ISOstick: A preconfigured USB boot drive for your ISOs

By on July 28, 2011, 7:44 PM

Although creating a bootable USB flash drive isn't exactly rocket science, the setup process can easily intimidate the uninitiated and annoy the tech-savvy. No matter your experience level, a new device could save you a little time and a lot of frustration the next time you want to load Windows, Mac OS or Linux off a thumbdrive. Called ISOstick, the device shown below combines the functionality of your antiquated optical drive with a newfangled USB stick.

According to the project's Kickstarter page, the ISOstick is a regular old USB drive that is preconfigured with software that allows it to serve as an optical drive when loaded with disc images. In other words, you can simply drag and drop an operating system ISO on it, attach it to a computer and boot from the ISO as if it were a conventional CD or DVD. In fact, you can copy multiple ISOs the drive and choose from them with the ISOstick's bootloader ("isosel").

As we said, besides the software trickery, there's not much separating the ISOstick from your typical USB flash drive. It has 8GB to 32GB of storage, peak read and write rates of 12.5MB/s and 6MB/s, a hardware read-only switch, and an adjustable green activity LED. Currently, the device's firmware only accepts ISOs (i.e. not DMG, BIN or other image types) and they have to be stored on a FAT32 partition (you can create a separate file system partition if desired).

Future updates may remove those limitations, especially since the ISOstick creators plan to open-source the firmware when -- if -- the device launches. As of writing, the project's Kickstarter page shows 143 backers pledging $19,823 out of the required $25,000. There are 24 days to meet that goal. Pricing will be set at $100 (8GB), $175 (16GB) and $225 (32GB) -- quite a bit more than going the homebrewed route with Xboot or YUMI, but such is the price of luxury.




User Comments: 25

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Guest said:

i want the software it use.

ihaveaname said:

This is actually really awesome.

Win7Dev said:

Wait, if they are open sourcing the firmware, doesn't that mean I can load the firmware onto my usb drive. I can already create and delete a cdfs partition at will and basically do anything I want since I have the developer tools for it. I have this drive: [link] but the 2gb version

Guest said:

Ikesmasher here, dont wanna sign in on this PC.

Does this mean that mobos that dont have the support to boot off a USB drive will boot off of this one as if it was a disc drive?

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I want the software for an external HDD. A pendrive although very useful limits you (Unless you want to pay an extra for GB)... well I could have both tbh.

treetops treetops said:

I installed windows 7 off my usb stick 2 years ago, its still on there as a iso as a backup. From what I remember its a simple matter of going into your bios and changing the boot order so you boot off your usb first. I had to go this way because the downloadable windows was corrupt and a lot of people had trouble with it. I guess this would be handy for people who do not know how to google.

Guest said:

Unbelievable--I have 24 days to pop over to PenDriveLinux, download software onto 100's of USB's and start charging people $100.00 for a technique my 8 year old understands. Large USB? Charge, charge . . . wow . . . this is a serious money maker with little to zero overhead.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Does this mean that mobos that dont have the support to boot off a USB drive will boot off of this one as if it was a disc drive?

According to the kickstarter page, everything is controlled on the USB drive itself, and there is no software you have to install, so it will work even in the BIOS:

There has been a lot of misconception about the functionality of isostick. All the optical disk magic takes place in the isostick itself, it doesn't matter if you're in the computer's BIOS, an OS, anything -- whatever you plug it into will see both an optical drive and a flash drive. Absolutely no software is required for this.

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Ikesmasher here, dont wanna sign in on this PC.

Does this mean that mobos that dont have the support to boot off a USB drive will boot off of this one as if it was a disc drive?

IMO: No. In fact, i think the kickstarter page info is, itself, misleading! The kickstarter page basically says the ISOlink stick will appear as multiple devices (both a flash disk and CD/DVD device). Problem is they'll appear as USB devices. So if your m/b BIOS can't boot from USB, your BIOS won't look for ANY bootable devices on USB. It'll look for a PCI connected optical drive

but if anyone has the chance to actually test this either way, let us know

Guest said:

Great piece of kit that would sell well if a stick cost not more than 2x-3x a traditional usb stick.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Guest said:

Unbelievable--I have 24 days to pop over to PenDriveLinux, download software onto 100's of USB's and start charging people $100.00 for a technique my 8 year old understands. Large USB? Charge, charge . . . wow . . . this is a serious money maker with little to zero overhead.

Would your 8 year old be willing to teach me how to create one as I still haven't figured it out and I've be trying for 5 years or so.

Guest said:

Sounds like a good idea and something that would really come in useful however the price is just too much.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Sounded good at first but the price tag and limitation to just ISO images means I'll just keep it doing the old fashoned way.

Guest said:

He would be more than happy. Head on over to pendrivelinux.com and have a look see. The simple steps are posted.

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Tekkaraiden said:

Guest said:

Unbelievable--I have 24 days to pop over to PenDriveLinux, download software onto 100's of USB's and start charging people $100.00 for a technique my 8 year old understands. Large USB? Charge, charge . . . wow . . . this is a serious money maker with little to zero overhead.

Would your 8 year old be willing to teach me how to create one as I still haven't figured it out and I've be trying for 5 years or so.

Heh... not something I'd admit to on a tech forum. :P

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

FAT32 and made for loading ISOs? Sure, if everyone uses linux or Windows XP. What if you want Win 7, or any other OS that has an install DVD? (2 gig file size limit in fat32)

Guest said:

The price seems a little outrageous to me. I also have trouble understanding who they are trying to market thier product to at these prices; I mean IT pros would find this useful, but not for $100 for only 8GB. The gernal public will see 8GB USB devices for less than $20 and fail to understand why this $100 version is really any better, bottom line.

*I have a hard time believing this company is just greedy though, I have a feeling they are locked into paying multiple companies royalty fees to bring this to market since this company obviously does not own any patents in regards to the usage of the ISO format or the right to allow a USB device to essentially act as a virtual CD/DVDROM device. I imagine this technology cost them alot to license.

MrAnderson said:

Most people playing oor interesting technology should have a motherboard from at least the past 4 to 5 years (if not newer) in most cases all have support for booting from USB... In other words... if your motherboard does not support boot from USB device you are running a really old box and should not be pointing out that your old motherboard is this products short coming.

For example I have an very old Athlon 2800+ and it can book off usb devices, or flash drive; and I cannot remember how old that box is...

gooderguy gooderguy said:

This would be incredibly useful for me, I played a lot with MultibootISOs from pendrivelinux.com which works great for booting linux distros and even works with Windows 7 installation ISO but I have never yet been able to boot a working Windows XP ISO from any USB and I still install XP regularly on many of my customer's computers so this would same me time.

This would also be useful when doing frequent Windows installation ISO updates because, well Microsoft keeps patching Windows all the time.

So, maybe a little expensive, but I'm sure it will come down in price in a few months. Would be more worth the money if it were USB 3, or is it?

bakape said:

Tekkaraiden said:

Guest said:

Unbelievable--I have 24 days to pop over to PenDriveLinux, download software onto 100's of USB's and start charging people $100.00 for a technique my 8 year old understands. Large USB? Charge, charge . . . wow . . . this is a serious money maker with little to zero overhead.

Would your 8 year old be willing to teach me how to create one as I still haven't figured it out and I've be trying for 5 years or so.

Have you tried Unetbootin? If you want to USB boot Windows though, I recommend Wintoflash.

HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

yeah but cant you use a regular flash drive that is a lot cheaper and make it bootable. it will do the same thing as this and its cheaper?

I think this is pointless. just use grub to make your USB bootable and you can put whatever ISO you want on it for alot cheaper

Guest said:

yep, if the computer supports booting usb cd-rom drives. it also allows you to have multiple iso's on the drive and choose which to boot to.

Guest said:

this will boot on computers that support usb cd booting, alot of computers support this that dont support usb flash drive booting.

HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

yeah pretty much. like i said before you dont have to spend all this money if you know how to do it yourself. If it was like i could of made a few bucks lol

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

It's special hardware, right? If so, I doubt your USB stick has the capacity for this firmware.

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