About News Download Docs Forum Bugs Contact





USB drive Install Guide

With many users either not having a disc drive, small netbooks for example, and others not wanting to bother with one, the best option is usually a usb drive for an install. Below is a simple guide on creating a usb boot drive from the SMGL ISO.

Most people recommend Unetbootin for this, but it won't work out of the box for Source Mage. The reason for this is that Unetbootin only supports FAT filesystems, and the kernel found on the Source Mage ISO only has FAT available as a module. Unetbootin also has a tendency to be deadly slow (≈90 minutes last time I tried with the 650MB amd64 image).

For these reasons, we'll cover a method using extlinux. I will not go into the details, as you're supposed to have some basic knowledge of GNU utilities. There is a thread on UbuntuForums that also explains it.

Format your drive

First we need to find our drive. The easiest way is to watch the output of dmesg command while plugging your stick, or check /proc/partitions.

Then, assuming the drive is /dev/sdb, we'll create a clean partition table and a filesystem:

Note: be careful, as we sometimes refer to the drive and sometimes to the partition.

# fdisk -cu /dev/sdb

then, in sequence, type something like:


replacing each * with a powerful stroke on your Enter key. In particular, the partition you create must be marked as bootable. Read the fdisk(8) manual for more details.

Then we create a filesystem on the first partition:

# mkfs.ext3 -L SMGL_ISO /dev/sdb1

Mount your drives and copy the files

Our ISO will be used as a source for the system installer, so we assume you've already downloaded it.

# mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/tmp
# mount -o loop smgl-*.iso /mnt/iso
# cd !$
# cp -a * /mnt/tmp

Make your stick bootable

Find the mbr.bin given with the extlinux package, it can be located in /usr/lib/extlinux/mbr.bin or /usr/share/syslinux/mbr.bin or in other places.

# cat /usr/share/syslinux/mbr.bin > /dev/sdb
# cd /mnt/tmp
# mv isolinux/isolinux.cfg extlinux.conf
# rm -r isolinux
# extlinux -i .

Unmount everything

# cd
# umount /mnt/{iso,tmp}


Plug your USB stick in whichever computer you want Source Mage installed on, turn it on, find a way to make it boot off USB (usually this is done via changing boot drive priorities in BIOS settings), and hit Enter at the boot: prompt.

If it does not work, you might want to try this:

/boot/linux root=/dev/sda1 rootdelay=10

changing sda1 with whatever value suits your system best. Specifying rootdelay should not be necessary, but it can't hurt (and 5 seconds should be enough).

Follow instructions on screen or on the ISO installation page, and that's it!