how do I boot with USB Stick

Asked by DougM1 on 2009-02-22

I have a Dell Mini 9 (aka Inspiron 910) running Ubuntu. I wanted to upgrade so I purchased a Runcore 32G SSD.

I cloned my original 4G SSD to the 32G SSD, using "sudo dd if=//dev/sda1 of=/dev/sdb2". When it was complete both drives had the same data on them - good start. So I swapped out the drives and attempted to boot up. The computer froze up at a black screen that said "GRUB" in the top left corner. I swapped the drives back and everything booted fine.

I had probably mistakenly assumed that if you cloned a hard drive that the new hard drive would be a mirror of the old one, only with more capacity. Wrong answer!!!!!

I did some more research on line and found that I needed to make a Live USB stick (as there is no optical drive), so I did that, making a Live USB of Ubuntu 8.04, using UNetbootin. I was to then be able to boot off the stick so that I could fix the "GRUB"

I again swapped out my drives, edited my BIOS to boot off of the USB stick as directed, and attempted to boot up. A UNetbootin screen came up that said it would boot in 10 seconds, it counted down the 10 seconds, and then came back with the message that it would boot in 10 seconds, repeat, repeat, etc. There was also a line that said "Press [Tab] to edit options". When I do that I get a line of code: /ubnkern initrd=/ubninit _

What do I do now?

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Where the USB stick is concerned, I've created a USB stick with UNetbootin without any problems in the past. I've never seen the issue that you describe. If you're seeing the UNetbootin screen, then you know that the system is at least trying to boot off the USB stick. It sounds like the OS itself did not get installed properly. You should simple try UNetbootin again, maybe with a different ISO image than the one you used the first time. For me, it has always been very simple and straightforward, so the most likely problem is a bad ISO download. I would have expected Unetbootin to catch such a problem, so this is just an educated guess.

As far as the disk cloning ... I've never used dd to clone a partition on one disk to a partition on another disk. I think that there would be a bit more required to turn it into the main bootable drive. For example, how did grub end up on the new drive's MBR? You must have done more than you've said so far to get this set up, so please give us the full detail if you can.

From just the command you quote, you copied the old drive's partition 1 to the new drive's partition 2. If you copied the old drive's MBR directly to the new drive without any changes, it won't work because grub is expecting the phase 2 bootloader to be found on drive partition 1. I'm sure that's what you've already figured out, and what you intended to fix by reinstalling grub on the new drive. If it were me, I would forget about the USB key drive for the moment. Instead, I would swap the drives back, boot off of the old drive, and install grub onto the MBR of the new drive from the old drive, rather than using the USB stick.

DougM1 (cmessersmith) said : #2

OK, I will not worry about the USB stick. I am just going by information I have found on the internet and other responses I haved received on the Ubuntu Forums. On the forums everyone assumes that I have a CD drive, hence my attempt to make a USB stick instead.

How would you have accomplished what I am trying to do? I would need step by step instructions, as I am a noob when it comes to Ubuntu and computer upgrades. I am getting the hang of working with terminal, and I have done the hard drive swap at least ten times in the past day, so I could do it in my sleep.

I would be eternally grateful if you can either help me directly or point me in the right direction.

Here is a good step-by-step howto that describes how I would do it:

Doing it this way makes two assumptions:
    1. you don't want to have to recreate your configuration changes on the new drive
    2. you do not care if you lose the Dell diagnostic partition that was on your mini when you got it

If either of these assumptions are not true, then I recommend you go for the USB method after all, and restore the system from Dell's restore image. You will need to prepare the usb drive on some other machine (I guess that's what you were already doing anyway, since you used UNetbootin). Here are two threads from that give the necessary details:

Can you help with this problem?

Provide an answer of your own, or ask DougM1 for more information if necessary.

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