How to boot Knoppix 4.0 from a USB Flash Drive

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.

Installation

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.

References

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

15 Responses to “How to boot Knoppix 4.0 from a USB Flash Drive”

  1. Yix says:

    i have the PNY Attache 2GB USB Flash Drive and had to use syslinux -s command in order to get it working. the rest… no problems. thankyou!

  2. coldfloral says:

    A little late to the game, but I need help.

    “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.”

    How exactly does one mount the Knoppix ISO using WinISO? I’m totally lost, so any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  3. Antonio says:

    I just had to reformat my USB stick (SanDisk Cruzer Mini 1.0 GB) first, using FAT (not FAT32).
    I used Knoppix 5.1.1 and Syslinux 3.51. Tested on a Dell Inspiron 600m.
    Thank you.

  4. theZ says:

    coldfloral: use Daemon Tools. Just Google that and you’ll find it. It simply creates a virtual drive into which you can “insert” most formats of CD Image (.iso, .nrg, cue/bin, etc.)

  5. David says:

    You did not say if this is destructive to other data on the stick already.

  6. Wouter says:

    coldfloral Says:

    July 26th, 2007 at 1:35 pm
    A little late to the game, but I need help.

    “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.”

    How exactly does one mount the Knoppix ISO using WinISO? I’m totally lost, so any help is appreciated. Thanks.

    __________________________________________—–
    Use 7zip, that can open a iso and can unzip the iso

  7. MaHuJa says:

    For these purposes (recovering files from an iso image), isobuster will also do the job nicely, without messing with the system (adding virtual drives etc) the way daemon tools etc will.

    And I can confirm that the data on the stick is not touched. Just make sure you have enough space left over – preferably not fragmented.

  8. Fltpro says:

    Used a Lexar 1 GB jumpdrive, syslinux 3.52 and the latest Knoppix 5.1.1. ISO. Instructions above would not work until I “formatted” the jumpdrive with hpusbfw.exe. Formatting with the XP “format” program would not work. The hpusbfw.exe program formatted the jumpdrive (by default) in FAT32. After the format, the instructions above worked smoothly.

  9. everyone says:

    in using syslinux I have to use -sma in order to make the the usb key really bootable
    I used winrar to extract from the iso

  10. Alexander says:

    I have quite new laptop (HP nc6000) which does not support USB boot. I also heard there are CD helpers containing just loaders enabling USB stick usage after initial boot. Would be nice if someone could give any reference. Google etc do not help.

  11. Jim says:

    Thanks for the help. With syslinux 3.54 Knoppix 5.1.1 for a Dell Latitude D505 I also needed to do syslinux.exe with -sma options to make the USB recognized as bootable by the bios (Phoenix). Also note, more recent syslinux will look in /boot/syslinux for syslinux.cfg. So you don’t need to copy all to the root. Just rename the isolinux dir to syslinux, and rename isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg (and delete isolinux.bin, but that might not be needed).

  12. Harsh says:

    Hey, Thanks a Ton buddy. I was able to run KNOPPIX via my USB & extremely happy seeing it.

    ** Now the only problem is, I m writting a few SHELL SCRIPTS which m not able to recover later On. It gets saved & retrieved untill my session lasts. Once I reboot, all changes and files are disappeared.

    — Any solutions to this is Highly appreciated.

  13. James says:

    WoW!! As helpful as the linux community is I can’t believe no one
    responded to ‘Harsh’, Harsh your thumbdrive instal lacks ‘persistance’

    This problem is common in thumbdrive linux installs since by default the
    LiveCD (which is what you are really using) doesn’t save anything
    anywhere other than to RAM. Try using google to look-up ‘making USB
    persistant’ or ‘Casper -rw’

    Hope that helps if you are still looking for an answer, or I hope it renews
    your efforts if you gave up on this great project due to lack of info O.O

    -James

  14. Harsh says:

    @ James,

    Thanks mate. will definitely Google up what you have suggested.

    Yeah, it will renew my efforts for what I was trying since long time. ;-)

    Have a good time.

    – Harsh

  15. provels says:

    Thanks for the article. Taking this a little further afield.. I used Syslinux 3.63 and Ubuntu 8.04 on my Razr phone with a 1GB flash and the general instructions here. I used -sma in syslinux (not sure I needed to…) and renamed the isolinux folder and .cfg to syslinux. That’s it. Amaze your friends!

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