ok guys, I'm back and need help, imagine that...

karimfc

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Ok, so I've been trying to create a multi-boot usb with no luck. I've tried Ventoy and YUMI and can't create one using either of them... OBVIOUSLY, it is something that I am not doing, but I just can't figure it out. PLEASE HELP, lol
 


KGIII

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This may be muddying the waters, but this is the tool that I use to make multi-boot USBs:


On the 'releases' page there will likely be a package for your distro of choice. I find it pretty straight forward.
 

Solution

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Hi karimfc,

I run many different distributions on a USB, and might be able to give you some insight. First off, do you have a bootable USB drive that can get you into Linux already? If so, then we can probably tweak the configuration files on the USB to allow booting more than one live distribution quite easily. If possible, please supply the following information:
  • What distribution are you currently booting into via USB
  • What distribution(s) do you want to boot into from USB
  • What boot loader are you using (e.g. grub, syslinux, etc.). If you don't know, we can figure that out later.
I would recommend running "live" Linux distros if you are using a portable USB drive. I do not recommend reformatting any drives unless there is an absolute need to do so.

Best of luck
 

karimfc

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This may be muddying the waters, but this is the tool that I use to make multi-boot USBs:


On the 'releases' page there will likely be a package for your distro of choice. I find it pretty straight forward.
Well, I'm all for muddying the waters, lol. You have to keep in mind, though, that I'm brand new to Linux, blah blah blah. I mean, I had been messing with it a bit before surgery, but I haven't really tried much since then, other than to figure out Ventoy and then Yumi. Both of which, in my personal opinion, SUCK. too many hoops to jump through, and that ain't me. Someone tells me to 'jump', instead of asking 'how high', I say 'get bent' or rather the more explicit phrasing. lol, but I'm rambling, ok, so I'm off to try msusb. Will update with my opinion. Thanks for the suggestion, though. I appreciate it.
 

karimfc

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Hi karimfc,

I run many different distributions on a USB, and might be able to give you some insight. First off, do you have a bootable USB drive that can get you into Linux already? If so, then we can probably tweak the configuration files on the USB to allow booting more than one live distribution quite easily. If possible, please supply the following information:
  • What distribution are you currently booting into via USB
  • What distribution(s) do you want to boot into from USB
  • What boot loader are you using (e.g. grub, syslinux, etc.). If you don't know, we can figure that out later.
I would recommend running "live" Linux distros if you are using a portable USB drive. I do not recommend reformatting any drives unless there is an absolute need to do so.

Best of luck
bootable usb...I believe that I do, but I'm a newbie, so, please explain exactly what you mean by bootable usb please...
I have zorin os 15.3 (am about to download 16 and try it out) on my hard drive, but I also have several other distros on a bunch of usbs, but they all are on one each, singularly. It's frustrating and difficult at times to keep them separated; get them mixed up all the time. I mostly have ubuntu and debian based distros, but if that's not specific enough, just let me know and I will list them. I have found that despite the fact that I adore zorin, mx linux is my next fav. Have been contemplating replacing zorin with mx, but it would be nice if I could try the other distros that I have before making a decision. And, my life is pretty hectic right now, so having one or two usbs with all of my downloaded distros instead of 5 or 6 usbs would be much easier for me.

As for what distros do I want to boot from usb... honestly, I want to try anarchy linux, rebellin linux and void for myself. My husband has been looking into linux (I put the bug on him I guess, lol) and I was researching a few distros for him for his chromebook. i.e. bionic puppy, linux lite, ms-lts, and telos-mini.

And, my bootloader... I HAVE NO CLUE. Lol, but I'm decent at following directions so if you could point me in the right direction, I may be able to figure it out. It might be grub, but like I said, I really don't know.

Thanks for any and all help/guidance. I really appreciate y'all's help.
 

blackneos940

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Ok, so I've been trying to create a multi-boot usb with no luck. I've tried Ventoy and YUMI and can't create one using either of them... OBVIOUSLY, it is something that I am not doing, but I just can't figure it out. PLEASE HELP, lol
You'll get it... It's funny, because I've got the same issue with Multi-Booting Distros on one USB. I can't likely help, but I shall lurk, and see if you succeed! :3 Welcome BTW! :3 Also, how are you feeling now after that surgery? Whatever it was for, I hope you're doing alright stranger... :D
 

Solution

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blackneos940, are you multi-booting "liveOS's" only, setting up different USB drive partitions per distrobutions, or something else?
 

Nelson Muntz

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bootable usb...I believe that I do, but I'm a newbie, so, please explain exactly what you mean by bootable usb please...


I have zorin os 15.3 (am about to download 16 and try it out) on my hard drive, but I also have several other distros on a bunch of usbs, but they all are on one each, singularly. It's frustrating and difficult at times to keep them separated; get them mixed up all the time.
This is how I keep track of my USBs.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/35/f7/a0/35f7a096cb1f16663265c31acf073a4b.jpg
 
Last edited:

wizardfromoz

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G'day Kari, good to have you back, I'll swing by your Intro thread later.

If we take it as a given that you are committed to Linux now, then I have a totally Linux solution that I use quite often.

It is known as Multisystem. It is a French product, but you do not have to speak French to use it. I have been using it since around 2015 and it has served me well, for the most part.

I first introduced it to this site via a mention of it, 4 years ago next month, and then about a year later, our resident author of Articles, @Jarret B wrote an article on it, which given our timezones, you may wish to read first.

https://linux.org/threads/creating-a-fix-stick.18151/#post-54549

Note, however, that his article is focused on creating a fix or rescue stick - you don't need to do all of what he says to get a working Multisystem stick, nor do you need to use GParted to make the stick bootable, unless you choose to partition it first with more than one partition, Multisystem will do it all for you.

If you like to wait for me, I can filter out the nuts and bolts of what Jarret has written and add my own content.

On one of your 32 GB sticks you have, you could easily use about 6 - 10 Distros for trying out.

And if you wish to see some of the applications it has to home use, or even travelling, then just go to our Search facility near top right, type in multisystem and search.

Cheers

Chris
 

rado84

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Ok, so I've been trying to create a multi-boot usb with no luck. I've tried Ventoy and YUMI and can't create one using either of them... OBVIOUSLY, it is something that I am not doing, but I just can't figure it out. PLEASE HELP, lol
Ventoy needs to be put in a directory with no spaces in the name and only latin alphabet. Only then will the multiboot USB creation succeed. Also, the hard drive where you put Ventoy on must have uid and gid 1000, otherwise it may not work as intended. And now I'm a happy Ventoy user of a USB 3.0 32GB drive with several linux distros, gparted, clonezilla and one Windows ISO.
 

Tolkem

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I've tried Ventoy and YUMI and can't create one using either of them... OBVIOUSLY, it is something that I am not doing, but I just can't figure it out. PLEASE HELP, lol
Did you try using Linux or ... ? Ventoy's easier to use when used from a Linux OS since all you need to do is:
1. Extract the .tar.gz file.
2. Enter the Ventoy folder with the files extracted.
3. Plug your USB stick in.
4. Identify the USB stick either via terminal with the lsblk command or via GUI using something like gparted.
5. Right-click on a blank space in the folder and from the context menu select open terminal here.
6. In the terminal, run the script Ventoy2Disk.sh which takes care of the whole process. It might be something like
Code:
sudo sh ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i /dev/sdX #where /dev/sdX is the USB stick id you got from step 4.
You can do that from a live session; boot one of the distros you have in one of your sticks. What's your current OS? Windows? Have you considered using some virtualization software like virtualbox https://www.virtualbox.org/ ? With it, you can try as many Linux distros(or any other OS for that matter, like Android) as you want without having to compromise your real machine; you can install software, try different desktop environments, different configurations, learn how to use Linux tools, anything you can think of, really. When I first tried Linux, this is how I did it, once I found the one I liked the best, familiarized myself with it and felt confident enough to use it, I installed it in my real PC.
 

karimfc

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Did you try using Linux or ... ? Ventoy's easier to use when used from a Linux OS since all you need to do is:
1. Extract the .tar.gz file.
2. Enter the Ventoy folder with the files extracted.
3. Plug your USB stick in.
4. Identify the USB stick either via terminal with the lsblk command or via GUI using something like gparted.
5. Right-click on a blank space in the folder and from the context menu select open terminal here.
6. In the terminal, run the script Ventoy2Disk.sh which takes care of the whole process. It might be something like
Code:
sudo sh ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i /dev/sdX #where /dev/sdX is the USB stick id you got from step 4.
You can do that from a live session; boot one of the distros you have in one of your sticks. What's your current OS? Windows? Have you considered using some virtualization software like virtualbox https://www.virtualbox.org/ ? With it, you can try as many Linux distros(or any other OS for that matter, like Android) as you want without having to compromise your real machine; you can install software, try different desktop environments, different configurations, learn how to use Linux tools, anything you can think of, really. When I first tried Linux, this is how I did it, once I found the one I liked the best, familiarized myself with it and felt confident enough to use it, I installed it in my real PC.
I have Zorin 15.3 right now. My machine is just for play, so it's fine if I mess up; I can always just wipe my hard drive and start over. I have a windows computer, but don't use it for Linux. Unless I need to research something. thanks for the step by step above. I'm almost brand new to Linux, so Im not sure how to do the most basic actions. Anyway, I will check out the virtual machine when I get home. Interesting to say the least
 

Solution

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I second using VirtualBox if you are just starting out on Linux. USB booting is nicer, if you are using Linux with a purpose.
 

Solution

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Use Virtual Machine software instead of multi-booting on USB

A much more easy way to play around with Linux is to use a product like VirtualBox. I won't cover that method here, since you specifically mentioned multi-booting. Just know that programs like VirtualBox allow you to run a complete version of Linux inside a window directly from your running indows, Mac, etc.

Multi-booting on USB

Multi-booting is a more advanced thing to do. I've had to show others how to do it in the past, so you are not alone. Since you are having problems with tools that put a bootloader on your USB (such as Ventoy), I'll go over what a bootloader does.

Some bootloader software programs are Ventoy, Syslinux and Grub. A bootloader is the software that shows you a menu where you can select which OS (such as MX Linux) to boot up. This menu is the first thing you see when you start your computer.

It doesn't matter which bootloader you use, they all do the same thing in the background. You just need to know how to set up their respective configuration file.

Loading Linux OS ISO files directly

Some bootloaders, such as Syslinux and Ventoy can automatically look inside .iso files directly and access necessary Linux boot up files (i.e. vmlinuz and initrd.gz files). For reference, MX Linux uses syslinux as its bootloader. Configuring syslinux is done by modifying /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg (note that the path on the USB might be somewhere else). Here is a menu entry in syslinux.cfg to use an .ISO file directly (this is sort of what Ventoy sets up for you automatically):

LABEL someiso
MENU LABEL Directly boot an ISO file
KERNEL memdisk
APPEND iso raw
INITRD
/mydistribution.iso

Then put the Linux iso file you want to boot up on your USB drive in its root folder. Make sure the .iso filename and path matches what you put for the INITRD variable (in this case"/mydistribution.iso"). Now you should be able to use your new menu entry.

Alternatively Multi-booting a Linux OS without booting an ISO directly

Time to get a little geeky. Open the syslinux.cfg text file and look for something like the following:

LABEL live
MENU LABEL MX Linux Live
KERNEL /somefolder/vmlinuz
APPEND quiet splasht nosplash
INITRD
/somefolder/initrd.gz

Let's break this down:
  • When you start booting from the USB, add a menu entry called "MX Linux Live"
  • If you select this menu option on boot up, your computer starts booting this Linux by executing the file called "vmlinuz" which is under the /somefolder directory
  • (vmlinuz has code to teach your computer to understand the Linux language commands)
  • After vmlinuz starts up MX Linux, Linux then loads the contents of initrd.gz file
  • (initrd.gz file sets up things such as your home directory and load extra applications)
And that's it. After doing the above, Linux will be running on your computer. That is, assuming you put vmlinuz and initrd.gz under the folder you defined. To test multi-booting, let's add another menu entry, by adding the following to your syslinux.cfg text file

LABEL mytest
MENU LABEL A different Linux distro
KERNEL /anotherfolder/vmlinuz
INITRD /anotherfolder/initrd.gz

How to get vmlinuz and initrd.gz from an ISO
  • Get a linux distrobution, preferably an ISO file
  • If the distrobution file you have is an ISO file, such as "Ubuntu.iso", use a program like ISOmaster, which can be found for free, via software installer of your running Linux
  • Open the ISO file and find both vmlinuz and initrd.gz
  • Copy those two files onto your USB device and put under the /anotherdistro folder
After rebooting, you should now have a new menu option which will allow you to multi-boot into a different Linux distro.

Wrap up
Do note that right now we are only setting up booting into "live" distributions. I am not covering making multiple partitions on a USB to install different Linux versions per partition.
 

wizardfromoz

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Welcome to linux.org @Solution :)

While I am all in favour of adventure (I run 70 Linux from four Families on this rig), I am also a proponent of

KISS

Keep It Simple Stupid

(and she knows that that is not dumbing down to her, coming from me, I believe)

Kari has said

I'm almost brand new to Linux, so Im not sure how to do the most basic actions.
All of the methods described above have their place, and their uses.

What has been asked by the OP has been for a solution to start to consider multibooting, and in the form of a USB stick, for effectively multitesting. (To see if she likes them, how they perform, how feature-rich they are, and so on)

And for convenience, I will presume a GUI fix, that is, point and click over Terminal.

VMs such as Oracle VirtualBox and VMWare are certainly good products, but if you want to try them in plenty, you are looking at 20 - 30 GB per box, say 10 Distros - 200 to 300 GB, taking up space in Home unless directed elsewhere. Although a maximum of around 87% RAM can be steered to the Guest.

There is still a learning curve.

The simplest solution is to prepare one or more of Kari's 32 GB USB sticks she has, format it to FAT32 and give it a partition, slap 10 to 15 Linux on it if she wishes, and then boot from it.

All from a purely Linux-based environment, on her test rig which has Zorin 15.3 on it currently.

That narrows down the choices to -

  1. Multibootusb - the oldest solution on The Net (sadly no longer available, it seems)
  2. Multisystem
  3. Ventoy and a late-runner
  4. Easy2Boot
I can show you, Kari, Multisystem over my weekend, and I will also be giving Easy2Boot a run.

For Multisystem, here is 3 pics I needed to take, to show what was on the window (can't drag and drop the handles)


and


and



So there are 10 Linux distros on here, and you can place as many as the stick has capacity.

In this case, it is a 64 GB stick (French describe MB as Mio) so where the grey text is, it says I have

-Size 64 GB, Used (less than) 20 GB, Free 40 GB or so.

Total Live CDs 10

You can do the math with your 32 GB stick :)

Have to fly, Friday here in Oz so

Avagudweegend

and (Arnold) Kari - I'll be back!

Wiz
 

KGIII

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Multibootusb - the oldest solution on The Net (sadly no longer available, it seems)
 

Solution

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wizardfromoz,, my last post was an amalgamation of private posts karimfc and I had, which I said that I would share with the community, so that it might be of use to others. GUIs are great, but don't always work the way you want them to. Too many times, people ask me what an OS boot entry should look like in syslinux, grub2, etc. If karimfc already had a bootloader working (apparently syslinux), it seems much easier to just add the OS entries to the syslinux.cfg text file versus another USB wipe/reinstall.

karimfc, if you still are having problems with multiboot, feel free to private message me, and I'll give you the exact configuration lines you need for your boot loader. I set up a test computer yesterday to get the specific configuration settings needed for you.

karimfc, I still agree with Tokem's solution of using VirtualBox instead of setting up a multi-boot USB. You won't use any extra disk space, since you are running "live" OSs. (I won't go into dynamic data allocation / persistence...too geeky)

Overall, I think this message thread has a lot of valuable information for the next person, with a dash of Linux 101 education.
 

wizardfromoz

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@KGIII on #16, David the links are dead, you get a blank banner at http://ww1.multibootusb.org/

AlternativeTo.net have this:

MultiBootUSB Alternatives for Linux

There are many alternatives to MultiBootUSB for Linux and since it's discontinued a lot of people are looking for a replacement. The most popular Linux alternative is Small balenaEtcher iconbalenaEtcher, which is both free and Open Source. If that doesn't suit you, our users have ranked more than 25 alternatives to MultiBootUSB and 14 are available for Linux so hopefully you can find a suitable replacement. Other interesting Linux alternatives to MultiBootUSB are Small UNetbootin iconUNetbootin (Free, Open Source), Small Ventoy iconVentoy (Free, Open Source), Small Easy2Boot iconEasy2Boot (Free) and Small WoeUSB iconWoeUSB (Free, Open Source).
Wiz
 

wizardfromoz

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The following lines will install Multisystem on a computer running a Debian-based Linux such as Ubuntu, Zorin, Mint, &c and there is a script available for other Distros if needed.

Code:
sudo apt-add-repository 'deb http://liveusb.info/multisystem/depot all main'
wget -q -O - http://liveusb.info/multisystem/depot/multisystem.asc | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y install multisystem
It will place the icons in your Menu.

Hardly able to be more simple than that really, and then you are ready to go.

Later

Wiz
 

KGIII

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@KGIII on #16, David the links are dead, you get a blank banner at http://ww1.multibootusb.org/
It'd 'dead' in that it's no longer developed. It still works just fine. Use the link I shared and click on the releases:


I haven't used it in the past few months, but I currently have it installed on Lubuntu 20.04. It still works wonderfully.
 
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