4.3. Preparing Files for USB Memory Stick Booting

To prepare the USB stick, you will need a system where GNU/Linux is already running and where USB is supported. With current GNU/Linux systems the USB stick should be automatically recognized when you insert it. If it is not you should check that the usb-storage kernel module is loaded. When the USB stick is inserted, it will be mapped to a device named /dev/sdX, where the X is a letter in the range a-z. You should be able to see to which device the USB stick was mapped by running the command dmesg after inserting it. To write to your stick, you may have to turn off its write protection switch.

[Warning] Warning

The procedures described in this section will destroy anything already on the device! Make very sure that you use the correct device name for your USB stick. If you use the wrong device the result could be that all information on for example a hard disk could be lost.

4.3.1. Manually copying files to the USB stick

An alternative way to set up your USB stick is to manually copy the installer files, and also a CD image to it. Note that the USB stick should be at least 1 GB in size (smaller setups are possible if you follow Section 4.3.2, “Manually copying files to the USB stick — the flexible way”).

There is an all-in-one file hd-media/boot.img.gz which contains all the installer files (including the kernel) .

Note that, although convenient, this method does have one major disadvantage: the logical size of the device will be limited to 1 GB, even if the capacity of the USB stick is larger. You will need to repartition the USB stick and create new file systems to get its full capacity back if you ever want to use it for some different purpose.

After that, mount the USB memory stick which will now have on it, and copy a Debian ISO image (netinst or full CD) to it. Unmount the stick (umount /mnt) and you are done.

4.3.2. Manually copying files to the USB stick — the flexible way

If you like more flexibility or just want to know what's going on, you should use the following method to put the files on your stick. One advantage of using this method is that — if the capacity of your USB stick is large enough — you have the option of copying any ISO image, even a DVD image, to it.