USB hard drive booting

I’m trying to document a recipe for setting up booting to a USB hard drive, similar to
William Hermans’ recipe but using Robert Nelson’s distributions. I’ve written everything
mostly from memory from when I set up my SD card and haven’t actually sat down and
followed my own instructions.

I’m still completely in the dark about what changes I need to make to the SD card’s boot
files and what I’ll need to do with/in the root filesystem’s /boot directory. Basically the last
three sections of my document (ignoring the last biblio section).

Please have a look at it and give me any feedback you can.


My instructions are using Roberts debian images, and they are exact steps taken to a working boot image.

Ok, thanks. I didn’t understand that. Your instructions say

cd ~/rootfs/

Is that where Robert’s debian image is that you’re using? I didn’t see on your page
where you extract or download his files.

In my instructions I want to spell everything out and minimize guessing.

I always cheat.. :wink: I never really convert an image from microSD to
external usb-sata.. I just usually pick the sata drive during the partition
stage of the "NetInstall" script.. Although I've never tried to go as far
as you, and also stick the kernel zImage/dtbs on the usb-sata drive..



If you read all the articles I wrote that pertain to the various steps I took along the way. There would be no guessing.

Anyhow the first part of that article describes what must be done( from 30k feet ), and the second half is a working example, based on previous steps I took for the netboot article. It really does not get much shorter./ concise . . . My idea of an article was meant to teach a person to fish, instead of just giving them a fish( as the saying goes ). Just goes to show no matter how hard one tries to “please” all, it never happens :wink:


The reason why I put the uImage, and dtbs files on the USB drive, simply, I am newb to embedded Linux, Linux development, and expect to recompile things several times in the process. Knowing what I do about flash media . . . I’d rather put as much as possible on non flash media.

In the end for my own personal usage. the Netboot install is the best of all worlds. It is the most flexible for development all around. WHere as perhaps the USB boot would be best suited for using the BBB as a low powered desktop replacement.

I just think it's cool and how far we've come with u-boot. I'm always
dealing with boards that u-boot supports less then the kernel, so I always
need the zImage/dtbs locally accessible by u-boot. :wink:


@Robert, Oh, I agree. I remember commenting how far even Debian has come in the last 5 years or so when first working with your images. Then like you say, uboot is very nice. NIce enough to the point when I first started this endeavor, I was wondering whether or not I could use grub( because with x86 I knew it fairly well ). Now, I do not even give it a second thought, uboot works, and works well.


You may want to rephrase “The first partition on the flash card is the boot filesystem, in some DOS format (one of the FAT flavors most likely) and the second filesystem is the root filesystem in Linux ext4 format.”

FAT32 is not as well supported as FAT16, and FAT16 is kind of the unwritten standard for boot media of this type. While In many/most cases FAT32 may work, it will not always work.

Anyway, just a heads up . …

Thanks, I’ll go back and re-read your articles. The lumpynose wordpress site is really just a place for me to keep notes to myself. In a previous life I helped other sysadmins so I naturally feel the need to say as much as possible and assume the reader knows very little, in case someone stumbles across this page.

I forgot to say that the other motivation for this page is to verify that I understand what’s going on and what all the moving parts are.

Same reason for my blog site. But I also keep step by step text notes of exactly what I did, as I did it. I had thoght about placing ads on the page, but decided against it. Also, instead of making some long winded post on th forums here about one of these subjects, it is much easier to just paste a link, and be done with it.

If you’re seeing advertisements on the lumpynose site it’s because I’m using the free version of wordpress.