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This is my motivation: I have a USB stick I always carry with me. And there are always problems with computers not booting. So I want to make the drive a little more useful.

It has to:

  1. Contain a FAT32 data partition (as the first primary partition for Windows to find it)
  2. Contain bootable Windows system rescue disk
  3. Contain a bootable Linux rescue disk (like System Rescue CD)
  4. Allow me to choose which system to boot

Steps I have done so far:

  1. Get the Windows rescue CD ISO (either you can create it from within Windows, or there are plenty of them on the filesharing sites)
  2. Boot into Windows, run PowerISO, Tools->Create bootable USB Drive, load the ISO and let it create a normal Windows USB rescue disk
  3. Run PartitionMaster, move the only partition to the end and shrink it to 200 MB (could be done on Linux, too) - it is important to make sure the Windows rescue partition is marked as Active
  4. Create the data partition in the blank space and format it to FAT32, and append a partition for the Linux rescue CD (with the Win rescue partition remaining the last one).

This is what I have. ATM I'm able to use the data partition from within Windows (and, of course, Linux), and I'm also able to boot the Windows rescue CD.

My question now is how to get the Linux System Rescue CD on the middle partition (without overwriting the MBR) and how to install GRUB on that drive, that would allow me to choose between the two rescue systems.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

What I use for the same purpose is Easy2Boot

It allows you to put any number of windows or linux install or live cd images (.ISO files) on the flash drive and choose which one to boot every time.

And you can also freely use the flash drive as a regular fat32 data usb stick in any OS.

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Wonderful! And the lack of "data only" partition I solve by formatting to FAT32 (or NTFS) and setting the E2B files hidden in Windows (so only on Linux normal users see them, but that I can live with). – peci1 May 20 '14 at 9:32

This is what I found working (and quick enough to do) for having a bootable System Rescue CD USB stick with an extra NTFS partition accessible by Windows (and the booted Sysrcd itself!):

Thoughts on adding Windows: add a 3rd partition, install Windows USB variant on that, add a line in the syslinux config on the SYSRCD partition that points to and boots this Windows partition.

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And how do I get Windows rescue CD + Grub onto the disk? – peci1 Oct 13 '14 at 22:36
Sorry, consider this a "partial answer" :) I'll add some thoughts to my answer that might work... – hopla Oct 14 '14 at 5:46
As Windows only see the first partition of a USB flash drive, they have to be installed first. – peci1 Oct 14 '14 at 6:51
Yes, and the data partition is the first partition. – hopla Oct 14 '14 at 21:31

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