USB flash drive only bootable on some laptops

Hi,

A friend of mine would like to install openSUSE 64bit on his HP 8540w laptop, so I got an empty USB flash drive and ran

sudo dd if=openSUSE-12.1-NET-x86_64.iso  of=/dev/sdb

Then I restarted my laptop (Thinkpad T60, 32bit) to test whether the drive would boot, which it did just fine (but of course displaying a message that it couldn’t install openSUSE on my laptop since it’s the 64bit install).

The thing is, when I try to boot my friend’s laptop with this USB drive, nothing happens after the initial message “Press escape to access the BIOS” (or something like that). Even when pressing escape, nothing happens. I tested this on another HP laptop (8510 I think), same problem. Any idea what might be causing this, and more importantly, how to fix it?

Also tested the USB drive on a 64bit Samsung laptop, worked just fine.

By the way, I’m running Arch Linux. Posted this same topic on the Arch Forums, but they forwarded me to this forum.

Did you first run the command “isohybrid” on the iso?

The NET iso comes ready to install on a CD. The standards for booting a CD are different from those for booting a disk.

Some BIOS will work with the CD method used on a USB. Others won’t. The “isohybrid” command fixes that, so it should work with all sufficiently modern BIOS. You might have to install the “syslinux” package to get the “isohybrid” command.

If you are dealing with an older computer, the BIOS might not even support booting from USB. I’ve been able to get around this on a couple of older systems with the PLOP boot manager (google for it).

When you turn on the computer press f10 repeatedly and that should get you into the bios then you can change the settings to enable a usb boot How to get into BIOS

No I didn’t, but I just read about it on the Wiki. I’m going to try this, and I’ll let you know if the results are positive :slight_smile:

@Dale14846: I know how to get into the BIOS and change the settings, but thanks for your suggestion anyway. In fact, the laptop can boot with an old Ubuntu 10.04 USB drive, but I don’t know how that Image was copied to that USB drive (it isn’t mine).

Well, even running isohybrid before copying the contents of the ISO file doesn’t seem to work. Isohybrid runs just fine, but I don’t get any feedback.


[pieter@laptop Downloads]$ md5sum openSUSE-12.1-NET-x86_64.iso
4b6f9142faadd95a25a7d81ebd656acf  openSUSE-12.1-NET-x86_64.iso
[pieter@laptop Downloads]$ isohybrid openSUSE-12.1-NET-x86_64.iso
[pieter@laptop Downloads]$ sudo dd if=openSUSE-12.1-NET-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdb
434176+0 records in
434176+0 records out
222298112 bytes (222 MB) copied, 90.4129 s, 2.5 MB/s

Am I supposed to format the USB drive beforehand, and set it to a special file system?

On Thu, 01 Dec 2011 23:06:02 +0000, Ailurus wrote:

> Am I supposed to format the USB drive beforehand, and set it to a
> special file system?

Nope, just use dd (or preferably dd_rescue since it provides more
feedback) to copy the image to the flash drive.

Not all BIOSes support booting from a USB flash drive, and it’s also
possible there’s a problem with the USB controller on some of the systems
you’re using.

I’d second trying with the Plop bootloader, have used that myself to boot
USB drives in VMs and it works very well.

Jim


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at http://tinyurl.com/openSUSE-T-C

Thanks, I’ll look for some more information on the Plop bootloader.

By the way, this BIOS is definitely able to boot from USB (I did so with an Ubuntu 10.04 USB). I even used the same USB slot. Perhaps I should update the BIOS… I’ll let you know as soon as there is some progress.

On Fri, 02 Dec 2011 00:56:02 +0000, Ailurus wrote:

> Thanks, I’ll look for some more information on the Plop bootloader.
>
> By the way, this BIOS is definitely able to boot from USB (I did so with
> an Ubuntu 10.04 USB). I even used the same USB slot. Perhaps I should
> update the BIOS… I’ll let you know as soon as there is some progress.

Something else to consider is that flash drives do wear out - they’ve got
limited write cycles, though with wear leveling they can last longer now
than they used to.

I’ve got a 2 GB flash drive that I can’t boot my laptop from (it’s a bit
older), but my desktop finds no problems with. I thought it might be my
USB controller, but I picked up a pack of 8 GB flash drives and can boot
from them fine.

So it could be the flash device and/or a combination of the device and
the controller as well.

Jim


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at http://tinyurl.com/openSUSE-T-C