In a posting made some time ago (Saving the planet – 3 or 4 CD’s at a time) I discussed the usefulness – and convenience – of being able to have one USB memory stick host several distros and utilities in a multi-boot format. The only odd thing about this was that, although the operating systems and utility packages to be loaded onto the USB drive were all Linux based, the program (YUMI) used to actually build the multi-boot drive ran under Windows. It struck me at the time that there ought to be a Linux utility that would do the same job. Now there is. Say hello to multisystem.
Instructions on how to install multisystem on the program’s web site(s) are sparse but, fortunately, there is an excellent set of instructions on pendrivelinux.com (http://www.pendrivelinux.com/multiboot-create-a-multiboot-usb-from-linux/). Given that pendrivelinux are the authors of Yumi, this is a little surprising but, nonetheless, the instructions work flawlessly. Their web page also includes detailed information on how to run multisystem in order to build a multi-boot drive.
One issue I had when running Linux Mint was that the installation script wouldn’t run in Terminal and instead demanded to have xterm available. Once the latter was installed using Software Manager, multiboot was readily installed, complete with a menu entry under Applications – Accessories.
Running multisystem requires the identification of a target USB drive, and will result in a warning that grub will be written to the drive’s master boot record (MBR). Clearly you should allow this since the grub menu will ultimately be used to select the system that is to be booted from the available options. Further warnings and permissions (sudo password) are required as the process of writing systems to the USB drive continues.
Installing a new distro or a bootable application (e.g. Gparted) onto the USB drive is quite simple. Firstly you download the relevant ISO file from the source. Then you run multisystem, so that its main window is displayed on the screen. Now, using the local file manager, you navigate to the folder containing the downloaded ISO file, drag it, and drop it into the lower pane of the multisystem window. Enter root’s password at the prompt and multisystem completes the installation process.
With multiple items added to the USB drive, booting from the drive produces a menu of the available options, with the individual entries organized by category.
So, with multisystem, you can create a multiboot USB drive – without leaving Linux!
Saving the planet (3 or 4 CD’s at a time)
YUMI – Multiboot USB Creator (Windows)
multisystem – Create your MultiBoot LiveUSB simply
MultiSystem – Create a MultiBoot USB from Linux