Boot into Linux using your USB Thumb Drive

boot into linux from usb thumb drivePreviously I discussed about Booting into Windows XP using your USB drive. You can even boot into Linux using your USB thumb drive.

Booting of Linux from Pen Drive is done by using some small software and simple commands. For this process we use the smallest Distro for Linux called as Damn Small Linux. You could also use distros like Puppy or SLAX.


What You’ll Need

1. A USB thumb drive, 256 MB or larger, with USB 2.0 recommended
2. A PC that can boot from a USB device (look in the BIOS, or check the user manual)
3. The Damn Small Linux (DSL) Distro.Download it from Here
4. Syslinux V3.73. Download it from Here
5. The HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool.Download it from this link. This is used for formatting USB drive.


Formatting the USB drive

Insert your drive into a USB slot. Download and install the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, then run it.

Use the following settings in the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool dialog box..

  • Device: The name and capacity of your storage device
  • File system: FAT
  • Volume label: Name it as whatever you want

Confirm the Format by clicking Yes. Once the Format is complete, you’ll get a list with information about the file system,volume, etc. about your device. Click OK.


Extracting the necessary files

Download and extract the DSL distro ( to the root of the USB device using WinZip or any other extraction software. Then download and extract all the files from to a folder named Syslinux on your primary hard drive, that is, “X:\Syslinux”, where "X" is the drive letter of the primary hard drive.

Open a Command Prompt (Start > Run > cmd), type in “cd:\syslinux\win32” and press [Enter]. Then type in “syslinux.exe –f Y:” (where Y represents the drive letter of the USB device).

Hit [Enter]. Close the Command Prompt.


Booting to Linux

Keep your USB device plugged in, and reboot your PC. Enter the BIOS and set the boot order with the USB device first. Save your changes and exit the BIOS. (There are many different BIOSes, and you need to figure out if your PC supports booting from USB.)

If all goes well, you’ll be presented with Damn Small Linux’s boot screen. Press [Enter] to continue the boot process. Let me know if you encounter any problems doing this.

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