GeeXboX for PC – Booting from USB

While the legacy boot protocol for GeeXboX OS used to be Live CD, it is now preferred and fairly common to boot from a USB key. More and more laptops do no longer even feature a CD drive and USB has become more convenient than burning a CD(RW).

Setting-up GeeXboX on USB can be done in 2 ways:

  • old school Live USB.
  • USB with persistent data storage.

Method #1: Raw USB Writing (non recommended) – Linux ONLY.

This method is fairly simple and allows you directly write the ISO CD image onto a USB stick. Thanks to the ISO image having been prepared with isohybrid support, the USB disk will be formatted in ISO9660 format and recognized as a Live CD.

This technique has however 2 major drawbacks:

  • your system is read-only, preventing any persistent data storage.
  • it consumes the whole USB stick size, regardless of its capacity.
The approach however is very simple, considering /dev/sdb being your USB device:
sudo dd if=geexbox-2.0-i386.iso of=/dev/sdb

Method #2: Using Unetbootin (recommended) – Windows / Linux / Mac OS X

This is the recommended method for setting up GeeXboX onto a USB key. Unetbootin is a marvelous cross-platform application that is meant to create Live USB sticks, supporting dozens of Linux distributions.

Once you’ve downloaded and started Unetbootin, you’ve got 2 possibilities:

  • either use the “Distribution” section and select “GeeXboX” within the combo list,
  • or use the “Diskimage” section and select the previously downloaded GeeXboX ISO image of your choice.
Both sections will do the same except for the first one to automatically download the ISO image for you without the hassle.
You’re then prompted to specify (in MB) the “Space used to preserve files across reboots“. While being declare as “Ubuntu only“, we made GeeXboX support this option, allowing you to reserve some dedicated space on your USB key (will be reserved under a file named casper-rw on your USB disk).
This is what we call persistent data storage, and is a really useful feature that allows all configuration changes, database, saved pictures and such media parts to remain after reboots.
Last thing you then have to do is to specify the USB drive you want to use and hit the “OK” button.

5 thoughts on “GeeXboX for PC – Booting from USB”

  1. somebody please post a howto on a manual usb install without using unetbootin or reformatting. i’d like a portable usb geexbox , in its own subdir preferred so it doesn’t conflict with existing files.

    i can post instructions for the older v1.2.4 if anyone is interested.

  2. tikbalang,
    I’ve found a way how to boot GeeXboX 2 from a multiboot usb flash disk!
    And I wish to say before, that this new GeeXboX is GREAT! I love it!

    So, my multiboot flash is made with ‘yumi’ program from This program makes ‘multiboot’ directory in root directory. So I’ve created GEEXBOX dir there, in ‘multiboot’ directory. Then I have unpacked geexbox-2.0-i386.iso into this dir, after that I moved ‘rootfs’ file into the root directory of my flash disk.

    Then I have edited ‘menu.lst’ file in \multiboot\menu directory. I have added these lines:

    # Modify the following entry if it does not boot
    title Boot geexbox-2.0-i386.iso
    kernel /multiboot/GEEXBOX/vmlinuz root=/dev/ram0 ro vga=789 persistent
    initrd /multiboot/GEEXBOX/initrd

    I don’t know why but with options “quiet splash loglevel=3” there’s no sound on some PC’s.
    Well, without nice splash it does work!

    I hope my example will hellp you.
    Good luck!

  3. I’m not very smart. So it took me a long while to realize that the USB key (same thing as a “jump drive”) has to be small. My 128 GB key wouldn’t boot. So, I used diskpart (under Windows 7) to delete the partition on that drive, and create a smaller one.

    I had to look up diskpart. I did ran the “diskpart” command with administrative privilidges.

    list disk
    select disk 2 (you may change 2 to the right drive, based on storage space)
    list partition
    select partition 1 (change to correct #)
    delete partition

    Then I used the Windows disk management tool to allocate a 4000 MB FAT32 partition.

    Then I ran unetbootin (from, selected geexbox 2.0 (it doesn’t know about later versions), then selected the x86_64 version (because my CPU is a later version atom). I revised this by selecting to load the 3.1 version from a diskimage, which I had previously loaded from

    Now it boots!

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