A 512KB Multiboot USB Drive with Essential Tools for an ASUS Eee PC

I had a 512MB Kingston USB flash (a/k/a jump or thumb) drive that I wanted to set up for use with an ASUS Eee PC.  The Eee did not have a CD drive, so the essential mission here was to include basic tools that might be needed to view and work with the contents of the machine, in case Windows failed to start, along with other tools to image the drive, adjust partitions, and make the drive contents available in case of emergency.

In short, I was trying to decide what was most important to include in a multibootable USB drive.  There were many possible responses to this assignment.  I wanted something relatively simple, straightforward, and easy to set up and use.  Based on my work so far, I chose YUMI to provide the multiboot capability.  With YUMI, all I really needed was to find ISOs for the programs that I wanted to include.

As described in a previous post and its predecessors, three programs seemed particularly useful and likely to fit on a 512MB USB drive.  The first of the three was Puppy Linux.  Like most Linux live CDs, Puppy contained tools and utilities that you’d expect from an operating system,  including GParted for partitioning drives.  So the user would be able to take a look at what was on a hard drive, copy files as needed, and otherwise get into and work with the machine to some extent.  The second of the three was Macrium Reflect, for making and restoring drive images.  The third was the Windows 7 System Repair CD — using the 32-bit flavor, which was what the Eee would need.

With these three tools, it seemed that the user of an ASUS Eee PC would be able to take the basic steps necessary to protect and access data and restore the system in case of emergency.

I wrote up some advice to the user of the Eee, using Microsoft Word to save that document as an HTM file, with a link back to this post.  I put copies of that Read-Me file on the USB drive and also on drive D of the Eee.  My note to the user went like this:

*  *  *  *  *

Dear Eee Purchaser:

With this Eee, I have included a USB drive.  The purpose of this gift is to help you with certain computer maintenance processes that can be more difficult on a system without a CD drive.

The USB drive is bootable.  To boot it, plug it into the Eee, start the Eee, and hit the Esc key as soon as white print starts to appear onscreen.  It will go into a boot menu.  Arrow down to the Kingston DataTraveler (i.e., the USB drive) and hit Enter.

When the Kingston drive boots, you will get a YUMI Multiboot USB menu.  This menu opens three different tools that I have put onto the bootable USB drive.  The first two are under the “Directly Bootable ISOs” menu.

One of those two is Macrium Reflect.  This tool makes and restores images (i.e., exact copies) of hard drive partitions.  I have partitioned the hard drive.  One partition (i.e., drive C, which I have named PROGRAMS) contains the Windows program files.  Another, now mostly empty, is called DATA.  The third is called BACKUP.  The BACKUP partition contains a Macrium backup of the PROGRAMS partition.  You can use the USB drive and Macrium to restore that backup if drive C ever becomes corrupted.

Note that this Eee did not come with Windows CDs.  There is no way to reinstall Windows from scratch.  So you may want to make a copy of the Macrium backup from BACKUP to an external drive.  That will help you if something goes wrong with the hard drive, or if the contents of BACKUP somehow get corrupted or deleted.  Without a backup somewhere else, in the worst case you may have to buy and install a new copy of Windows.

The second tool under YUMI’s “Directly Bootable ISOs” menu is the Windows 7 32-bit System Repair CD.  This is often useful for fixing problems with Windows.

Then there is another YUMI menu option:  Precise Puppy Linux.  This version of Linux is small but still has essential tools.  One tool worth noting:  Menu > System GParted.  GParted is a partition editor.  You can use it to shrink, enlarge, add, delete, and otherwise reconfigure your drive partitions.  I used GParted to create the DATA and BACKUP partitions mentioned above.

Puppy has other tools as well, if you want to use it to get work done in a pinch and Windows is not cooperating.  Windows viruses don’t run in Linux, so this can be a way to get around that particular kind of problem.  Note that other versions of Linux (e.g., Ubuntu, Knoppix) have more tools, and more powerful tools.

A copy of this note appears in a post in my blog, with other explanatory information.  That post contains links to related items.

Happy computing!


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2 Responses to A 512KB Multiboot USB Drive with Essential Tools for an ASUS Eee PC

  1. Steve Si says:

    Why not set up a restore partition on the internal HDD so they can quickly restore a previous image if anything goes wrong? See Tutorial #89 on my site. The user just needs to press F4 on boot to restore the image.

  2. Ray Woodcock says:

    That tutorial looks interesting. I’m done with this for now, but in a few months I may give that a whirl, on another machine. Thanks!

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