Update: These instructions have been confirmed to also work with Knoppix 5.0.1. Testing was done using a Dell Optiplex GX280 and a PNY Attache 2GB USB Flash Drive.
The following instructions describe the process for installing Knoppix Linux on a USB flash drive. This allows the OS to be booted directly from the flash drive. The instructions have been tested to work on Dell Optiplex GX270 and GX280s.
These instuctions are designed to be performed from a Windows PC.
The Knoppix Live CD is about 700MB, so you’ll need a flash drive that is at least that big. In this example I used a 1GB Sandisk Cruzer Mini.
Begin by downloading the Knoppix ISO file from www.knoppix.org. You’ll need v4.0 or newer. I used KNOPPIX_V4.0.2CD-2005-09-23-EN.iso
Next download Syslinux from http://syslinux.zytor.com/index.php. These instructions used syslinux-3.11.zip.
Extract the syslinux files to C:\syslinux-3.11.
Insert you USB Key into a USB slot in your PC and note the drive letter that it is assigned.
Run “C:\syslinux-3.11\win32\syslinux.exe (target drive)” where the target drive is the letter assigned to your USB key. Ex. “C:\syslinux-3.11\win32\syslinux.exe E:”
Now mount the Knoppix ISO that you downloaded earlier. You can do this using a program like WinISO or by simply burning it to CD.
Copy the entire contents of the Knoppix CD onto the USB flash drive.
On the flash drive, navigate to the bootisolinux directory and move it’s contents up to the root of the drive. Delete the boot directory.
Delete ISOlinux.bin from the root of the flash drive.
Rename ISOlinux.cfg to SYSlinux.cfg.
That’s all there is to it!
Now boot to the drive.
To boot to USB flash drive you’ll need a PC that’s BIOS supports booting to USB devices. Enter the BIOS and change the boot order so that the USB flash drive is the first boot device. Alternately, if the BIOS has a boot menu, select it from the BIOS screen when the PC starts and select “USB drive”.
For example, on a Dell computer: Start the PC. When the Dell BIOS screen appears, select F12. This will enter the one-time boot menu. Use the arrows keys to highlight the USB drive option and hit enter.
The PC should now boot to the Knoppix Live CD.
Here are some of the pages that were very helpful to me in writing these instructions:
Success making bootable and persistent USB key with SYSLINUX – Knoppix.net
Boot Knoppix 3.6 from USB key – How To (Success!) – Knoppix.net
Boot KNOPPIX from an USB Memory Stick
Knoppix on USB Flash Drive
PC World | Knoppix in your pocket