Bug#596633: USB install fails
Quoting Miles Fidelman (email@example.com):
> >Err, you're not supposed to put the mini.iso on the USB stick, but
> >either the businesscard or netinst images.....
> the instructions page implies that you can do a netboot, using the
> .iso found in the /netboot directory - where the only iso is
> mini.iso - seems like another documentation bug
Hmmm, from http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en.i386/ch04s03.html:
"Installation images for the second installation method can be found
in the hd-media directory and either the -Y´easy way¡ or the
´flexible way¡ can be used to copy the image to the USB stick. For
this installation method you will also need to download a CD
image. The installation image and the CD image must be based on the
same release of debian-installer. If they do not match you are likely
to get errors during the installation. "
Then later, on the detailed instructions:
4.3.1. Copying the files — the easy way
There is an all-in-one file hd-media/boot.img.gz which contains all the installer files (including the kernel) as well as syslinux and its configuration file.
Note that, although convenient, this method does have one major disadvantage: the logical size of the device will be limited to 256 MB, even if the capacity of the USB stick is larger. You will need to repartition the USB stick and create new file systems to get its full capacity back if you ever want to use it for some different purpose. A second disadvantage is that you cannot copy a full CD image onto the USB stick, but only the smaller businesscard or netinst CD images.
To use this image simply extract it directly to your USB stick:
# zcat boot.img.gz > /dev/sdX
After that, mount the USB memory stick (mount /dev/sdX /mnt), which
will now have a FAT filesystem on it, and copy a Debian netinst or
businesscard ISO image to it. Unmount the stick (umount /mnt) and you
4.3.2. Copying the files — the flexible way
If you like more flexibility or just want to know what's going on, you
should use the following method to put the files on your stick. One
advantage of using this method is that — if the capacity of your USB
stick is large enough — you have the option of copying a full CD ISO
image to it.
22.214.171.124. Partitioning the USB stick
We will show how to set up the memory stick to use the first partition, instead of the entire device.
Since most USB sticks come pre-configured with a single FAT16 partition, you probably won't have to repartition or reformat the stick. If you have to do that anyway, use cfdisk or any other partitioning tool to create a FAT16 partition, and then create the filesystem using:
# mkdosfs /dev/sdX1
Take care that you use the correct device name for your USB stick. The mkdosfs command is contained in the dosfstools Debian package.
In order to start the kernel after booting from the USB stick, we will put a boot loader on the stick. Although any boot loader (e.g. lilo) should work, it's convenient to use syslinux, since it uses a FAT16 partition and can be reconfigured by just editing a text file. Any operating system which supports the FAT file system can be used to make changes to the configuration of the boot loader.
To put syslinux on the FAT16 partition on your USB stick, install the syslinux and mtools packages on your system, and do:
# syslinux /dev/sdX1
Again, take care that you use the correct device name. The partition must not be mounted when starting syslinux. This procedure writes a boot sector to the partition and creates the file ldlinux.sys which contains the boot loader code.
126.96.36.199. Adding the installer image
Mount the partition (mount /dev/sdX1 /mnt) and copy the following installer image files to the stick:
vmlinuz or linux (kernel binary)
initrd.gz (initial ramdisk image)
You can choose between either the regular version or the graphical version of the installer. The latter can be found in the gtk subdirectory. If you want to rename the files, please note that syslinux can only process DOS (8.3) file names.
Next you should create a syslinux.cfg configuration file, which at a bare minimum should contain the following two lines (change the name of the kernel binary to -Y´linux¡ if you used a netboot image):
For the graphical installer you should add video=vesa:ywrap,mtrr vga=788 to the second line.
If you used an hd-media image, you should now copy a Debian ISO image onto the stick. When you are done, unmount the USB memory stick (umount /mnt).
 You can use either a businesscard, a netinst or a full CD image
(see Section 4.1, -Y´Official Debian GNU/Linux CD-ROM Sets¡). Be
sure to select one that fits. Note that the ´netboot mini.iso¡ image
is not usable for this purpose.
I wonder what elese we would need to document, indeed...