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Tech Culture: Systm: Boot your copy of Windows or Linux on any machine
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Tech Culture: Systm: Boot your copy of Windows or Linux on any machine

24:50 /

USB flash drives are more than just storage: they're a great way to run your safe copy of Linux or Windows on any machine that can boot from USB.

>> USB flash drives are dirt cheap; they're everywhere, in fact you probably have a bunch right now sitting somewhere gathering dust. So let's put them to use. Pictures, music - too easy. Applications for use on your pc - not bad. But how about using them to put an entire bootable operating system so you can customize your pc without having to modify anything on your hard drive? We're going to show you how to do this on this episode of Systm. This episode of Systm is brought to you by Netflix and GoDaddy.com. ^M00:00:32 [ Music ] ^M00:00:52 >> So you've got a dozen or so USB flash drives lying around the house? Sure, they're handy for [inaudible] files around, maybe keeping things, well, a little bit safer, because you never know when you might need that list of tax deductions. >> Actually they're great if you, especially if you're in school and you're trading notes from class - perfect thing. >> These are just the ones you found in your desk at work, right? >> These are the ones we use at work. We have on total - what? Six, eight, ten? >> Probably another five in my desk drawer. Here's the thing though. Why not try playing around with them as an emergency boot disk or a way to run the same applications and files you need no matter what machine you use. Or even something like securing your ability to browse when you're using somebody else's machine. >> Yes. Now oftentimes, especially if you're in an environment where you don't actually have your own machine, but you have access to it, you're often kind of paranoid, like, well, what if I want to run a Windows browser - not Windows browser - but a web browser; you want go check out something, but you don't necessarily want someone to know what you've been doing. >> Or you're at that friend's house, where they've got a lot of stuff loaded on their machine and they have a habit of getting their machine infested, and you're thinking to yourself, I want to do something, but I want to make sure there're no Trojans or anything filthy or nasty that's going to impact my life because I used a password or something. >> Or you have a pc not working, can't get anything else to run on it - it's a great way to kind of troubleshoot those issues that you have - especially if you're on Windows, because we all know Windows has its issues. >> So. Ubuntu, XP, what other kinds of operating systems can you boot from the USB thumb drive? >> You can do Vista, now the thing with Windows, is you're not necessarily really booting the entire operating system, you're not going to be presented with the Desktop GUI, with all the functionality that you're used to. They're essentially part of what Windows - or actually Microsoft - calls the Windows PE, or preinstalled environment, and it was meant for IT guys to do rapid installation over a lot of machines, without necessarily having to carry a disk to each one. They could basically load everything they needed to on a thumb drive, boot the machine, and then install all the rest off the network. >> So are you going to be able to use it like XP or Vista, or are you going to have a command line you kind of interface? >> You have an interface and it is a GUI, it's like Windows 95/98, but it's very low resolution, and it's not fully functional in the way that you're going to be running, say, a game or even like a full fledged web browser. You will have access to your drives, your network, a few other functionality things that you need to get your machine up and running. Now for Ubuntu - this is a great thing - typically when people think of Linux, it's oftentimes a kind of a hard, obtuse process getting it to work, >> Well it used to be. It's gotten a lot easier. >> It's gotten a lot easier, and essentially instead of doing a live cd of Ubuntu, you put it on a thumb drive, you can use it on another machine and you can actually save all the information you have, so you save. I went out and I found this great deal on a car on a web browser and I can save it, close out the machine, have everything stored on this thumb drive, come back home, plug it in and it will still be there. >> Cool. >> So it'll have all the benefits of a live cd, except that you can store data on it. >> I like that thought. >> So, let's get things started. Now, I went through this process for about a week and I realized you need two things to make this happen. One, you need a BIOS in your machine, that allows you to boot from a USB device, USB flash drive, and two, you need a flash drive that actually allows you to boot. Now with all these I have in front of me, I think this, no not that one, this one . . . >> So the three cheapest drives actually allow you to boot the operating system? >> Yes. I have one more I'll plug into another machine. The rest of these, including this 8 gigabyte one, and this 2 gigabyte one I actually paid for out of my own pocket do not work. >> Why? >> Don't know. I'm still trying to figure . . . >> In theory they should all be compatible with this >> There is a section of the drive that it needs to look at, essentially the MBR that you would have on a hard drive, these would be kind of replicated on the thumb drive. I'd managed to do it before on a Linux install and you essentially make a hidden partition on there, but for some reason I couldn't get it to work with these two. I think it's probably to do with the size on the 8 gig. And the SanDisk - just no luck. It all turns out to be the really cheapy, freebie ones that I've been getting at CES that seem to work. >> Because they don't have any cool guy bundle applications tearing up the drive >> So, what I recommend to you, is before you go out and buy a whole bunch of thumb drives, you know, see if there's any you've got lying around and see if they work or not, because . . . You know what? These all look exactly the same except for the logo - actually this is the only one that works - these three - actually this Zune one works, believe it or not. Ok, these three work, the rest of these do not. >> Alright. Let's get these out of the bag. Where do we start? Do you want to start with XP? >> Let's start with XP, since everyone's familiar with it. Now you can do this with Vista, using the latest Windows PE for Vista, but what I like to use is something called Bart's PE builder - also, shorthand, Bart PE. He basically took the Microsoft product and made it better. He actually included a bunch of tools, so in terms of functionality for the average person, I think Bart's PE is a lot better than the Microsoft. >> What's the PE? Is it like a slip changing tool or power . . .? >> PE - preinstalled environment, so this is all the tools that you need to get a machine up and running and working. So, all you need to do is go straight to Bart PE site and download his application. There it is. Take me to download - you basically download the top one - uninstall it - you're going to get a folder, pull this back up and once you do, you're going to expand it. Create a folder on your root directory, preferably C, D, whatever, but make sure it's root because it's just simpler. It's not that you have to, it just makes things a lot easier. I created one called USB boot, and then basically I have everything from Bart PE. Second thing I need to do is create this folder right here: SRSP1.Very important that you keep that labeled as SRSP1 because this is what Bart PE looks for when it does the whole kind of shebang install. So all you really need is your XP pro install disk and you need to download Service Pac 1 for Windows 2003 Server or Windows Server 2003. >> Will it work on the cheap XP home version? >> Everything I've read requires Pro because Pro has the tools that you need in order to function. Once you download the Microsoft Windows Service Pac for Windows 2003, you are going to extract it into the directory. You don't have to do it in the directory, I just do it because it keeps everything simple - it keeps everything in one place. You will basically come up with this folder i386, and there's two things you need to extract from this folder. >> Only they're critical. >> So to expand it, the first thing you do is, you take this file, and what I did was, it comes out with a really long kind of Microsofty revision name - so there's a bunch of 0's and numbers, I shortened it. I shortened it to ws_sp1, Because you're going to need to go into the command line, and you do this by going to the star button, type command. Alright, I'm at the command prompt and this is why I tell you to do it at the root directory because it's so much easier to do a single folder down then like 500 and three other drives across. >> So basically the USB is the folder you're creating and all the contents that are going to go onto the thumb drive. >> That is correct. >> Ok. >> And you can use a different name - I just used USB boot because it helps me identify that particular folder. >> Easy to remember. >> Easy to remember. And, as I said, I renamed this file - this ws_sp1. That is the file I need. And because it downloads and it has 200 or 20 plus characters on it, if you shorten it, it's a lot easier to type. So I put space dash x and that will expand it, and it's going to ask me where I want it, so, I'm going to say . . . Now when it does it's going to automatically generate another folder, i386, and it's going to dump everything in there. >> You only need like three files out of that. >> Two. You only need two files out of 320 odd mgs. So. Now I'm going to change from the US boot directory into one more subfolder and that's the i386, >> Because you're going to get all text based computing and manually copies over, rather than going into here and finding two files out of a list of 300 an copying over . . . >> Pretty much, I mean, it's actually easier since I already know what I'm looking for, so let's see if we can find it first. So, we'll do this . . . >> So, CD, change directory . . . >> And then I know I want the set up loader bin, and I just did a quick wild card search for set up, so let's copy it. What I need to do is I need to copy it over to the folder that I just created, which is the SPSR1 or SRSP1. You know, there's a lot of letters that you need to remember. And I'm trying to make it - you can tell I really don't type that much anymore - it's all that mouse-based, contextual business. So let's copy it over to the USB. Oh Lord, it's so long since I've done this. >> You were doing this this morning, you were doing this yesterday . . . >> Oh, I had one in there already - ha! So, that's the first file I need and this is of course the boot loader I need. And actually I need to expand the RAM disk - let's try to find that real quick - [door slams] - it's just a ghost, don't worry. So, we're going to expand it by typing expand, hyphen r, space RAM disk, dot sy and put the underscore, because I did that one time and it didn't work. So I then need to tell it where I want it to expand, >> So basically you just need the two SIS files. >> Yep, and it's done. >> Cool. >> So, not much to look at, but those are the files I need. Next thing I need to do is run the PE builder. So, we got our files expanded and copied over - our two files - next we basically open up PE builder. So, I stuck in my PE Pro disk - actually it's a slip string version, so it's all the updates - but you can use your burn stock sp1 road disk, an you want to do is select the source and the source being the drive. So, open here and then it knows that's where Windows will be. Output, make sure it says Bart PE, and finally, let's make sure it says media output none. We do not want to create an iso - everything else is good. And everything else you have to pick build. And then it chews on it, spits out my disk. So there it goes - crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, chomp, chomp, chomp. So you basically just come back in about 20 minutes or so. Alright, it's done. Click close. We are finito. Back to the command line. Alright, so, final thing we need to do is make sure we are back in the US boot directory and we're going to look for this file right here: the PE 2 USB. Not necessarily the bin, but, type that. >> Not the builder but the PE USB. >> Yep. And then space, hyphen f, and then I just plugged in one of my boot drives, so let's see where it is located and what the file name is. So we know it's "e". >> E drive. >> So let's go to here and hit "e colon". What we'll have to do is hit enter and YES! >> In upper case. >> Yes. You cannot type it lower case - it's designed specifically so you can't screw it up. So it's going to basically verify all 487 mgs, even though it's a 512 - the whole kind of rounding and formatting issue. When it's done it's going to give me a completely bootable USB stick that I can then boot up a machine with. The BIOS setup - this may look a bit different from the one on your particular screen, but generally everything is roughly in the same location. You want to look for a boot setting in your BIOS and as you can see here, mine's already preset, but typically goes at the bottom. If you look on the right it will tell you whether or not you can enable it by using the minus or plus key and I got it held down with shift here and I can move it up. Now you'll notice that there's USB Flash and USB Hard Disk. On some BIOS's there's a difference. USB Hard Drive expects to see a normal hard drive, where USB Flash, there're some things that the BIOS will not expect, or rather, expect to see. So, again, if you have the USB Flash option, choose that, and literally exit and save. Tada! Alright, here we go . . . I'm going to say no because it does not have the drivers for my particular network devices in here, but as you can see, all you need to do is to go down to the magic where it says "go", and now I can do check disks, I have system tools, I have a word pad - it's really hard to do from this side of the screen - let's do this - click "WordPad", click that. Now I have WordPad, I can type. If I wanted to, I could also do system tools, I could do disk copy, let's see . . . >> Start. Run. CMD. Format. C: >> Or if, say, I want to check disk, I could do C: and hit enter, and then it will . . . So it's basically a tool that gets you up and running once everything has gone to complete failure or you need to get some old machine without any drives in it and you just want to test it, because you need to see if the machine still works or this and that, you don't want to go through the whole laborious process of installing a new CD drive or a new hard drive into it. So it's actually a really handy tool if you do a lot of trouble shooting just to keep in your back pocket. >> Will this drive run on anything or is it only going to run on the machine it was configured for? >> Oh, it'll run on any pc as long as that pc will boot from a USB device. >> Cool. >> So, I can use that in this laptop, I've used it in our other laptop, I've used it at home - it works on all three. All these machines were made in the past two years, so, >> Can you add an additional application? >> I believe you can, but that involves you going through a lot more involved process of adding those functions into the Bart PE loader, which I do not want to get into right now. >> It's time to thank one of the sponsors of today's episode of Systm, GoDaddy.com. If you want to make an impact online, GoDaddy.com has what you need, starting at less than 5 bucks a month. Web hosting from GoDaddy.com includes 99% uptime, 24/7 support and free access to the GoDaddy posting connection. The place to quickly install over 50 free applications, like Word Press, [inaudible], OS Commerce and more. GoDaddy.com makes it easy to customize your own virtual dedicated server; choose one of three popular plans or select your own Linux or Windows server with all the plan options you need. You want to save some cash? Of course you do! Enter in code SYS1-that's S-Y-S-1, when you check out, and you'll save an additional 10% off your entire order. Some restrictions apply; see the site for details. Do us a favor, help us keep Systm on the air and get your piece of the internet at GoDaddy.com and use that code, sys1, when you do. >> Alright, so one of the nice things about doing Ubuntu versus, say, XP, is you actually have a full, complete installation of the operating system and you can pretty much do anything with it that you can do on the version installed on the hard drive. >> Yes. In fact, one of the great features of the live CD of course is that you don't have to install it, so you don't have to worry about destroying any kind of partitioning or Windows installs that you have installed on your machine. >> So you actually booted a live CD and now you're using the live CD to install the installation on the USB thumb drive? >> So this is the cool thing about the latest version of the Ubuntu 8.10, which is the Intrepid Ibex. As you can tell, there's a little Ibex watermark on the desktop here. >> Ingenious iguana. >> Ingenious iguana. Two i's? Maybe they like the little double h, i, j . . . janky jackaroo . . . >> Don't even go there. >> Alright. So. >> Jaunty jackalope. >> Typically, before you intend to make a bootable flash drive, you actually have to go through an entire process of formatting, using a Linux partitioner to create the file system on the thumb drive and >> The line is drawn in the sand. >> So, Ubuntu 8.10 is built into the system, super easy, I mean stupid simple. Go to system admin and then you have the function to create a USB startup disk, click that, and as long as you have a thumb drive, >> And it's a universal USB startup disk, not one specific to the system you're running. >> Exactly. So as long as it's a pc and it allows you to boot from a USB drive, it works. So, right here I have the CD, the source file and of course the USB disk to use. Store it in reserved extra space. This is for all that data. Typically when you're surfing the web on a live CD, once you close out you lose everything >> Right. You're history. >> With the USB, not the case. It'll actually save it so you can pull it up at a later date. Just create as much space as you want, it just needs enough space to copy everything over, and click "make startup disk" and when it's done, it's done. It's pretty sweet. Alright, so. I have it set up and it will begin to boot. So now we have our finished USB drive, it booted straight into it, so right now it might look like the live CD, but actually this is running off the thumb drive. And, I'm going to do that, try Ubuntu without any changes to my machine. This is where having USB 2.0 actually comes in handy. So now we have a scan of the screen and as we can see, it is full. So, let me open up - see if it remembers -see now as you can see, it's actually looking. It remembers. I did not need to type in my Wi-Fi network; it remembered it from the last time I was at this location. >> Nice. >> And again, look. "Start new session" or "restore previous session" - I can restore the previous session I had. >> Woo Hoo! Are you looking at where we're getting savaged in the forms? >> Yes. But as you just saw, I did not need to type in anything. Everything was saved. It was persistent. I had everything that I was doing saved on the thumb drive, so that meant when I rebooted off the thumb drive, >> It's pretty cool that way. >> Yeah. It's actually one of the best ways, I think, to use Ubuntu right now, is on the thumb drive, because it allows you that flexibility of using other people's machines, without necessarily worrying about security, unless, you know, someone put some sort of hardware key logger and a bunch of port sniffers and packet sniffers and stuff like that. But it's great and you know what? It's really easy to do and it's not that expensive. Other than the cost of a couple of these drives - I mean, again, 8 of the 10 I have are like freebies from CES. >> What's also fun is that you can like build one of these and basically test it on different hardware configurations in your house - you know, the slow machines, the fast machines - without actually having to commit to install everything. >> And that's the great thing. For those who are afraid of commitment, this is actually the best of both worlds - especially for those of you who want to do Linux, but are afraid to commit their machine over to that entire operating system, it's a great way for you to play with it, kind of get familiar with it, and then kind of make the decision at that point, "Yeah, I want to go full bore with Linux" and then you can do all the rest of the package installations if you want to do additional applications and stuff. >> It's time for our Netflix sponsor "Pick of the Week". This week the legendary, the perfect, the amazing, the delightful "Ghostbusters". This 1984 classic stars Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis as a team, well, of college professors thrown out of the university who decide to offer a ghost removal service to the people of New York City. Demonic possessions, giant marshmallow men, ray guns, this movie has it all. Just don't cross the streams. And, hey, you know what? Iconic logos, unforgettable theme songs, if you haven't seen this movie yet, you're missing out on a slew of pop culture references and one of our favorite movies ever. So put it at the top of your Netflix queue today. Don't want to watch "Ghostbusters"? Check out the other 89,999 that Netflix has to offer, including- we're willing to bet - more blue-ray disks than you can find at your local dvd store. You're bound to find any title you're looking for, and with 40 shipping centers, almost all deliveries happen in a single business day. Shipping? Both ways, free. Plans start at $4.99 a month, but you're a Systm viewer, so we've got a hook up for you. Get a free trial by signing up today at www.netflix.com/systm. Please support Systm by supporting our sponsors. We've seen everything from secure browsing to general purpose applications installed on thumb drives, we're very curious to hear what your favorite thumb drive applications, basically what you're carrying around on thumb drive so you can run on other people's machines. Kick us an email, Systm@revision3.com or go to the forums, revision3.com/forums, go to the Systms section and look for a thread about thumb drive applications. Now, you've heard of the Ted Conference. Now check out the Bil Conference. Revision 3 will be live at this grassroots meeting of gigantic minds as big ideas are discussed and presented. Join us for live streaming all day February 7th and 8th on revision3.com/Bil, and that's B-I-L, one "l". >> And of course the old episodes of Systm are available at revision3.com/Systm. >> We hope you've enjoyed this episode of Systm. I'm Patrick Norton. >> And I'm Roger Chang. >> We're going to see you next week where I've been getting, well, actually it's DNS. >> DNS? >> Dynamic DNS. And other non dyn-DNS - we're going to talk about basically remote accessing your router, your home servers, without having to pay for a static IP address. >> Oh, you know, that would be a Godsend, especially for people like me who don't really use static IP enough to make it worth it. >> We have some fun coming for you. We'll see you next week. ^M00:23:59 [ Music ]

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