Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Plop boot manager - or what I have learned from internet

Today I have learned a great lesson from internet. I am using a 4 year old computer. I have recently came to know that it does not support booting from usb. I wanted to test so many linux distros. I have used Virtual Box before. But I was not not satisfied in trying the various distros in a VM. The interesting changes happening in the linux world urged me to test them in real environment rather than a VM.

Ubuntu 11.04 is switching to unity and gnome is shifting to gnome shell. I wanted to  try these myself. But there is a problem. The Ubuntu unity and gnome shell does not work on a VM. It will switch to classsic gnome in unity and gnome without the new gnome shell in  gnome 3 in a VM. And much more, these are extremely slow in a VM. This was really irritating to me and I wanted to test them using a bootable usb image. But my pc does not support booting from usb.

I can still test them using a live cd as my pc supports booting from cd. But I do not want to burn so many cds for these alpha/beta version of the distros. I have tried many other solutions like booting a iso from hard disk using unetbootin. But nothing has worked for me.  I was actually thinking of purchasing a new computer or laptop.

Then yesterday I was reading an article about multisystem, there was a mention about Plop boot manager. Naturally I was interested and later it turned out to be the medicine which I was looking for.

Plop boot manager is a boot manager like Grub and it can be used to boot from usb even if your bios does not support it. Yes, that is what the solution I was looking for. Just see what the Plop boot manager has to tell about itself:

"The Plop Boot Manager is a small program to boot different operating systems. The boot manager has a builtin ide cdrom and usb driver to access those hardware without the help/need of a bios. You can boot the operating systems from harddisk, floppy, CD/DVD or from USB. You can start the boot manager from floppy, CD, network and there are many more ways to start the boot manager. You can install the boot manager on your harddisk. There is no extra partition required for the boot manager."
It is created by  Elmar Hanlhofer and the latest version is

How I have set the plop boot manager to boot from usb?

I have downloaded the latest version of plop and extracted it to my hard disk. Then I have burned the plpbt.iso ( around 400 kb of size) to a cd as image. I have changed the boot priority to cd and inserted the this cd. I have used Unetbootin to create a bootable usb image. Then when I boot, it will show the Plop boot manager and it will act as the driver needed for booting usb. Then you can use the usb as live usb and try the distro without installing it.

If you want a detailed guide about how to do it check this article at how to geek which I have followed myself.

So what is the lesson I have learned from this? It simple, if you want a solution for a problem, be sure to google it. You will definitely get the answer. If you have got this problem, it sure that at least a 1000 other people had also the same problem. In that thousand, at least 100 might have tried to find a solution and in that 100 at least 10 people might have found a solution. In that 10 people, at least 1 of the solution will definitely suite for you. So keep in mind "If you want something just search it on internet; somebody might have found a solution for it."

Also this incident has reinforced my following belief:

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
I believe that is the reason why  I stumbled upon the above article which mentions about the awesome software called Plop Boot Manager.

UPDATE: There is an easy way to use plop boot manager by directly installing it to the boot manager using EasyBCD so that you don't have to carry the CD along with you. You can read the post here.

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