The Debian Installer has a USB boot image that is supposed to be written raw to the USB stick. Problem is that means the image has a fixed size, 256 MB, and all the other gigabytes on your typical USB stick are unusable after writing this image to it. It's a bit of a cheat for me to blog about this, since I'm slighly responsible for the thing that I'm working around. But still.
The real problem is not the fixed size of the image, but that it is written to the USB stick as a "super floppy", without any partition table. If there were a partition table, you could make a second partition in the rest of the space of the USB stick, and use it to store files, etc. So, let's set that up. It's not really hard:
- Use your favorite partition tool to partition the USB stick. Make a 256 MB DOS partition, that will be used to hold the installer, and set it bootable. Make a second, or more partitions for your own use.
- Unplug and replug the USB stick so the device files show up, and
write the installer image to the first partition (/dev/sda1 in this
zcat boot.img >/dev/sda1
- Make the USB stick bootable by installing the
mbrpackage, and running
- Copy a Debian ISO image to the USB stick somewhere. You can put it on the first partition, as ususal, or if you prefer, can put it on one of the later, larger partitions. That's useful if you want to use a larger ISO than the netinst. The installer should find it anywhere.