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Formatting a USB drive for NixOS

Recently I posted some general instructions on installing NixOS on a USB drive. One area I was having trouble with was the basic format of the drive. At the time I decided to use a SmartOS USB image and a little 'dd' magic to copy the image file from the local drive to the USB stick. Since then I have worked out the missing pieces.

With a booted OS X where the USB drive is located at /dev/disk2 ...

  • sudo fdisk -e /dev/disk2
  • fdisk> auto dos
  • fdisk> f 1
  • fdisk> w
  • fdisk> q
Now you have a msdos formatted(partition table) USB drive. At this point I followed a few of the same steps to be able to connect the USB drive from the host OS X to the quest NixOS. Keep in mind that the USB stick is currently partitioned with partition 1 as the active boot partition; but not formatted so it cannot be mounted just yet.

With NixOS booted and at a console (where the USB drive is located at /dev/sdb and the fat partition is at /dev/sdb1) ...
  • format the partition `sudo mkdosfs /dev/sdb1`
  • net-env -i wget
  • net-env -i unetbootin
  • mkdir -p /media/{NIXBOOT,iso}
  • mount -o loop nixos.iso /media/iso
  • cp -a /media/iso/. /media/NIXBOOT
  • now you can mount the partition `sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sdb1 /media/NIXBOOT`
  • and now you can follow the instructions about unetbootin from the other post
  • unetbootin works great if you have X installed. This might be a starting point: unetbootin lang=en method=diskimage isofile=./nixos.iso installtype=USB targetdrive=/dev/sdb1 autoinstall=yes

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