MultiSystem: The Bootable Thumb Drive Creator


MultiSystem is a tool for creating bootable USB thumb drives that give you the option launching multiple ISO images and other built in diagnostic utilities. It can be an invaluable tool for system repair techs.  Not to mention the many recovery and repair Live CDs that are available to fix Linux, most bootable Windows repair and anti-virus utilities run from a Linux based ISO.  The tech can even create ISO images of Windows installation media and replace a stack of DVDs with one thumb drive.  Besides the installable package, there is also a MultiSystem LiveCD http://sourceforge.net/projects/multisystem/ that, if I understand correctly, contains some recomended ISOs to install on your thumb drive.

How to Get Multisystem


MultiSystem is only supported on Ubuntu based distros, for reasons which I will presently explain.  The project site is http://liveusb.info/dotclear/ , but be forewarned, the site is in French.  Your best bet at finding installation instructions is to visit the WebUpd8 or Pen Drive Linux installation pages, as follows http://www.webupd8.org/2010/03/how-to-create-multiboot-liveusb-using.html or http://www.pendrivelinux.com/multiboot-create-a-multiboot-usb-from-linux/ .  Either way, you download http://liveusb.info/multisystem/install-depot-multisystem.sh.tar.bz2 to your Ubuntu based system, extract the shell script  install-depot-multiboot.sh and execute it from a terminal.  You will be prompted for your sudo password to complete the installation.

Taking a Look at the Installation Script


WHOA, WHAT - WAIT A MINUTE!

I know, this is not the installation method I would have picked if I wanted people to be comfortable installing my software.  I certainly would never run some strange script if it had not been vetted by sources such as Pen Drive Linux, HowToGeek, WebUpt8, and www.linux-magazine.com .  I found nothing sinister when I examined the script, but I would welcome another set of eyes looking at it should you care to download it from the above link.  Before we proceed, let me put your mind at ease by stepping through what it looks to me like the script is doing.  Basically, the script adds the liveusb MultiSystem repository to your /etc/apt/sources.list and installs that package (in short,it's a PPA).Adds the MultiSystem   If it still makes you nervous (as well it might), you always have the option of running the script on an Ubuntu virtual machine.

  1. The script makes several calls to apt and assumes your user's privileges can be elevated via the sudo command.  That's why MultiSystem is only supported on Ubuntu based distros. 
  1. Checks /etc/sudoers to see if there are any users with elevation priviledges
  1. Checks if you have KDE, if so, enables the community maintained repositories (universe) and installs zenity
  1. Tests if you have the packages sudo lsb_release tee zenity nohup xterm dpkg, generates error if not
  1. Generates error if the current account is not in sudoers
  1. makes /media read/write/execute for everyone (presumably so MultiSystem can write what it wants to your USB stick)
  1. Checks to see if MultiSystem is already installed
  1. Adds the user to the "disk" group if they are not already (I'm going to jump to the conclusion that members of this group can write to media)
  1. Ads user to the "adm" group
  1. If using Gnome, adds then community repros, otherwise if using KDE adds universe repos for KDE (again)
  1. Installs a backport if you are running hardy
  1. Adds the Multisystem repo to /etc/apt/sources.list
  1. Installs the repo's authentication key
  1. Updates the package lists
  1. Installs MultiSystem
  1. Makes the fusermount system directories executable
  1. Call the script that launches MultiSystem
  1. It seems this project could sorely use some volunteer package maintainers

Summary of the MultiSystem Program Function and Interface

Summary of the Function and Interface of a Bootable Thumb Drive Generated With MultiSystem