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How to use SmartPhone as Ubuntu liveUSB?

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  1. Dear all,

    I dunno if this is the right forum or section to post my question.

    You all know the story... you are at friends... they have a pc-prob, accidentally you have your ubuntu liveCD/liveUSB with you... and you help them.
    My problem is: my brain is a mess, and I always forget my usb.

    My smartphone on the other hand, I'll never forget. So that brings me to the question:
    Can I use my smartphone as Ubuntu liveUSB?

    Yesterday evening I tried to create a bootable USB stick on my smartphone (both SD-card and internal memory). Rebooted PC, activated USB-connection on my smartphone, hit F12 to select "boot from USB", and nothing happened. It didn't recognise the usb.
    I've put the SD-card into my girlfriends smartphone, with the same result :-S
    With a normal usb-key it works.

    So, I'm wandering... does anyone know if this is possible? And if yes, how?
    I don't think this is a "ubuntu-problem", I guess I somehow have to tell my phone to act as a normal usb-key, but I've no Idea how.

    Background information:
    Ubuntu version I wanna use as LiveUSB : Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 32 bit
    my smartphone : LG optimus 2x (p990) (CyanogenMode-7.2.0-RC1-p990)
    gf smartphone : Samsung Galaxy SII (original Samsung android version 2.3.5)


    Warm regards,

    P.S. I posted the same question on http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1978208

  2. RichSz

    RichSz Not Entitled VIP Member

    Welcome to Android Forums!

    I'm going to slide this thread over to the Android Lounge.
  3. Thanks RichSz!
  4. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    It might be possible to do. Have you tried enabling "USB debugging" in Settings > Application settings > Development? I've used a cheap Chinese MP4 player as a live Linux bootable USB drive, when I didn't have a regular USB stick to hand. Only thing I found was that the MP4 player wouldn't actually function until it was re-formatted back to FAT, rather than bootable Linux format.

    I would guess though that the phone's SD-card wouldn't be accessible to the phone if it was formatted as a live Linux boot drive rather than FAT.


    I just tested it and my PC did try to boot from a Samsung Galaxy S, of course it went "No bootable media found" as it wasn't formatted as a live Ubuntu drive. The phone's SD card must be visible and available to the PC BIOS boot options at the time of booting, like when booting from a USB stick.
  5. Thanks mikedt,

    I had a few hours yesterday, to test it. Unfortunately it didn't work.

    Is "USB debugging" the only thing you enabled? or are there more settings I have to check?

    I'll continue trying whenever I have spare time this week, and keep you updated.

    Warm regards,
  6. Ok, I got to the point where I could select "boot from USB" on the PC, but when I continued, it said "no bootable medum found" or something like that.
    This was done by using USB-creator (in Ubuntu).

    The problem is, that USB-creator can only install the liveUSB after formatting the SD-card (or internal card (I tried both)). But when formatted, android won't recognise the fat32 filesystem. And when I try to connect (mount in english?) the SD-card or the internal memory, android won't let me. I expect that's the reason why the pc indicates "no bootable medum found".

    When I format the SD-card (or internal card) by android and put the LiveUSB on it whithout formatting (not possible in Ubuntu, possible in windows (I used "Universal-USB-Installer-")), then I am not able to select "boot from USB".

    So, I think there are two possible solutions:
    1) or I have to, somehow, make the computer be able to boot from the android file system (A2SD+?)
    2) or I have to install the drivers for filesystems like Fat32, EXT2/3/4, ... to my android phone.

    Since 1) isn't a good solution for when I wanna boot different computers, I hope someone knows a way to use the second solution.... I don't seem to find it in the "play store"

    Warm regards,
    mikedt likes this.
  7. Finally I got it working!

    - put Ubuntu as liveUSB on the SD-card (using format)
    - reboot android in ClockworkMod Recovery
    select : mounts and storage -> mount USB storage
    - Reboot PC, booting from USB
    Now Ubuntu LiveUSB boots.

    Finally! :-D

    However... now the SD-card isn't usable within Android. So next step is to figure out how to make 2 partitions on the SD-card.

    To be continued...

    Warm regards,
    mikedt likes this.
  8. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    I'm sure recognising EXT2/3/4 is at the Linux kernel level. Normally the Android Linux kernel has no reason to include EXT2/3/4. AFAIK Android itself uses YAFFS/YAFFS2 and can recognise FAT and FAT32 storage media. You'd probably have to build a custom kernel to get Android to recognise EXT2/3/4


    Reinhart just I saw your "Finally I got it working!" post ... keep us posted and good luck. :)
  9. Ow, I dunno anything about writing code :-S, so I'm not going there ;-)

    When I format the SD-card using android, windows recognizes it at FAT32, but cannot edit the partition. In Linux I can use the partition, but gparted doesn't recognize it (no partitions).
    When I format the SD-card using windows/linux, android sais the sd-card is damaged, and the only way to connect the sd-card is by formatting it again.

    So, I just have to look for a partition manager that can both work with YAFFS/YAFFS2 and fat32. Thanks for the tip mikedt.


    Yes, I will definitely post a small howto here when I'm completely finished.

    Warm regards,

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