Recently a friend and I were talking on the phone and in the course of our conversation I asked him if he has tried Fedora. He explained to me that he meant to but still hasn’t given linux a shot yet.
That was my opportunity to tell him about the Fedora Live spins and how they were a great way to give Fedora a test try. While we spoke he was browsing around the Fedora website and asked me about installing Fedora on a USB drive. This was something I have always wanted to try myself but had not yet gotten around to it.
So I fired up the browser and started looking around myself. My friend would have to try this type of installation from within windows but the vast majority of information I found on how to accomplish this was by installing to USB drives from within Linux.
As I grew more curious I backed up my personal files and did a reinstall of Windows XP onto my laptop. Next I did some more researching and found a tool that would allow me to install a Fedora Live spin onto a USB drive. That tool is called liveusb-creator.
After obtaining an ISO of the latest Fedora 9 live spin I unpacked the liveusb-creator (version 2.5) and copied the ISO into the directory containing the executable. One I clicked on the executable I was presented with a clean looking GUI tool to start the process.
Simply by following the prompts I had a USB install of the live image on my 2GB PNY Mini Attache’ drive. The entire process took 7 minutes. I was floored by how easy that was. The tool allowed for a ‘persistant state’ installation to keep settings over consequent reboots by simply moving the slider bar to allow for a persistant state overlay. I chose 800MB to have some room.
After rebooting I ran into a problem. The old Toshiba Satellitte A105-S4284 would not boot the USB drive. After searching the Toshiba support site I found that a BIOS upgrade was available which corrected this issue. So I updated the Phoenix BIOS to version 6.00 dated 7/12/2007. After a reboot to make sure the BIOS update went well I again rebooted and entered the setup routine and selected my first boot device to be ‘USB’, saved the configuration and shutdown the machine.
After plugging in the USB drive and pushing the power button I was please to see Fedora 9 boot up. No hits, no runs, and no errors! After booting I was prompted to login (no user or password, just a button to click) and quickly found that everything worked as expected. Even wireless worked flawlessly out of the box. All I had to do was enter a WEP key and give my keyring a password.
While this live spin of Fedora 9 works nicely as a basic desktop it does not have everything I personally enjoy in my day to day activities. Perhaps I will create a custom ‘live spin’ and repeat the process sometime in the near future to get a USB install that meets my personal requirements.
In summary I am pleased at how easy this process turned out to be for Windows users. Now I will wipe the XP installation and reinstall a full Fedora 9 on my laptop. Enjoy!