Klaus Zimmermann's Corner

Road to getting a persistent install of Puppy Linux in a USB

The original mission was simple enough: get a Puppy Linux installation in a USB drive so I can have a portable Linux environment. Oh, easy does it. I can simply dd the image file into any one that I have lying around and that will be it! But here's the compication: it has to persist some things in order to make itself useful should I ever re-use it again.

But wait a second! If you use dd the drive essentially becomes read-only and worse: any additional space not accounted by the ISO disk image is wasted! For drives 4GB and larger, this is a significant loss. So I'll have to extract the contents in another way.

Oh, I know: Unetbootin! It's the easy-peasy solution to write stuff and keep them with a writable FAT32 filesystem. I've used since I was with Ubuntu back in the days, and should work with such a mobile distro such as Puppy, right?

Ehi, wrong... who knows, maybe it's outdated? Or Puppy outgrew its extraction system? Okay, that leaves us with the new cool kid on the block: Ventoy. Could this shiny new program be the answer to it all? It certainly looks so: Ventoy prepares new drives in a way that you can easily add, remove and swap distros, truly an elegant and modern answer for an age-old problem of multiboot on any media.

Unfortunately, persistence is provided with a separate plugin which I don't have time to read about at the moment. So now I'm running out of options, what is left for me? Here's where sometimes the simplest answers are the best.

Turns out that Puppy has a "Puppy installer" option right in their graphical setup wizards which allows us to install a copy of the ongoing live session direct to the plugged in USB drive - complete with writable persistence files and session saving capabilities! All you have to do is, from an ongoing Puppy session, plug in your USB and run the install wizard. The only downside is that it requires two drives to produce an optimal drive. But whatever; it worked.

And now this is the drive I'm using to try out Vanilla Dpup, the Debian-core flavor of Puppy Linux. Let's see if this becomes another review in the future!