Put Windows to the Most Appropriate Use: Create a Bootable USB Stick with Ubuntu 10.04

Posted by linux97 on May 1, 2010 6:22 PM EDT
LXer Linux News; By David Underwood
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LXer Feature: 01-May-2010

The following steps provide two methods of putting the fresh new release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) on a USB stick. The first method will create a bootable USB stick with a live version and the second process will create a live version with persistence. Both methods are an excellent way to always have your favorite Ubuntu system and software with you at all times and it makes for one of the simplest ways to conduct an install to a hard drive.

First you need a linux image to put on your USB drive. You can obtain the latest Ubuntu file from this location. http://releases.ubuntu.com/lucid/ Unless you have some specific reason to choose differently, choose the Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS (32 bit) file.

Next you need a windows program to allow you to create a bootable USB stick with your new distribution. You can find it here. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/using-unetbootin-to-create-a-li... The UNetbootin file will step you through the process. If you chose the .iso version from above, then all you need to do first is click on the box on the right side across from "ISO" and point to the .iso file you previously downloaded. Next, simply verify that UNetbootin has selected the correct USB stick—if not, just point it to the correct one, and then click OK.

When UNetbootin finishes, if you want to immediately try out your new stick on the same computer, just choose reboot now and make sure your system is set to boot from the USB drive in the system BIOS or by choosing F12 or whatever is the appropriate key for your system to allow you to decide the boot sequence. If you are not going to use the same machine to try out your new USB stick, then just choose exit and remove the USB stick for later use. Congratulations! You are now through and should have a bootable USB stick for installing Ubuntu on computers or just for testing to make certain it will work on various configurations before installing.

If you want to create a persistent, bootable USB stick. You will need to use Linux Live USB creator which can be found here. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/linux-live-usb-creator/ If you plan on using Ubuntu 10.04, be sure you download version 2.5 of Linux Live USB Creator since it has been updated to include the new LTS release. Once you download and extract the file, just double click on the executable file (LiLi USB Creator.exe) and follow the instructions.

The first step is to choose the USB stick you wish to use, just like in the first part of this howto. Next you choose the file to use and since it is an .iso, if you have been following these instructions, you would click on that icon and point it to the appropriate file. Once it has verified the distribution, you will be able to choose how much space to allocate to persistence. Your maximum persistence size is 4000 mb since this is a limitation of the FAT32 file type. The larger you make the persistence area, the more sofware and/or updates you can install to keep your USB stick system up-to-date.

Next you must choose whether to hide created files, whether to format the USB stick as FAT32, and whether you want to be able to run your new distribution within windows in a virtual box environment. In my case, I checked all three boxes. The last thing to do after you have answered all the questions is click on the lightning bolt and wait. You will be given feedback in the bottom box relative to what is happening along with an approximate time until complete.

For this test, I used a PNY 8 GB memory stick and found that the estimate of + or - 15 minutes to format the persistence file (I used a file size of 3950 MB) was ultra conservative. It really took nearly an hour. I don’t know if it is because of the file size or if this is just a slow USB stick.

You should now have a USB stick with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS that is persistent. Better yet, if you clicked all the options as I did, you can also run your new linux distro on windows in a Sun Virtual Box environment. Virtual Box is installed on the USB drive and if, when you plug it into a USB port it does not automatically boot from the autorun file, you can view the files on your USB stick and double click on Virtualize_This_Key.exe to start it. The USB stick did not automatically run on my Windows box but once I double clicked on the file above, everything worked as it should. Sun Virtual Box will be launched on your Windows machine and your new linux distro will appear within Virtual Box.

One word of caution, you are advised to plug the USB stick into a port on the computer rather than into the monitor or a multi-port USB adapter. Also, keep in mind that neither of these options; running the live USB stick created with UNetbootin, running the live and persistent USB stick created with Linux Live Creator, nor running within Virtual Box will be anywhere near as fast as if you have Ubuntu installed on your hard drive. Having said all that, it is still great to be able to carry a complete operating system and software around in your pocket in case the urge to use linux becomes just too strong to resist! You can read more detail about UNetbootin and Linux Live USB Creator at the URLs listed above.

Enjoy the irony! You have just put Windows to its most appropriate use; creating a linux system!

» Read more about: Story Type: LXer Features, Tutorial; Groups: Linux, Sun, Ubuntu

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But, but, but... helios 21 3,178 May 4, 2010 10:49 PM

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