Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Booting off a usb drive on a pc that does not support it

  1. May 17, 2008 #1
    I would like to boot off a usb drive on a pc that does not support it.

    Has anyone thought of booting off a cd and transferring the start-up to the usb drive?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Dual boot setup perhaps.
    You could also check for a BIOS update.
  4. May 17, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    There are lots of ways of making a USB key bootable depending on what OS you want to run from it, but f the PC bios doesn't support booting of a USB drive then there is nothing you can do about it.
  5. May 17, 2008 #4
    In the old days of linux you could boot off a floppy and optionally chain the boot to the hard disk boot sector to run windows. Someone must have thought the same for a cd-rom boot as the first step. Also linux liveCD's can see most usb drives.

    I forgot to say, the pc does not have a hard disk.
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  6. May 17, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Linux is generally easy to boot from a usb key, see puppy linux or DSL for examples.
    Booting windows is tricky but can be done - see bartpe.

    But if your bios doesn't support booting from usb then you are SOL, it doesn't matter what is on the key if the machine isn't looking at it!
    Sometimes it takes a few different techniques to boot a pariculalr older PC you can make the USB key look like either a floppy, hard disc or CDROM.
    Any modern BIOS will boot quite happily from a USB.
  7. May 17, 2008 #6
    Thanks but I know this, it's a DSL flash disk I have made and want to use on a pc that does not support usb boot, as I say in the title.

    There's an area in every partition called the boot record, that contains software like lilo or grub among with other information. It can be programmed to do what is required, except the space available is too small to load a usb driver from it. So I was thinking of loading the usb drivers afterwards, like a liveCD does, and then going back to 16-bit mode to execute the master boot record of the usb drive. Someone must have thought that.
  8. May 22, 2008 #7
    Correct 100%
  9. May 23, 2008 #8
    I've explained how it is possible (it's just software), but since the description must have been above you, let's go straight to the final result, that I eventually found:

    Booting Knoppix from a USB Pendrive via Floppy
  10. May 23, 2008 #9
    I highly recommend knoppix, its great and so easy to setup. You can run it of a cd or a usb.
  11. May 23, 2008 #10
    I like it too, the DSL that I am using is a remaster of knoppix.

    In fact DSL probably makes the ideal host for vmware, because it is so small in memory and disk space requirements and can be made even smaller.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Booting off a usb drive on a pc that does not support it
  1. PC card or USB tuner (Replies: 4)

  2. PC doesn't boot (Replies: 8)

  3. OS boot from a USB (Replies: 5)