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Hi have tried installing Ubuntu and a few other Linux Distro's without luck on one USB stick.

I have seen other solutions but they only work with ISO images. What I need to do is to install GRUB2 on a USB and then partition it and install Multiple Distro's on it but I don't know how to install GRUB on a USB.

Thanks in advance,

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

sudo grub-install /dev/devicenamehere.

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But then how do I update grab for any new distro's – Benny Jan 27 '11 at 3:20
You should install grub after you have installed the other distros, or simply run sudo update grub from within ubuntu (when running from the flash drive). – RolandiXor Jan 27 '11 at 3:45
honestly though the iso method is much safer. – RolandiXor Jan 27 '11 at 3:46
How do I add several isos on one boot stick? – Marcel Feb 7 '11 at 21:58

You may look at They have plenty of articles on this regard.

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As I said I don't want to use software to install iso – Benny Jan 30 '11 at 4:28
One would think that "pendrivelinux" is about creating linux bootable systems from linux but most of them are windows. Go figure. – Luis Alvarado Jun 2 '11 at 19:27

Grub only installs work great on a known system but may need to be edited (from grub menu) when booting up on another system. The chainload root entry may need to be adjusted.

The easiest way to keep everything working with kernel updates:

  • partition the disk/usb
  • install the first partitions OS with grub loaded into the MBR - this is the default boot menu
  • subsequent OS/partition installs load grub into their relative root partitions
  • hand edit the MBR grub with chainload entries for the other partitions, edit the root(hd#,#) to the appropriate location for your usb drive
  • Now kernel updates or installs to each partition will update the grub installed to the relative root partitions and will never overwrite/mess up the master chainload menu.
  • works great with boot to ISO, drop a new ISO into the data partition, copy/edit another "master" grub entry, reboot into ISO. Knoppix, Tinycore, Clonezilla, Puppy, etc., all work great with this setup using the data partition the ISOs are in to save settings.

Example of "master" mbr grub chainload entries:'

# for PCLos on Partition 2
title PCLos
root (hd5,1)
chainloader +1

# for mandriva on Partition 3
title Mandriva
root (hd5,2)
chainloader +1

# for SUSE on Partition 4
title OpenSUSE
root (hd5,3)
chainloader +1

# for Slackware on Partition 5
title Slackware
root (hd5,4)
chainloader +1

' hd5 is the USB position if the USB stick is installed into the primary usb port on this particular machine. If booting to another machine, hit "e" to edit the chainload entry and adjust to the correct root.

I use this grub method because it works for harddrive and USB. I usually use the stick only on my systems and use the boot to ISOs with shared data partition liberally.

USB sticks I use for travel or rescue systems use syslinux, sometimes with grub4dos. This won't need to be edited when booting on different systems -

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The only system I found for a multi-boot boot-stick, without using Windows is Multisystem. The UI design is a bit strange and the documentation is only in French but it does the job. It can do burg, syslinux, grub4dos, plop, Virtualbox, qemu etc. but a basic multiboot stick can be made in 5 minutes by drag and drop. From what I read Grub 1 is to be preferred for a multiboot environment.

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