Preinstalled OpenBSD USB Thumb Drive Images

So, after seeing that apparently people are interested in this. I decided to go ahead with making some OpenBSD thumb drive images. (this, combined with the fact I have much faster upload speeds at my house now)


There are a variety of uses for these images.

  1. Repair an existing OpenBSD installation with a full userland at your disposal(unlike the ramdisk images)
  2. Grab dmesgs off of machines easily
  3. Make sure OpenBSD will work on a machine(very useful at retail locations)
  4. OpenBSD portable awesomeness -- Included in the base sets is an http server, firewall/router, ftp server, ssh server.
  5. Easily back up/restore a harddrive using netcat
  6. Portable development environment! Included is perl, gcc, binutils and friends.


  1. Almost all default options of OpenBSD
  2. All sets are installed including Xorg sets
  3. is used by default
  4. The drive is just one big /
  5. Each image is 1G uncompressed and requires at least a 1G thumb drive
  6. Each image is delivered gzip compressed
  7. Common network hostname.if files have dhcp in them so no network setup required
  8. fstab mounts the filesystem using softdep, which performs much better on thumb drives.
  9. Root password is root
  10. I'll try to generate these images on each release and each major snapshot
  11. SSH public and private keys are generated upon first boot (so no security concerns)
  12. I will only be making images for amd64 and i386.

How To Use


First, you need to decompress the image.

On a unix-like machine, use:

gunzip [imagefile].gz

On a Windows machine, you can use 7-zip to extract gzipped archives.

How to put it on thumb drive:

If using a unix-like OS(including Mac?), just use:

dd if=myimage of=/dev/[mythumbdrive] bs=4k

Of course replacing with your thumbdrive's actual device name.

If using Windows, follow something like this:

Of course replacing an Arch Linux image with the OpenBSD image. Make sure to use the uncompressed image!

Image Links

OpenBSD 5.1 i386

OpenBSD 5.1 amd64

Latest snapshots coming soon as well.


If you want to share these links, please link to this article, not to the image itself. As newer OpenBSD releases come out, I will delete old ones, and I prefer not to have dead links. Also, this will give people a chance to browse for a more optimal image for their needs.

If anyone is interested in using bit-torrent for this, I can definitely seed such a thing, but I'm not going to bother if there is no demand for it. My server is based in New Jersey and should keep par with anyone's connection.

Other Notes

Because of how awesome OpenBSD is, this image can also be written straight to a harddrive and it will work. I recommend running your own installation though if using it on a harddrive.

Posted: 9/10/2012 3:46:46 AM

OpenBSD thumb drive images

Update: These are now available! See this post

So after having to (yet again) go to a secondary machine to install OpenBSD on a flash drive so I can install OpenBSD on a primary machine that lacks a disk drive(and floppy drive), I figured "you know, they should provide thumb drive images"

Well, THEY (the OpenBSD developers) don't believe it's necessary.. and don't recommend using third party generated USB images.. but here we are.

Soon to come will be a few OpenBSD images for various flash drive sizes. I plan on these sizes: (Note, these are still OpenBSD and not in any way branched or whatever. The Micro/Mini thing is just what I make the host name at install)

  1. MicroBSD. 500M. sets: bsd, bsd.rd,, base, etc, man
  2. MiniBSD. 1G. sets: bsd, bsd.rd,, base, etc, man, comp, games and a few packages preinstalled
  3. MiniBSDX. 1G. sets: all, no packages
  4. InstallBSD. 500M. sets: bsd, bsd.rd, base, etc. Includes install sets off of install_XX.iso

I plan on trying to build images for i386 and amd64 each official release and snapshot(but not more than once a month). If you want more then I suggest building your own USB image. It really isn't that hard.

My main goal of these images is

  1. Easy way to get dmesgs off of computers
  2. As a "rescue" disk. The ramdisk kernel is extremely limited. Having a full BSD installation is invaluable whenever you accidentally update fstab to use sd1a instead of sd0a... Sure there is always ed to fix it with the ramdisk kernel.. but ed is not trivial to use
  3. As a quick way to see if OpenBSD will work on your computer(especially at retail locations)
  4. As an easy way to test snapshots

These images are very simplisticly made. They are basically a default install with one-big / and a mfs /tmp. The only modifications I make are to the fstab and I add a reminder to change the root password. All private keys are generated on first boot, so no worries there.

The main annoying thing about doing these images is just uploading them. About 130M uploaded at 60kb/s on stupid DSL is awful.

Posted: 8/19/2011 5:02:09 AM