Installing SystemRescueCd on a USB stick


This page explains how to install SystemRescueCD on a USB stick. Installing SystemRescueCd on an USB stick allows you to use the system from a USB stick instead of using a DVD. You need a recent SystemRescueCd, and a USB stick with enough space. You need at least 2GB unless you have removed files from the official version. You will have to get your firmware (BIOS/UEFI) to boot from the USB device before it attempts to boot from the local disk. This can be configured either in the firmware settings or by pressing a key at boot time.

This page describes the best options available for installing such a USB stick.

If you are running Windows on your computer the recommended installation program is rufus as it is easy to use and supports both UEFI and Legacy-BIOS booting methods.

  • Download SystemRescueCd-6.0.1 (or more recent) from the download page
  • Download rufus and install it on Windows
  • Plug in your USB-stick and wait a few seconds to allow enough time for the system to detect it
  • Execute Rufus and select the USB stick in the drop-down list
  • Select the SystemRescueCd ISO image that you have downloaded
  • Select ‘MBR’ partition scheme as it will be compatible with both BIOS and UEFI
  • Select ‘BIOS or UEFI’ in target to get the best compatibility
  • Check the ‘volume label’ is correct as it must be set to SYSRCDXYZ (cf below)
  • Select FAT32 filesystem as the UEFI boot process only works from FAT filesystems
  • Click on the start button and wait until the operation is complete

In the previous steps SYSRCDXYZ refers to the version number, eg: SYSRCD601 for SystemRescueCd-6.0.1. Rufus should automatically use the label which was set on the ISO filesystem and hence it should set this label automatically on the USB device. You should not have to change it but you should make sure the label is correct as this is required for the device to start properly. What matters is that the label matches the value passed to the archisolabel boot option in the boot loader configuration files on the device (grubsrcd.cfg and sysresccd_sys.cfg) so files can be found at the time the system starts from the USB device.

If you are running Linux on your computer it is very easy to install SystemRescueCD on a USB stick. It will produce an USB stick which is bootable with both a Legacy BIOS and in UEFI node.

This approach is easy to use from a Linux system and it requires the dd command to copy the ISO image file to the USB device. Make sure you use the right device with dd as the operation is destructive if you write to the wrong device.

  • Download the latest SystemRescueCd ISO image from the download page
  • Plug in your USB stick and wait a few seconds to allow enough time for the system to detect it
  • Unmount the USB stick if auto-mount is enabled or if it was already mounted
  • Run lsblk in a terminal to identify the device name for your USB device
  • Run dd if=/path/to/systemrescuecd-x.y.z.iso of=/dev/sdx where /dev/sdx is the USB stick

Alternative USB installation method on Linux for booting in UEFI mode

Follow this method is you want to boot the USB device in UEFI mode. The idea is to create a FAT32 partition on the device where the firmware will find Grub. For the UEFI firmware to use this partition as the EFI filesystem is must have the right flags in the partition table. The USB device can have additional partitions.

  • Download the latest SystemRescueCd ISO image from the download page
  • Create a msdos disklabel on the USB device using a tool such as parted or gparted
  • Create a FAT32 partition with at least 2GB on the USB device and set SYSRCDXYZ as the filesystem label
  • Set the boot and lba flags on the FAT32 partition using a tool such as parted or gparted
  • Copy all files from the ISO image to the FAT32 partition from a terminal with both devices mounted

In the previous steps SYSRCDXYZ refers to the version number, eg: SYSRCD601 for SystemRescueCd-6.0.1.

After you have followed these steps you should check the contents of both /boot/grub/grubsrcd.cfg and /sysresccd/boot/syslinux/sysresccd_sys.cfg on the USB device has the right value for the archisolabel boot option. The label passed to this option needs to match the label of the FAT32 filesystem on the USB device so it can find the SystemRescueCd files during the boot time. A mismatch will cause a boot failure.


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