Pen Drive Linux has made it easy to turn your USB drive into a Live bootable Linux instance, allowing you to easily sample a Linux flavor or create the free, open-source tool you need.
The group also provides another tool called MultiBoot USB that allows you to take multiple Linux ISOs and utilities with you on a single flash drive. There are a few scenarios out there where it would be really handy to have a specific Linux tool (like GParted, Clonezilla, antivirus rescue CDs, DBaN amongst others) available and this tool allows you to fit all of those onto a single USB drive, assuming the drive can hold them all.
To use MultiBoot USB, you have to meet a few requirements. Your drive needs to be FAT32 formatted but the utility can take care of this for you. The target PC needs to be able to boot into a USB. You need to be using Windows to make your bootable drive.
Then you have to download the USB Creator and the ISOs you want to include (but the tool can also download those if you don’t already have the ISOs downloaded).
I used a 16GB USB drive for my MultiBoot tool and head plenty of room remaining after throwing three different programs on it. Be sure you have everything on the drive backed up because it can optionally be formatted during this process.
To start off, download the 883KB MultiBootISOs utility. I used the latest version, MultiBootISOs-USB-Creator-v2.1.2.exe. Once you have the executable downloaded with your USB drive plugged in, you need to run it as an administrator. No install is required and this executable will take care of all that is necessary for your drive. Essentially, you run the executable and follow the on-screen instructions. Select your drive (be sure you have the right one!) and then choose a Linux distribution you’d like to put on the drive. You’ll have to browse to the folder where you’re storing that ISO and then tell the tool to create your bootable USB key.
The build process is very brief, only taking a slight bit longer if you needed the drive formatted for the first time.
Once the drive is finalized the status window will keep you updated and prompt if you want to add any other distributions. Answer that question accordingly; you can always come back and run the tool again to add other utilities to your drive.
Adding more distributions is easy. You just run the tool again and select the additional one you want and repeat the steps. You can add as many programs as your drive can hold. MultiBoot USB also has a cool feature where it can automatically download the ISOs for you, taking a lot of the guesswork out of the setup. This means you’re about 3 clicks away from having a bootable USB drive and with a few more clicks you can have a fully-loaded, ready for anything flash drive on your keychain.
After your drive is built, you should be able to just plug the drive into a computer and get the Pen Drive Linux boot screen where you can choose which application to start up. If it doesn’t work that easily, you’ll likely have to pop into the BIOS and change the Boot Order to boot from the USB drive before the hard drive.
To read about all the different Linux distributions and other tools this works with and to download it visit MultiBoot USB from Pen Drive Linux.