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If you have ever tried to install (or re-install) an OS from a thumb-drive on a netbook, small laptop, or other computer without a built-in optical drive, you may have learned the frustrating lesson, as I did, that they are not always hardware equivalent. Many laptops and netbooks will cheerfully boot from an optical drive attached to a USB port, but gronk at the exact same files, or ISO image, on a thumb drive attached to the same port. It’s enough to make you want to throw things. Who wants to buy and keep track of a USB optical drive just for that one purpose?

Which is why this Kickstarter for the IsoStick—a thumbdrive that will fool any machine into thinking it’s an optical drive—is the first Kickstarter I’ve ever pitched in for, and the first one that I’ve ever plugged here. Good luck, folks! [via Hack a Day]

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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Comments

  1. I’m “that guy” who has an old optical drive from a desktop with a universal USB drive adapter that I need to pull out to install a new OS on my old netbook. Because yes, I’ve tried and failed with the USB thumb drive more than once. (Off to back another project!)

  2. kju says:

    You can also get a “U3″ capable stick. With some hacking any .iso can be written to it. Downside is that it always presents itself as two devices, one USB harddrive and one USB cdrom and some systems will not be able to boot from the cdrom part then. But it seems that the stick proposed here has the same problem, so you can also go U3, as such sticks are readily available from many stores.

    Unfortunately U3 was never reverse engineered to reveal the commands for configuration, it might be possible to disable the harddrive part. Also it would be nice to be able to write to it without hacking the windows software.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I have used “ut163 v3.9.12.0″ in the past to change settings on my flashdrive.  I changed the LED behavior (before it would flash off when reading, now it flashes on) and made it appear a just a disk drive.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If the machine allows booting from a USB optical drive, then it should be able to boot from a USB thumb drive. I’ve been using unetbootin to put ISO bootable images on thumb drives for a while. It is available for *nix, Mac, and Windows
    unetbootin.sourceforge.net

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