[Gllug] Bootable USB backup like OS X dmg?

Dennis Furey dennis at basis.uklinux.net
Tue May 24 15:27:31 UTC 2011

On Tue, May 24, 2011 at 03:35:52PM +0100, gvim wrote:
> Is it possible with Linux to create a bootable disk image on an
> external drive via USB 2, as with OS X, providing the BIOS supports
> USB boot? I've found 'mkbkup.pl' but it seems a it old and doesn't
> specify booting externally via USB.

Yes, it's perfectly possible but limited to x86 compatible
architectures as far as I know. I have a couple of bootable external
USB drives that I use sometimes when I'm borrowing someone else's
computer or as a rescue device if my own gets borked. A couple of
tutorials to get you started are




These are a little old so you might have to adapt a few things. I
haven't consulted the latter author's updated version linked from
within. The main thing to keep in mind is to specify the boot device
by the UUID in the grub.cfg file, rather than a device name like
/dev/sdb1, so that it will be more portable, and to put the sleep
command into the initrd boot script to give the machine time to
recognize the usb devices, as explained in the tutorials. You should
also make sure you have loads of video drivers and wireless drivers
installed for better portability. External usb drives can take a walk
easily so you might also consider using an encrypted root filesystem,
but that's not covered in the tutorials.
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