Prepare a Bootable USB Flash Device

If your nodes do not have CD-ROM drives but support booting from USB flash devices, then use the latest BootCD USB image (which ends in a .usb extension instead of a .iso extension), located in the same directory as the BootCD ISO image available from download directory. Currently, you will need a USB flash device with at least 64 MB of capacity. Also, for security reasons, the USB key must have a physical write protect switch (set to write protect on once used to boot a PlanetLab node) in order to ensure that our software remains immutable. We know that the following USB keys with write protect switches work as bootable media: Imation Pivot Flash USB 2.0, Memory TravelDrive Original, or TwinMOS Mobile Disk Z4. USB keys known to have problems on some systems include various models from SanDisk. For a list of others see here

After downloading the BootCD USB image from the download directory, decompress and verify the USB image as you would the ISO image. Raw write the .usb file to the USB flash device using dd under Linux:

Example 2. Writing the bootable USB image to a USB flash device under Linux
(assuming that the device is detected as /dev/sda)

# 1. Make sure that the USB flash device is unmounted. If this command
umount /dev/sda*

# 2. Write image to the device. WARNING: This will destroy all
# partitions and data on the device. Make ABSOLUTELY sure that /dev/sda1
# represents the correct device and partition. This could be your root partition!
grep -q /dev/sda1 /proc/mounts || dd if=PlanetLab-BootCD-3.3.usb of=/dev/sda1

If the USB flash device is not partitioned correctly, use parted or fdisk under linux to create a single FAT16 partition that spans the entire device, and be sure to mark it as bootable. If you are experiencing problems booting from the USB flash device, then please run the syslinux command on the partition you've dd the image to. (e.g., assuming you've written it to /dev/sda1, then run syslinux /dev/sda1).

syslinux /dev/sda1 

Once the image has been written, detach the device from your system, reattach it, and wait for the device to come online. It should have a minimal filesystem on it with one large ISO file and a handful of support files.

If your node does not have a floppy drive, copy the node's configuration file to the filesystem on the device, making sure that it is named plnode.txt, then write-protect the device. Insert the device into the appropriate node and configure the node's BIOS to boot from an external USB flash device.