Sugar on a Stick/Linux

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This page provides additional detail for installing Mirabelle, the most stable, released version of Sugar on a Stick (SoaS), available at this download site, onto a USB/SD flash storage device using GNU/Linux.

To explore a variety of experimental options for putting a Sugar image on a USB or SD flash drive under GNU/Linux, see the following pages:
SoaS test builds | OLPC XO-1 | openSUSE | Trisquel | VirtualBox | VMware | non-compressed Fedora | Live USB: (all known portable Sugar distributions)

If you have questions, trouble, or feedback, please let us know on the discussion page. If you can improve these instructions, please edit the page and do so!

Put SoaS onto a stick using Fedora or Ubuntu

This is known to work in Fedora and Ubuntu.

First, download a SoaS-Mirabelle .iso image from, then return here.

(A program called UNetBootin available at does all this magic for you... or you can do the magic yourself:)
  • Make sure you have the syslinux package installed on the operating system that you will use to prepare the Live USB image. It is recommended that you also have the isomd5sum package installed. The cryptsetup package is another option potentially used by the "livecd-iso-to-disk" installation script. (On Ubuntu, sudo apt-get install syslinux isomd5sum cryptsetup will install the packages. They are also available through the Synaptic Package Manager.)
(On Gentoo, one needs to uncomment 'SAMPLE FILE' in /etc/mtools/mtools.conf to make syslinux work.)
  • syslinux is needed to set up booting on the FAT file system of the USB disc or Live CD.
  • isomd5sum is needed for the recommended verification step, which checks that the .iso file is complete after its travels. If there is a problem with the .iso file, the script will exit and provide a failure message. The verification step can be bypassed by using the --noverify option.
  • cryptsetup is only needed for the option to provide password protection and encryption for the persistent /home/liveuser folder. It is not necessary if one applies the recommended --unencrypted-home option. The --unencrypted-home option is preferred because the reduced overhead improves robustness with the compressed SquashFS file system employed by the Live USB deployment.
  • Plug in a 1-GB or larger USB stick into your computer.
  • Download the installation script:
    (See fedora:Livecd-iso-to-disk.pod for usage details.)
    (You will execute this script several steps below.)
  • Check the USB device name. In the example below, the storage device is /dev/sdb and filesystem partition on that device is /dev/sdb1:
df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              19G  7.0G   11G  40% /
tmpfs                 1.5G     0  1.5G   0% /lib/init/rw
varrun                1.5G   96K  1.5G   1% /var/run
varlock               1.5G     0  1.5G   0% /var/lock
udev                  1.5G  2.9M  1.5G   1% /dev
tmpfs                 1.5G  104K  1.5G   1% /dev/shm
lrm                   1.5G  2.0M  1.5G   1% /lib/modules/2.6.27-11-generic/volatile
/dev/sdb1             996M  913M   84M  92% /mnt/myUSBdisc
  • Unmount the drive,
sudo umount /dev/sdb1
  • Then check to see that the partition is marked as bootable,
sudo fdisk -l <----that's a lowercase letter 'L' for the list option.

You should see output that looks like this:

Disk /dev/sdb: 1047 MB, 1047265280 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 127 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0008325f
 Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1   *           1         127     1020096    6  FAT16

The '*' under the Boot column is what you want to see.

If not, then
  • For Ubuntu 8.10, menu: System -> Administration -> Partition Editor (GParted).
  1. Select your USB device (/dev/sdb for the rest of these instructions),
  2. then your partition (/dev/sdb1),
  3. then menu: Partition -> Manage Flags,
  4. check the boot box,
  5. and Close to mark the partition as bootable.
  • For Fedora,
  1. parted /dev/sdb
  2. toggle 1 boot
  3. quit
  • Change mode to make the script executable.
chmod +x
  • Run it as root, making sure to pass the correct USB device and to set overlay and home size appropriately, depending on the stick size.
sudo ./ --overlay-size-mb 300 --home-size-mb 160 --delete-home --unencrypted-home soas-strawberry.iso /dev/sdb1
Note: With the soas-2-blueberry.iso, leave out the 3 options for a separate persistent home. The script will complete successfully, but the new installation startup process will have trouble finding the home folder and fail to complete.
Normally, the livecd-iso-to-disk installation has the advantage over the liveusb-creator installation method by allowing a persistent /home/liveuser folder with the --home-size-mb NNN option. This feature would allow you to update the OS image while keeping the user files (by running the script against your existing installation but leaving out the --home-size-mb NNN option).
  • The --delete-home option is used to avoid an error message while requesting both a new home (with --home-size-mb) and a persistent home (indirectly with --unencrypted-home). You wouldn't use the --delete-home option on an upgrade of the operation system only.
Depending on the size of your USB stick, you may have to decrease --overlay-size-mb and --home-size-mb values (for example, for a 1-GB stick, use 200 for each).
If you have sufficient capacity on your target device, you may avoid the file system compression by including the --skipcompress option to the script command.
  • Watch out for errors in the output of the script, the script seems to ignore them! (and say all is fine on the last line). transcript

$ sudo ./ --overlay-size-mb 300 --home-size-mb 160 --delete-home --unencrypted-home Soas2-200906211228.iso /dev/sdb1
Verifying image...
/home/walter/Desktop/Soas2-200906211228.iso:   9f1aa3c7a19dd9c68d1047d681f703c6
Fragment sums: f5ddb7deb26b6474bd59be9f57b6c7abcd624e1ccc682ddf664ba73da4ed
Fragment count: 20
Checking: 100.0%

The media check is complete, the result is: PASS.

It is OK to use this media.
Copying live image to USB stick
Updating boot config file
Initializing persistent overlay file
300+0 records in
300+0 records out
314572800 bytes (315 MB) copied, 88.7551 s, 3.5 MB/s
Initializing persistent /home
160+0 records in
160+0 records out
167772160 bytes (168 MB) copied, 48.1191 s, 3.5 MB/s
Formatting unencrypted /home
mke2fs 1.41.4 (27-Jan-2009)
Filesystem label=
OS type: Linux
Block size=1024 (log=0)
Fragment size=1024 (log=0)
40960 inodes, 163840 blocks
8192 blocks (5.00%) reserved for the super user
First data block=1
Maximum filesystem blocks=67371008
20 block groups
8192 blocks per group, 8192 fragments per group
2048 inodes per group
Superblock backups stored on blocks: 
	8193, 24577, 40961, 57345, 73729

Writing inode tables: done                            
Creating journal (4096 blocks): done
Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done

This filesystem will be automatically checked every 28 mounts or
180 days, whichever comes first.  Use tune2fs -c or -i to override.
tune2fs 1.41.4 (27-Jan-2009)
Setting maximal mount count to -1
Setting interval between checks to 0 seconds
Installing boot loader
USB stick set up as live image!

What's next?

After you've created your stick, it's time to boot your stick and test it out. Please also report your observations.