Quick and (Relatively) Easy SRCD/Clonezilla Hybrid USB Stick

So you want one USB Flash stick to boot the latest versions of both System Rescue CD and Clonezilla-Live? So did I! Easy, I thought, just use UNetbootin to create each one in turn, copying the files between runs, then merge them together. Well, it wasn’t that easy.

First off, Clonezilla (1.2.5-35) installs just fine via UNetbootin, but the latest SRCD (1.5.8) does not. I noticed, however, that SRCD now includes an installer script called usb_inst.sh which essentially does the same thing UNetbootin does. Here are the steps I followed to get them both crammed on to one 1 GB USB flash stick (with about 608 MB spare space):

  1. Install SRCD to the USB stick using the usb_inst.sh script.
  2. Boot to the USB stick to verify it worked OK.
  3. Install Clonezilla to the same USB stick with UNetbootin. Be sure to NOT overwrite the files when it prompts you to do so.
  4. Boot to the USB stick to make sure it still works for SRCD. At this point, Clonezilla will NOT show up in the boot menus.
  5. Remove the first few lines from the top of /syslinux.cfg, stopping at the blank line before the first “label” line.
  6. Merge the /syslinux/syslinux.cfg and /syslinux.cfg files with cat /syslinux.cfg >> /syslinux/syslinux.cfg does the trick. Be sure to append /syslinux.cfg at the end of /syslinux/syslinux.cfg
  7. Boot to the USB stick several times and verify you can start up each of the menu items successfully.

Note that the only reason this works is that the SRCD install script uses that /syslinux subfolder for its boot menus, and that both are using similar boot techniques. If the SRCD and UNetbootin scripts continue to configure themselves like this, then this method should work for future version, too.

For my next challenge. . . cram BackTrack, SRCD and Clonezilla on a 4 GB USB Flash stick!

Easiest Way to Create a VMware ESXi 4 Bootable USB Flash Drive

Here’s a quick tip on how to create a bootable USB flash drive from which you can install ESXi.

  1. Download UNetbootin (available for Windows and Linux).
  2. Download the latest ESXi .iso file from VMware.
  3. Format your USB flash drive (1 to 2 GB should work, I used a 4 GB one) with a FAT32 file system.
  4. Fire up UNetbootin and select the option to use your own .iso file.
  5. Make sure you choose the RIGHT USB flash drive — Best Practice would be to have only your target drive connected while doing this!
  6. Click OK and let it cook. This may take a few minutes.
  7. Cancel the prompt at the end to reboot — you don’t want to reboot, really.
  8. Unmount your USB flash drive and test it on ESXi compatible hardware!

There are some limitations to this method:

  • Target system must support USB boot (very few don’t)
  • Won’t work with an EFI BIOS unless that BIOS supports booting a legacy mode BIOS. Even then, it still may not work.

And, yes, you can do this with the regular ESX .iso file, but you’ll need to purchase licensing for those installs eventually. You can register ESXi for free use!