Friday, October 30, 2009

USB boot, with puppy OS

It is sometimes very helpful (and much easier than using a CD) to be able to boot into a lightweight OS from a USB stick - providing the BIOS in the system you target supports the 'Boot from USB' functionality. Thankfully all systems at work and home do, in fact most if not all modern (read last 5 years) systems shoudl have this capability.

This is very helpful (and sometimes necessary) for those situations where you need to bypass the main OS on a system:
  • System hard drive failure - you need to be try and recover your files
  • You just want a quick 'netbook' system with no HDD
  • Locked out with no administrator password, and need to reset user accounts etc
  • Take an image of a HDD, or indeed write an image
  • Unnattended installations

I have recently found a nice simple method to prepare a USB stick for this purpose - making it bootable and using a pretty slick lightweight OS (Puppy Linux) which is in many ways preferable to my usual BartPE windows line of attack. It has most features you need, like basic office apps, network support, browser, USB support, file manager, nice layout and look and feel...

To set up the .iso image (or any .iso for that matter!) on a USB stick and make it bootable, I found a great little application which will do just that. It's called 'UNetbootin' - Universal Netboot Installer.

Simple to use, and works a treat.