Installing to run off USB

Are there any tricks/is it possible, to run opensuse off a USB drive?
ie install from ISO, select the usb for the file/swap system etc.
Not as a full time system, but an occasional system, setup with rescue software etc.

Sure, I would just use a Tumbleweed Rescue system since it will work with newer hardware and write that to say a small USB 3.0 device (write a new image when feeel the need)… you can install software fine. Else look at Studio Express to create your own image SUSE Studio Express

Is there any info on how to get it installed on a USB stick?
Yes, I know you can copy the ISO to a usb, and boot to install/rescue, but how to get it to install, so I can permanently install software/have changed setup, etc?

Trying to install, and have setup to install to the usb, but how do I configure it to boot from USB - bit worried that it is going to use the PC boot disk, as the bootloader, as I haven’t been prompted as to where I want it (or I can’t find that setting…)?


The problem then if you want to boot from a Legacy system and your USB device is setup for UEFI or vis versa…? The Rescue USB takes care of that, can boot either.

You have to tell YaST expert Partitioner what to do with respect to boot partitions etc… Then in the Final screen before install check the boot summary to make sure all is good.

There shouldn’t be any problem.

I have Tumbleweed installed on a USB drive. It’s an external hard drive, rather than a stick, though that should not make a big difference.

For booting: I think it defaults to booting from the USB, assuming that you use legacy boot.

When in the installer, click on the “Booting” heading.

When I installed, I did create an EFI partition on USB drive, because I wanted it to boot either way. But I configured it for legacy booting. That is, I told it to use “grub2” for bootloader, rather than “grub2 for EFI”. There’s a place in the installer (that same “Booting” section) to set the disk order. Make sure that the USB drive is listed as first in order.

I add UEFI boot support later (after install) with:

shim-install --removable --no-vram

That would require some pre-configuration of the USB device… gpt and pmbr_boot partition for legacy boot on a gpt disk?

I did use GPT and a bios_boot partition with that external hard drive. But this also works with legacy partitioning, and just use a small FAT partition with partition type code “ef” as the EFI partition (mounted at “/boot/efi”). I have a second external drive setup that way, currently with Leap 15.3.

But yes, you probably need to use the expert partitioner for this.

That second USB hard drive is really the hard drive from an older computer. The computer died, but the drive was relatively new, so I reclaimed that, and did not repartition (except to add that EFI partition).

UEFI boot does not require GPT.

Sure, but the user needs to check before even starting to see what it is, gpt or dos?

I have a brand new USB disk here…

fdisk -l /dev/sdd
Disk /dev/sdd: 238.5 GiB, 256087425024 bytes, 500170752 sectors
Disk model: Extreme Pro     
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt

By default gpt…

I have a similar requirement.

I wish to install Leap 15.3 on a USB stick which could be used to boot off either my PC or Laptop. Lap top runs Windows 7 but has little space to accommodate Leap. The minimum hard disk space requirement is indicated as 40 GB, so if I use a 64 GB USB stick it should suffice!

Any guidance that could help me avoid pitfalls I may be overlooking will be appreciated.


No tricks required. Install and enjoy:

**erlangen:~ #** smartctl -i /dev/sdd 
smartctl 7.2 2021-06-06 r5225 [x86_64-linux-5.15.3-1-default] (SUSE RPM) 
Copyright (C) 2002-20, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, []( 

Model Family:     SanDisk based SSDs 
Device Model:     SanDisk SSD U100 64GB 
Serial Number:    044fafae1 
LU WWN Device Id: 5 001b44 0fa44e1fa 
Firmware Version: KM.10.00 
User Capacity:    64,023,257,088 bytes [64.0 GB] 
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical 
Rotation Rate:    Solid State Device 
Form Factor:      1.8 inches 
TRIM Command:     Available, deterministic 
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show] 
ATA Version is:   ACS-2 T13/2015-D revision 3 
SATA Version is:  SATA 3.0, 6.0 Gb/s (current: 3.0 Gb/s) 
Local Time is:    Sat Nov 27 08:59:16 2021 CET 
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability. 
SMART support is: Enabled 

**erlangen:~ #**
[FONT=monospace]**erlangen:~ #** lsblk -f /dev/sdd    
├─sdd1 vfat   FAT16        9D19-7DF7                                            
└─sdd2 btrfs        tw-usb 76f524b4-9ef3-4fc0-a6e7-628c5094adda   41.4G    29% /media/tw-usb 
**erlangen:~ #**

Note: run “grub2-install --removable”.

The above installation works great for all maintenance of Tumbleweed based machines. “zypper dup” is used to keep it up to date. However beware of thermal throttling.

Please excuse me, just need a clarification. Will the following process work?

Boot the PC off with the USB stick with Leap install program. Select to install Leap (minimalistic) on a 64 GB Usb stick on another port. Use the new installed USB stick to boot a Lap top.


Yes, I did a net install on the above stick. Make sure you have the following on the UEFI partition:

**erlangen:~ #** find /mnt 
****erlangen:~ #**

When using the stick for presentation you want to install a full blown version of Leap on a fast model such as the above SanDisk Extreme.

Oh! I stick to legacy model. Will that make any difference?


Sure. However I have no idea about the details, since I quit from using it in May 2018: Out of laziness I stayed more than 4 years with legacy BIOS. In hindsight I consider this decision the biggest blunder I ever made.

Thanks, that has helped me a lot.


I have different TW installs on USB 2 and 3 sticks. Simply install it on the machine you usually want to use it from (BIOS, UEFI, see above, disable the usual boot drive in BIOS) and then choose the stick during installation as the target. I use EXT4 for / and /home and only a small swap (if at all) during partitioning. Booting and updating takes a while, but using it is normally OK…

That’s even more encouraging. Will report here after I make the attempt in a day or two.



Thanks for all the info.
Look forward to getting to try it out shortly!


Change drive in laptop or add drive to it.
USB thumb drives are too slow and weak.
Some USB-to-SATA controllers don’t support TRIM command.
The minimum hard disk space requirement is indicated as 40 GB only for auto partitioning, manually you can use smaller space.