Rescue USB Stick

Author: Bernd Schemmer

Last update: 16.08.2015/bs

Update 11/2021

There is now a very cool tool to boot ISO images from USB Sticks: 

"Ventoy is an open source tool to create bootable USB drive for ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files.
With ventoy, you don't need to format the disk over and over, you just need to copy the ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files to the USB drive and boot them directly.
You can copy many files at a time and ventoy will give you a boot menu to select them.
x86 Legacy BIOS, IA32 UEFI, x86_64 UEFI, ARM64 UEFI and MIPS64EL UEFI are supported in the same way.
Most type of OS supported (Windows/WinPE/Linux/ChromeOS/Unix/VMware/Xen...) "

Just copy the ISO images to the USB stick and boot the USB stick.

Some of the very useful features of Ventoy are:
(see the Ventoy documentation for details and more)

In addition you can create multiple paritions on the USB stick with other bootable OS or data . For example the partitions onmy current Rescue USB stick looks like this:

[xtrnaw7@t540p ~]$ df -h | grep sdd
/dev/sdd10             5.0G  4.4G  655M  88% /run/media/xtrnaw7/KNOPPIX
/dev/sdd3              5.0G  1.9G  3.2G  38% /run/media/xtrnaw7/GRUB4DOS
/dev/sdd8               20G  653M   18G   4% /run/media/xtrnaw7/linuxdata
/dev/sdd9              4.9G   10M  4.6G   1% /run/media/xtrnaw7/develop
/dev/sdd6               20G   19G  499M  98% /run/media/xtrnaw7/archolinux
/dev/sdd7               20G  8.1G   11G  44% /run/media/xtrnaw7/blackarch
/dev/sdd1              105G   61G   45G  58% /run/media/xtrnaw7/Ventoy
/dev/sdd5               30G   14G   15G  48% /run/media/xtrnaw7/fedora
[xtrnaw7@t540p ~]$

The partitions archolinux, blackarch, and fedora contain bootable Linux installations. The partition GRUB4DOS contains the grub4dos bootloader and the partition KNOPPIX contains a copy of the KNOPPIX DVD.
The partition develop is used  for testing, the partition linuxdata (formated with ext3) is for Linux data files, and the partition Ventoy is a vfat formated partition with the bootable ISO images and other data files

The partition for KNOPPIX is only neccessary because the vfat filesystem on the partition Ventoy does not support files bigger then 4 GB (the KNOPPIX DVD uses about 4.4 GB ). vfat is neccessary  to read the USB stick also in non-Linux OSes.

The boot menus on the USB Rescue stick with Ventoy now look like this:


  1. Rescue USB Stick
    1. Contents
    2. Introduction
    3. Files and directories on the partition /dev/sdb1
    4. Files and directories on the partition /dev/sdb2
    5. Boot partitions and ISO files on the USB Stick
    6. ISO images on the USB stick
    7. Boot Menues and Screenshots
      1. DSL
      2. Knoppix
      3. Slax
      4. Puppy
      5. c't Desinfect 2013
      6. Hiren's BootCD
      7. FalconFourUltimate Boot CD
      8. Windows 7 x64 Maintenance ISO image
      9. grml
      10. System Rescue CD
      11. Darik's Boot and Nuke
      12. Clonezilla
      13. Parted Magic
      14. GParted
      15. AVIRA AntiVir Rescue System
      16. Kaspersky Rescue CD 10
      17. BitDefender
      18. Deft
      19. DEFT Zero
      20. Kali Linux
      21. BackTrack
      22. BlackArc Linux
      23. Network Security Toolkit
      24. SMART_LINUX
      25. Trinity Rescue Kit
      26. SmartOS
      27. Solaris 10
      28. Solaris 11
      29. Tribblix
      30. Firefly (Solaris 11 Rescue)
      31. Milax
      32. Ultimate Boot CD
      33. Knoppicillin 6
    8. Internals
      1. Partitiontable
      2. Boot Manager
      3. Virtual Machine Software
    9. Howtos
      1. How to create a new partition on the USB stick
      2. How to install a boot manager in one of the partitions
      3. How to add an image that uses syslinux
      4. How to boot from another partition in grub4dos
      5. How to chainroot from grub4dos to a boot loader in a partition
      6. How to chainroot to an ISO image file
      7. How to add another Casper using boot image
      8. How to add another live-initramfs using boot image
      9. How to add another Knoppix based boot image
      10. KNOPPIX Cheat Codes
    10. Links
    11. History


This is the documentation for my 128 GB USB stick with a collection of various rescue tools for x86 PCs. The rescue tools are mainly Linux Images but Solaris Images (Milax, SmartOS, Solaris 10 and Solaris 11), two Windows XP images and a Windows 7 x64 Maintenance image are also included. There are also some binaries for Linux and Windows on the first partition of the USB stick that can be used without booting the USB stick.

All images can be booted from the USB stick. In addition, most of the ISO images used to create the partitions on the USB stick are also on the USB stick.

Note that the USB stick also contains some tools for Solaris SPARC.


/dev/sdb is used as device for the USB stick in Linux in this documentation. The device used for the USB stick on your machine may be different.

Please be aware that this page is only for documentation . But you can create your own Rescue USB stick using the hints and HowTos documented here.

Sample screenshot from the boot manager in the master boot record of the USB stick [as of 02.07.2015]:

... and the 2nd page:

... and the 3rd page

The Solaris Sub Menu [as of 26.06.2015]

.. continued

.. continued

The ISO Images Sub Menu