booting from usb pen drive

neil.brown at neil.brown at
Mon Nov 24 03:53:17 EST 2003

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Lux [mailto:james.p.lux at]
> Sent: 22 November 2003 18:37
> To: Jag
> Cc: beowulf at
> Subject: Re: booting from usb pen drive
> Aiee.. an answer just long enough to really whet our appetites.
> A bit longer answer please?  Which BIOS? Which mobo? How 
> could one tell
> (without having the mobo sitting in front of you)?
> This could be a very elegant solution for booting diskless 
> nodes, since
> virtually every mobo made today has USB interfaces on it, and 
> would save you
> the hassle of putting CDROM or Floppy drives out there.  I'd 
> point out that
> NOT every mobo out there has PXE or network boot capability, 
> so this is a
> nice alternative.

Not sure about specific BIOS/Mobo models, you'd probably need to look at
their specs on the respective manufacturers web sites, but Dell PC's have
had this functionality built in for a while now. Ford made a big effort to
get rid of floppy disk drives and use USB to boot their PC's when they
needed to be rebuilt with their standard ghost image (albeit this was most
probably Windoze). See for more about that. My HP
desktop PC that I'm writing this on also has support for USB boot, as, I
imagine do most modern desktop PC's.

As for 1U server motherboards, I'm not so sure, although again I'd imagine
that most newish boards would have this capability.

As you say, not every mobo has PXE capability and USB boot would certainly
be a nice alternative to floppy booting in these cases. However, I think
it's likely that if a mobo doesn't have PXE boot capability, it's not likely
to have USB boot support either. Given the choice of the two, I'd go for PXE
boot in a cluster computing environment unless I was doing a "one off" sort
of thing where it wasn't worth the effort on the server side of the PXE

Just my tuppence worth,
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