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Re: Preparing a USB key for installation

On Sun, Jan 28, 2007 at 04:04:43PM +0000, Julius Maclean wrote:
> Hi Chaps,
> First post. Appologies in advance if this is the wrong list.

You're in the right place.

> This concerns installation of Fedora based distros from a USB
> key. I've read the guides that say one should run; dd
> if=diskboot.img of=/dev/sda
> This works fine and I've been able to install OS using this
> method. However the partition table that this command creates is
> rather unusable for any thing other than installations. [output of
> fdisk -l listed below].
> It seems as if the USB key is partitioned in such a way that all of
> the nth scsi device is used. It would be nice to be able mount the
> USB key in order to say, out an iso image on it. Bit of a waste of a
> 1GB USB key in that I do have the sapce for diskboot.img *and* an
> iso image.

It would, indeed. Talk to the people who write BIOSs.

What that command does is overwrite the whole key drive, starting with
the master boot record (MBR), which contains the partition
table. There is no partition table in the image, just as there is no
partition table on a floppy diskette, which explains the screwy output
from fdisk. This is because the BIOS plays games to let the boot code
think it is booting to a floppy.

More recent BIOSs may handle partition tables on USB devices
correctly, I would hope so. but earlier ones didn't. So this gets the
most general usage of the USB key.

If your BIOS will handle the partition table, feel free to partition
the key, create one or more partitions, and copy the files from the
disk image to a partition. You should probably use the first
partition, and make it bootable. I have no idea if that will work or
not, but it might be worth the experiment.


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