[TriLUG] ISO boot loader OR not wasting CDs

Kevin Hunter hunteke at earlham.edu
Thu Oct 22 01:54:04 EDT 2009

At 12:57am -0400 Thu, 22 Oct 2009, Thomas Ingram wrote:
> The only thing I seem to use CDs for anymore is burning various live
> CDs to try out or install. This seems like such a waste. What I'd like
> to have is a bootloader on a USB device, along with any number of ISO
> files. When booting from the USB drive, the bootloader would list each
> image in a menu to select. After selecting one, boot would continue as
> a live CD. Is there anything I could use for this?

Here are a couple suggestions:

1. Utilize VirtualBox.  Assuming you've a computer with a virtualization 
instruction enabled, and the RAM, then all you need do is point VBox to 
an ISO and it will represent it in the "CD Drive" to a virtual computer. 
  While not exactly a response to your question, because I believe the 
gist is that you want to boot with bare metal, I find this *much* faster 
than burning lots of CDs, keeping track of them, and then booting off of 
them.  (I didn't realize just how bad the latency was with optical 
drives until I used Qemu virtualization some 5 years ago.)

They've made it extremely easy to install for any distro, and after 
about 15-30 minutes of futzing, you should be a pro with the GUI.  It's 
that simple.  http://virtualbox.org/ -> "Downloads" (link on left).

2. Utilize CDRWs.  Every now and then I *do* need to test in the 
non-normalized atmosphere of bare-metal.  When I do, I have 2 CDRWs that 
I've been using for the past 4 years.  They do go bad after some obscene 
amount of writes, but I'm still waiting, and I use them fairly heavily 
every couple of months or so.

3. If you have a spare computer, consider setting up a PXE boot setup. 
Assuming you have the prerequisites in order (basically a box less than 
5 years old), you can use a second computer to serve out an operating 
system over the LAN.  This solution is a little more "techy" and will 
require some command line action, but I don't think it's that difficult. 
  Most of today's distros are almost-PXE ready.  To date, I've booted 
and installed Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Mint, Debian, and OpenSUSE via a 
PXE route, so I know it's possible.

Before you ditch suggestion 1 for suggestion 2, I do recommend you at 
least try it.  VirtualBox has come in handy for *so* many things that I 
didn't even think about until I had it as an option.  VirtualBox is a 
wonderful tool.

Good luck,


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