Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

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Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

Postby alj » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:50 pm

Hi all,

I've been using boot-it for a long time and love how it makes everything simple. However, for the first time, I'm stomped as to how to accomplish something. I've created three partitions on my hard-drive: one big partition for Windows XP, one 500 MB partition for Webconverger (a Debian based Live CD system) and finally a small partition for BootIt.

Now I've got two boot items: one for Windows XP and one for Webconverger. Windows XP works flawlessly, but I can't boot into webconverger. Webconverger is basically a Debian Live distribution and I've been able to boot into it using a USB key with the iso-hybrid image of the system. I followed the same procedure and using dd I copied the image to the second partition (/dev/sda2). But when I try and boot into the second partition using BootIt I get "isolinux.bin is missing or corrupt."

Is there a specific set of settings that I need to use?

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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:39 pm

Re: Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

Postby Brian K » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:22 am


Try this. Image your USB flash drive partition with IFW. Again with IFW, restore the image to unallocated free space on your HD. Create a Boot Item in BING, etc.
Brian K
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:11 pm
Location: NSW, Australia

Re: Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

Postby alj » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:25 am

Hi Brian,

Well I tried what you suggested using IFW. However when I set up the boot item in BING and try to boot into it, I get an error from BING saying "The boot sector does not support its location on the hard drive."

When I copied the image onto the drive with dd, when I booted Ubunto off a USB, It would recognize the partition as a CD-ROM device. I'm guessing that this is what I need to get BING to recognize. However, I'm new at this so I may be completely wrong.

Any thoughts?

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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:39 pm

Re: Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

Postby George » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:08 pm

Generally, installation iso's are 'squash'ed files that are shrunk to
fit CD/DVDs. These ISO files are to be booted via USB or CD/DVD and
then installed to hard drive partitions.
Since Webconverger is Debian-based, I suggest you read the Ubuntu
installation notes in the TBU Knowledge base, especially
as well as
Grub/Grub2 notes. This will help form a knowledge foundation before
installing Webconverger.
Make sure the boot loader is loaded on your /dev/sda2 partition, not the
root partition so as not to corrupt the Windows boot loader. Be careful
as this step is easy to miss.
Linux systems need a swap partition so generally, two partitions are
required for a single Linux system to be installed. (I reuse my swap
partition across the four Linux OSs I have installed in my machine.)
Since I use multiple hard drives, I don't use unlimited partitions.
Others can provide you assistance on using unlimited partitions.

I suggest you back up all your partitions before trying the install
especially the first partition on the drive so it doesn't get trashed.

Best of luck, alj. It took me several attempts to get my first Linux
install to work so don't give up. Re-read the material and follow
instructions to the letter.

There are 10 kinds of people in the world,
Those who understand binary
and those who don't.
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Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:28 am

Re: Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

Postby alj » Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:58 pm

Hi George,

Thank you for your reply. As you've already figured out, I'm a newbie with very limited knowledge of linux. So your comments are really helpful.

I think it might be helpful to explain what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to setup an environment for online banking that is seperate from my general Windows environment that I use for daily tasks. I've had the idea for a over three years but laziness never allowed me to look into it. However, recently I read an article about how businesses are being encouraged to have a seperate machine for their online financial tasks. That finally got me started into researching how to set something like this up.

I quickly found out that a "Live CD" environment is the best solution. It gives me access to a quick, secure and most importantly read-only environment that I can use for just banking. I decided that all I needed was a browser and that the best solution would basically load the minimum amount of software to support firefox and nothing more. That is how I found webconverger. Now I've spent the weekend playing around with webconverger and was able to "remaster" the live image with my own customizations. While doing this I met the aforementioned "squashed" filesystem, although didn't really delve into the details. I was able to copy the image to a USB thumb drive and boot sucessfuly and browse.

Now my problem started when I tried to figure out how I can keep Windows XP for my day-to-day needs and have webconverger for just banking. The following is a list of solutions I came up with:

1) Live CD: Staying true to the name, just use an actual CD and rest assured that the system is truely read-only. The other advantage is that the CD-ROM device can easily be prioritized in the BIOS so that if there is a CD present, you automatically boot into webconverger. But my old DELL 300m doesn't have a CD-ROM.

2) Live USB: By copying the hybrid-iso image to a USB flash drive, I can accomplish the same results as with the Live CD. It works well with my system and I am able to boot and use the system effectively. However, there is one small problem. The BIOS recognizes the USB stick as a hard drive and every time it is removed and reattached it is positioned after the actual hard drive in the notebook. This means that everytime I want to use the system, I have to go through the BIOS and make sure that the BIOS boots the USB stick before the hard drive. So it does not offer the convenience of the Live CD where if it is there you boot into webconverger and when it isn't you get your good old Windows XP. Since others in the house are also meant to use this system, I found this unworkable.

3) Hard drive install: This is where BING comes in. Ithought that using a boot manager I can allow users to conveniently choose what they want to do. However, I'm still unclear about the ramifications of this option vis-a-vis the read-only feature of the system. As I understand it, the thing that makes webconverger on the USB behave like the live CD is the fact that the entire system is in the squashed form and thus read-only. This is very important to me as one of the reasons I wanted to use the system was to ensure that the system is read-only and would be reset by rebooting. This leaves a bing question for me: when you talk about installing webconverger like Ubuntu or Debian, does this mean that it is no longer "live"/read-only ? If so, then I don't think it is a good choice.

From what I found on the webconverger user list, it is possible to just copy the image to the hard drive just like it was done for the USB stick. However, this seems to only work if you place the image starting at the beginning of the disk (/dev/sda) without any other systems. I am not sure if there is way to accomplish this in a dual-boot system.

4) USB CD-ROM: I've been researching another possibility which is to use a USB stick that has a CD Partition. I'm thinking if there is a way to get a USB stick to be recognized as a CD-ROM by the BIOS, then I don't have to mess around with the hard-drive and boot into webconverger like a CD. If anyone has insight into how to do this or if it is at all possible, I would really appreciate it if you could share your thoughts.

This is basically my situation. I hope you forgive me for the long post. I just wanted to make sure that everyone understand what I want to do and can then point out solutions that might get me there.

In the meantime, I will read through the installation notes in the knowledge base which you referred to.

Thanks again for all the comments and help,
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:39 pm

Re: Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

Postby alj » Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:13 pm

Hi all,

Well I guess it pays to have some floppy drives hanging around. After messing around with some solutions (unsuccessfully) to make a USB flash drive appear as a CD-ROM, I decided to check to see if there had been any BIOS updates for my system. Amazingly enough, there had been a whole number of updates (I was at A03, the latest was A09). Although there was no real mention of changes to boot order and USB disks, I decided to flash the BIOS anyway. To my surprise this required using a floppy with a USB floppy drive, both of which had been buried in the depths of my closet. Long story short, the BIOS now treats USB disks separately from the HDD and I am now able to prioritize the USB disk in the boot order and boot using the USB image that I had set up before.

Given these developments, I would probably forget about booting from the hard drive as the system is fast enough. However, if there are any thoughts on how to get this to work on the hard drive and dual boot with Windows XP, I would really like to hear them. I'm planning on contributing my notes for this setup to webconverger people and if there is a solution here, I think it might be useful to someone else as well.

Thanks again for all your help,
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:39 pm

Re: Using boot-it to boot a live cd install

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