This is will become a dedicated page to solve the aged old dilemma about using USB FlashDrives/PenDrives/ThumbDrives to do a live install of PCBSD, or any OS, for the sake of using it on your CPU. And this is whether, or not, the user wants to just install the OS on the CPU's personal storage device (like an IDE hard drive) using the flash drive. For the sake of brevity, I will use the the name "SSD" to refer to all types of portable media device that use the solid-state drive mechanism of writing data to use during an OS install. This guide will specifically focus on PCBSD, child of FreeBSD, but it can be used for other OSes.
To begin one thing must be made clear: Not all USB SSDs work at all to boot from BIOS. This is true even when the BIOS supports all kinds of USB media. Number two: Not all USB SSDs work for writing boot sectors for the OS, or initiating files that the BIOS can recognize to make a boot sequence. Number three: Not all types of methodologies work for every OS to install into the SSDs the OS for OS installation (however, lots of work is being done by many OSS developers to make a standard to work for their OS Distribution, however most of the work has been user commitment).
The list may go on, but the main theme sticks out: Not every SSD device is designed the same, and with(out) the purpose to (not) work with the specified BIOS in the specified machines. The reason to that is that many, if not all, manufactures of SSD technology make multiple variations to the their SSD manufacturing methodology/technology to maintain their "competitive status" in the open market and not get sued for using patented methodology/technology by other manufacturers. Thus, the differentiation of SSD devices exist. And a difference in USB SSD support on machines exist. I can extent my knowledge of this topic further, but then I would be deviating from the subject at hand*. However, my purpose for writing this topic is to expose some contemporary solutions.
First, get a flash drive that works well for installing OSs. There are some, but I personally have not found a database/website that contains a list of working SSD devices for installing OSs (GNU/Linux or *BSD). My initial thought was to make one (and one specific for *BSD installs, the wiki could be used), but we can use other databases, and add this new topic (like on http://hardware4linux.info/
, or may be another). Some of the ones that work: http://www.pendrivelinux.com/recomme...-flash-drives/
, Centon/DSP2GB-005/2GB, etc.
If you would like to report a working device that installs PCBSD or FreeBSD, use this formula:
Manufacturer/Model/Capacity/*UPC - OS ver.
*Universal Product Code
Centon DataStick Pro 2GB USB Flash Drive - Grey
Centon/DSP2GB-005/2GB/731969101605 - puppy linux 4.53
Of course, some of the material may be invalid, or missing. So in a comment section more detail can be added.
I don't know all the ones that work, and on what OS they work, but writing a database summarizing all these details might be useful for others, esp. to all in the OSS community.
For us, I recommend using either a branch of the site, or the wiki.
Next, installation of the OS itself:
If the OS develops .img files for the OS geared toward SSDs, using the dd command will work just fine. If the OS has only the .iso, you can use UNetBootin, Grub, Lilo, Gag, etc. (any boot loader), to strap the OS into device that uses a SSD so that the BIOS reads it. Each of the mentioned boot loaders has its own instruction on how to install multiple OSs (even generic speciallized OSs), whether internally or externally (this is where a good search engine comes into play).
For us, the .img works just fine (only in good mirrors that update their stuff well, (I personally have trouble using my local mirror, I won't expose names unless you PM me;-)).
If anything else needs to be discussed about USB in general about installs, they are welcome in here (even if you would like me to expand on some topics, or clarify somethings).
I hope you enjoyed my response to the nutshell of USB flash drives.
*Like the sentence didn't deviate at all.