Install Ubuntu on your USB Drive

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Did you know that is ridiculously simple to install Ubuntu onto an external USB flash drive?

If you have a copy of the latest version of Ubuntu (at the time of writing that is 8.10), there is a very simple program that does it all for you.

You will need:

  • An Ubuntu 8.10 CD (or ISO image if already installed)
  • A USB drive with at least 700-800 MB free space

While you are booted into Ubuntu, go to System > Administration > Create a USB startup disk.

Make Bootable Ubuntu USB Drive

You'll need to choose the source disc image for Ubuntu. If you have your Ubuntu CD in the drive, this should appear in the list, so make sure it is selected. Alternatively, you can click 'Other' and specify where the .iso image of the Ubuntu CD is.

Next, plug in your drive and choose it as your destination drive (and double-check it's the right drive before going ahead).

You can also choose how much space will be reserved for saving data on the new drive, or turn data storage off (it will act just like the Ubuntu live CD).

That's it! Simply press Make Startup Disk and wait while the files are copied over.

Installing Ubuntu on USB Disk

On many modern PCs that are configured to allow USB boot, you should be able to just restart the machine with the USB drive plugged in and Ubuntu should boot straight from it!

It's a nice simple way to have a copy of Ubuntu in your pocket, wherever you go.

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Install Ubuntu on your USB Drive

  1. Chris (guest)

    # Posted on 06 February 2009 at 07:18 PM

    Awesome... didn't realize it was so easy now. Thanks Peter!

  2. Lee (guest)

    # Posted on 06 February 2009 at 07:24 PM

    I've looked at this before, looks like a nice feature, but what exactly is the created version? Is it simple a Live "CD", or does it create a fully functional copy where you can save setting's etc. ? Lee

  3. Peter (guest)

    # Posted on 06 February 2009 at 07:26 PM


    It basically copies the live environment from the disc to your USB stick and works much in the same way as the Live CD.

    However, setting the 'extra reserved space' to some useful amount of space allows you to save documents in the environment which persist across sessions, which does make it more useful than booting off the Live CD.

  4. Sky (guest)

    # Posted on 06 February 2009 at 07:54 PM

    I wonder, is there an app for creating a live Ubuntu USB from a Microsoft os, something like the Fedora live usb creator?

  5. Peter (guest)

    # Posted on 06 February 2009 at 08:20 PM


    Not that I'm aware of, but I assume it's possible to simply boot from the live CD one time, create the USB image from there, so you don't need to ever install Ubuntu on a hard disk to achieve this.

  6. # Posted on 06 February 2009 at 10:13 PM

    [...] Quickies: install Ubuntu to flash Filed under: Linux — 0ddn1x @ 2009-02-06 22:13:13 +0000 [...]

  7. John (guest)

    # Posted on 07 February 2009 at 07:28 PM

    There are some USB thumb drives out there that won't work using this method. I tried to install the live CD on a thumb drive for my boss and it failed. When he tried to boot from it, it reported "Missing Operating System!"

    I found this "how to" that worked perfectly in such circumstances.

    It is not as easy, but if you have one of those thumb drives that won't work, this will probably do the trick.


  8. Joey (guest)

    # Posted on 09 February 2009 at 03:04 AM

    Why do all these how-tos always assume you are running Gnome? Does anyone know the name of the package associated with this application?

  9. # Posted on 12 February 2009 at 09:01 AM

    [...] Vía: FOSSwire [...]

  10. # Posted on 13 February 2009 at 03:53 PM

    [...] Source:: fosswire [...]

  11. Parvez (guest)

    # Posted on 19 June 2010 at 04:08 PM

    OK, this looks if I have Ubuntu already installed... but how do i install Ubuntu directly into a USB??? So that I could carry my Ubuntu along with me wherever i go?

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