I think this question explains itself. But here are some more details anyway:

Many Linux distributions have "live USB's" which one can use to try and install that distro. However, that pen must often be formatted, and even afterwords, it can only have the purpose to install that one distribuition.

Why can't one have a directory for each distro and have BIOS boot from that? (maybe including some file leading to other the files from which to boot, but not having them all laying in the top directory of that drive) How? Which distribuitions support that? Can you make such a file for BIOS to detect and find the bootable files for several distros? (then one should choose from which one to boot from, like when a computer has several operating systems)

  • You could do this fairly easily—just add multiple partitions, with a different root= and initramfs= for each in the grub config.
    – derobert
    Oct 1 '13 at 20:24
  • @derobert, in what way is that easy? I'm a beginner. Can you put that in an answer?
    – JMCF125
    Oct 1 '13 at 20:27
  • Searching, it appears someone has already done this work: multicd.tuxfamily.org
    – derobert
    Oct 1 '13 at 20:34
  • @derobert that gives several headache and I would not recommend it for newbies (I couldn't make it work, figures).
    – Braiam
    Oct 1 '13 at 20:36
  • 1
    MultiCD, the grub "should" work nevertheless but it requires a amount of *effort*
    – Braiam
    Oct 1 '13 at 20:42

It is certainly possible to roll your own version of this concept with Grub. However there are also tools that can make the process much easier.

PenDriveLinux lists several tools. Of those I have had good luck with Yumi, which is Windows based, and MultiSystem which is Linux-based. The MultiSystem project website is in French, but PenDriveLinux has good instructions.

I've created multi-distro USB keys with both of these with good results.

  • Thanks, +1, I'll try those options and mark this as answered as soon as I get everything working.
    – JMCF125
    Oct 4 '13 at 22:40

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