Run completely from USB stick.

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OLDBEAR
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Run completely from USB stick.

Post#1 by OLDBEAR » 24 Apr 2013, 21:38

Hello all.

Total newbie to Linux in general and Porteus in particular.

What I would like to ask is this.....how can I run a complete system on my 64GB Toshiba USB stick. By this I mean can I save my data, docs, spreadsheets, music files, photos etc on the same 64GB memory stick my porteus system is on.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, my apologies for putting such a, hopefully, simple question to you all, but it's the only way I'll learn.

Thank you in anticipation

Mick......(OLDBEAR)

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#2 by Ahau » 24 Apr 2013, 21:45

The easiest way to do this would be to download the Porteus ISO, burn it to a CD (make sure you burn it as an image, not a data disk), boot your system from the CD, and then use the porteus installer from the application menu to install Porteus on your flash drive. After that, if you want to save all your changes/files between reboots, you'll need to create a "save.dat" container for them using the "save.dat" manager, also in the application menu. Let us know if you run into trouble :)
Please take a look at our online documentation, here. Suggestions are welcome!

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#3 by OLDBEAR » 25 Apr 2013, 00:27

Many thanks or your quick reply. I appreciate it....
Will give it a go tomorrow......
Many thanks, and rest assured, any problems an I will take you up on your generous offer..

Once again, many thanks.

Mick.....

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#4 by Ed_P » 25 Apr 2013, 03:01

Being a Linux newbie myself and never having done a Porteus install from a Porteus CD I'm a little confused. I boot Porteus from an ISO on a USB device and save my changes using the save.dat file concept. But if Porteus is actually installed on a USB device isn't the save.dat file unnecessary? I mean aren't all the Porteus files and folders actually on the USB device. And the USB device is booted rather than Porteus being written to RAM and run from there?
Ed

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#5 by Ed_P » 25 Apr 2013, 03:17

Ok, I took Ahau's advice and to a "look at our online documentation". :) I read the documentation. http://www.porteus.org/info/category/10-installing.html

I didn't see a reference to installing Porteus from a CD so I'm still unsure what that does.

I did see a reference to installing Porteus to a U3 flash drive and would like to add that I have 2 U3 flash drives, both bootable, both still have their U3 CD partitions intact and unchanged. I didn't understand it's comment that the size of the CD reduces the memory available.

I also saw a reference to using Pendrive to install Porteus. I don't think Pendrive's app actually does installs, doesn't it just support booting ISOs, similar to what I do with Grub4DOS?
Ed

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#6 by cttan » 25 Apr 2013, 05:45

Hi,

Please checkout the /boot/docs/install.txt after you have downloaded the ISO file and extracted it to a folder. It has complete guide on how to install from Windows or Linux system.

Please read thoroughly and proceed with care as the process may wipe your data if you do not perform it correctly.

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#7 by Ahau » 25 Apr 2013, 14:39

@ EdP,

The method for installing to CD, booting from the CD, then running the GUI install tool is on our main download page, here: http://www.porteus.org/downloads.html

under "Copy It!". It's also found in the "USB Installation.txt" file in the top-level directory of the Porteus ISO, and it's briefly mentioned in the "Quick and dirty installation instructions" in the official guide, which is here: http://www.porteus.org/component/conten ... guide.html (this document is also in the ISO, as cttan correctly points out). The GUI installer has built-in instructions, so we have these brief instruction sets to get people headed in the right direction without overwhelming them with lots of information. The details are found further down in the instruction guide for those who don't want to use the GUI installer or can't burn to a CD first.

Regarding U3 flash drives, I've never used them so I'm not that familiar (I didn't write that doc). I think what the author means is that the disk space is shared between the ISO and the "regular" flash, so if you have a 4GB drive and use 1 GB for the ISO, you'll only have 3GB left for your regular flash drive.

The Pendrive linux doc is another one that I didn't put together, I've never used pendrive linux or the universal-usb-installer. If there's anyone who is familiar with these tools, who is willing to help update that documentation, please let me know. Otherwise, it may be time to remove that document. It was written before we had a GUI installer (and I think even before we had the official porteus install guide).

Finally, regarding installations to USB and save.dat container files -- whenever you install Porteus to a FAT or NTFS partition, you must use a save.dat container for your saved changes. This is because FAT and NTFS don't have full support for UNIX symlinks and permissions. Almost every flash drive you can buy comes formatted with FAT32 out of the box. If you reformat your Flash drive with a linux filesystem type, such as ext2, ext4, xfs, btrfs, etc., you can save your changes to the flash drive without a save.dat container.

HTH :)
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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#8 by surio » 25 Apr 2013, 16:30

FWIW,

I have used the Universal USB installer (http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal- ... -as-1-2-3/) and UNetBootIn (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/) for creating live usbs out of the downloaded ISOs. It works straight out of the box, and on first login, I create my save.dat file in the USB. Et voila, I am good to go.

Saves me a from burning a separate CD/DVD :)
Ahau wrote:The Pendrive linux doc is another one that I didn't put together, I've never used pendrive linux or the universal-usb-installer. If there's anyone who is familiar with these tools, who is willing to help update that documentation, please let me know.
Is there something to be documented here? Let me know. Where's the original document?



HTH.
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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#9 by Ed_P » 25 Apr 2013, 17:46

Thank you guys.
Ahau wrote:The method for installing to CD, booting from the CD, then running the GUI install tool is on our main download page, here: http://www.porteus.org/downloads.html

under "Copy It!". It's also found in the "USB Installation.txt" file in the top-level directory of the Porteus ISO, and it's briefly mentioned in the "Quick and dirty installation instructions" in the official guide, which is here: http://www.porteus.org/component/conten ... guide.html (this document is also in the ISO, as cttan correctly points out).
Thanks. The links are indeed helpful. Maybe a link to them could be placed on the Online Help page?
Regarding U3 flash drives, I've never used them so I'm not that familiar (I didn't write that doc). I think what the author means is that the disk space is shared between the ISO and the "regular" flash, so if you have a 4GB drive and use 1 GB for the ISO, you'll only have 3GB left for your regular flash drive.
I'm aware that there are hacks to change the contents of the U3 ISO but I'm not aware that the CD size can be changed. Since I've never had a reason to change it I haven't tried any of them. (BTW I use to be an admin for the SanDisk U3 Community forum.)
The Pendrive linux doc is another one that I didn't put together, I've never used pendrive linux or the universal-usb-installer. If there's anyone who is familiar with these tools, who is willing to help update that documentation, please let me know. Otherwise, it may be time to remove that document. It was written before we had a GUI installer (and I think even before we had the official porteus install guide).

I think periodic reviews of the online guides would be particularly useful when major new releases are implemented. Otherwise referring people to read the online documentation looses it's effectiveness. And that of course doesn't help anyone.
Finally, regarding installations to USB and save.dat container files -- whenever you install Porteus to a FAT or NTFS partition, you must use a save.dat container for your saved changes. This is because FAT and NTFS don't have full support for UNIX symlinks and permissions. Almost every flash drive you can buy comes formatted with FAT32 out of the box. If you reformat your Flash drive with a linux filesystem type, such as ext2, ext4, xfs, btrfs, etc., you can save your changes to the flash drive without a save.dat container.
Wow!! Was not aware of that situation. Thank you. Would that apply to most Linux systems or just Porteus?
HTH :)
Indeed it did. Thanks. :)
Ed

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#10 by Ed_P » 25 Apr 2013, 17:55

surio wrote:
Ahau wrote:The Pendrive linux doc is another one that I didn't put together, I've never used pendrive linux or the universal-usb-installer. If there's anyone who is familiar with these tools, who is willing to help update that documentation, please let me know.
Is there something to be documented here? Let me know. Where's the original document?
The documentation is here: http://www.porteus.org/component/conten ... o-usb.html


FWIW Another automated tool that can be used is Easy2Boot.
Ed

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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#11 by Ahau » 25 Apr 2013, 18:42

@surio, if you would, please take a look at the "pendrive linux" tutorial, as linked by EdP above and let me know if anything is out of place or out of date, and I can correct it. Thank you!

@EdP, Which page were you thinking the links would be appropriate for? I did realize that the official install guide was categorized under "general information", so I have put it back in "Installation" and moved it to the top of the list: http://www.porteus.org/info/category/10-installing.html There are links to it on the download page as well, but I definitely want folks to have easy and convenient access to it!

Now I think I understand your question about the U3 guide better. Here's the original thread: viewtopic.php?f=39&t=112

Since this is outside of my knowledge base, would you be willing to make some edits to make that guide better?

We do go through the documentation before and after every major release, and I've retired a number of outdated documents; in this case, I don't think we picked up on it because we're mostly looking at what has changed between releases, and none of us are intimately familiar with U3 devices. As such, I'm very grateful for your input!

Regarding saved changes: No natively installed linux operating system should (or could, for that matter) be run on a FAT or NTFS filesystem. The reason why porteus and others (such as puppy) can work is that the system data is stored inside archives that do support symlinks and file permissions. In the case of Porteus, we have "modules" that contain all of the base system data. They are compressed squashfs archives, and inside the archive the symlinks and permissions can live happily, even when the archive itself is sitting on a FAT or NTFS filesystem. When Porteus starts up, each module gets mounted and all the data from those modules is joined together inside AUFS -- this method of joining is the "union" in "Another Union File System") and what makes Porteus a "Live" distribution. The data itself remains inside the archive and is decompressed on the fly and read into RAM when needed by the system. The shortcoming here is that the files inside xzm modules cannot be modified. To compensate for this, a writeable "branch" is added to the union, and any file that gets changed or added to the live filesystem is stored to this branch. If you are using a linux filesystem, the writeable branch (aka your saved changes) can be stored directly on the filesystem. If you're using FAT/NTFS, you have to create the "container" which is a big file that actually gets formatted internally with a linux filesystem. If you aren't saving changes at all, the writeable branch lives inside your RAM (a portion of your ram emulates a block device and the data is stored there as if it were a regular drive), and when you reboot all of the data goes *poof*.

Ok, I let myself get a little wordy there, I hope it's relatively clear lol.
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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#12 by surio » 25 Apr 2013, 19:14

@Ahau,
That terse document is still relevant in its description of the right workflow.

Perhaps, additionally you can mention what has been mentioned here about FAT32 and the subsequent need for save.dat container files. That would complete it. :)
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Re: Run completely from USB stick.

Post#13 by Ahau » 25 Apr 2013, 21:43

I modified the note at the end to simply mention that a save.dat would be required for saving changes, and pointed the readers to the HOWTO on save.dat's. That doc does mention that it's to preserve symlink and perms, and since it's geared towards newer users I don't want to make it overly technical. There's a bit more explanation on this here : http://www.porteus.org/component/conten ... cture.html
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