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I have a copy of the Slackware 64 bit dvd installation iso. I've burned this image to a dvd and used it to properly install the distro. I wanted to try also having this image available on a usb flash drive. I divided a 32 GB drive into two partitions: 1, about 22 GB for data; and 2, about 10 GB for messing around with installers (set as bootable). I dd'd the contents of the installation iso to the bootable partition on the flash drive. However, when I tried booting from the usb installer, I was greeted with a message about not being able to find an operating system.

I've previously installed Slackware to a bootable partition on a flash drive and had it properly boot on different machines. This time around, I'd like to have the installer rather than an installed system though.

What am I doing wrong?

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not 100% but I think bootable ISO's are actually structurally different than bootable partitions (IIRC with isos there's a catalog of files that exist on the disc in the metadata, and it's just that one is listed as being the boot loader instead of the bootloader occupying a specific part of the volume). Have you looked into unetbootin? – Bratchley Jun 14 '13 at 3:55
more information from tldp Also it looks like this is probably what I was thinking of, in which case el torito boot loaders and regular boot loaders look very different. – Bratchley Jun 14 '13 at 4:02
Is that -current or the latest release version (14.0)? PV has made a few changes back and forth about the install media since the last release -- check the changelog around March 18-20. – Ulrich Schwarz Jun 14 '13 at 4:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's not Slackware expierence based answer, but it seems that problem is, that iso isn't supposed to be dd'd into flash drive. Probably bootloader is not supposed to load from other source than CD.

Instead you should copy the iso to usb and have bootloader that can handle iso. SysLinux bootloader MEMDISK tool is supposed to handle such use cases: http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/MEMDISK#ISO_images .

Alternatelly if you still want to load extracted disk image, try installing a bootloader (Syslinux, probably grub2 would work too) into flash drive and link boot menu entry manually to kernel and initrd.

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