USB stick won't boot

Asked by Rolf Leggewie on 2008-11-24

Neither the live CD, nor the self-compiled hardy-backport sources of usb-creator create a bootable USB stick for me. I have tested with two computers that should be capable of booting from USB, but there is of course always the chance I am doing something wrong. I don't see any indication that either of the two computers is actually trying to boot from the USB stick, but I think they are both skipping USB after finding that the device is unbootable. They then continue on with the internal HD as usual.

My question now is how can I verify the stick to be bootable after all (even dropping into an error message would help)? How can I with absolute certainty create a stick that will at least do something, so that I can verify I am trying the right steps?

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Ubuntu usb-creator Edit question
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Solved by:
Hugh Sutherland
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Caesar (shcaesar) said :

Hi Rolf,

If you have the iso image, all you need to do is try the command: "file name.iso" (name is the name of your iso file); then if this iso image is bootable, you will have the info like the following:
                      slax-6.0.7.iso: ISO 9660 CD-ROM filesystem data UDF filesystem data
                      (unknown version, id 'NSR01') 'SLAX ' (bootable)
It tells you this image is a bootable one.

Otherwise, you need to make you live CD or USB stick into a image file with the command: "dd if=/dev/sdc of=name.iso bs=2MB"; this command will make an iso file from your live CD or USB stick. Be careful, the sdc in the previous command indicates your liveCD or USB stick, thus it could be sdb, hda or sdd ...

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Caesar (shcaesar) said :

Typically, in a ubuntu system, the first HD (or USB stick) is sda, and the second one is sdb and so forth.
Thus, if you have two HDs, then you insert your USB stick, this USB stick could be sdc, normally.

Sorry! I just wanna make my answer more precise.

Hope this is helpful!


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Best Hugh Sutherland (hfs99) said :

Hello Rolf,

To get my home machine and at least some of my work machines to boot from USB I have to perform the following steps:

1) insert bootable stick
2) reboot and go into BIOS setup
3) choose the usb stick (which shows up in the list of hard drives) as the first device.

The system will then boot from that stick until the first time I reboot without the stick installed. At that point the BIOS forgets the stick ever existed and boots from the hard drive. The next time I want to boot from the stick I have to repeat the entire process.

Apologies if this was just noise. The BIOS settings didn't seem that intuitive to me.

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Rolf Leggewie (r0lf) said :

Thanks Hugh Sutherland, that solved my question.

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Rolf Leggewie (r0lf) said :

Hugh, thank you, right on the money. I have now written a short text about how to boot the X24 from USB (which I had done successfully previously), so that I won't forget. Maybe others will find useful as well. Thanks again.

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Michael J. Tinsley (mtinman) said :

Hugh Sutherland: Thanks, but this did not work for me. I have installed Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid) installed to a 4GB Kingston Data Traveller USB stick. When I attempt to boot to it, I get an "Invalid or Damaged Bootable Partition error - What gives?

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W. Prins (wprins) said :

I can confirm this behaviour exists on some hardware configurations (IMHO buggy), notably
1) An HP Laptop of a friend (I dont have the model number handy but can get it)
2) My Dell MIni 9.

Steps to reproduce:
1.) Boot Ubuntu 8.10 or install usb-creator on 8.04
2.) Run usb-creator, and create a bootable USB stick with the 8.10 desktop image ISO (I've tested using 8GB and 16GB sticks from
3.) Attempt to boot from the stick on e.g. the Dell Mini 9 using option "USB Storage" This results in the message "Invalid or Damaged Bootable Partition error"

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Rolf Leggewie (r0lf) said :

Guys, I think it would be better if you opened a separate support request. My problem has been solved. I am sorry you are experiencing problems, but those are separate issues to from what I saw.