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I want a simple way to make a live USB stick which will boot into a linux command line nice and quick with partimage and dd installed.

What's the best option for me? Currently I have Ubuntu desktop booting off a usb stick but all I really need is the shell with partimage and dd.

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"What's the simplest way to get a fast-booting live linux USB stick?" Borrow one from a friend. Please edit your title to be more in line with your actual question. – Moab Aug 15 '12 at 2:39
I've updated it. Is that any better? – Jon Cage Aug 15 '12 at 8:11
Is much better. – Moab Aug 15 '12 at 19:07
  1. Just download Unetbootin and run
  2. Select some lightweight distribution, then flash drive to install and hit OK.

Which distribution to choose? I'm not sure, but you could start with Ubuntu 12.04 Server, which is long-term support release without common desktop crap. For really light-weight distribution you have to search google, I'm not able to recommend any.

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Can you be more specific with 'some lighteight distribution' ? – Jon Cage Aug 14 '12 at 14:27
Do you know Gparted live? I haven't tested terminal functionality there, but this 127MB distribution should contain all necessary applications for system recovery. And it is based on Debian, so you can install custom packages. (link: How to use Terminal) To create Gparted live bootable flash drive, download the iso and use "select diskimage" option in Unetbootin. – babca Aug 14 '12 at 14:59

Simplest way? Just start removing packages that you don't need. This sounds a lot like you're trying to make a recovery drive, so I'm making some assumptions based on that:

  • Remove xserver-xorg, apache2, mysql-server

The X.Org server is the big kahuna. After removing that, you will not have any sort of graphical environment. It should also strip out any applications which are dependent upon it (i.e., all the graphical applications). apache2 and the mysql server might not be installed by default, but if they are you probably don't need them.

Make sure you're either well-versed in fixing ubuntu from the command line, or can easily restore a full ubuntu image to the drive and start over.

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So start with server and remove unnecessary packages? – Jon Cage Aug 14 '12 at 14:41
@JonCage Yes. xserver-xorg will probably already be removed from ubuntu server, but you'll find many more services (like apache2, mysql, possibly a mail server) that will want to run on startup and slow your system down. You might also try booting into single-user-mode. – Darth Android Aug 14 '12 at 17:42

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