30 October 2009


A friend of mine is using his free time to teach about Linux and FLOSS at a school - he managed to convince the school to do this on Saturdays.

Recently he did an interesting experiment with the kids: got bootable images for a number of distros and they put those on LiveUSB media and tried to boot and play with them. Unexpectedly, only Ubuntu worked and everything else failed to start, including Fedora 12 Beta, so their conclusion was "the school computer only support Ubuntu".

I was shocked to learn this, I had terrible pains with F11, which failed for every install I tried due to the Anaconda storage rewrite, but in my experience F12 was rock solid from this point of view.

But soon I identified what I believe to be the root of the problem, they used UNetbootin to write the live USB media, a tool which is supposed to work with a large very number of distros. I have no idea if Fedora 12 failed to boot because the media was written with a tool not updated for our new hybrid images or due to general suckiness of the tool, but I was really amused to read on UNetbootin web page (emphasis mine):

"Requirements: Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, or Linux. If you are having trouble with the Linux version, try the Windows version, it usually works better."
Hint for my friend Tibi: next time use "dd" on Linux. It will work better (at least for Fedora).


  1. I have been creating LiveUSB sticks for both Ubuntu and Fedora over the years and have had very mixed results. It seems to be very dependent on both the stick you have and the machine you are trying to use it in.

    Also, sometimes the image needs to be applied to the device (/dev/sda) and sometimes the partition (/dev/sda1) to work properly.

    Lately the only way I could get a Fedora LiveUSB image to work with a certain stick I had was to use UNetbootin. Neither dd nor the Fedora LiveUSB creator worked. One another stick, the LiveUSB creator works *great*. It seems that some cheap USB hardware might not play well with certain boot methods.

  2. I've had very good luck with the Fedora livecd-iso-to-disk (in the livecd-tools package) and the LiveUSB creator, using both Fedora media and other bootable distro CD media. I think this may be a case where the developers of Fedora tools did their best to engineer a more widely applicable solution and not settling for jerry-rigged stuff. That being said I think the LiveUSB Creator needs some upgrades to be feature-equivalent with the livecd-tools.

  3. I also use livecd-iso-to-disk all the time with good results, that is what I recommended to my friend after I learned about his experience.