USB Installation of Debian via unetbootin on Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 Netbook with Encrypted LVM (Full Disk)

# Use unetbootin to build a bootable USB stick

Format a 8GB USB stick to FAT32 while downloading unetbootin (I used a Windows 7 machine).Once downloaded, open unetbootin, choose Debian Stable and chose the USB stick formatted earlier.unetbootin goes through the process of downloading the requested installation files and building a bootable stick. The process in my case was very simple.

# Installation

Plug the USB into the netbook and get started (hit f12 to choose USB boot). The Debian installer will start and begin installation. Using this method requires an internet connection to update properly – in the case of the particular model netbook used the wireless was automatically configured and after choosing an SSID and entering a WPA2 key the machine was connected to the internet. * It’s worth noting that as far as I can tell after a few hours of tinkering – all of the hardware (audio, bluetooth) is working properly without any extra config.

# LVM encryption

The Debian installer will give you a few options for partitioning including a few guided options and the total control of manual partitioning. For the purpose of this example we’ll use the Guided Encrypted LVM option. I suggest creating a separate partition for / and /home. Once the details are set the process of securely deleting the target disk (via writing 0s) begins. In my case it took a long time because of a bug in stable. You can either wait (recommended), patch the system (beyond the scope of this document) or hit cancel to skip the secure deletion process (not recommended). Once the process completes reboot the system.

# Booting Debian

Hit f12 to choose boot, enter BIOS password, choose USB, loads grub, choose first entry or wait for timeout, boot.

# errata

Some things I’d like to clear up about my process here:

1.) Why will my system not boot without the USB in? I was sure to install /boot to the netbook disk and have confimed it holds grub. The USB holds a few files related to booting but I assume they are what was originally written in the unetbootin burn. I’ll need to confirm this by writing another stick and comparing. However, the system when asked to boot to the HD or naturally started without options ends up on a black screen with a white cursor. I’ve read that doing apt-get install grub should correct the issue but grub is already installed so…I’ll have to look into it more.

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