Test bootable USB drive without restarting your computer
Just like how you can boot a computer using a bootable CD,you can also boot a computer using a bootable USB drive.Bootable USB drive works exactly like a bootable CD.You can load the live Desktop,install the distro on your computer etc.The loading of the live desktop and the installation of a distro is much faster when a bootable USB Drive is used instead of a bootable CD.
Configuring and Tweaking a bootable USB drive is much easier than modifying a bootable ISO or a bootable CD.
Creating a Bootable USB drive.
Each and every USB drive can be easily made bootable.The bootablity of the USB drive depends solely on the motherboard and the boot order of the target computer.
Unetbootin is a free tool which can be used to create bootable USB drives of popular Linux based distros like Ubuntu from the bootable iso image file.Most bootable software like BartPE, have an option to create a bootable USB drive.Pendrivelinux.com has detailed guides and tutorials on creating bootable USB drives of Linux Distros.
So creating a bootable USB drive is not very hard.
Booting a Virtual Machine from a Physical USB Drive?
In my previous article I have mentioned how Bootable ISO and CD/DVD can be easily tested in virtual machine without restarting your computer.
But Virtualbox,VmWare and Microsoft Virtual PC do not directly support booting a Virtual machine from a Physical USB Drive.
Only Qemu supports booting from a Physical USB Drive.
UPDATE:You can now Boot your USB Drive in VirtualBox:Read it here
The developers of MobaLiveCD have created an extremely useful and simple tool to test a bootable USB drive within Windows without restarting your computer.
It uses the Qemu engine to boot a Virtual Machine from a Physical Drive.This tool is also useful for people whose motherboards do not support booting from your USB drive.
All you have to do is
1. Download MobaLiveUSB from here: http://mobalivecd.mobatek.net/MobaLiveUSB_0.2.exe
2. Copy the EXE file to somewhere in your USB flash drive
3. Run MobaLiveUSB from your USB flash drive.
Thats it.Your USB drive will now boot in a Qemu Virtual Machine.
Note:MobaLiveUSB is still in testing phase.It has not yet been officialy released to the Public.You can follow its development here http://www.911cd.net/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t22273.html