_       _       
  (_) ___ | |_ ____
  | |/ _ \| __|_  /
  | | (_) | |_ / / 
 _/ |\___/ \__/___|

Experiment to create a terminal-based Debian Live bootable USB key

These are notes on an experiment to create a terminal-only bootable Linux USB key, initially for use on a Dell Inspiron 910.

I'm constructing the new image using the stock Debian live installation image:


The image filename is


I downloaded the iso via BitTorrent

If a previous build was attempted, then do this before building again:

lb clean --purge

If pv is not installed and you want to use it to copy image to USB key:

sudo apt install pv

This builds successfully:

mkdir live
cd live
lb config -a i386 -d bookworm --archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware" --parent-archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware"
sudo su
lb build 2>&1 | tee build.log
pv < live-image-i386.hybrid.iso > /dev/sdb

lb config -a i386 -d bookworm --archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware" --parent-archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware" --bootappend-live "boot=live locales=en_GB.UTF-8 keyboard-layouts=gb timezone=Europe/Dublin user-default-groups=user,cdrom,floppy,sudo,audio,dip,video,plugdev,netdev,scanner,dialout"

echo "firmware-linux vim-gtk3 hexedit ffmpeg mplayer lynx w3m elinks wget curl gcc clang git gdb php octave tmux pv htop bpytop fzf gdu ranger mc neofetch testdisk network-manager console-setup figlet" > config/package-lists/my.list.chroot

To facilitate configuration of keyboard layout:

apt-get install keyboard-configuration console-setup

sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

NB console-setup contains setupcon. Also mentioned, but didn't work for me:

udevadm trigger --subsystem-match=input --action=change

To configure wifi from console (nmcli is in the network-manager package):


Previous unsuccessful build commands:

lb config --archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware" -> E: Package 'firmware-linux' has no installation candidate

lb config --archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware" --parent-archive-areas "bookworm main non-free-firmware" -> Package firmware-linux is not available, but is referred to by another package. -> E: Package 'firmware-linux' has no installation candidate

I successfully booted from the i386 terminal only USB key on my Lenovo ideapad 710s-13ISK. I was able to access the web using w3m browser once I connected to the wifi router using nmcli. I followed instructions from here:


The actual command I used to connect to wifi was:

sudo nmcli dev wifi connect SSID_HERE password "PASSWORD_HERE"