Booting from USB drive

I know its been a while since I came back to my blog. Things have been quite bad, but more on that later...

So then, I got a new Thinkpad t61p, with 2 GB RAM and 100 GB HDD pre-installed. Another 2 GB RAM was provided later, as well as a 200 GB HDD (wahey!). However, now that I have 300 GB HDD (I got rid of the DVD/RW drive), I wanted to install Ubuntu. So, off I went and downloaded all ~700 MB of Ubuntu distro.The problem of course is that, although the Ubuntu distro (*.iso) can be opened via WinRaR, the "start.exe" supplied with the distro, only fires up the Ubuntu browser, and wubi-cdboot.exe complains "Could not find any appropriate CD"... well fair enough.

But I do have USB pen drives available - so I should be able to boot from them right? Bad idea....

Quick googling gave me quite a few promising results, and I'm going to explore them all here one at a time.

  1. http://www.bootdisk.com/pendrive.htm - if you get past the tacky colour scheme, you find that it presents a number of options. Let's try and run through them all here
    • Option 1 - Using mkbt
      • You can pretty much disregard option 1, since it expects you to have a floppy drive in this day and age. Right (!). And it expects you to have created one using Windows....
    • Option 2 - using HP's utilities, a USB Disk format tool and another to probably copy the boot files off to USB key, but a 45 MB utility for that? No way am I using it.
    • Option 3 - Third party links 1 and 2 - While the first one wants you to have a bootable CD already, the second is merely a list of recommendations from MS when booting from USB Storage Devices...
    • Option 4 - Provides a way of copying over windows bootable files on Win98 (!). Another option was to use the Windows Enabler utility, which seemed promising, but it doesn't work for me either, since it won't startup on my PC. Further examination revealed that it won't start up since it cannot find a CD/DVD drive.
    • Option 5 - The last option provided was to create a virtual floppy drive, which is a neat idea (reminds me of my favourite utility deamontools). After a couple of attempts (and a reboot), it finally managed to create a virtual floppy drive, and assign it a drive letter.
  2. The rest of the websites have variations on these options.

I finally managed to work with two different options:

1. Use vfd to create a virtual floppy drive
2. Format and make this floppy drive DOS-bootable ,using Windows Explorer
3. Used rawrite to write binary image of this floppy on to the USB drive.
4. Boot from USB (after of course, suitable changes to BIOS startup config).

However, the drawback of this is the USB drive effectively becomes the size of the floppy disk (so, if vfd was used to create a 1.44 MB floppy disk, then writing that image on the USB disk renders it to 1.44 MB drive).

Lastly, I did resort to using HP's utility to create a bootable USB disk - and yes, that worked.

Next step, trying to get Ubuntu to intall, without sticking me at Busybox console!

By and by, I decided it would be a neat idea to be able to boot from my USB drive

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