I recently had occasion to use GRUB (a boot loader – the thing that tells your computer what the hell it’s loading when it starts up) on a 32 GB USB drive. I did this so I could stick it in an inert computer, boot it up and then choose from multiple operating systems to install.
Currently I’ve got all of the OSes (sans OSX of course) that I use on a daily basis ready to go. Windows XP, Windows 7 32 bit, Windows 7 64 bit and Ubuntu 9.10. Before you ask, yes I have licenses for all of those that need them.
It’s actually quite easy to do even if you’re not terribly technical. Thanks to a program called MultiBootISOs.
Here’s how to do it.
You’ll need at least 10 GB of free space on your thumb drive and you’ll need to grab this .zip file.
1. Run MultiBootISOsv0.02.exe – it will install grub, set up your Master Boot Record (MBR) and the necessary files on to your flash drive. Just follow the instructions.
2. You’ll have to edit the file menu.lst that’s placed on your hard drive. This is set up to boot multiple Linux distros. I’ve included a copy of mine so you can see what I’ve done.
3. Copy the appropriate ISOs to the root of your thumb drive. ISO’s are images of CDs or DVDs. In this case you’ll need one of each Operating System you want to be able to install from your flash drive.
4. Insert your flash drive into a USB bootable machine, reboot and you should be able to select any of the available OSes to install. This will not impact your ability to use the flash drive for storage when you plug it in to already booted computers as grub will not start.
Back to the SciFi and Zombies shortly.
[tags]geek, operating systems, install, thumb drive[/tags]