I used Universal USB Installer to put a copy of Debian 6 on an old 2GB flash drive so I could install it on my Asus Eee PC 1015PE netbook. I stuck the flash drive in the USB port and fired up the Eee PC. It proceeded to boot to Windows, even though the flash drive had been detected by the BIOS. I had already went to the BIOS (via F2) to make sure my first boot device was set to Removable Device. I rebooted, went back into the BIOS, and disabled the hard drive as a boot device. This time, instead of booting from the flash drive, I now see a message telling me to insert a valid boot device. I took the flash drive out, stuck it in another machine, and turned it on. The other machine boots into the Debian installer just fine. What’s a geek to do?
Since the netbook has an AMI BIOS, I tried an old-school trick that AMI has favored for years. It turns out that the 1015PE has an undocumented feature (not listed on the BIOS screen): If you hit escape at the BIOS screen (repeatedly works best), it’ll bring up a one-time boot menu that lets you select from valid boot devices. My flash drive was listed there! I selected it, pressed enter, and after about a 20 minute install, my 1015PE is happily running Debian 6.