Add a separate tiny linux with grub on the drive for booting an ISO as a recovery possibility

Hello tinkers!

I am remembering this here:

Did one tried to create a something like a tiny linux installation to boot only ISOs on a HDD?

Something like that:


/dev/sda1 → EFI partition for tiny linux (32MB)
/dev/sda2 → bios_grub partition for tiny linux (8MB)
/dev/sda3 → / (1GB)
/dev/sda4 → exfat /isostore (5GB)
— Not allocated —

These 3 partitions have to be locked somehow. So that they don’t get overwritten by accident.

So in general the idea is, that i can start a current ISO of Manjaro anytime without having Manjaro installed and without having a DVD or flash drive. Plus the ISO Loader should be possible to install it without a live session. Something like ventoy, but not on a flash drive and not the whole drive.

In first place, I need this for unexpected errors and to have an unchanged OS Environment, anytime also if i have no OS installed.

Does someone have tinkered with something like that or know some sites, with explanations about this use case?

Thank you!

Hello. I haven’t tried your use case. I had an expandable/temporary partition from where I configured the iso-on-grub and tested several isos.
When I installed my wanted system (after lots of tries with Architect) on unallocated space, I deleted the original partition.

I guess it could work as you want, granted if you can find micro-Linux installs - I have not experience in those.
Maybe the tutorial would need some work, maybe it could work like that… After, you’d have to change the entry depending of your iso name. Or, you could configure your grub in booting from a generic iso name, and modify your dev/sda4 iso name accordingly each time you change your iso.

Within this partition, if enough space, I guess you could mount on boot two different isos, as a small Ventoy, with an additional entry in Grub.

Nah, I dual boot with another Linux distro instead. As long as it has chroot, I’m good.

Thanks for your reply :slight_smile:

Mh… ok maybe i expressed myself here not really clear. I mean not, that there should be the possibility to boot any iso by default. I mean something like a recovery & rescue boot.

Ok let me explain:

I have some users whom I suggest to install Manjaro and I have installed and configured it there. Sometimes, and that could happen, the system break and something goes wrong. I can’t be there, and low level users just want a working system.

  1. Timeshift is a good starting point, but it is not always suitable to fix things. Therefore there must be an working image that will just overwrite the system partition. So that there will be a new fresh installation.

  2. There must be an image, which can boot a live session and must have access to the local drive. So that they don’t loose time on tinkering, calling me or smashing the workstation out of the window. The work must go on :wink:

  3. If a new ISO comes out, there must be an automated process which will update the installation image.

Hope that makes it more clear. That is what I try to accomplish.

I looked at ventoy docs and scripts and it seems I could accomplish it with it. There is a possibility to create my own custom theme and specify the default ISO search root: VTOY_DEFAULT_SEARCH_ROOT. I will see if that is what i am looking for.


Good for you :slight_smile:

I did not re-read the tutorial above but as I remember you create a custom grub entry with the exact name of your iso.

I really don’t know if you could use an alias or a wildcard character dev/sda4/iso_path/*.iso and replace an older iso with a newer one…

@Chrysostomus may have some clue about it, as he wrote the tutorial?

There is an interesting section on the Arch Wiki on systemd-boot and adding grml as a boot option

You will most likely not be able to boot Manjaro that way - but grml is the next best thing.