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I want to create a single 16GB usb drive with the following:

  • (A) 4GB FAT32 Partition usable in Windows (not installing Windows at all, just shared space)
  • (B) 4GB Linux live distro
  • (C) 4GB ext3 Encrypted Persistence
  • (D) 4GB TAILS live

I have researched a lot and tried 5 times to do it but always encounter some trouble.

I have seen some "multiboot" tools that copy isos and boots from there, that will be fine for Tails, but i think not for the other parts? (YUMI,XBOOT,Easy2boot, etc)

Take in mind that i want to use persistence.

On my last attempt i have done this:

Created the (B) partition leaving 4gb space at the beginning of the USB drive and installed the Linux distro via Universal USB Installer on Windows, this because for what I seen Windows only sees the first partition, so later I can create the FAT32 Partition usable in Windows (A)

Created the other partitions on their respective places (A,C,D).

(After this i cant see the A partition on windows, but i can see it and use it on Linux, its on the beginning of the drive)

Tried to install Tails on the (D) partition, without success

The thing is now I cant see the first partition on Windows nor install TAILS on the (D) partition without getting a "boot error" at startup when I tried to install grub from inside the linux distro

Is it possible that someome can give me orientation on how to do this the right way? Even if its not a step by step, just tell me what are the correct steps and I can research them.

Thank you in advance!

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  • I think windows generally does not support more than one partition on a USB thumbdrive. Though you can of course put more partitions on the usb drive, Windows will only display one partition. You can switch which partition windows will recognize, though (i forgot the program name, i think it was about setting the active partition). The only exception are thumbdrives with special controllers. On those windows will display multiple partitions.
    – CShark
    Oct 6, 2016 at 19:04
  • @CShark Yes, thats why I said that i set up the first partition at the beginning of the drive so i can use it on any PC without installing anything else is the idea
    – Juanhck
    Oct 6, 2016 at 19:12
  • @CShark I believe the program you are thinking of is the diskpart command in command prompt. Aug 27, 2017 at 9:06
  • Possible, but I think it was some gui application. Maybe a wrapper around the cmd tool. This problem is obsolete with Win10 Creators Update anyways. It has native multi-partition support for removable drives. Altough the disk manager is not fully supporting changes to it... borncity.com/win/2017/04/22/…
    – CShark
    Aug 27, 2017 at 9:36

2 Answers 2

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I dont have a step by step but I have done this before. The thing is some linux installers are better then others at setting up a multi boot system for you. When I was successful I was able to find a distro that did this for me during install. If I remember correctly they were using the grub boot manager.

What I would try is to install TAILS to your thumb drive first. Then install the second linux distro. I would use something like centOS, Ubuntu, or opensuse. Something that has been around for a while. They will have a suitable boot manager with them. Ideally during install they will ask you if you want to shrink the existing system and make room for the new.

Lastly use a tool like gparted in one of your linux distro's to create the windows (A) partition.

Also your probably not going to be able to use all 16gig's the way you said. Your linux distros will want to create a swap partition. Not a major thing but just so you know.

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  • They will want to create a swap partition, but you can tell them not to. Linux can run just fine without swap space. Oct 6, 2016 at 18:59
  • Thanks, I will try that and let you know. Right now i am deleting all again and create all in linux because the first partition is not recognized in Win. Also since the idea is to install Live-USB systems with persistence it never asked to create swap (or at least i never got asked and are not listed in gparted)
    – Juanhck
    Oct 6, 2016 at 19:13
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Easy2Boot can do all this. By default it uses a single NTFS partition but you can use FAT32 if you really need FAT32 for some strange reason.

Tails can be booted as a LiveCD ISO.

Many different linux's can be booted directly from .ISO files and each with it's own persistence ext3 file - OR - you can install a full version of linux by using a .imgPTN file (tutorials are available).

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