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Ventoy: Create a multiboot USB stick by copying the ISOs

Published by TheJoe on

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

How many times have we happened to install a Linux distribution (or start it in mode “live”) from a USB memory? How many times have we found ourselves uncomfortable compared to what we were used to and had to change distribution (reinstalling it on the same USB stick)? How many times have we wondered if the day would ever come when it would have been enough to copy the ISO on the stick to have all the distributions in multiboot?

Well, that day has come.

Ventoy is an open source program (GPL v3) available for Linux and Windows to create USB sticks “bootabili”. The peculiarity that differentiates Ventoy from the rest of the programs of its kind is, after installation on the key, the possibility of drag the ISOs that we want to enable in a directory / specific partition to find them in the Grub menu and start them without having to unpack them first.

Once we understand that distribution does not interest us, just delete the relative ISO from the stick and copy another one to boot the second one, the (if the capacity of the key allows it) copy multiple distributions and test them by selecting them from the Grub menu, as in the screenshot below taken from the official website.

Ventoy supports legacy BIOS and UEFI (with and without secure boot), both MBR and GPT partition tables, which makes Ventoy pretty much “universal”.

Ventoy is a rather young software. The first release (1.0.0) it is dated 1 April 2020, Today we are 1.0.52. At the moment more than 750 images are supported (the 90% of distrowatch distributions), the list is constantly updated and new distributions are supported at each version upgrade.

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Install and start Ventoy

Using Ventoy is very simple and is very well herringbone in the mini-guide on the site. With Linux it is possible to proceed with the installation both via GUI and CLI.

GUI

For the GUI it will be enough to launch (via command line or with the more classic double click) the file VentoyGUI related to your hardware architecture. It is interesting to note that among the packages there is VentoyWeb.sh. Launching it will start a web interface to the program reachable at the local address http://127.0.0.1:24680.

CLI

To install Ventoy with command line we will use instead Ventoy2Disk.sh specifying the destination unit. In the example below it will be installed on sdb.

# sh Ventoy2Disk.sh -i /dev/sdb

***********************************************************
*                Ventoy2Disk Script                       *
*             longpanda  admin@ventoy.net                 *
***********************************************************

Disk : /dev/sdb
Modelo:  USB DISK 2.0 (scsi)
Size : 7 GB
Style: MBR


Attention:
You will install Ventoy to /dev/sdb.
All the data on the disk /dev/sdb will be lost!!!

Continue? (y/n)

The arguments to pass are:

  • -i install Ventoy your sdX
  • -I force installation on sdX (it does not matter if there is already a version of Ventoy installed)
  • -u updates the existing installation on the sdX
  • -r <qty MB> (optional) preserves the space indicated in MB at the end of the disk
  • -s (optional) enable secure boot
  • -g (optional) use GPT partition tables (default is MBR)

At the end of the installation a directory will be created “ISOs” inside the key. In that directory the ISOs that we want to start must be copied.

We restart the computer and select the ISO from Grub.


TheJoe

I keep this blog as a hobby by 2009. I am passionate about graphic, technology, software Open Source. Among my articles will be easy to find music, and some personal thoughts, but I prefer the direct line of the blog mainly to technology. For more information contact me.

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