GRUB Live ISO Multiboot
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README.md

GRUB2 Live ISO Multiboot

https://github.com/thias/glim | http://glee.thias.es/GLIM

Overview

GLIM is a set of grub configuration files to turn a simple VFAT formatted USB memory stick with many GNU/Linux distribution ISO images into a neat device from which many different Live environments can be used.

Advantages over extracting files or using special Live USB creation tools :

  • A single USB memory can hold all Live environments (the limit is its size)
  • ISO images stay available to burn real CDs or DVDs
  • ISO images are quick to manipulate (vs. hundreds+ files)

Disadvantages :

  • There is no persistence overlay for distributions which normally support it
  • Setting up isn't as easy as a simple cat from the ISO image to a block device

My experience has been that the safest filesystem to use is FAT32 (surprisingly!), though it will mean that ISO images greater than 4GB won't be supported. Other filesystems supported by GRUB2 also work, such as ext3/ext4 and even NTFS, but the boot of the distributions must also support it, which isn't the case for many with NTFS, for instance. So FAT32 stays the safe bet.

Screenshots

Main Menu Ubuntu Submenu

Installation

Once you have your USB memory with a single partition formatted as FAT32 with the filesystem label 'GLIM', just run (as a normal user) :

./glim.sh

Once finished, you may change the filesystem label to anything you like.

The supported boot/iso/ sub-directories (in alphabetical order) are :

antergos
antix
arch
bodhi
centos
clonezilla
debian
doudoulinux
elementary
fedora
gparted
grml
ipxe
kali
linuxmint
netrunner
porteus
rhel
sabayon
sysrescd
tails
ubuntu
xubuntu

Any missing sub-directory will have the matching boot menu entry automatically disabled, so to skip any distribution, just don't create the directory.

Download the right ISO images to the newly created directory. If you require different versions, or just part of a distribution, edit the appropriate boot/grub2/inc-*.cfg file.

Note that on 32bit computers, all 64bit entries will be automatically hidden.

Special Cases

OpenELEC

OpenELEC isn't provided as ISO images, not is it able to find the KERNEL and SYSTEM files it needs anywhere else than at the root of a filesystem. But it's useful to enable booting the OpenELEC installer by just copying both files from any single version (ION, Intel, Fusion, Generic, etc.) to the root of the USB memory stick, instead of first having to create a new separate USB memory just to run the installer. As of OpenELEC 3.0, Live booting is also supported, but :

  • The FAT filesystem's label must be 'GLIM'
  • The first launch will create a 512MB file as /STORAGE This can be tweaked as needed by editing inc-openelec.cfg.

Testing

With KVM it should "just work". The /dev/sdx device should be configured as an IDE or SATA disk (for some reason, as USB disk didn't work for me on Fedora 17), that way you can easily and quickly test changes. Make sure you unmount the disk from the host OS before you start the KVM virtual machine that uses it.

Troubleshooting

If you have any problem to boot, for instance stuck at the GRUB prompt before the menu, try re-installing. If you have other exotic GRUB errors, such as garbage text read instead of the configuration directives, try re-formatting your USB memory from scratch. I've seen weird things happen...

Contributing

If you find GLIM useful but the configuration of the OS you require is missing or simply outdated, please feel free to contribute! What you will need is create a GitHub pull request which includes :

  • All changes properly and fully tested.
  • New entries added similarly to the existing ones :
    • In alphabetical order.
    • With all possible relevant variants (i.e. not just the one spin you want).
  • An original icon of high quality, and a shrunk 24x24 px version.
  • An updated supported directories list in this README file.

Copyleft 2012-2017 Matthias Saou http://matthias.saou.eu/

All configuration files included are public domain. Do what you want with them. The invader logo was made by me, so unless the exact shape is covered by copyright somewhere, do what you want with it. The background is "Wallpaper grey" © 2008 payalnic (DeviantArt) The ascii.pf2 font comes from GRUB, which is GPLv3+ licensed. For more details as well as the source code, see http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/