Opensuse 13.1M2 live USB

I had some interesting results when I tried running 13.1 Milestone 2 from a live USB.  This happened around 10 days ago, and I was busy reporting bugs so I didn’t think to post about it.  I’m correcting that oversight now.

I already had installed 13.1M2 from the DVD image on USB, as mentioned in an earlier post.  There were a couple of things I wanted to check on other machines, so I decided to use the live Gnome iso on a USB.  I installed the iso using the command

# dd_rescue -A openSUSE-Factory-GNOME-Live-Build0504-x86_64.iso /dev/sdf

where “/dev/sdf” is the device for the USB that I was using.  That went smoothly enough.  And then I tried to boot from it.

Self-destructive USB

I first booted on my UEFI box.  It booted okay, but seemed hang before starting the Gnome desktop.  That was unexpected.  So I tried again.  On the second try, it failed to boot.  As usual, I hit F12 during the boot cycle, expecting the firmware to present me with a list of systems to boot.  The USB was not in that list of systems.

Next, I disabled secure-boot.  This time the USB showed up as available for an MBR boot, but not for a UEFI boot.  I tried the MBR boot, and that gave me errors too.  Apparently the USB bootable image had destroyed itself.

Time to check the USB.  After I had written the image to the USB, I had run “fdisk” on it as an additional check.  So here’s part of the “fdisk” output from just after writing the iso to the disk:

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdf1            3796       11987        4096   ef  EFI (FAT-12/16/32)
/dev/sdf2   *       11988     1878015      933014   83  Linux

and here’s part of the “fdisk” output after the failure:

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdf1            3796       11987        4096   ef  EFI (FAT-12/16/32)
/dev/sdf2   *       11988     1878015      933014   83  Linux
/dev/sdf4            2048        3795         874   83  Linux

An extra partition, “/dev/sdf4”, had been added.  I actually expected that.  The announcement for M2 had mentioned that they had fixed the problem with persistent storage.  So partition 4 should have been created so that any changes made while running the live system would be saved in partition 4, so that they could be remembered on future boots.

The trouble was that partition 4 should have been placed at the end of the USB, rather than near the beginning.  By putting it near the beginning, the partition had overwritten the boot loader that was being installed in space following the MBR and before the first partition.

Also with KDE

As an additional test I tried again, this time using the KDE live image.  The results were similar.  I did see a little more output when the KDE desktop should have started (but didn’t).  There was a message about not enough space.  It was probably reporting that partition 4 was too small for the persistent store.

There’s a little more detail, including partial “fdisk” output for the KDE case, in the forum thread “has anyone tried m2 yet?”  See posts 21 through 34 in that thread.

I reported the problem as bug 825172.  It was listed as fixed within about one day.  The fix was confirmed by forum user dale14846 as working for factory build 0524.

I’ll add that this would not have been a problem if I had written the live image to a DVD instead of using a USB.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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