Gripe! Grype! Crype! Criminy! USB installs and Windows, oy vey!

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 15
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Nov 30, 2010
2:04 PM EDT
So I wanted a thumb drive install, to be able boot it to run an updated ClamAV and scan clients machines if needed. So I figured, treat it like any old disk and do an install on it. Both Debian and PCLinuxOS cooperated, after some trial and error.

To save folks from the agonies of trial and error, I'll get to the point where there was success. To wit:

Virtualbox WILL create a virtual machine with no "hard disk" (that's important, trust me), pointing the "optical" disk to an ISO that boots up a liveCD or install disk just fine.

What it WILL NOT DO is boot from a USB drive. On startup, USB drives are detached. Period. So have another system to test the install on. Good.

So anyway, without a HD, but with a thumb drive (8G, plenty of room), I installed PCLinuxOS with Enlightenment. Adequate. And their install of Synaptic could be pointed to a repository closer than the Netherlands, clamAV and accompanying scree installed just fine.

The speed difference is obvious, much slower than a standard drive.

So I decided to test ClamAV on the dual-boot Win7/Debian laptop.

So far so good, but in the immortal words of Chandler Bing, "Oh My God."


It's been 1.5 hours, 11% complete, 7866 files, and it's still in the winsxs directory!

And, seriously, this is a very recent and un-crufty install of Win7.

Ok. Now that I've got that off my chest, in looking around, I noticed some abortive ClamAV and "rescue" type images that had been tried, but they seem to have all given up. I know a liveCD is sub-optimal because of the ephemeral nature of the virus database, does anyone know of such a minimal install project I may have missed?

BTW, save for my expectation of wearing out the thumb drive, it is doing what I set out to accomplish, and I'm pleased that it works. One of those USB powered disks might be a better choice long-term, but that install would have had the same hurdles (and erased master boot records)(boy am I glad I did it through Virtualbox those times it failed!) to overcome since those are USB devices too.

Thanks for listening,


Nov 30, 2010
2:38 PM EDT
Make that 2 hours 20 minutes, 17%, 11,189 files, and surprise, still in the winsxs directory.

I won't be under-stating it when I say I'm deeply impressed by Microsoft's operating system programming techniques.

Remember that 8GB thumb drive? 5GB are still free after the install of PCLinuxOS and Enlightenment.

Just a datapoint for comparison.

Nov 30, 2010
3:19 PM EDT
3 hours, 42,000 files, but it just popped out of the winsxs directory. Now in SysWOW.

Really. /media/disk-1/Windows/SysWOW64....

Nov 30, 2010
3:42 PM EDT
Well, they did say Win7 would wow customers....

Nov 30, 2010
3:57 PM EDT
But they didn't say how, or why...

Nov 30, 2010
4:03 PM EDT
Yo, @bob --

US B thinkin U B complainin' WAY too much!

Nov 30, 2010
5:19 PM EDT
Bob,I think that if you use the plob boot manager, that you might be able to boot from usb in virtualbox: It comes as a floppy or iso image, and alows you to boot from usb/cd/etc.

Nov 30, 2010
7:56 PM EDT
Dino, it's a complaint rant. If I didn't complain, there wouldn't be any reason to write it.

Thanks, Jim. As long as I have the spare laptop sitting around, it's fine. Thanks for the pointer, though, never know when I'll need it.

Dec 01, 2010
1:32 PM EDT
Hey, another complaint!

I've lived on both coasts, north and south, east, west and in the middle. I've lived _way_ out in the north woods of California, and the mountains of upstate NY.

But Never, Ever, has the electrical service been as bad as it is where I live now.

Had a power failure this morning, and something got scrambled. My gnarly desktop (with the nearly 1G/second memory, quad-core, etc, etc) was running when the power flopped. It booted just fine, but.... soon as it tried to launch X, the display locked up. Ctl-alt-del still worked, so I was able to try several times with no success. Couldn't change to the console, either. Single user mode worked, but again as soon as I typed "startx", black screen.

Anyway, I'm typing right now, as scp is backing the disk up, using that live thumb drive.

When I did the "zip -r -9 /media/disk/etc", it reported a large slew of files as "unreadable". That seems to be where the glitch occurred. If so, I'm mildly surprised that fsck didn't catch it as a directory error.

Oh well, just goes to show that having a live boot disk can be remarkably useful. And while a live CD might have done much the same, having the persistence of an actual install has made the job much, much easier.

P.S.: I may be doing that "Debia Squeeze/Trinity/KDE4" write up sooner than I feared. Or not, believe it or not I'm not much of a writer.

Dec 01, 2010
2:26 PM EDT
Here's a handy hack I discovered recently, trying to set up Nouveau. The problem was that the default configuration of Xorg locks out the PS/2 keyboard and mouse, unless specifically instructed not to, via

Quoting:Section "InputDevice" Option "AllowEmptyInput" "off" EndSection
Without that, I had no keyboard or mouse. All I had was the power button, until I found the above configuration in xorg.conf(5).

Then my clue phone rang, with this hint: Find the ACPI script that powered down the system on the power button event, and change it to run "telinit 1" instead. It saved a lot of power supply stress (and my nerves) to be able to press the power button and get control back without a system reset.

Dec 01, 2010
4:04 PM EDT
Quoting:this is a very recent and un-crufty install of Win7.

The only conclusion possible would be, Win7 offers a crufty WOW experience out of the box! What FS does it use nowadays? Still "New Tech" file system?

Recently, I decided I want to install Win7, to do some benchmarks Caitlyn suggested. CD/DVD is not connected on my computer, and I don't feel like opening my case, disconnecting one IDE-drive and re-connecting one DVD-station instead. Moreover, I'd have to use a DVD-RW.

So I thought it shouldn't be that hard, and just as easy as booting Linux from USB.

Maybe it is, but the freakin' thing needs 4GB! Largest thing I have is a 1Gb SD Card, maybe 2Gb if I lend it from someone else.

Trying to "plumb" my way around it by means of booting VistaPE on harddisk with Grub (to use MS'es 'bootmgr' or something), but it just wouldn't run.

Yeah, booting from USB isn't fun.

Of course I could use my external backup harddrive as boot medium, but no way I'm going to trust my backup disk with Windows! Last time I did, I lost lots of 'laundered' MP3-files on a partition which Windows didn't even _recognize_, let alone was supposed to touch.

Dec 02, 2010
1:16 AM EDT
Try trinity rescue kit. It hase a few anti-vir programs plus it will download updates to the live disk before running.

Dec 06, 2010
4:06 PM EDT
"It's been 1.5 hours, 11% complete, 7866 files, and it's still in the winsxs directory!

And, seriously, this is a very recent and un-crufty install of Win7."

M$ programmers don't get paid per line of code, do they???

Dec 06, 2010
10:29 PM EDT

I pulled down Trinity Rescue 3.4 and burned it at a customer site after 3.3 failed to update.

3.4 _also_ failed to update. ClamAV kept returning "corrupt database" errors.

My epic battle to create the booting USB thumbdrive did NOT work in the customer's machine either, due to what I think is the fact that it's a 2003 era machine with 256MB of RAM, and I think it just couldn't run PCLinuxOS. Or something. Anyway, it was useless.

Luckily, they had an external USB 1-TB drive, which I set my laptop to ClamScan while reinstalling Windows XP on their box. ClamAV took quite a while, but it eventually found nothing. The customer's machine was back to "normal", they were happy, and I looked with disgust at my wonderful live thumbdrive install which turned out useless.

Oh well.

Dec 07, 2010
10:54 AM EDT
Bob, while Linux is a wonderful tool in your arsenal, for Windows problems sometimes Windows is the best solution. If you have a good XP install CD and a working XP install (Windows 7 may also work, but who knows) you can create a UBCD4Win bootable CD/DVD/USB with options for several virus scanners/spyware scanners included.

See for all the gory details. For certain newer machines with ACHI controllers, you may need to add the ACHI drivers to get it to recognize the hard drive/CD. That's true for the HP laptops we use here at work, for example.

Dec 08, 2010
2:55 PM EDT
Thanks, JD. As you say, something more for the tool box.

I do so try to be idealistic and pure of OS...

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