*nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

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someguy
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*nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby someguy » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:23 pm UTC

Hello everyone. This will be a bit of a strange question but I figured this would be the right place to ask.

I've just finished a short, introductory Linux course; I found it very interesting having worked with M$ stuff all my life. The instructor made us work with the command line all the time, and I enjoyed going back to that 'mode' since I started with DOS myself, and I guess some part of me was missing that.

Now, since I don't have a chance to practice this at work, I need (want) to find small 'tasks' to do in Linux so I can keep myself busy and not 'drop the ball', as it were. I'd hate to forget what little I've learned and have to start again.

I already plan on installing Ubuntu (most likely) on my notebook which should be on its way to me (long story) but that'll still take a week or two; right now what I'm toying with is installing some variation of Linux on a spare 4 gig USB stick I have. I understand that that can be done, and in fact have done it, but always with very streamlined installers conceived specifically for that purpose.

What I would like to do now is get my hands dirty and do every single little step myself.

The problem is, I'm not sure I could do it completely out of the blue with no orientation. So I was wondering whether there's some kind of guide discussing the necessary steps.

That's basically it. I'd appreciate any pointers, and in fact any ideas about other 'tasks' to undertake in order to practice and broaden what I've learned.

Thanks!
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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby Narsil » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:13 pm UTC

I think most all modern BIOS'es support booting from USB, which should mean that you can install to the USB drive from pretty much any liveCD. Since space is limited, I'd use Puppy Linux or Damn Small Linux. You will probably have to do manual partitioning, which isn't too difficult.
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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby Emu* » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:36 pm UTC

ubuntu will fit in 4G fine, I did it last night when synaptic EPIC FAIL'd my xandros-eee install.
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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby Unparallelogram » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:05 am UTC

I've tried normally installing various distros onto a usb stick. Among others, ubuntu works and I forget which else. The installer might not be so happy to stick grub on anything but your primary hdd, and you might need to do it by hand instead.

Many distros also have a specific option for live off a usb device. For example the ubuntu livecd can copy itself over to a usb, where it can run what is essentially the live environment but with persistence. It's a lot different from a normal install but could fit your needs.

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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby Nemiro » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:37 am UTC

http://pendrivelinux.com has some guides on installing various distros to USB. Some of the newer ones rely on the liveCD installer, but older distro guides do use the command line. As far as I'm aware there's not much to it - pretty much download a .tar'd version of the distro, format+prepare your flash drive (which can be done with the terminal) and then unzip it and run a script in the boot folder to make it bootable. That's how SLAX worked anyway ;)
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someguy
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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby someguy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:33 am UTC

Thanks. I'll look into your recommendations.

I liked going into 'command line' mode, as I said; everyone else was struggling and pretty much hated the Linux part of the course, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

At one point, for example, the guy told us to add a line to the fstab file, which was very similar to the last one on there except for a value or two-- everyone opened vim and copied the line by hand, I did a sudo cat /etc/fstab |tail -n1 >>/etc/fstab and then changed one or two characters. Don't even know how I came up with that out of the blue, but I felt really proud :D.
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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:19 pm UTC

someguy wrote:Thanks. I'll look into your recommendations.

I liked going into 'command line' mode, as I said; everyone else was struggling and pretty much hated the Linux part of the course, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

At one point, for example, the guy told us to add a line to the fstab file, which was very similar to the last one on there except for a value or two-- everyone opened vim and copied the line by hand, I did a sudo cat /etc/fstab |tail -n1 >>/etc/fstab and then changed one or two characters. Don't even know how I came up with that out of the blue, but I felt really proud :D.

The next step might be to set up a sed editor command to change the characters. :)

You can even do it like this:
cat /etc/fstab | tail -n1 | sed [sed command goes here]
and then visually inspect the resulting output. Only once that is done do you wrap it in a sudo -- or even better, save the changes to a file, then just do a cat as super user (The idea being that you don't casually edit system files by hand as a super user. Instead, you validate the stuff first, then do it as a super user.)
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someguy
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Re: *nix on a USB stick... THE HARD WAY?

Postby someguy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:35 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:You can even do it like this:
cat /etc/fstab | tail -n1 | sed [sed command goes here]
and then visually inspect the resulting output. Only once that is done do you wrap it in a sudo -- or even better, save the changes to a file, then just do a cat as super user (The idea being that you don't casually edit system files by hand as a super user. Instead, you validate the stuff first, then do it as a super user.)

Makes sense, thanks.
aleflamedyud wrote:Plenty of people have confidence without any base of actual virtue or accomplishment beneath it. We call these people "douchebags".



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