The first post explaining the isostick is obscenely long, so I thought it may be a good idea to write a brief summary of what it is and who might want one!
What is the isostick?
The isostick is a USB flash memory stick that likes to pretend it is also an optical (CD/DVD) drive. As far as the computer knows, there’s two things in that little device: some flash storage, and an optical drive.
The idea is to put CD/DVD images, also known as ISO9660 files or “iso” files for short, on the flash memory drive and then you’re able to “insert” any one of those files into the optical drive. The computer will think there is a real optical drive sitting there with a disc in it!
So, can I only put iso files on this thing?
Nope! You can put any files you want on isostick, it doesn’t care! You can even format it to any filesystem you want. Note, however, that currently it can only read iso files from FAT32 partitions. We are investigating the possibility of supporting NTFS, HFS+ and ext2/3/4.
What else does this cool device do?
Well, it’s got a read-only switch. Flip it into read-only mode to protect your precious data. This is especially handy for technicians who need to run anti-virus on infected machines; now you can know your flash drive is safe from infection.
Oh, and it has this nifty bootloader called isosel being developed by my good friend Stephen. What’s it do? I’m glad you asked! You can always change the currently-loaded iso file via some software [or by editing a config file if that's your cup of tea]. But let’s look at a worst-case scenario: you’re helping a friend reload Windows 7 on their machine, but you left the Windows XP iso loaded by accident and the only working machine is your friend’s non-booting Win7 box. What to do!? Simply boot from the isostick’s optical drive and instead of whatever iso you had loaded previously, you will be presented with isosel. It will appear somewhat like Grub, NTLDR, or any other standard bootloader. It gives you a list of all the iso files on your isostick, simply pick the one you want and it will be loaded and booted straight away!
You might be concerned that the aforementioned isosel will cause problems when booting from certain discs. Let me assure you that great care has been taken to ensure this is not the case. When you boot from the optical drive you first get isosel, but if nothing happens for some [configurable] amount of time isosel will go ahead and boot the previously-loaded iso. Also note that isostick will remember your last choice, even when that choice was made from isosel.
Also it has a white green LED, who doesn’t love LEDs? The original description mentions an RGB LED, however this was ditched in the final design for cost reasons. But trust me, you’ll love this green LED! It blinks and fades and stuff!
Who would want one?
The isostick is targeted at computer technicians, IT people, and geeks in general.
Common usage scenarios include technicians who frequently need to reload machines in a mixed environment, or boot a variety of different CD/DVDs. With isostick you can just toss all your isos on the stick and take it with you, no more annoying CD cases, scratched or lost CDs, etc!
Maybe you work at a datacenter and frequently need to burn and insert CDs into machines that don’t have management cards to handle that sort of thing.
Or perhaps you, for whatever reason, have a constantly-changing disc image that you need to burn frequently, isostick could save you lots of time and hassle — just copy the iso to the stick and plug it into the target machine!
We think you’ll find the isostick to be a valuable tool in your geek arsenal!