Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boot from USB Flash Without BIOS Support Using Plop via GRUB2

As result of an accident the netbook has gone to the heaven in the crisis time, so I've turned FreeNAS box to a normal PC with dual boot (Linux and FreeNAS) for working. Unfortunately, the DVD ROM has gone to the heaven, too. There are not to much options:
  1. Dual boot, each OS on their disk. Needs 2 devices, not my case.
  2. Dual boot on the same disk, still available, but requires skill and time [1].
  3. Boot FreeNAS from USB stick.
The last choice is the most convenient, but BIOS doesn't support booting from USB. Fortunately, there are boot managers, which fill this hole. Plop [2] has many features, many options and well-documented, so I chose it.
The system is running Linux, booted via GRUB2. If you like me don't want to destroy GRUB(2), you can run Plop from GRUB(2). You need to download the program, unzip and copy the boot manager binary program plpbt.bin to /boot, then add the following entry to GRUB2 configuration file (/boot/grub/grub.cfg):

# Boot Plop Boot Manager
menuentry "Plop Boot Manager" {
set root='(hd0,3)' #Change to your boot partition
linux16 /boot/plpbt.bin

Hold down Shift key while GRUB2 is booting to get its menu, then you can run Plop, from where FreeNAS on USB Flash can be booted.

See [3] for FreeNAS installation on USB Flash. Get the "embedded" (img) file instead of iso.

P.S. of course this is temporary solution. The better is CF to IDE adapter usage.

1. FreeNAS forum on
2. Plop boot manager
3. FreeNAS USB installation

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