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.

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