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One-Size-Fits-All USB Multi-boot NTFS Flash Drive

How to make multi-boot NTFS USB flash drive One-Size-Fits-All.

Introduction.

One day I’ve desired to have in my pocket one-size-fits-all USB flash drive with multi-boot different operating systems and NTFS file system.
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One-Size-Fits-All USB Multi-boot Flash Drive

What for? For system repair. And just as heaps of space for different kind of data at the same time.
For example Windows 7/XP, DOS(Yes!), some Linux Live-CD systems.

Having so strong desire I couldn’t think about nothing except how to satisfy it.
Unsatisfied desire cause some problems… Sometimes… Thought this is another subject.

I’ve found a lot of links for creating bootable flash drives that seemed to me not very useful.
In spite of detailed descriptions and rank of writers.

But “There Is More Than One Way To Do It”.

I tried to experiment with separate partitions of USB flash drive. For Linux-like system there are no problems.
But Windows give access only for the first partition. While command compmgmt.msc shows all partitions.

I’ve selected the only one NTFS partition for full flash drive.
All live operating systems are installed just to simple folders.

Few kind of live systems are enough for me:
Detailed proven procedure.

1. Format flash USB drive as NTFS with usb_format . This is the best choice among different format utilities. And really format USB flash as NTFS!

2. Setup GRUB for DOS package by grubinst_gui.
In the small window choose “disk” and click “refresh” and “MBA”.

3. Copy file grldr from GRUB for DOS to the root of flash drive.
Here we are! Our USB flash drive is now BOOTABLE!

4. Knoppix 6.7. Just copy files from /boot/syslinux and /knoppix from ISO-image to USB /knoppix (using for example UltraISO programm).

5. Copy HBCD folder from Hiren’s Boot CD.
Now we have Mini-XP set! Easy!

6. It is very easy to install DOS – just copy files io.sys, msdos.sys,command.com
to the root of USB flash drive.
This is DOS minimum. Make also \DOS folder and put some utilities you need there.

7. And lovely Puppy Linux!
Make \Puppy folder and put there files initrd.gz, pup_420.sfs, vmlinuz.

8. At last (or by the way…) we create menu.lst file in the root of Flash drive.

The final content of menu.lst:

color white/black yellow/red green/black green/black
timeout 30
default /default

title KNOPPIX 6.7 Graphics mode (run-level 5)
find --set-root /KNOPPIX/linux
kernel /KNOPPIX/linux lang=en ramdisk_size=100000 vt.default_utf8=0 apm=power-off nomce libata.force=noncq hpsa.hpsa_allow_any=1 loglevel=1 tz=localtime
initrd /KNOPPIX/minirt.gz

title KNOPPIX 6.7 Text mode (run-level 3)
find --set-root /KNOPPIX/linux
kernel /KNOPPIX/linux lang=en ramdisk_size=100000 nomce quiet libata.force=noncq hpsa.hpsa_allow_any=1 loglevel=1 nolapic_timer 3
initrd /KNOPPIX/minirt.gz

title KNOPPIX VGA normal
find --set-root /KNOPPIX/linux
kernel /knoppix/linux ramdisk_size=100000 vga=normal nosound nolapic_timer nomce xmodule=vesa
initrd /knoppix/minirt.gz

title Adriane
find --set-root /KNOPPIX/linux
kernel /knoppix/linux ramdisk_size=100000 vga=0x311  nomce quiet loglevel=0 nolapic_timer adriane
initrd /knoppix/minirt.gz

title Mini Windows Xp from Hiren's CD
find --set-root /HBCD/XPLOADER.BIN
chainloader /HBCD/XPLOADER.BIN

title DOS
chainloader (hd0,0)/io.sys
rootnoverify (hd0)

title Puppy
find –set-root /Puppy/vmlinuz
kernel /Puppy/vmlinuz psubdir=Puppy
initrd /Puppy/initrd.gz



That’s’ ALL! Free of charge! No payment at all!

Threw out all you don’t need from menu.lst or add some useful there. It’s all up to You!

Man Should Have a Choice. Always.

Seems my post is too long… 'Nough said. If you feel like it you're the doctor. And someone read when he want.
Freedom of choice again!

Bunch of One-Size-Fits-All USB Multi-boot Flash Drives

This is why I love internet!

27 comments:

  1. Great instruction!
    Thanks a million.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are welcome :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous00:50

    Very Straight forward and clear.

    Thanks a lot !

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous14:51

    thankyou, short and very usefull. Keep on going!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous06:41

    Your thoughts please, I keep getting an error " Volume to big" when using the format tool on a SanDisk Cruzer Mine USB Flash

    ReplyDelete
  6. Try to use definitely usb_format from http://www.hiren.info/download/freeware/usb_format.zip
    This is the usb format tool I use in my experiments.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous14:11

    YOU ARE A GOD TO THE IGNORNANT .
    PEOPLE SHOULD TAKE NOTICE OF YOUR
    WELL PRESENTED WEB SITE.
    EASY TO FOLLOW AND NICE COLOR .
    THOMAS

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous18:35

    if i want to ubuntu to my usb with hiren's what should i add to menu.lst? something similar to what is there in knoppix?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous09:58

    hey i used your method, knoppix was extracted to my root usb folder but i am getting error 15 file not found.grldr is also in my root folder, my drive booting with hires perfectly but not with knoppix, i tried changing the values of root hd0,0 to hd1,0 and played around values but no success.

    ReplyDelete
  10. To Anonymous 1:
    Different distros often use the same file names for the boot procedure.
    To exclude this problem it is safe to put files into separate folder.
    In my example Knoppix occupy the root folder. So I can’t put another distro set into the root folder too. Try to use separate Ubuntu folder as in Puppy folder example.

    To the last Anonymous:
    Try to read again my post. Your had to use definitely flash-knoppix command from the knoppix environment but not just simple extract procedure.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous19:02

    And what about backtrack? How should be the menu.lst?

    ReplyDelete
  12. BackTrack ? I'll do my best to add it to my usb set. But this trick is for the separate post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi there -- I'm keen to boot MSDOS on a USB drive and have followed your instructions. However clicking on the DOS tile in the GRUB menu produces the following error message:

    ERROR 13: Invalid or unsupported executable format.

    Any ideas?

    Simon

    ReplyDelete
  14. Try to use another set of DOS files - for ex., from Windows9x bootable floppy.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for your suggestion. No luck I'm afraid. I've managed to boot Puppy Linux, which works fine, but still struggling with DOS. Do you have any other ideas? Simon

    ReplyDelete
  16. Puppy Linux and other Linux live CD boots fine from USB when they are The Only One on USB flash.
    Perhaps there is an error in your GRUB4DOS installation.
    Retry the installation with definitely grubinst_gui. And In the small window choose “disk”, click “refresh” and “MBA”.
    Try to tune Puppy with GRUB4DOS. If success - add your DOS set.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous01:15

    Hi, I use http://www.hiren.info/download/freeware/usb_format.zip but I receive the messaqe volume is too big.
    Can you tell me what the maximum size is for a Fat32 USB Disk

    ReplyDelete
  18. You can find answers at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat32#FAT32 :
    FAT32 "allows for drive sizes of up to 8 terabytes with 32KB clusters, but the boot sector uses a 32-bit field for the sector count, limiting volume size to 2 TB on a hard disk with 512 byte sectors."
    "...maximum disk size for ATA disks is 127.6 GB"
    "The Windows 2000/XP installation program and filesystem creation tool imposes a limitation of 32 GB. However, both systems can read and write to FAT32 file systems of any size"
    "..this limitation can be bypassed by using third-party formatting utilities."

    ReplyDelete
  19. The syntax for puppy is a bit wrong, this works:

    title macpup
    find --set-root /macpup/vmlinuz
    kernel /macpup/vmlinuz psubdir=macpup
    initrd /macpup/initrd.gz

    I am not quite sure about having several puppy on same stick
    without changing puppy initrd.gz

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous03:50

    Great appreciate with this blog!
    This technic is very good and helpful for every computer user who like free OS on USB drive.
    But I found a problem with HBCD,so I modify menu.lst to Hiren's advice;

    title Start Hiren's BootCD
    find --set-root /HBCD/boot.gz
    map --mem /HBCD/boot.gz (fd0)
    map --hook
    chainloader (fd0)+1
    rootnoverify (fd0)
    map --floppies=1
    boot

    title Mini Windows Xp
    find --set-root /HBCD/XPLOADER.BIN
    chainloader /HBCD/XPLOADER.BIN

    And the Knoppix link is broken.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous21:55

    Hi . I Need help . I have 2 partitions primery on flash drive 16G
    1 primery ntfs with windows installers
    2 primery is fat16 for Hiren
    I want to run hiren from 1 primery partition
    with grub4dos . How can I do thet ?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Really useful blog.Good work keeping this updated! USB Boot Drive Thanks a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Linux flash drive can provide a communication channel that is safe from a possibly compromised computer. linux flash drive

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ditch the fat partitions please !
    You can use NTFS partion with HBCD.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yes! NTFS on USB flash - is the best choice!
    For multi-boot systems and just for data only.

    ReplyDelete
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  27. Glad to help you....

    ReplyDelete