My trials and tribulations with Fedora live USB installation

I spent the past three days working on installing Linux live on a USB stick. The reason I got started on this senseless waste of time is because I now have a laptop to use for part of the time I’ll be in New Zealand. The only problem is that I don’t have admin access so I can’t install anything, not even my VPN configuration. I finally came up with the idea of installing Linux on one of the two USB sticks I brought with me.

There are several windows utilities that,all in one operation, allow you to download and create a bootable USB stick with a live version of Fedora linux. I couldn’t run them without administrative access on the PC though. Luckily I had a blank DVD and was able to burn the iso on that. A DVD is pretty unsatisfactory for a live OS though. In case you don’t know, a live OS is one that you can run from CD/DVD or USB on any machine that it can boot from. It doesn’t touch or jeopardize anything on any of the drives of that machine. But launching from the DVD is extremely slow! Installing on a USB makes a much quicker system. Luckily I have a 4GB and a 16GB USB with me.
 it
Since I don’t have admin access to windows on the laptop my only option for creating the disk was to do it from my live Fedora Linux installation. I managed to do this the first time without too much problem but then I started to dwell on the other deficiencies of the system. The good news was that boot-up compared to DVD was very fast–maybe a minute or so. The big deficiency is that none of your configuration changes, including authenticating with the wi-fi, get saved, so you have to do it over every time you boot. I guess I was still reading documentation about installing Fedora to a USB and I noticed that you can install it with what they call data persistence. In it doing so, any changes made will be saved. So I decided to create such an installation but it was at this point that I really began having a rough time trying to accomplish my goal.
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There is a tool for Fedora called liveusb-creator that is very easy to use and it is what I used to create my first successful USB installation. There are two installation options, destructive or non-destructive. When I used the non-destructive method, everything seemed to work until I tried to boot from the USB. It wouldn’t boot! On the other hand, the destructive method yielded a bootable installation but the data persistence part didn’t work. I finally realized that data persistence with liveusb-creator only works if you chose the non-destructive method, the one that always resulted in a non-bootable stick.
I finally gave up on that tool and started playing with a tool called livecd-iso-to-disk-format. After three days of fooling around with various tools I was finally able to create the live USB with data persistence. It works quite well but one problem is that, although there is quite a bit of extra room on the 16GB stick, once you install something or copy it to the USB, even if you uninstall or delete, you never recover the space you originally used!
I discovered a third option that helps with this. With the livecd-tools (the package that contains livecd-iso-to-disk-format) you can also reserve space for a home directory. Anything that gets saved to the home directory can be deleted and you recover the space that was used. I re-installed my 16 GB stick in this configuration painlessly now that I had ironed out the problems of previous attempts.it I spent the past three days working on installing Linux live on a USB stick. The reason I got started on this senseless waste of time is because I now have a laptop to use for part of the time I’ll be in New Zealand. The only problem is that I don’t have admin access so I can’t install anything, not even my VPN configuration. I finally came up with the idea of installing Linux on one of the two USB sticks I brought with me.
OK. Next problem–one of the main reasons that I came up with the plan of running Linux to begin with was that not having admin privileges on the laptop kept me from being able to configure VPN. Now that I had finally managed to get the USB configuration that I wanted, I thought it should be a snap to configure VPN. But in looking for documentation from TorGuard, my VPN service, I only saw documentation for ubuntu Linux. Darn! Well to make a long story short I managed to install Ubuntu Linux with data persistence but with no option for a home directory. I was also able to configure VPN pretty easily, at which point, I realized the procedure to configure it on Fedora should be identical. I guess I created the Ubuntu disk for nothing because the VPN works fine on Fedora!
 I spent the past three days working on installing Linux live on a USB stick. The reason I got started on this senseless waste of time is because I now have a laptop to use for part of the time I’ll be in New Zealand. The only problem is that I don’t have admin access so I can’t install anything, not even my VPN configuration. I finally came up with the idea of installing Linux on one of the two USB sticks I brought with me.
I know this is all very boring and seems like a colossal waste of time, which is probably true but it’s the kind of thing I really enjoy doing, as long as I can succeed in a reasonable amount of time. Four days seems reasonable to me but it was exhausting and frustrating work.
This is a screenshot of my live fedora 21 desktop

Author: korkiley

Systems Administrator at University of Vermont (retired as of 7/1/2012) Married Favorite Activities: Condor Glider Online Competition, Developing web sites, making espresso, and keeping a blog

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