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Insert an empty(!) USB device of at least 256MB, and look for it in dmesg:
$ dmesgAt the end of the output, it says:
[1922747.172561] sd 29:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg4 type 0 [1922747.179137] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] 1959807 512-byte logical blocks: (1.00 GB/956 MiB) [1922747.179629] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] Write Protect is off [1922747.179637] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] Mode Sense: 0b 00 00 08 [1922747.179643] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] Assuming drive cache: write through [1922747.182521] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] Assuming drive cache: write through [1922747.182532] sde: sde1 [1922747.205897] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] Assuming drive cache: write through [1922747.205908] sd 29:0:0:0: [sde] Attached SCSI removable diskSo apparantly, this device is now known as "/dev/sde". Check if it's automagically mounted:
$mountIf it is (i.e. there is a line that contains /dev/sde), unmount this device first.
umount /dev/sde1Download the current boot.img.gz from a Debian repository to your home directory. This assumes that you want to use the 64-bits version of Debian.
cd ~ wget ftp://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/stable/main/installer-amd64/current/images/hd-media/boot.img.gzOkay, now we need root privileges in order to put this image on the USB device:
sudo bash zcat ~/boot.img.gz > /dev/sdeMount the USB device on a mount point. In this case, /mnt/usbdisk will be used for that. Then copy the ISO file to this location.
sudo mkdir /mnt/usbdisk sudo mount /dev/sde1 /mnt/usbdisk wget http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/amd64/iso-cd/debian-506-amd64-netinst.iso -O /mnt/usbdisk/debian-506-amd64-netinst.isoYou may want to compare the SHA512SUMS of http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/amd64/iso-cd/SHA512SUMS with your local version:
$ sha512sum /mnt/usbdisk/debian-506-amd64-netinst.isoWhen they match, unmount this USB device, and remove it, because you are now ready to use it to install Debian from it.
$ cd $ sudo umount /mnt/usbdiskOriginal article: http://www.virtualconcepts.nl/2010/09/installing-debian-lenny-from-usb/
Here is a very short (but in my opinion very useful) how-to for creating an USB boot device, which enables you to boot Debian from your memory stick.
We are assuming that your USB device is indicated by /dev/sda, and that you are interested in Debian stable (other distributions are untested, but should work).
First unmount your memory stick.
sudo umount /dev/sda
Now download the boot.img.gz, which is necessary to make your USB device bootable:
cd ~ wget ftp://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/stable/main/installer-i386/current/images/hd-media/boot.img.gz
Extract this image and write it to your USB device:
sudo zcat ~/boot.img.gz > /dev/sda
Now mount the volume to /mnt:
sudo mount /dev/sda /mnt
In this case a Debian Stable net-install image is used. You may also use a business card iso. Nevertheless, you should be sure to use the same version of the ISO-image as the image.tar.gz that was used before. Download the ISO to the USB device:
cd /mnt/ sudo wget http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/3.1_r3/i386/iso-cd/debian-31r3-i386-netinst.isoNow you can unmount the volume:
cd ~ sudo umount /dev/sdaYou can remove the USB device, and plug it in your new system. Of course you should tell your BIOS to boot from USB. There is a copy of this how-to on our company's website