Linux – USB – Testing your system for USB boot compatibility

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The following tutorial will enable a user to check if a computer system can boot from a USB device and ultimately help determine if the computer can boot a Linux version from USB.

In most cases if the test is successful, you should have no problem running Linux portably via syslinux. In addition to testing your PC for USB Linux boot capability, the "Memtest86+" system memory diagnostics program that is included, allows the user to scan their system memory for errors by simply booting memtest from a USB device or flash drive.

Basic USB Boot Test Essentials:

  • Windows PC to perform the install
  • USB flash device
  • Memtest86+ USB Installer.exe

Installing Memtest on USB to test for USB Boot compatibility:

The following explains how to install Memtest86+ on a USB device and further run Memtest from USB. Ultimately enabling us to quickly test whether a system can boot from USB.

The Memtest86+ USB Installer was created by Lance per the request of Samuel Demeulemeester, the author of memtest86+.

  1. Download, extract and run Memtest86+ USB Installer. Then follow the onscreen instructions
  2. Reboot your computer and set your system BIOS to boot from USB-ZIP or USB-HDD. Or, set the hard disk boot priority to boot from the USB stick if your BIOS lists the device as a hard drive
  3. Save your BIOS settings and reboot

Upon [gs reboot], you should have a successful launch of Memtest86+ from the USB flash drive:

Memtest86 Screenshot:

This test concludes that your system is capable of booting from a USB device using Syslinux and it should be possible to run Linux from USB.

NOTE: After booting Memtest from USB, it is not necessary to complete the system memory test. However, if you have the time, it can't hurt to ensure that your computer's memory is in good shape.

This test does not guarantee that your computer's [gs hardware] is supported with a particular Linux distribution. It is possible to pass this test and still have problems booting Linux.

For example: A Video Card driver may not be available by default with a particular Linux distribution which could leave you at the shell after boot.