March 20, 2016

Thumb Drive Debian Install Issues

I have a Lenovo S206 netbook and I am trying to run Debian 8.3.0 off of my thumb drive. I installed Debian on my thumb drive using unetbootin and a previously downloaded iso file (debian-8.3.0-amd64-CD-1). After install and booting from thumb drive i only have a blinking cursor. Any help would be appreciated.

My understanding is that you installed Debian from a first USB stick to a...

My understanding is that you installed Debian from a first USB stick to a second USB stick. That you are unable to boot from the second USB.

Hypothesis: Debian was confused about where to install GRUB's Master Boot Record (MBR). And, Debian put the Master Boot Record on your first drive, whereas it needs to be on the second drive. Your second drive has a Debian installation with most of GRUB, but no MBR, cannot boot.

First read this article by Carla Schroeder so that you may adapt it to your situation.

You need to use the first USB stick (hd0,1) as a rescue drive, using bootable GRUB on it to bring up Debian from the second drive (hd1,1). Once you boot the kernel from the second drive "update-grub" should put GRUB including the MBR on the second drive.

Plug both drives into your computer, set BIOS to boot from the first drive, the original install drive, and power up. Hit the "C" key for command line window as soon a your see the GRUB screen. Play around with the "ls" command to see what is available in the way of drives in accordance with Carla's article. The tab key will help you find files and paths with command line completion. Where Carla uses (hd0,1) you will probably be using (hd1,1) for your second Debian installed drive, and sdb1 instead of sda1.

This does not have the correct vmlinux and initrd.img names for your case. Your will need to adapt it with the help of the tab key to your situation.

grub> set root=(hd1,1)
grub> linux /boot/vmlinuz-3.13.0-29-generic root=/dev/sdb1
grub> initrd /boot/initrd.img-3.13.0-29-generic
grub> boot

Pay attention to (hd1,1) and /dev/sdb1 above.

Once you are able to boot from your second drive, (hd1,1) sdb1 , make it permanently bootable by reinstalling GRUB with "update-grub" command.

Power down, remove the first drive, set BIOS to boot from the remaining drive, and allow GRUB to boot to Debian.

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