Creating a Custom Boot Device

Decent Rescue Boot Device Needs

This section is really about creating a rescue device. As the name rescue implies, the host system has a problem, often lost partition information or corrupted file systems, that prevents it from booting and/or operating normally. For this reason, you must not depend on resources from the host being "rescued". To presume that any given partition or hard drive will be available is a risky presumption.

In a modern system, there are many devices that can be used as a rescue device: floppy, cdrom, usb drive, or even a network card. Which one you use depends on your hardware and your BIOS. In the past, a rescue device was thought to be a floppy disk. Today, many systems do not even have a floppy drive.

Building a complete rescue device is a challenging task. In many ways, it is equivalent to building an entire LFS system. In addition, it would be a repetition of information already available. For these reasons, the procedures for a rescue device image are not presented here.

Creating a Rescue Floppy

The software of today's systems has grown large. Linux 2.6 no longer supports booting directly from a floppy. In spite of this, there are solutions available using older versions of Linux. One of the best is Tom's Root/Boot Disk available at This will provide a minimal Linux system on a single floppy disk and provides the ability to customize the contents of your disk if necessary.

Creating a Bootable CD-ROM

There are several sources that can be used for a rescue CD-ROM. Just about any commercial distribution's installation CD-ROMs or DVDs will work. These include RedHat, Mandrake, and SuSE. One very popular option is Knoppix.

Also, the LFS Community has developed its own LiveCD available at This LiveCD, is no longer capable of building an entire LFS/BLFS system, but is stiil a good rescue CD-ROM. If you download the ISO image, use xorriso to copy the image to a CD-ROM.

The instructions for using GRUB2 to make a custom rescue CD-ROM are also available in LFS Chapter 8.

Creating a Bootable USB Drive

A USB Pen drive, sometimes called a Thumb drive, is recognized by Linux as a SCSI device. Using one of these devices as a rescue device has the advantage that it is usually large enough to hold more than a minimal boot image. You can save critical data to the drive as well as use it to diagnose and recover a damaged system. Booting such a drive requires BIOS support, but building the system consists of formatting the drive, adding GRUB as well as the Linux kernel and supporting files.

User Notes:

Last updated on 2013-02-11 10:51:17 -0800