Installing 11.1 via USB Thumb drive

I’ve been trying to do an installation on a laptop with no CD/DVD drive. I can boot USB thumbdrives, such as the pendrivelinux distros.
I wanted to make a bootable 11.1 installation thumb drive. I’ve been researching it for several hours and found countless different (often conflicting) ways of doing this, but nothing seems to work for me. The closest I’ve come was with this simple process:

Insert thumb drive. It shows up as /dev/sdb1. Format it:

mkdosfs /dev/sdb1

mkdosfs 2.11 (12 Mar 2005)

Make it bootable:

syslinux /dev/sdb1

ls /media/disk


Check what I have:

fdisk -l /dev/sdb

Disk /dev/sdb: 8086 MB, 8086617600 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 983 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x91f72d24

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdb1 * 1 984 7897056 b W95 FAT32

Mount the 11.1 installation DVD:

mount -o loop -t iso9660 /space/jessica6/iso/openSUSE-11.1-DVD-i586.iso /mnt

Copy files from the 11.1 installation DVD:

cp -R -L /mnt/* /media/disk/

Check what I have:

ls -1 /media/disk/


Unmount the USB drive and try to boot it

umount /media/disk/

When I try to boot it on my laptop, I get the following:

SYSLINUX 3.31 0x46f4561c EBIOS Copyright (C) 1994-2005 H. Peter Anvin
Could not find kernel image: linux

I found 3 solutions on various sites about the above error:

  1. “use FAT instead of FAT32”
    I suspected the format command I used: mkdosfs was formatting FAT and not FAT32. Verification of this was the next command I issued: “syslinux /dev/sdb1”. During my earlier attempts, this command would tell me “Filesystem is FAT32” if it was FAT32, and fail to make the usb bootable. Since it returned nothing this last time when I ran it after running the “mkdosfs”, it seemed to me the filesystem was not FAT32-- even though the “fdisk -l /dev/sdb” still indicates ‘W95 FAT32’

  2. at the boot: prompt, issue: “/isolinux/vmlinuz initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img”. This returned: ‘Could not find kernel image: /isolinu.x/v’

  3. find a file in the root of the drive called “isolinux.cfg” and rename it “syslinux.cfg”. I couldn’t find such a file in the root of the usb drive, but I did find the following in the directory structure of the usb drive:
    I’ve not renamed/moved anything since they don’t appear to be in the place where the author of the suggestion indicated.

Any other ideas?

I’m surprised there isn’t some little program one could install on a thumbdrive which would install a distro from an iso image stored on the thumbdrive. For example, after booting a thumbdrive of your choice which has a copy of the nifty little program and the iso image of the distro you want to install, you could run the program as root:

./install-linux-distro /path/to/dvd.iso /dev/sda

(where /dev/sda would be the hard drive in the system)

Anyway, any help would be great.



If you have a desktop or other computer with a cd drive you could boot a livecd up then install to the usb stick, which can then be used as a liveusb stick to install to a cd-drive-less computer. I can assist you in making the stick if you’d like to try it.

Otherwise, here’s another thread on the topic where they got it working. 11.1 Live USB - openSUSE Forums

Hope this helps!


Trouble is most distros use their own kernel and scripts to install.
Have you tried the suse live cd and trying to install from there?
Also, look at SuSE install from USB drive - openSUSE.

Hello, I’m not sure I follow. But I went ahead and downloaded the Live 11.1 Gnome CD, burned/booted it. I’m running on it right now as I type, but I’m not sure what I need to do in order to create my bootable thumbdrive/installer. I see where it wants to install 11.1 on this system where I am now, but this isn’t what I want. Is there a special menu/section for creating a USB bootable Live CD/(usb drive) ?

Ok, I’ve made some progress. I can boot my extracted DVD files. Here’s what I had to do:

move all files from /media/disk/boot/i386/loader to /media/disk.

Then at /media/disk, rename isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg

I booted. However, it can’t find the media after it boots and displays the welcome screen. This seems kinda retarded, since the fact that it’s booting should mean that it knows where itself is.

I tried a few guesses:
suse (directory contains direcories: i586 i686 noarch setup)

suse/i586 (this is were there are 2676 rpm files)

media.1 (directory contains files: build directory.yast media products products.asc products.key)

None of those 3 worked.

I also tried to use the LiveCD files to make a bootable USB doing the same trick as above and it worked. So, I suspect I could do a network/Internet installation. I just thought it would be cool to be able to install right off the USB stick since all the files were there anyway.

If anyone has a quick idea on what it wants for a path, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll do the Internet installation using the LiveCD files.



Sorry I didn’t reply quicker. It’s Easter and my family is catholic so we’ve been visiting the rest of the family.

I’ve already posted a thread on how to do this. I thought you could do it from your current hard drive but I was proven wrong when I tried it. I then tried it with a livecd and it works.

create install disk/wireless Q - openSUSE Forums

Just pick up where it says to plug in your usb stick and run the live installer.

Hope this helps,


I did get it to work with a Live CD. The exact step-by-step:

format the usb stick:

mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1

make it bootable:

syslinux /dev/sdb1

(may need to install syslinux via yast; I needed to do this)

Download and mount the Live CD. I picked the GNOME version, because I hate kde4.

mount -o loop -t iso9660 openSUSE-11.1-GNOME-LiveCD-i686.iso /mnt

Copy the files to the usb stick:

cp -R -L /mnt/* /media/disk/

Move the files so that they work on the bootable usb drive:

cd /media/disk/boot/i386/loader/

mv * /media/disk/

Rename isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg

mv isolinux.cfg syslinux.cfg

Unmount the usb stick

umount /media/disk/

Boot that on your cd/dvd-less system and you’re ready to go.

I was impressed with how fast it was to do a Live CD installation. Everything worked pretty good. It even volunteered to adjust the existing WinXP partition size so that Suse could be installed as dual boot. I was going to blow XP away, but decided to see how well it would fix the partitions and make it dual boot. It had no problems.

I’m all set.

Thanks for all the help!


It’s nice to know there’s a nice step-by-step procedure you can do with commands! You should write a how-to for that in the how-to section of the forum. I’m sure a lot of people with conked out CD/DVD drives or with no CD/DVD drives would benefit from that!

Glad to see you got it working!


P.S. Does that still give the live-usb persistent storage?

I know what you mean-- I’m still trying to find such a “Holy Grail” set of instructions for my Wireless Broadcom BCM4312. Everywhere I look is a tiny partial truth to getting it working, then a correction on another website giving another tiny hint, then another outdated rumor of a hint somewhere else… but never an all-in-one honest document describing how to make the monster work. I’m not sure what the aversion is to simple step-by-step instructions.

On that note, if anyone has a relatively unconvoluted document describing how to get a Broadcom wireless BCM4312 card to work on Suse 11.1, I’d love to see it!

Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g (rev 01)
Subsystem: Broadcom Corporation Device 04b5


I’d love to help you with your wireless card but I’m using a BCM4311. I know the two .rpm’s I have to install to get mine working but haven’t had much experience with any other wireless, as any other computer on which I’ve installed linux automatically downloads the drivers the first time I update.

Also, you might want to post your wireless question in the Network/Internet section of the forum. It’ll get a better chance of being answered there.

Also I still want to know if that usb drive you made has persistent storage (If you update on it, it saves the updates and changes).

Good Luck,


How to install openSUSE or nay other open source OS using a USB stick ,with any linux distro such as Ubuntu 10.10 etc
this is the easiest and simpler way and so far the only to install OpenSUSE that I found.




  1. Windows

  2. Ubuntu

  3. Mac OS X

  4. External USB disc drives
    Ubuntu is distributed over the Internet as two types of files: CD image files, called ISOs, and flash image files, called IMGs. [Warning: This applies just to Ubuntu 9.04. Ubuntu is NO LONGER distributed in IMG format, except for some machines ]. To install Ubuntu from flash media, you first need to write the downloaded IMG image to your flash device. This requires a working flash writer (e.g. USB stick, SD reader, etc.), and flash media with sufficient capacity for the install (1 GB or larger is recommended) formatted in FAT32. Commonly, a single USB stick is used to fulfill both requirements.
    Warning: This will destroy all data on the USB device. Please backup all data to other media before proceeding.
    Be sure to verify that your computer supports booting from the device you have selected for installation. Many computers can boot from a USB drive, and some from other sources. Check the documentation on your specific model of computer for the procedure to boot from the selected device.
    If you have downloaded an ISO image, please refer to BurningIsoHowto.
    The GettingUbuntu page has links to the IMG and ISO image files, as well as other methods of GettingUbuntu.
    MD5 Sums
    Before writing your flash, it is highly recommended that you verify the md5 sum (hash) of the .img file. For instructions, please see HowToMD5SUM. For the current list of Official Ubuntu MD5 hashes, see the MD5SUMS file for the release you’re using under Ubuntu Releases (and optionally the PGP signatures in the MD5SUMS.gpg file), or see UbuntuHashes. This ensures that the file was not damaged during the download process and is 100% intact.
    Graphical Interface

  5. Download the desired .img file

  6. Download Disk Imager from

  7. Insert your flash media

  8. Note the drive letter assigned to your flash media

  9. Start Disk Imager

  10. Select the downloaded file and target device, and click “Write”

  11. Remove your flash media when the operation is complete
    Command Line Interface

  12. Download the desired .img file

  13. Download flashnul from

  14. Attach your USB drive

  15. Run flashnul -p

  16. Note the physical device number for the USB drive

  17. Run flashnul <number obtained in prior step> -L \path o\downloaded.img

  18. Answer “yes” if the selected destination device is correct

  19. Remove your USB drive when the command completes
    Graphical Interface

  20. Download the desired .img file

  21. Install the usb-imagewriter package
    If your release does not include this, download it from Oliver’s PPA
    If imagewriter fails to launch, you may need to install python glade2 support. Install the python-glade2 package or Run sudo apt-get install python-glade2
    If your release does not include it and you are running 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope then run this command from the console:
    sudo apt-get install usb-imagewriter

  22. Open Applications -> Accessories -> Image Writer
    KDE users will find this in Applications -> Utilities -> Image Writer
    from the command line, from the console:
    sudo imagewriter
    on some usb-imagewriter versions (console command: imagewriter) the application fails to write if the image path contains blank spaces, exiting with “IndexError: list index out of range”.

  23. Insert your flash media

  24. Select the downloaded file and flash device, and click “Write to Device”

  25. Remove your device when the operation is complete
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------note: if you are unable to grab the downloaded image, click on write an image, a pop window will appear, drag the image to the pop-up window , chose downloaded image, click on “ write to devise “ botton that is it
    have fun…
    Command Line Interface
    Be very careful about which /dev device you write to. If your machine is booted up off of disk /dev/sda, and your usb stick is on /dev/sdc, and you accidentally write to /dev/sda instead of /dev/sdc, your filesystem will be irreparably damaged and you will lose all of your files.

  26. Download the desired .img file

  27. Open a terminal and insert your flash media

  28. Look at the output of sudo dmesg | tail -20 to determine the device node assigned to your flash media (ignore the device number; e.g. /dev/sdc, not sdc1)
    Example output of dmesg, where the device node is ‘sdc’:
    5046.396364] usb-storage: device scan complete
    5046.397075] scsi 10:0:0:0: Direct-Access USB Flash Memory 1.00 PQ: 0 ANSI: 0 CCS
    5047.068761] sd 10:0:0:0: [sdc] Mode Sense: 23 00 00 00
    5047.068769] sd 10:0:0:0: [sdc] Assuming drive cache: write through
    5047.075021] sdc: sdc1
    5047.076459] sd 10:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI removable disk

  29. Run sudo umount /dev/devicenode

  30. Run sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/devicenode bs=1M

  31. Remove your flash media when the command completes (you may need to wait a few extra seconds for it to finish)
    Mac OS X
    Command Line Interface

  32. Download the desired .img file

  33. Open a Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/)

  34. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices

  35. Insert your flash media

  36. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2)

  37. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2)

  38. Execute sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m (replace /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img, /dev/rdiskN is faster than /dev/diskN). If you see the error dd: Invalid number `1m’, you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M.

  39. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes
    External USB disc drives
    IMG files can also be written to external USB hard discs and installed by having the computer boot from the external USB disc drive.