Sunday, 14 September 2008

Usb Stick Woes

As the terribly nice people who wrote the Arch Linux Wiki went to all that trouble, you might think it would all be plain sailing from now on. But nothing could be further from the truth.

I start by grabbing an old 256MB USB memory stick, navigating to the Arch Home Page and from there navigating to 'Get Arch' where I pause briefly to find out how to grab the ftp install image (it seems a reasonabe one for a small USB stick). Having worked that out, I follow the instructions to the letter to create a linux bootable image on the USB stick. Elated, I shove it in the side of the WebBook, hit the startup button ...

And I am rewarded by a grub prompt of the sort that normally appears when the loader can't find the rest of the things it has to do. Deep joy.

I remove the Arch Linux 2008-06 usb image stick, and set in its place the pendrive linux stick. Nothing wrong here, "Pendrive Linux" kicks off in top gear. Oh dear. Could it be the image ? I reach into the cupboard for an ageing IBM Thinkpad R50e, a veteran of several IT contracts. Can this venerable beast even boot from USB, I wonder ? I start by hooking up the "ever eager to please" PenDriveLinux stick and press the Thinkpad's ON button. Lights flash; drives whirr; and in no time at all I see the PendriveLinux logo. So, off comes that stick and in goes the Arch Linux one.

It takes an age ro start up, but finally it shows me a grub prompt, takes another age, and then brings up the first linux boot steps. Maybe I hit the return key subconsciously or just lost count or patience or something, but the proof is there for all to see, the USB stick was configured with the Arch Linux 2008,06 build and there is is. Pity it's not booting the right laptop.

Oh well, drawing board here I come.

OK it has been an "interesting" couple of hours and I have reached the end of my patience. It is clear that some aspect of the combination of the new Arch USB boot image, plus the Elones BIOS, conspire together to fail miserably. I do not know what is happenning, all I know is the machine refuses toboot at all with a stick that may, or may not, boot properly on other machines, yet boots readily on others.

To add insult to injury, I got my hands on a Maplin USB 2.0 S-ATA / IDE Adapter and used it to hook up a bog-standard IDE CD/DVD ROM, loading a CD I burned of the 2008-06 ISO. Now that ISO launches perfectly in every one of my desktops and even launches without error when I use the Maplin interface to hook it up to my other laptops. But not with the WebBook. I have no idea what is going on, but the Arch Linux 2008-06 boot is a total failure with the Elonex WebBook

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