AB9IL.net: Knoppix 5.3 on a USB Flash Drive

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This project is an extension of the bootable USB Linux installation, with an emphasis on the Knoppix 5.3.1 CD. The CD is a stripped down version of the official DVD release, and will run much faster when installed to a flash memory device. Part one entails preparation of the USB device for a Linux installation.

Obtaining the Knoppix 5.3.1 CD Image:

Obtaining the Knoppix 5.3.1 CD image is a challenging task. It was originally distributed in Japanese, then converted to an English version. Not many FTP hosts carry it, but using the linked Bit Torrent file: knoppix_v5.3.1CD_20080326-20080520-EN.iso anyone can have a complete disc image.

Installing Knoppix to a USB flash drive then involves the following steps:

Supplies needed are:


Important: Make sure your computer\'s boot sequence (in BIOS Settings) lists CD/DVD devices prior to USB devices, and then your hard drive.


  1. Download grubfolder.zip, unzip it, and open "menu.lst" in a text editor. Scroll to the bottom of the file and remove (or comment out) the title, kernel, and boot lines for systems you don\'t have. For example, if you are going to use only Knoppix, delete the Backtrack and SLAX entries. Save and close the edited file. The "grub" folder will be used in step 6.

    title     Knoppix 5.3.1
    root     (hd0,0)
    kernel     /boot/isolinux/linux ramdisk_size=100000 init=/etc/init lang=us apm=power-off vga=791 initrd=minirt.gz nomce highres=off loglevel=0 libata.atapi_enabled=1 quiet home=scan conf=scan toram SELINUX_INIT=NO nmi_watchdog=0 BOOT_IMAGE=knoppix
    initrd     /boot/isolinux/minirt.gz
  2. Boot the Knoppix disc, and when the system is up, insert the flashdrive into an open USB slot.
  3. Open a console ("Konsole" if you are using the KDE desktop), enter the command "fdisk -l" and read the list of drives and partitions. CAREFULLY IDENTIFY THE FLASH DRIVE! In this example, it is "sdb."

    fdisk output listing drives and partitions

  4. Use Gparted (or QTParted) to reformat the flashdrive, and make it bootable. Select the FAT32 filesystem as the first or only partition if you want compatability with computers running Windows. A great method is to make another partition to hold the "persistent home" and custom Knoppix configuration files. In any case, write down your intended partition set-up, to avoid confusion later.

    If you want a separate partition for encrypted data, invisibility from Windows, or other features, set it up as a second or third partition after the FAT filesystem.

Next, continue to the installation page for steps to install the system files and bootloader onto your USB stick.

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