Netboot: Never Make Another USB Installer for Linux Again

Writing Linux distributions to USB disks can be tedious. Formatting that one USB drive over and over can leave dozens of ISO files and USB images littered in your file system. The whole exercise gets tiresome after a while and might even keep you from trying out the latest Linux distributions.

Good news! There’s a fascinating tool available right now for your computer. This tool is attempting to make it so you’ll never have to make another bootable USB installer again. How great is that?

With it, it’s possible to download most popular Linux distributions directly onto your machine. Everything is done with Netboot.xyz‘s own iPXE server and DHCP so you won’t need to touch a thing. Just make a disk, plug it in, select your option and get going.

The installation ISO is about 1 megabyte in size. If you’re intending on making a USB image, head over to this page to read how to write the USB image to a flash drive. Alternatively, Netboot can also be burned to a DVD or CD.

netboot-burning-iso-file

Once you have the disk written to your media of choice, just configure the BIOS on your machine to boot from it. After that, look through the menu and select the operating system or utility you desire.

When the Netboot tool is loaded on your computer, you’ll be able to start using it right away. Using the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard, move up and down the menu. After you’ve found the option you’d like to select, just press the Enter key.

netboot-ubuntu-options-menu.

Netboot is very straightforward. Find an operating system or tool you want to use, find it and use it. From there everything is distribution-specific and easy to navigate. For example: if you’ve installed Fedora before, selecting it in Netboot is no different. It’s the same for all other options.

Netboot makes it easy to download a Linux distro right from the BIOS and get going. What operating systems are included? Here’s a detailed list:

  • Arch Linux
  • CentOS
  • CoreOS
  • Debian
  • Fedora
  • FreeBSD
  • Gentoo
  • Kali
  • Mageia
  • OpenBSD
  • OpenSUSE
  • RancherOS
  • Scientific
  • TinyCoreLinux
  • Ubuntu

Along with being able to load each operating system installation image directly from Netboot’s iPXE server, you can access specific rescue options, too. It’s more than just an operating system/utility downloader.

netboot-operatingsystems

For example: If you select Ubuntu from the menu, not only will you get a list of Ubuntu releases to choose from (Currently 12.04 – 15.10), but you’ll get to choose from different options. The options for Ubuntu are “Ubuntu install,” “Ubuntu rescue mode,” “Ubuntu expert mode” and “Ubuntu specify preseed URL.”

Each operating system on this selection list has its own set of options to choose from when selected. This is what makes Netboot stand out from other downloader tools.
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netboot-utilities

Along with installing the mainstream Linux distros, Netboot supports various popular utilities. Here’s a detailed list of all the utilities that come with this tool.

  • AVG Rescue CD
  • Clonezilla
  • DBAN
  • GParted
  • HDT
  • Memtest
  • Partition Wizard
  • Pogostick – Offline Windows Password and Registry Editor
  • Super Grub2 Disk

This is another reason why you’ll never need to create another DVD, CD or live USB device again. Need to clone a hard drive? Netboot has Clonezilla. Grub is broken? Check out the Super Grub2 disk! Memory malfunctioning? Load up the included Memtest. It even comes with HDT (Hardware detection tool). Just about everything you’d ever need to fix your computer – Linux or otherwise – is included in Netboot.

Burning USB images (or even DVD/CD) can be incredibly annoying and time-consuming. Nobody likes downloading big ISO files, going into an imaging tool and waiting ten two twenty minutes for a disk image to be created. Netboot attempts to solve this problem.

Maybe the download can be a little slow sometimes, and maybe it’d be nice if it included some smaller, lesser-known operating systems, but for the most part, it does a great job. Who doesn’t like the ability to boot off a thumb drive and have twenty-four individual options to choose from? It’s a great tool, if you don’t mind trusting everything on Netboot.xyz’s ability to keep a server up and running.

Do you like the idea of a tool like Netboot? Tell us below!

Image Credit: Leawo.org

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