5 Linux from USB HDD, with no USB Boot BIOS support

7/9/2006:
NOTE: Msg to be formatted/restructured...is a working document at the moment...
7/15: Thanks to Firewing1, done.

This is Firewing1, I was requested to edit this post on behalf of ats_fc5. I have a very brief, step-by-step guide below that I took to show how to get non-USB botoable systems booting from USB devices, and then below that is ats_fc's original post which in-dpeth shows you how to do this step-by-step guide and then use it to install FC5 to a USB disk. I hope both help


(pre) Make your bootable CD and start the Linux install process

If you're already using the 5-CD media for installing Fedora, then upcoming paragraph doesn't apply to you, please continue at the paragraph below it...

If you're using a DVD, and your computer doesn't have an internal DVD drive (so you can't boot to your external DVD drive, hence not being able to start the Fedora installation) then all hope is not lost - if you look in the images/ folder of the DVD, you'll find a file called boot.iso. If you burn this file as an image to a CD (you can't just add that file to a data CD, you have to burn that file 'as an image' or 'as an ISO image' to the CD), then you can start the installation using that CD.

So, now you can start the Fedora installation with the first the of 5 CDs, or for the DVD users by the CD you've just created with the boot.iso image. All looks well, but please note that when you do start from the CD and you see the Fedora splash screen with the 'hit F1 for this, F2 for that' messages and you normally just hit <enter> to start the installation process (this is called the boot prompt) instead of simply hitting <enter> you must type:
Code:
linux expert
and then hit enter. Expert mode will give you more controll over the installation if you choose the custom setup options and also allow you to detect USB devices.

(2) Installing Fedora

Now, when the time comes, select only your USB HDD as the drive to install Fedora to. It's usually something like /dev/sda or /dev/sdb. When the installer asks about partitioning, you can leave it as the default, but I highly recommend making a custom one because Fedora will use up all the space it can - If you want Fedora on your USB HDD, it's usually because you're testing it and you don't want it to take up all that space!

The next step to be careful for is the bootloader. You do not want it installed on /dev/hda, or your internal hard drive, but rather on the boot sector of the first partition.

The installation should proceed like normal, maybe a bit slow if you're on USB 1.1, but it will still work.

(3) Booting your new USB installation
Now, restart your computer and boot from the 1st of 5 installation CDs or your boot.iso CD. This time, instead of linux expert, we're typing:
Code:
linux rescue
at the boot prompt. Now:
  • Choose your keyboard layout
  • Choose your language
  • Select 'No' or 'Skip' for the network detection
  • At the rescue / mounting screen, choose 'OK'
  • You should now see a shell: sh-3.1#
  • Type:
    Code:
    chroot /mnt/sysimage
    cd /usr/tmp
    mkdir bootcd
    cp /usr/lib/syslinux/isolinux.bin bootcd
    cp /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.17-1.2171_FC5 bootcd/linux
    mkinitrd --preload=uhci-hcd --preload=ehci-hcd --preload=usb-storage --preload=scsi_mod --preload=sd_mod bootcd/initrd.img 2.6.17-1.2171_FC5
    root="$(mount | grep " / " | awk '{printf $1}')"
    echo "DEFAULT linux initrd=initrd.img ro root=$root" > bootcd/isolinux.cfg
  • So there were now 4 files in the directory bootcd: linux, initrd.img, isolinux.bin, isolinux.cfg
  • Now let's create the ISO boot image:
    Code:
    mkisofs -o bootcd.iso -b isolinux.bin -c boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -R bootcd/
  • We now created a file called bootcd.iso in /usr/tmp
  • Now, you have to burn this boot.iso as a CD image, or a ISO image, and this will create your final boot CD that will boot Fedora Core. You can do this by copying it to a USB thumb drive (you'll have to mount it:
    Code:
    mkdir /mnt/thumbdrive
    [ plug it in ]
    dmesg
    See lines like this:
    Code:
    sdb: assuming drive cache: write through
     sdb: sdb1
    You want that "sdb1", whatever it is on your computer. It could be sda1, sdb1, sdc1, so on... Once you know, type:
    Code:
    mount /dev/sdx1 /mnt/thumbdrive
    cp /usr/tmp/bootcd/bootcd.iso /mnt/thumbdrive
    reboot
    That will copy the iso to a thumbdrive. If you don't have a thumbdrive, use ext2 IFS to access the drive in Windows.

Origninal Post

My Objective:
Install and Run Fedora Core 5 on external USB HDD when BIOS does not support booting from any USB device. (Could not risk and did not want any changes at all to internal HDD.)

My Hardware:
  • => Laptop: Dell Inspiron 7500, PIII 500MHz, 256MB RAM, 12GB Internal HDD, CDROM, FDD, 1 USB 1.1 Port, 3COM PCMCIA LAN Card, Display resolution 1400x1050, No USB Boot option in BIOS
  • => External HDD: 80 GB Iomega USB HDD
  • => External DVD+/-RW USB
  • => Small Targus Powerless USB Hub (with 4 ports) - 1 to connect the ext HDD, another to connect the ext DVD+/-RW
  • => Media: FC5 Installation DVD

Last edited by Firewing1; 20th August 2006 at 07:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 9th July 2006, 06:13 PM
Firewing1 Offline
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EDIT: This is ats_fc5's original message, it didn't fit above so I had to move it here.
My Problem # 1:
  • => Q. As the Laptop BIOS does not support booting from any external USB device, and the available FC5 Installation media is a DVD(and the Laptop does not have an internal DVD drive),
    ==>how do I start the installation from the external USB DVD drive and then,
    ==>how do I install FC5 to the external USB HDD?
  • => A. Browsing through the README on the root of the FC5 DVD, I noted:
    Code:
    The images/ directory contains the file boot.iso. This file is an ISO image
    that can be used to boot the Fedora Core installation program. It is a handy
    way to start network-based installations without having to use multiple
    diskettes. To use boot.iso, your computer must be able to boot from its CD-ROM
    drive, and its BIOS settings must be configured to do so. You must then burn
    boot.iso onto a recordable/rewriteable CD-ROM.
    - Accordingly, this CD was created(burned), as mentioned, from the image boot.iso.
    - Now, with this new CD put into the internal CDROM drive of the Laptop, and the FC5 DVD put into the external USB DVD Drive, the Laptop was restarted. Also, the external USB HDD was connected to another port of the USB Hub(since the Laptop only has one USB 1.1 Port and I had to connect 2 USB devices the HDD and the DVD drive).
    - When the Laptop booted up from the CDROM, everything looked okay(i.e. the CD boots up and the external USB DVD drive is recognized and the installation starts).
    - Only when I got to the Installation destination or Install-to-partition screen, did I find out that the external USB HDD does not show up in the list to install to.
    - Googling around and browsing some helpful messages here, the solution I noted was to boot from the newly created CDROM but not with the default boot option, instead by typing:
    Code:
    linux expert
    at the boot prompt.
    - Now when I got to the Installation destination screen, I could see all the partitions of the external USB HDD. I could now choose an appropriate partition and continue. I chose partition 3(or /dev/sda3) with type ext3(for some reason resierfs did not work) as the root(/) partition and extended partition sda5 for the swap partition.
    - The installation proceeded well(it took quite long, about 4 hours, perhaps because the USB is 1.1, the same USB Port was used via a USB Hub to connect both the external USB DVD drive as well as the external USB HDD and ofcourse the low MHz/RAM of the Laptop).
    - The installation succeeded without any error messages!
    - Note that I did not install the GRUB section on the internal HDD, I installed it on /dev/sda3 but as of now, I have not been able to put it to use. I am tyring to write this to the CD and see how I can use it.

My Problem # 2:
  • => Q. As the Laptop BIOS does not support booting from any external USB device,
    how do I boot from one of the available devices, preferably the internal CDROM, and start using the installed FC5 which is on the external USB HDD?
  • => A. Short unformatted version...
    • Using the CD created above, I booted the Laptop so that it booted from the CD
    • My FC5 installation was connected via USB HDD and the installation DVD was connected via USB DVD drive
    • Importantly, I typed "linux rescue" at the boot prompt
    • This boot, as normal, detected the hardware, etc, and started the installation screens once again
    • First screen, I chose "Ok" on the Keyboard Layout
    • Now, I pressed Ctrl+Alt+F3. I noted down the USB modules loaded: uhci-hcd and usb-storage . <=== IMPORTANT STEP to be used later in mkinitrd
    • Used Ctrl+Alt+F1 to go back to the installer(blue screen)
    • Second screen, I chose "Ok" on the Language
    • After that, the anaconda installer started
    • Next screen, the Network detection, I chose "No"
    • Next screen, the Rescue screen, I chose "Skip"
    • This brought up the Shell prompt: sh-3.1#
    • Note that my FC5 installation(including /boot) is on /dev/sda3 root
    • Command at shell prompt: mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/source
    • Command at shell prompt: chroot /mnt/source
    • Command at shell prompt: cd /usr/tmp
    • Command at shell prompt: mkdir bootcd
    • Command at shell prompt: cp /usr/lib/syslinux/isolinux.bin bootcd
    • Command at shell prompt: cp /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.15-1.2054_FC5 bootcd/linux
    • Command at shell prompt:
      mkinitrd --preload=uhci-hcd --preload=usb-storage --preload=scsi_mod --preload=sd_mod bootcd/initrd.img 2.6.15-1.2054_FC5
    • Command at shell prompt:echo "DEFAULT linux initrd=initrd.img ro root=/dev/sda3" > bootcd/isolinux.cfg
    • In the above command, note that my FC5 installation was on /dev/sda3 and hence the root value of /dev/sda3
    • So there were now 4 files in the directory bootcd: linux, initrd.img, isolinux.bin, isolinux.cfg
    • Created ISO image by entering at shell prompt:
      mkisofs -o bootcd.iso -b isolinux.bin -c boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -R bootcd/
    • File bootcd.iso got created in /usr/tmp
    • Using this bootcd.iso, created(burned) another CD which is the final BOOT CD
    • When the Laptop was booted up using this BOOT CD, everything fell into place and FC5 started properly and all was set!!!

    Please note that some sites mentioned the USB driver ehci-hcd instead of uhci-hcd and this absolutely did not work for me, and was the cause for struggle for these many days. I almost gave up until I fell upon Ctrl+Alt+F3 and noted the USB modules for my setup.

    Being a newbie, I struggled for 4-5 days to get through this. I could not find all this info at one place and in fact determining the changes was the tough part. The important clue that I had was the initial boot CD that was created from the image file on the DVD. If that CD could detect the USB devices and transfer control for installation and then the installation actually succeeds, then there had to be a way to boot and use the FC5 installation.

    Thanks for the support and the various messages/hints. My FC5 is up and running!!

    I would feel glad if all this helps someone get through. If it does, do post back and write your experience.

    My request to the Seniors/Experts here is to try and write up a How-To in the proper format, I think it would help some newbies.

    (Apologies for the weird formatting, will try and change it to make it slightly better)
    Edit: Done...
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  #3  
Old 7th August 2006, 01:08 AM
Firewing1 Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nincb123
This unfortunitly..DID NOT WORK FOR ME. The only difference was that I did have USB Support in the BIOS. Firefly, when you said to config advanced boot options, and to check the second option, you were wrong. You MUST change the drive order, then install GRUB to the MBR. (If comforatble, disconnect your internal HD, if you have one)
Firewing lol
That's the thing - To the MBR of the external hard drive, and not of the internal one - Selecting the first option, MBR, usually installs to /dev/hda which is not good. What you need to do is make that boot CD - I had to re-make the images a second time before they worked. Not sure why, the first set made a corrupted CD.

Or, install onto the boot sector, and reboot into a working Linux instalaltion. Then, type:
Code:
grub-install /dev/sda
where /dev/sda is your external drive. From there, edit the device.map and grub.conf accordingly, and then you can boot.
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  #4  
Old 20th August 2006, 07:41 PM
Firewing1 Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nincb123
This unfortunitly..DID NOT WORK FOR ME. The only difference was that I did have USB Support in the BIOS. Firefly, when you said to config advanced boot options, and to check the second option, you were wrong. You MUST change the drive order, then install GRUB to the MBR. (If comforatble, disconnect your internal HD, if you have one)
I figured out why, there was a typo in the command. Try it again, it should work.
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  #5  
Old 26th August 2006, 12:05 AM
Firewing1 Offline
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Quote:
mkinitrd --preload ehci-hcd --preload usb-storage -preload scsi_mod --preload sd_mod /boot/initrd-2.6.15-1.2054_FC5 2.6.15-1.2054_FC5
Yes, this is basically the same command except the output file in the command above is renamed compared to the one in the howto. Also, you don't load the uhci drivers, which are needed for USB 1.1 computers.
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  #6  
Old 26th October 2006, 03:51 PM
mrjianpu Offline
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Hi,

I have written an article on how to boot and run Fedora Linux with a USB disk, which is available at

http://www.geocities.com/mrjianpu/FC-USBDisk.html

It is in the form of a step-by-step guide.
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  #7  
Old 10th December 2006, 10:00 PM
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I take it mkinitrd will need to be run with each kernel update???
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  #8  
Old 10th December 2006, 11:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u-noneinc-s
I take it mkinitrd will need to be run with each kernel update???
Unfortunately yes. Unless that is you manage to get GRUB working on the USB.
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  #9  
Old 10th December 2006, 11:53 PM
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Thanks Firewing1.
I'm going to tackle it again in another day or 2. Still suffering from terminal brain fade.
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  #10  
Old 19th October 2007, 05:28 PM
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I know this is an old thread but would this work with FC7 by just changing the kernel version?
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  #11  
Old 20th October 2007, 05:44 AM
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Since I've switched machines my motherboard now supports USB booting so I can't test it anymore, but in theory it should still work fine
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  #12  
Old 20th October 2007, 04:17 PM
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thanks ill check it out
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  #13  
Old 20th October 2007, 04:48 PM
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Well I am having a problem with the:
Command at shell prompt: cp /usr/lib/syslinux/isolinux.bin bootcd

syslinux does not exist.

any reason why?

This is FC7 btw.
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  #14  
Old 20th October 2007, 08:45 PM
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Do you have the 'syslinux' package installed?
Code:
yum install syslinux
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