A FOB STORY: some notes on bootable flash drives

Stuff that doesn't work ... yet

There are a couple of things I haven’t been able to get working, so the “Swiss Army” flash drive isn’t perfect.  Any suggestions and/or fixes would be very welcome.

Windows repair CDs (their ISOs, actually) can be loop-mounted and booted.  Once running, they haven’t been able to find the target OS on HDD for repair, at least in my testing.  I suspect it’s just the way they’re coded, but if there’s a work-around, that would be just peachy.

This boots, but isn’t useful:

menuentry "Windows 7 SP1 repair 64-bit ISO" {
    linux16 /boot/isolinux/memdisk-6.02 iso raw
    initrd16 /bootable/iso/Windows-7-SP1-64-bit-Repair-Disc.iso
}

Likewise, Acronis in UEFI mode also fails.  If the contents of a recent Acronis CD or USB media is copied to the root of the flash drive, it will boot in UEFI mode.  Chainloading its UEFI boot loader – after moving Acronis another directory – fails with a “bootwiz.efi  error“:

menuentry "Acronis UEFI chainload" {
   chainloader "/bootable/Recovery Manager/bootwiz.efi"
}

ISO booting, or extracting the .dat files and booting directly both fail with “unable to handle kernel paging request“:

menuentry "acronis 2014 bootable media ISO boot" {
set isofile="/bootable/iso/Acronis-2014-Recovery.iso"
    loopback loop $isofile
    linux (loop)"/Recovery Manager/kernel64.dat"
    initrd (loop)"/Recovery Manager/ramdisk64.dat"
}
menuentry "acronis 2014 bootable media unpacked" {
    linux "/Recovery Manager/kernel64.dat"
    initrd "/Recovery Manager/ramdisk64.dat"
}

[Update 2016.12.12]  it is now possible to boot an Acronis ISO in UEFI and legacy modes.  I’m working on the details and will update this article soon.  Or later… hoping to get to it…

[Update 2018.05.01] Finally got around to adding the technique to boot an Acronis ISO in UEFI mode:

menuentry "Acronis 2018 9207 ISO 64 Bit Mode UEFI and Legacy" {
set quiet=1
set gfxpayload=1024x768x32,1024x768
set mbrcrcs=on
set isofile="/bootable/iso/AcronisBootableMedia2018_9207.iso"
search --set -f $isofile
loopback loop $isofile
# edit: lang=13 is asian # linux (loop,msdos1)/dat10.dat lang=13 quiet force_modules=usbhid
linux (loop,msdos1)/dat10.dat quiet force_modules=usbhid
initrd (loop,msdos1)/dat11.dat (loop,msdos1)/dat12.dat
boot
}

Lenovo Twist issues:

The Twist has some issues when booting Ubuntu on flash.  After a cold boot, often the mouse and keyboard don’t work.  After a warm reboot from Windows or Ubuntu keyboard and mouse work.  External USB keyboard and mouse work even when the inbuilt ones don’t, but that’s not very convenient.

After a “bad” boot, the laptop does respond to a quick press of the power button and brings up the shutdown menu.  More good news: the touchscreen seems to work.  Press the power button once to bring up the shutdown menu, then press the reboot icon.  Fn-F12, then boot Ubuntu.  Better than nothing, I guess…

It’s possible that different Ubuntu start-up options would get around this.  Once in a while, though, this happens before Ubuntu is even booted.  The keyboard works to select the BIOS boot menu (Fn-F12) but is dead once the menu comes up.  This may indicate a Twist BIOS problem, rather than a Ubuntu problem.  Further investigation is warranted…

Minor Twist issue: no wifi with Ubuntu 14.04.1.  There may be an updated driver available.

Well, that’s the end of this soliloquy.  If you’ve made it this far, I admire your fortitude!  Again, corrections and additions are very welcome.

The G.

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