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Can't boot from USB 3 flash drive


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#1 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 04:04 PM

Very few BIOS's support booting from a USB 3 drive because there is little room for a USB 3 driver in the BIOS.  This means, also, that there is no driver loaded when the Grub2 menu appears.  Not realizing this, I purchased a couple of 64gb USB 3 flash drives with the intent of loading distros on them and freeing up space on my SSD drive.

I think I can partially solve this in Linux by installing a "minimalist" distro on the SSD and then switching to the USB 3 drive after the kernel has loaded.  I know I can do it in Mint or Ubuntu by switching after the OS has fully loaded but I'm thinking that there must be a more elegant way of doing it earlier in the boot process.  Anybody have any suggestions?

#2 OFFLINE   amenditman

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 04:28 PM

I don't understand your problem.

I have been happily booting LiveUSB distros and fully installed distros from USB 3.0 sticks for a year and a half.
I have never found a computer that would boot from USB that would not boot from the USB 3 sticks.
Ditto for USB 3 external HDDs.
Obviously, if the board only supports USB 2 I am only booting them using that but they still boot.

More information is required, perhaps there is something else going on.

Edited by amenditman, 10 December 2013 - 04:29 PM.

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#3 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 05:27 PM

View Postamenditman, on 10 December 2013 - 04:28 PM, said:

I don't understand your problem.

I have been happily booting LiveUSB distros and fully installed distros from USB 3.0 sticks for a year and a half.
I have never found a computer that would boot from USB that would not boot from the USB 3 sticks.
Ditto for USB 3 external HDDs.
Obviously, if the board only supports USB 2 I am only booting them using that but they still boot.

More information is required, perhaps there is something else going on.
You can boot USB 3 sticks all day long.  Just not from all USB 3 ports.  They'll boot from USB 2 at USB 2 speeds.  This is not true in every case.  I imagine more expensive boards may have USB 3 drivers in their BIOS but Asrock's tech supports confirmed that my MB does not.  The OS must load drivers before the USB 3 ports on the MB are functional.

Edited by lewmur, 10 December 2013 - 05:30 PM.


#4 OFFLINE   amenditman

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 05:41 PM

I have booted from the blue USB 3 ports on a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, on my Gigabyte MOBO desktop, on various Dell computers at school, and on many different customers computers.

Sounds like Asrock has some issues.
Perhaps it is a matter of whether or not the board has UEFI operating in BIOS Legacy mode or if it is only BIOS. The former would be able to load much more code at boot time.

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#5 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:03 PM

View Postamenditman, on 10 December 2013 - 05:41 PM, said:

I have booted from the blue USB 3 ports on a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, on my Gigabyte MOBO desktop, on various Dell computers at school, and on many different customers computers.

Sounds like Asrock has some issues.
Perhaps it is a matter of whether or not the board has UEFI operating in BIOS Legacy mode or if it is only BIOS. The former would be able to load much more code at boot time.
I'm happy that you've haven't had any problems but that doesn't help me.  Thanks anyway.

#6 OFFLINE   burninbush

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 10:10 PM

View Postlewmur, on 10 December 2013 - 04:04 PM, said:

Very few BIOS's support booting from a USB 3 drive because there is little room for a USB 3 driver in the BIOS.  This means, also, that there is no driver loaded when the Grub2 menu appears.  Not realizing this, I purchased a couple of 64gb USB 3 flash drives with the intent of loading distros on them and freeing up space on my SSD drive.

I think I can partially solve this in Linux by installing a "minimalist" distro on the SSD and then switching to the USB 3 drive after the kernel has loaded.  I know I can do it in Mint or Ubuntu by switching after the OS has fully loaded but I'm thinking that there must be a more elegant way of doing it earlier in the boot process.  Anybody have any suggestions?


Uhmmm ... aren't we really talking here about a bios upgrade?  How else would new drivers appear to satisfy a boot requirement?   I doubt that your scheme using a minimalist distro would work either, since whatever drivers from it would not survive a reboot.  Maybe some virtualization scheme?

#7 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 11:20 PM

Sadly, I'm on the lagging edge (snickers with Fran about that :lol: ) of technology, so I haven't yet had a system with USB 3 capabilities. I'll keep an eye on this thread as a source for learning, though.

Carry on...

#8 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 11:59 PM

View Postburninbush, on 10 December 2013 - 10:10 PM, said:

Uhmmm ... aren't we really talking here about a bios upgrade?  How else would new drivers appear to satisfy a boot requirement?   I doubt that your scheme using a minimalist distro would work either, since whatever drivers from it would not survive a reboot.  Maybe some virtualization scheme?
What I'm talking about doing is creating a very small partition on my SSD drive to which grub2 would boot.  Then a script would transfer control to the the full partition on the USB 3 stick.  Much as you can boot a LiveCD and then switch control to an HDD.  Bruno taught me how to do that years ago.

As I said, I already know how to do this once the system has finished booting.  IOW, has not only loaded the kernel, along with the drivers, but has also loaded xprg and started all the services.   I was just thinking that the transfer could occur before loading xorg but I don't guess that would save enough disk space to really worry about.

Edit:  As to a BIOS uprade, the reason a USB 3 driver wasn't included in the first place is the BIOS chip the MB is using doesn't have enough memory space for it.  Not all BIOS chips are created equal. :'(

Edited by lewmur, 11 December 2013 - 12:13 AM.


#9 OFFLINE   goretsky

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 04:50 AM

Hello,

I know that on the Windows side of things, the operating system has to have support for the particular version of USB you are trying to boot from, e.g., only Windows 8 and higher boot from a USB 3.0 port because only that version of the operating system has USB 3.0 support baked in.

I am less familiar with things on the Linux side, but could it be that the minimalist distros in question simply don't have driver support for the various USB 3.0 chips included in them to date?

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#10 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:00 AM

View Postgoretsky, on 11 December 2013 - 04:50 AM, said:

Hello,

I know that on the Windows side of things, the operating system has to have support for the particular version of USB you are trying to boot from, e.g., only Windows 8 and higher boot from a USB 3.0 port because only that version of the operating system has USB 3.0 support baked in.

I am less familiar with things on the Linux side, but could it be that the minimalist distros in question simply don't have driver support for the various USB 3.0 chips included in them to date?

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky
Unlike Windows, in Linux the drivers are built into the kernel and USB 3 has been supported for quite a while.  But in order to boot from a USB 3 port, the BIOS itself must be capable of reading from that port in order to LOAD the OS, be it Windows, Linux or iOS.

While it is true that you can compile your own kernel in Linux, and leave out a lot of drivers you know you won't need, that is not what I'm talking about when I say "minimalist".   The full fledged Linux kernel is still less than 256mb but most distros require about 3gb to install.  That is because they include a lot of apps and language packs.  Those are not really needed to boot.

What you are saying about only Windows 8 being able to boot from USB  3 ports doesn't really have any thing to do with Windows itself.  It is the new hardware with UEFI instead of a BIOS, that has the ability to read USB 3.  You can also boot Linux from the USB 3 ports on those MBs.  My MB doesn't have that and so even Win8 won't boot from USB 3.

#11 OFFLINE   burninbush

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 10:06 AM

View Postlewmur, on 10 December 2013 - 11:59 PM, said:

What I'm talking about doing is creating a very small partition on my SSD drive to which grub2 would boot.  Then a script would transfer control to the the full partition on the USB 3 stick.  Much as you can boot a LiveCD and then switch control to an HDD.  Bruno taught me how to do that years ago.

As I said, I already know how to do this once the system has finished booting.  IOW, has not only loaded the kernel, along with the drivers, but has also loaded xprg and started all the services.   I was just thinking that the transfer could occur before loading xorg but I don't guess that would save enough disk space to really worry about.

Edit:  As to a BIOS uprade, the reason a USB 3 driver wasn't included in the first place is the BIOS chip the MB is using doesn't have enough memory space for it.  Not all BIOS chips are created equal. :'(


Maybe some add-in USB3 card would supply the missing bios support?  Dunno, but that was common back in the day for scsi cards.

#12 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 11:11 PM

Yeah, I'm not sure this is a general BIOS issue rather a specific motherboard BIOS issue. I've been happily booting my Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 flash drive with Windows-to-Go installed on it on an old Dell 755 desktop (Pentium Core 2 Duo). On the other hand my UEFI-based USB 3.0 ASUS ROG laptop blue screens with this flash drive.

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#13 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:25 AM

View PostPeachy, on 12 December 2013 - 11:11 PM, said:

Yeah, I'm not sure this is a general BIOS issue rather a specific motherboard BIOS issue. I've been happily booting my Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 flash drive with Windows-to-Go installed on it on an old Dell 755 desktop (Pentium Core 2 Duo). On the other hand my UEFI-based USB 3.0 ASUS ROG laptop blue screens with this flash drive.
Yeah, they'll boot fine from a USB 2 port but at USB 2 speeds.  And if you're getting a blue screen with the UEFI laptop, it isn't a problem with the drive not being read.  You won't get a blue screen until the boot process has a least started.  If you installed Window-to-Go on the flash drive using the laptop, it would probably work.

#14 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

USB2 is better than not being able to boot from it, but certainly no where near USB3 speeds!
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