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jasn
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:33 pm    Post subject: Help building a complete Gentoo USB flash drive system Reply with quote

I'd like to configure and install a fully functional Gentoo system onto a USB flash drive which upon bootup, would automatically detect and setup the proper X11 video driver, as well as automatically setup, (at least), the portage TMPDIR onto a RAM tmpfs. Under normal operation I would use the USB drive primarily as a backup device for my current system home directory, (requiring some kind of rsync coordination when plugged in), but also when needed, I could plug the flash drive into another computer, in order to boot my entire Gentoo system.

It probably should contain a full complement of kernel modules, drivers, and firmware, like most install or LiveDVDs do, (i.e. SystemRescueCD), since I'm not sure what system I would be plugging into, but I believe that I could make the minimum arch ~amd64, as I would not likely plug into anything slower than that. I'd be using a large capacity, fast USB 3.0 flash drive for this exercise, plugged into a USB 3.0 port as well. I also don't care about USB read/write cycles, as I would easily clone it to a new USB drive whenever necessary.

However, I don't believe that any of the standard methods of creating a LiveUSB, like copying the contents of the Gentoo LiveDVD or install CD, or the actual SystemRescueCD, onto a USB stick, are what I'm looking for, because these all seem aimed at creating a boot device for the purposes of installing Gentoo onto another system HDD, not running the entire system off of the USB drive. I've read some of the webpages over at the SystemRescueCD website about personalization, or kernel customization, but it doesn't seem to go far enough for what I want.

I suppose that the easiest method may be to simply to do a normal Gentoo install onto the USB flash drive, as if it were the system HDD. I would then just need to sort out the X11 video driver auto detect, and figure out how to configure the kernel/drivers/firmware. I did notice that the in kernel jme driver maintainer, Guo-Fu Tseng, has built a distribution that may be closest to what I'm looking for called Cooala Linux, here. I just would want to change the DE from Gnome to KDE or XFCE, and wouldn't need the Chinese language support.

Is this even feasible? Anyone who has traveled this road, please feel free to share your thoughts.

Thanks..
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DONAHUE
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using genkernel for kernel, vesa for video driver, CFLAGS= -O2 -pipe" CXXFLAGS="${CFLAGS}", emerge linux-firmware, in a handbook install to a flash drive allowed me to boot on a half dozen assorted machines. Using kernel config from sysresccd to add choices to the default genkernel is a good idea, better network interface support.
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jasn
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the response. Certainly using vesa for the video driver would serve as a good base level common denominator. Although I was kind of curious by the mention in the Cooala Linux distro, of a mechanism for auto detecting and installing the appropriate X11 video driver. I will likely install it onto a USB stick and tinker around with it and see if I can figure out what's actually being done. Another method may be to ask over on the SystemRescueCD forums to see if anyone there has outlined a method for simply installing their full environment onto a HDD, and then use that method to install to a USB drive. Anyway, I guess it's time to tinker.

Thanks again..
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LiamOS
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done something very similar on USB2: http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-p-7203030-highlight-.html#7203030

It's been a huge pain to maintain, but USB3 would be _much_ easier to work with.

As far as X11 driver detection, I've yet to have a problem with the Ubuntu kernels with gentoo userspace, but I have a limited(~10 boxes) sample.
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cooldavid
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've glad someone found it useful. :)
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jasn,

Start with SystemRescueCD.

Building on USB2 is slow, as it forces PIO mode for disk access. USB3 does DMA, so its much faster.
For USB2 build in a chroot then copy the install over.
Do maintainence in the chroot in the normal way but be sure to set FEATURES=buildpkg, then you can use the binaries to update the USB2 install.
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