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how to make LiveUSB of current Ubuntu install?


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#1 quixote

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 05:15 PM

The story so far: I've tried remastersys and just cannot get it to work, so I thought I'd try the manual approach. That looks scarily complicated :whistling:. I do understand that unetbootin will take a standard iso and turn that into a bootable USB. I also understand that I can do that in Jaunty using System - Admin - USB Startup Disk Creator.

What I'm wondering is whether I can do the following: after making a standard bootable USB, can I then turn it into a duplicate of *my* install by just rsyncing (or using cp -a) all of /usr, /opt, /var, /home, and ??, over onto the USB?

So: make standard LiveUSB + copy over a bunch of dirs = custom bootable USB that would recreate my current install with all the changes and settings I've made?

Compared to the real instructions for making a custom bootable iso, that would be way too easy, so the answer is probably "no"? :thumbsup:

#2 ponnuki

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 06:27 PM

Ubuntu live USB can be done easily with the built-in program in Ubuntu itself. Burn your .iso image and boot from the live CD. After you log in, type at the terminal:
$ usb-creator-gtk
it will invoke a GUI program for creating live USB. This is DESTRUCTIVE installation; be sure to back up any data in your USB flash drive.

Another method, you can do it in windows. Google “live USB imager”, or “USBuntu”. I’ve tried live USB imager, this is an excellent tool; you can make a live USB non-destructively. You can also do this to a partitoned USB flash drive, but you need to unplug everytime you end your live session because there is write error at shutdown. Just a minor problem.

#3 quixote

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 07:16 PM

Burn your .iso image and boot from the live CD. After you log in, type at the terminal:
$ usb-creator-gtk
it will invoke a GUI program for creating live USB.

Won't this create a LiveUSB of a standard downloaded iso? I'd like to create a customized LiveUSB from my installation, including all the packages I've installed, users, and settings. (Settings I know I can get just by copying over /home, but the other stuff I'm less clear on.) Or am I missing something?

I'm trying to figure out if I can make a bootable custom liveUSB by using a nice, easy GUI (usb-creator, unnetbootin, either one) for the bootable and Live part, and then just copying over system directories like /usr.

(I don't have a Windows machine at this point, but if I understand right, the Windows method is also to install a standard iso on the USB?)

#4 agni

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 01:48 AM

You can use Remastersys to a create a Live ISO of your INSTALLED Ubuntu.
You can then use Unetbootin to create a bootable USB using the ISO you created with Remastersys.

Check these links
http://www.ubuntugee...emastersys.html

http://geekconnectio...tersystool.html

Hope this helps.

#5 quixote

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 03:38 AM

For some reason, I just can't get remastersys to work. It goes ahead and makes the iso, but when I try to use it to boot, there's either kernel panics or some other problem. I've had this on two different computers now. So I figured I'd try something else . . . but there doesn't seem to be anything else. :whistling:

Who knows, maybe I'm using it wrong. I'll have another try at it, I guess.

I take it I can't just copy my /usr, /home, and so on to a LiveUSB and expect it to work?

#6 agni

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 06:33 AM

Please post the command that you used to create the iso.

There are 3 options that can be passed to the script.

backup - backs up your system including your /home folder with your users on it.

dist - omits the /home folder thus making it a distributable cd that you can give to your friends.

clean - removes the temporary folder that was created, including the new iso so burn it and copy it elsewhere before you run "sudo remastersys clean"


You should use the dist option
Unetbootin can create a live usb only from distributable Cd.
You can also try Linux Live USB creator make a Live USB.
http://www.linuxliveusb.com/ (I have posted an article about this tool @ http://agnipulse.com...ve-usb-creator/

Also check these links
http://www.geekconne...sys/capink.html
http://www.geekconne...sys/ubuntu.html
http://www.linuxmint...php/Remastersys

#7 quixote

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 04:48 AM

the command I used was: sudo remastersys backup

I'm surprised that you say I want the dist option. I had understood that was if you do NOT want all your own settings. I DO want all my own settings. How is the dist option a better choice?

I saw capink's page on manually making a custom live boot CD, and actually went through all the steps today, hoping for the best. I used unetbootin to put the iso on a USB.

But I get the same error: when I try to boot from the USB (or CD), it starts loading vmlinuz, and then immediately freezes with "Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init!" Then I have to do a hard reset.

I removed "quiet splash" from menu.lst, and tried booting into the "text" option. Then I saw one error message before the kernel panic:

Loading, please wait ...

/init: .: line 216: can't open /scripts/casper
[ 4.014892] Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init!


There is no top level directory /scripts. :rolleyes:

Anyway, thanks for your suggestion. I'll let you know how I go.

#8 agni

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 06:56 AM

Try the dist option.
Check if unetbootin creates a working bootable pendrive from the iso created by using the dist option.
Now check which all settings are missing and post it here.I will try to help.

You can have your settings even if you use the dist option.I think this is done by copying the contents of your home folder to /etc/skel before creating the iso.
I am not sure about this.But you can try it.

http://www.linfo.org/etc_skel.html

#9 quixote

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:46 PM

I tried the dist option, same result, but this time I stared at the screen the whole time without ever looking away. ;)

And I noticed these error messages buried in the remastersys messages:

chmod: cannot access /usr/share/initramfs-tools/scripts/casper-bottom/*adduser
/usr/share/initramfs-tools/scripts/casper-bottom/*autologin no such file or dir
archdetect: error while loading shared libs: libdebian-installer.so.4: cannot open, no such file or dir


When I checked, sure enough, ..casper-bottom/ is empty, and the lib file doesn't exist. ;) Can I reinstall them by reinstalling "sudo apt-get casper" ? Or can I just copy them, perhaps, from my other jaunty system which has all the files?

Any idea why they're missing? What's the best thing to do about it?

Since it just kernel panics before any messages even appear, I don't have anything useful there (I don't think?). But when I tried the memtest option, it did say: "cannot boot RAM disk with old kernel image." All very bizarre.

#10 Nuno Brito

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:57 PM

I don't have a solution for this matter but would be really interested to see it work as well.

It's a troublesome to reinstall everything once you get everything right and configured as you like.. ;)

#11 agni

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 12:22 AM

Which version of Ubuntu are you using?
Does the iso boot?
Have you tried booting the iso in a virtual machine?

#12 quixote

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 05:21 AM

version of Ubuntu: 9.04, Jaunty. (Karmic had too many issues on that machine. sound, plus some others.)

Does the iso boot? Nope. And it's the same kernel panic message at the same point. Whatever is wrong with how the iso is made is not happening when it's converted to USB usage.

Have you tried booting the iso in a virtual machine? No, not yet. Is there any chance that'll give me a different result, given that so far it's been perfectly consistent? These iso's aren't all the same one, either. I've made about three different ones: remastersys backup, manual using capink's page, remastersys dist, and I think one other one. They all fail the same way.

Today I decided I'd at least make a standard issue liveUSB, using Jaunty's usb-creator. That worked with no problems. So it's possible. I'm just missing something somewhere. What do you think of the casper-scripts error message I mentioned? Relevant? Not relevant?

Thanks for all your time and help on this!

#13 agni

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:20 AM

Since the iso does not boot there is some problem with your current Ubuntu install that is preventing remastersys from creating a working bootable iso.Maybe something to do with casper scripts.(I am not sure about this.)

Try reinstalling Ubuntu (a clean install,by formatting the partition) and then try remastersys .
Make sure you install all the necessary apps before running remastersys.
Check if this iso boots correctly.Then try unetbootin.

#14 quixote

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 05:40 PM

Okay. That'll take a while. I'll come back and let you know how I go. I was getting the same impression, about it being something to do with the install itself. Thanks for your help!

#15 JaydenThor

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 06:02 PM

I use remastersys dist option. Copy a user profile and make an ISO. Then i use Yumi to create a bootable usb. Make sure to name your ISO in the naming convention for Ubuntu so you can select it to install to your Multi-OS bootable USB. Also be sure to apt-get install remastersys-gui. This will let you use the friendly tools to set it up.


Edited by JaydenThor, 06 February 2014 - 06:02 PM.





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