HowTo create a Ubuntu + System Rescue CD USB startup disk

Motivation

Ubuntu is a great distro. The USB startup disk creating tool is great. You can carry Ubuntu everywhere. Although you can use the live/install iso image of Ubuntu to make rescue opperations, System Recue CD is much better for that. Here you are a way to have them both into the same USB drive by following a few simple steps. I am sure a better, more elegant integration is possible, but this one tries to be as easy to setup as possible.

Tested with:

  • Ubuntu 8.04.2 desktop i386 + SystemrescueCD 1.1.5
  • Ubuntu 8.10 desktop i386 + SystemrescueCD 1.1.5
  • Ubuntu 9.10 desktop i386 + SystemrescueCD 1.3.4

Steps

  1. Download desired Ubuntu iso image and SysrescCD iso image from their respective sites.
  2. Create a USB startup disk with the Ubuntu tool included under System->Administration menu.
  3. Extract System Rescue CD image in a folder with “Extract here” option on the context menu.
  4. Copy everything in the SysrescCD root folder to the USB drive root folder, except the “isolinux” folder.
  5. Copy the content of the isolinux folder into SysrescCD to syslinux folder in the USB drive except files “boot.cat” and “isolinux.bin”. From nautilus, just copy them all and skip copying this two files when asked.
  6. Edit “syslinux.cfg” and add these lines at the end:
label SystemrescueCD
  kernel rescuecd
  append initrd=initram.igz
include isolinux.cfg

Test

Now boot from the USB drive. It behaves like a normal Ubuntu installation CD but you have System Rescue CD boot images in the menu, starting with “SystemrescueCD” which is the standard boot. Press ESC to go to the boot prompt and press F1-F10 to access System Rescue CD boot prompt and help screens.

You can use “qemu” to test the install:

$ sudo apt-get install qemu

Umount the USB drive and boot within qemu (change /dev/sdg to your actual USB device). To do this as a normal (non-root) user you need to be in the disk group.

$ qemu /dev/sdg

Add some customization

Create a file “autorun” on the USB drive root directory. Example:

# Mount boot media read-write (in case it is USB, etc.)
mount /mnt/cdrom -o remount,rw
# Configure network with DHCP
dhclient

Cusmomize some boot options. Edit /syslinux/syslinux.cfg and add options to the “append” line:

...
append initrd=initram.igz setkmap=es
...

Enjoy

Leave a comment if it works for you.

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