View Full Version : USB Boot / Minimal Console

30th October 2004, 04:47 PM

I am attempting to build a simple, minimal install of Fedora on a USB key disk.

I only require a console in a multiuser environment. I dont need X windows or any major applications. Basically I want to be able to run a webserver/dnsserver/firewall from a USB key disk, making it a server that runs "diskless".

Can anyone assist or point me in the direction of some material that may further educate me?

I have previously had Knoppix running on my USB key disk, but that is a bit messy and includes a GUI which is unnecessary.



30th October 2004, 11:21 PM
A live boot kind of thing like Knoppix? There is no equivalent for Fedora yet.

For other Linux live CDs check out this list (http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php). There are server live distos. There may not be the one with what you need, however.

31st October 2004, 12:08 AM
Thankyou Jman for your reply.

That list is interesting and may come in handy.

I think what I am really after is some help on the linux/fedora boot process and how I can manually recreate it. I dont mean to re-engineer it, but with some more understanding of the bootup steps and how they are configured/installed I should be able to build a USB stick that is bootable, with a minimal (well, I do have 256MB or 512MB to play with) system that I can add to.

I am not opposed to running the distro from a ramdisk, but would appreciate an indication as to where this occurs in the bootup process.


31st October 2004, 03:54 AM
That's a project that would greatly benefit many folks. I've looked into it a bit myself because it would be perfect as a rescue device. Also perfect for dedicated Linux firewalls and little odd job things similar. Here's a couple of ideas I have:

1. Build a static (non-modular kernel) that has the drivers needed for the particular hardware.
2. Stuff the basic directory tree and bins into something similar to cramfs.
3. Build a custom rc.sysinit to get things fired up
4. This is the hard part. Build an application that will allow a person to pick the needed binaries, build the custom kernel, analyze the USB pen drive, create the filesystem, load the boot image and configure grub to allow booting from the pen drive or any other bootable filesystem found.

Sounds easy, but I have ran into a few gotchas already.

1st November 2004, 03:55 AM
There are a lot of scripts in /etc/rc.d to get you started.

The Knoppix cheat code (http://www.knoppix.net/docs/index.php/CheatCodes) for text mode is 2, if you want to use that.

1st November 2004, 04:21 AM
I've taken a close look at the inner workings of anaconda.src.rpm and I must say, there is a solid basis there for further development. The lastest one has usb storage support built in and there are utility scripts for building the boot image. I'd be willing to bet that one could make some modifications to loader that would work for building distrubuted, dedicated Linux systems that run soley from a USB pen drive. They'd work like an embedded system but be running common Fedora Linux.