Making a Haiku USB Stick

Using a USB flash drive is one of the best ways to install Haiku. It is also the only way to really try and enjoy all the features of Haiku without touching your hard drives. The Haiku live CD is limited by the slow access time of CD's and, as of R1/alpha2, still lacks a few features due to the added complexity to run on a read-only media. Note that running off a USB flash drive might still be a lot slower than a real hard drive depending on your model.

In the following guide, we will copy the "anyboot" disk image directly to the raw drive, not to a partition, replacing everything including the MBR, destroying all the partitions and data that were there. Although the size of the Haiku bootable partition is fixed, the anyboot image contains a partition table and will allow to create one or more partitions in the remaining space (with any partitioning tool and file system). Alternatively, if you are already under Haiku, you can also use the the Installer method, see below in the "Haiku" section.

Once this is done, you'll be able to either use Haiku directly or make a real install by running Installer (found in the Applications menu).

First, be sure you have a computer that supports booting off of USB flash drives. That shouldn't be a problem on most recent computers. You might need to hit a function key (e.g F8) at boot or change the boot device order in your BIOS for the USB stick to be picked up, please refer to your computer or mother-board manual.

Start by downloading the "anyboot" disk image from the download page. Get a sufficiently big USB flash drive (at least the size of the unzipped anyboot image), then depending on your operating system, follow one of the methods below.


Open a terminal.

Find the device name of your USB flash drive by typing this command:

sudo fdisk -l
This will output the device name of the disks present on your system. You can guess the name by looking at the drive size or by executing this command before and after plugging your USB flash drive.

Ensure the USB device is unmounted,

umount /dev/sd[x]
and then issue the following command.
Be sure to verify by all means that it is the correct device name as the following command will erase everything on that drive!
dd if=path/to/haiku-anyboot.image of=/dev/sd[x] bs=1M

Where /dev/sd[x] is your USB device. *Make sure to use /dev/sdx and not /dev/sdx1. This is a very common mistake!


Using Haiku's Installer and DriveSetup

Under Haiku you can use the Installer application to prepare a USB stick, the advantage is that it will be able to use all the space available on the drive if you choose so.

Note that although briefly summarized here, this is basically a standard install procedure, except the destination media is a USB flash drive. More details can be found in the Install Guide

Run Installer (found in Applications), then select the whole USB drive (ending with /raw), double check this is the correct drive, and invoke from the menu: Partition->Initialize->Intel Partition Map. Then create a BFS partition and check the 'Active Partition' checkbox. (You might need to unmount and delete previous partitions if they are of the wrong type). The last step is to Initialize the new partition (format) to the BFS filesystem.

Close DriveSetup and in the Installer window, select your newly created partition in the "Onto" destination menu. You can now click on 'Begin' to complete the install then enjoy your bootable Haiku stick.

Using the Terminal