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Install Ubuntu from a USB stick

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May 1, 2009
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ubuntu 8.10 live usb edit startx

This pages describes how to install Ubuntu by copying the contents of the installation CD to an USB drive such as a memory stick (or flash drive) and making the USB stick bootable. This is handy for machines like ultra portable notebooks that do not have a CD drive but can boot from USB media.

The main steps are:

1- Prepare the USB stick
2- Boot the computer from your USB stick.
3- Install Ubuntu as you would from a normal boot CD
Note: It is highly recommended to use the latest version of Ubuntu to prepare your USB stick.

Check your USB stick
Booting from USB stick can be very handy, but there is no guarantee that it will work with your particular combination of computer and USB stick. Even if you are able to boot from your USB stick on one computer, this does not mean that it is going to work with the next one. You can try experimenting with different settings in your PC's BIOS to make it work.

Make sure to pick a memory stick that is large enough to hold the contents of the installation CD (about 700MB), 1GB is recommended. Versions of SYSLINUX before 3.00 require the use of a FAT16 file system, which most USB sticks come formatted with anyway. This is the most compatible file system, and is recommended. As of version 3.00, also FAT32 is supported by SYSLINUX.

Insert the USB stick you want to use for the installer. A few seconds after plugging in the USB stick run the dmesg command or sudo fdisk -l to find the device name it was assigned. The rest of the instructions refer to /dev/sdX1, remember to replace X with your device location.

Automatic Approaches

- Ubuntu USB desktop image creator
Ubuntu USB desktop image creator (usb-creator) This is a simple utility designed to make bootable USB desktop images from Ubuntu CDs. You can find it in intrepid in System-->Administration , if it is not there then as normal run the following command in the terminal : sudo apt-get install usb-creator

It should do everything needed you just need to have a live cd in you CD-Rom or show the usb-creator the ISO image of it and the rest of the process is automatic!

UNetbootin (GUI-based, runs from either Windows or Linux)

UNetbootin automates this task by providing a GUI to create a bootable Ubuntu Live USB drive from an ISO file, and can be run from both an installed Windows or Linux system, or from a liveCD.
**broken link removed**

Download UNetbootin


(optional) If you need to activate the original Ubuntu livecd boot menu, for example if you want to disable the framebuffer or read the Ubuntu livecd HELP screens and cheatcodes, please make these changes to your USB drive after your UNetbootin installation is completed:

1) Delete the SYSLINUX.CFG file or rename it to be SYSLINUX.OLD

2) Enter the ISOLINUX folder and rename the ISOLINUX.CFG file to be SYSLINUX.CFG

3) Move up to the top level and rename the ISOLINUX folder to be SYSLINUX

Comment: Does not work with 8.10 intrepid net install - fails to detect available hard drives - any ideas?

Live USB creator (GUI-based, runs from Live CD)
Live USB creator automates the process of creating a bootable Live USB system from a running Ubuntu Live CD. Simply run the Live CD, install the tool and start the Live USB installation from the System administration menu.

Code: -- probono

**broken link removed**

You can run the tool from your normal desktop, just insert the Ubuntu Live CD and run it.

Comment: I don't use the Live CD, but have Ubuntu 8.10 installed in my hard disk. Yet, I found this very handy tool already installed in my system, under the System administration menu.

You may encounter an error when trying to boot from the USB drive, something like "Missing operating system". Make sure that you can mount the USB drive on a normal Ubuntu install, and that you can browse it in the file browser. If you can't, it hasn't been created properly. I found that using fdisk to delete the partition on the drive first, then running liveusb, worked nicely. (Command-line shell script, runs from Linux)
Warning: Running scripts from untrusted websites is potentially dangerous!

The easiest way, which also works with the Desktop installer, is to use the script from

[I]**broken link removed**[/I]
Download the script, make it executable and run the script like this

( alternate link : [url][/url] ):

sudo apt-get install syslinux mtools
wget [I]**broken link removed**[/I]
chmod +x
sudo ./ ubuntu-7.10-desktop-i386.iso /dev/sdX1
Don't forget to replace /dev/sdX1 with the partition name of your USB stick found in the previous section! You will see some "operation not permitted" errors when the script tries to copy the symlinks for /dists/stable and /dists/unstable. This is because fat16 file systems do not handle symlinks, but it will not cause any problems.

Now you can boot from the USB stick and install Ubuntu like as if you had booted from the Desktop CD. [/img]

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