Well I'm back with some updates on the Xbox Linux project.
Up until this point things have been going well enough. In a strange twist of fate the model of the new USB flash drive I tried using doesn't work. I then realized that I never tried the old red Club Live flash drive without having the controller plugged into the breakaway cable (not enough power in the USB port on the Xbox to support two devices at once). I backed up my data from the drive and tried formatting it again through the Xbox, and this time it worked (transferring files from Action Replay and all that jazz).
The necessary files being put on the USB drive from my computer
My original plan idea was to use the "emergency linux" file to boot a very small bit of linux code which would allow me enough access to be able to telnet into the Xbox from my computer and install a Linux distro from there. Unfortunately I realized that (after some troubleshooting) this method of installation wouldn't work on my Xbox because my dashboard version has been too recently updated (relatively speaking: it updated a few years ago).
I chose to opt for a slightly different method for getting any code to run on the Xbox: UnleashX. UnleashX is a dashboard replacement which allows for greater access and control to the Xbox. I copied the files via the USB flash drive to my Xbox and booted the new dashboard as a MechAssault game save, which I was then able to install.
UnleashX dashboard installing
The next step of the project will be finding the right Linux distro to install but for now, I think I'll take a break from Xbox Linux to focus on schoolwork (blah, tests everywhere!)