Making a multiple boot thumb drive with separate data partition

Just thought I would share with you some pitfalls and solutions in making same. I was sorry to learn our excellent dentist was retiring early but because his wife's father is ill with dementia which means moving to her hometown. So in addition to his favourite tipple I decided to buy him a 128 Gb drive. Firstly I attempted to use my VM of Zorin 16 Core which has MultiSystem on it. Added the new USB thumb drive in details in Virt Manager but it clashed with same brand of stick but mine was 64 Gb and the Dentist's 128 Gb. I even tried installing MultiSystem on Devuan which I used after giving myself sudo rights but it just would not pick up and removing and installing whilst logged on as root but when trying to initialise stated root was not root! Eventually I found the old drive I put Zorin 16 on and that worked like a charm. I then added about 6 isos, including Zorin 15.3 and 16.2 r1. I then installed gparted and reduced the size of the drive to 40 Gb for the isos, then created a 70 Gb extended partition, formatted to Ext4 and labelled it /home. Booted the memory stick and attempted to copy the unofficial manual into it but it refused stating I did not have the permission. Solution? I created a new extended partition, this time formatted to NTFS. Now he has a bootable USB stick where any live .iso can access the data partition, or use it as a Data drive when inserted in a Windows machine. I also burned him a copy of Rescuezilla 2.2 to DVD and left him my contact details if he has any questions and a jitsi meeting room if needs to. He was very pleased, contrary to what my 'good' (?) lady thought that he would not be interested. GNU/Linux does speak to people!


I don't know if this relevant, but I've had luck with Ventoy for multi-boot and leaving the rest of the drive available for storage.

In fact I've got it now on a 16gb flash drive and it's what I used to try out and eventually choose & install Zorin 16.2 Lite on my mum's laptop, and I use it now and then to transfer other bits and bobs in the remaining space between Win 7, Zorin and Win 8.1 machines.

For a non expert like me, Ventoy's easy to use (once installed to the drive, just copy iso's over to it), and the drive's remaining space is easy to use (just copy stuff over to it, no need to partition, reformat or pick the right folder).

That's what i use anymore. It makes a great bootable toolbox. Several Linux and windows images and portable apps... you have everything you need to fix any software issue or assess hardware.

I have had issues with ventoy in the past in respect of its FAT file system that one distro did not like. I'm sticking with MultiSystem FAT32.

I believe it is using exfat now... looking at the Ventoy usb in disks shows the file system as ntfs/exfat/fat32.

Yep, that was the issue, exfat. Thanks for clearing that up. Still sticking with MultiSystem, which also includes Qemu and Virtual Box (old versions) that don't always work to test installed isos before booting off the USB stick.

1 Like

Ventoy or this? Distrobox: Try Multiple Linux Distributions via the Terminal

I will still stick with MultiSystem!

I saw tutorial on yt. Very good choice @swarfendor437