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How to write EasyOS to a flash drive

October 09, 2017 — BarryK

EasyOS is a Linux distribution deployed as an image-file that may be written to a USB Flash drive, then booted. There are two aspects to this:

  1. After having downloaded the image-file, how do you write it to a USB Flash stick?
  2. How do you get the computer to "boot" (startup EasyOS) from the USB drive?

The answers to both of these questions are quite simple. This web page answers question-1. At the bottom of this page, there is a link to another page that answers question-2.

Ha ha, the pages cascade... that next page has a link to a third tutorial, that explains how to install Easy to the internal drive of a computer, and dual-boot with Windows. You might not want to go that far, but telling you now, so that you know that the option is there, in case you do.

This web page is in two halves, depending on whether you are currently running Windows or Linux. Each has its own tools for writing the image file to a Flash drive. Firstly though, you need to download the EasyOS image-file...

Download Easy

Go to the primary hosting site, here:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/easyos/amd64/releases/xerus/

...and download the latest version. It is a file named easy-*-amd64.img.gz, where that "*" is the version number. That ".gz" on the end of the filename means that it is compressed with the gzip format.

Checksum
You could just assume that it downloaded correctly, but if you want to be sure, you will see a file named md5sums.txt on the website, alongside easy-*-amd64.img.gz.
Download that too, or look at its contents online.

One thing that is a good idea, is to read my announcements. There will be useful news about the latest release. Browse the EasyOS news here:

http://bkhome.org/news/tag_easy.html

Having downloaded the file, you now need to write it to a USB Flash stick. As I stated, it depends whether you are currently running Windows or Linux. Jump to which section applies...


Linux

If you want to be certain that the downloaded file is not corrupted, do this: open a terminal window at the same folder where you downloaded easy-*-amd64.img.gz (any file manager worth its salt will have an "Open terminal here" menu item). Then run (for the example of version 0.6):

# md5sum easy-0.6-amd64.img.gz

Then, if you are a wiz on the Linux commandline, you might be able to just run a command like this (assuming Easy version 0.6, and the USB Flash drive is sdb):

# gunzip --stdout easy-0.6-amd64.img.gz | dd of=/dev/sdb bs=1M
# sync

For everyone else, and even if you are a Linux-wiz, I recommend that you use my EasyDD utility. Reason is, it helps to choose the correct target-drive, and does a lot of sanity checking. Even wiz's can make dumb mistakes!

EasyDD is in Easy 0.6 and later, however, as you are not yet running Easy, you will have to download this utility. It is a script named easydd, and should work in almost every Linux distribution.

Get it from here:

http://bkhome.org/files/easydd.gz

Open a terminal window at the same folder where you downloaded easy-*-amd64.img.gz , if not already.

Then, download easydd.gz to the same folder, and run this;

# gunzip easydd.gz
# chmod 755 easydd

...the first line uncompresses the file, the second line makes it executable.

EasyDD can run as a fully-GUI application, or in CLI-mode. CLI means Command Line Interface, and this is the one you will use. The GUI mode is nice, but it is likely that whatever Linux distribution you are currently using, does not have the required dependencies.

Here is a summary of how to run EasyDD:

# easydd
GUI
No parameters, runs in GUI mode
# easydd <file>
CLI
image-file parameter, will ask for target-drive
# easydd <file> <drive>
CLI
image-file and target-drive parameters
# easydd -h
CLI
Prints help info. Long option "--help"

An example of row-3 is "easydd easy-0.6-amd64.img.gz sdb", however, to minimize the possibility of choosing the wrong target drive, I recommend that you choose row-2. Example:

# ./easydd easy-0.6-amd64.img.gz

...notice the "./" prefix. You need that, because easydd is in the current directory. Note also, the "#" -- you don't type that, it is the shell prompt, and may be different in your Linux distro.

After that, you will be asked to plugin the Flash drive, then you choose it, then you write the file to it. It is very simple.

What size drive?
When EasyDD asks you to plugin a Flash drive, and you rummage around looking for one, choose 8GB or bigger. Well, 4GB will work, even 2GB, but only for an initial evaluation -- you will need more space for ongoing usage.

You are now ready to boot the computer from the Flash drive. Jump down to the bottom of this page for the link to the next tutorial.


Windows

There are various Windows tools for writing a compressed image file to a Flash stick. The one that I have tested is USB Image Tool, which is free.

USB Image Tool website: http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/
Download: http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/download/

Before launching into a description of how to use USB Image Tool, it is a very good idea to check that easy-*-amd64.img.gz was properly downloaded. There is a tool for doing this:
http://www.pc-tools.net/win32/md5sums/

Unzip it, and extract md5sums.exe (usually achieved by right-click, then choose to extract contents). The usage instructions explain that if you drag easy-*-amd64.img.gz on top of md5sums.exe, it will display the md5sum hash-code. You can check this against the content of the online md5sums.txt file, to verify that the file was downloaded correctly.
This is optional, but usually a good thing to do.

USB Image Tool does not have an installer, it is just a zip file that you extract the files from wherever you want them. That is, download, to say, the "Download" folder, then copy usbit.zip wherever you want it, then right-click on it and choose to extract the contents. When you do so, you will see these files:

files

The one that you need to run is "USB Image Tool.exe" -- right-click on it and choose "Run as administrator".

If your USB Flash stick is already plugged in, you will see it on the left side. Otherwise, plug it in and it should appear (see the note in the Linux section, use a drive 2GB or greater, prefer 8GB for ongoing usage). Notice at the top, "Device mode" is selected, this is important:

first

Click on the Flash drive to highlight it, then click the "Restore" button. You should have downloaded the image file beforehand, now choose it:

select

Easy, just highlight the *.img.gz file (whichever you have downloaded) then click the "Open" button. Then just watch as the file is uncompressed and written to the drive:

writing

One thing to be careful about. Looking at the above snapshot, you might think it reasonable that writing is finished when it reaches "100%". Not so, it actually went to almost "300%" before finishing. So wait until the green bar goes away entirely.

Do not yet unplug the Flash stick! It is now ready to use, however, with Windows you must first select "Safely eject drives" from the tray:

eject

This ensures that Windows has fully flushed everything to the drive. If you just pull out the drive without doing this, it is possible the tail-end of the write operation was not fully written to the drive, even if you have finished and exited from USB Image Tool.
In the example shown above, the Flash drive that I have plugged-in is named "Data Traveler 2.0". I also have an SD-card inserted.


How to boot from the Flash drive on your computer

Easy has been written to the Flash drive, and you are eager to try it. There are simple step to follow, to tell your computer to recognise the plugged-in Flash drive at power-on, and boot up the operating system on that drive.

Note that this can be done non-invasively, so it won't upset the installation of Windows or other OS on the computer's hard drive, and you will be able to easily go back to booting it/them.

So, here is the next tutorial:

http://bkhome.org/linux/prepare-your-computer-for-booting-linux.html

Have fun!

Regards,
Barry Kauler
October 2017

Disclaimer: Information is provided "in good faith", however the author accepts no liability whatsoever, and you apply the instructions on this page with this understanding.

Tags: easy