This HOWTO explains how to create a Gentoo Linux LiveUSB or, in other words, how to emulate an x86 or AMD64 Gentoo Linux LiveCD using a USB flash drive.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Preparing the USB flash drive
- 3 Copying the files to your key
- 4 Installing a bootloader
- 5 Using the LiveUSB
- 6 Acknowledgements
This HOWTO explains how to create a Gentoo Linux LiveUSB or, in other words, how to emulate an x86 or AMD64 Gentoo Linux LiveCD using a USB flash drive. This is particularly useful for installing Gentoo Linux on a modern laptop with no CD-ROM drive.
Although the instructions found in this document aim at emulating a Gentoo Linux LiveCD using a USB flash drive, they should work for any arbitrary block device as long as you adjust the device names accordingly.
Using the Gentoo LiveDVD
When using the LiveDVD (rather than the LiveCDs), then it is sufficient to directly copy the ISO contents on the USB device. The
dd command can be used to accomplish this. For instance, assuming the USB device is at /dev/sdc:
The remainder of this document assumes that the source ISO used is not the Gentoo LiveDVD.
In order to use a Gentoo Linux LiveUSB you need the following:
- Bootable USB flash drive with at least 1GB
- i686 or x86_64 computer with support for booting from USB
You will also need access to the following for creating the LiveUSB:
- A computer running Gentoo Linux (or alternatively another Linux distribution)
Preparing the USB flash drive
Partitioning the drive
Create a FAT16 partition on your USB flash drive and mark it bootable using
fdisk. An example partitioning scheme can be seen below:
Creating the filesystem
Create a FAT16 filesystem on the USB flash drive using
Installing a Master Boot Record
Install the precompiled Master Boot Record (MBR) from
syslinux on the USB flash drive:
Copying the files to your key
Mounting the Gentoo Linux Installation CD
Download the Gentoo Weekly Minimal Install CD for your architecture from your local Gentoo Linux mirror site and mount the ISO image on /mnt/cdrom as shown below:
Mounting the LiveUSB
Mount the newly formatted USB flash drive on /mnt/usb as shown below:
Copying the files
Copy the files from the Gentoo Linux Installation CD to the LiveUSB. The files need to be reordered a bit as we will be using the
syslinux bootloader instead of
You can now unmount the ISO image:
Adjusting the bootloader configuration
Adjust the syslinux configuration file using
sed as shown below. The
slowusb parameter will introduce some extra delays before attempting to mount the filesystem. This is needed to allow the USB flash drive to settle upon detection.
Installing a bootloader
Unmounting the drive
Make sure you unmount the USB flash drive before installing the bootloader:
Finally install the
syslinux bootloader on the USB flash drive:
Using the LiveUSB
Insert the USB flash drive and turn on the computer, making sure the BIOS is set to boot from USB. If all goes well you should be presented with a standard syslinux prompt.
You should be able to follow the generic installation instructions found in the Gentoo Handbook from here on.
We would like to thank the following authors and editors for their contributions to this guide: