Howto: Create a bootable Backtrack 2.0 USB flash drive

The Backtrack 2.0 final distribution is probably the finest collection of open source network penetration, security, and auditing tools currently available. I use this software for some network penetration testing and security auditing work I perform. I suggest only using these tools on networks you own or have permission to audit because of potential legal ramifications. That being said, here’s what the Backtrack 2.0 is all about.

According to the remote-exploit web site,

“BackTrack is the most Top rated linux live distribution focused on penetration testing. With no installation whatsoever, the analysis platform is started directly from the CD-Rom and is fully accessible within minutes.

It’s evolved from the merge of the two wide spread distributions Whax and Auditor Security Collection. By joining forces and replacing these distribution the BackTrack could gain a massive popularity and was voted in 2006 as #1 at the surveil of Security professionals as well as new-comers are using it as their favorite toolset all over the globe.”

Backtrack 2.0 contains over 300 security tools, and it can be downloaded here. You can find detailed notes that describe how to install Backtrack to a hard drive, and don’t forget to check out the wiki, which details installing Backtrack in many different configurations.

Now that you know what Backtrack 2 contains and why you might want to use it, here’s the quick instructions for creating a bootable USB stick installation from a Windows machine (Vista Business, in this instance).

1) Format your USB drive using FAT32. Do not perform a quick format.

2) Download the Backtrack 2 final .iso and open it with your favorite compression/extraction program. I like Universal Extractor, aka UniExtract.

3) Copy the boot and BT directories from the Backtrack .iso and copy them to your USB drive.

4) Open a command prompt by clicking StartRun and typing cmd then press enter.

Note: if you’re using Windows Vista you’ll need to open an elevated command prompt, which can do more things than a regular command prompt. To do this, click the Windows Vista icon, right click Command Prompt and select Run as administratorContinue.

5) Change to the drive letter associated with your USB drive. If you don’t know what letter your USB drive is, and you cannot figure it out, this may not be the best software for you to use.

6) Type cd boot and press enter to change to the boot directory on your USB drive.

7) Type bootinst.bat and press enter to make your USB drive bootable. You be asked to press any key to continue. Once the batch file completes you should be able to restart your machine and boot from the Backtrack USB drive.

Parting Notes

Creating the bootable USB drive from the Backtrack GUI Installer did not work for me for whatever reason, and neither did the BackTrack 2.0 Downloader and USB-Stick burner for Windows. Maybe it has to do with using a newer 8 GB flash drive, I’m not sure. There are also many other methods you can try if this doesn’t work for you, just Google it.

You can also try using the MySlax Creator to add drivers, patches, and other modules to your Backtrack.iso file. has a nice video showing you exactly what needs to be done to integrate these updates into your distribution.