I had originally posted in the Hacker Challenge: Share Your Clever Uses for USB Flash Drives. It generated some interest so I thought I would post a step-by-step tutorial detailing how to take a generic flash drive and convert it into one of the most useful tools on your key chain.

For this tutorial I will be using:

Step-by-step execution:

We'll start with XBoot since it needs to format the drive to set up the booting environment.

Open up XBoot, drag in your ISOs of choice (in my case DSL)

  • If XBoot doesn't recognize the ISO it will ask you to pick a distribution or you can pick a generic front end boot loader (Grub4DOS)

When it comes up in the main window you have a few fields that you can customize:

  • Category; Allows you to create categories for your various ISO's (Linux, windows, tools, bootcds, etc)
  • Help Text; Add in any help texts you need per ISO

Continue and add any additional ISOs you would like before clicking Create USB or Create ISO. If you create the ISO you can set it up later or create batches of Boot CDs (Very similar to Hiren's). For this tutorial, go ahead and create the USB

  • Select the USB Drive you want to set up
  • Select the bootloader of choice (Syslinux/Grub4dos) (Choose based on compatibility)

When it finishes setting up the drive it will ask if you would like to test it through QEMU. This will run an emulator and allow you to see your multi-boot environment. Make sure everything is set up the way you want it and proceed to the next step.

Next. we'll create a TrueCrypt encrypted file container that will contain any files that we want to store on the drive. I personally use it to store my KeePass Database and my Dropbox offline copy. I suggest following the tutorial that How-To-Geek had put together.

Once the file container is set up, use Dropbox Portable to sync your Dropbox files inside of your file container. Follow the instructions posted on their site and just have it set up to sync manually.

Set up your KeePass Portable and you can place the database inside of your encrypted file container.

Set up PortableApps and pick out any of the apps you want on your drive. (Chrome/games/etc)