How do I install Ubuntu to a USB key? (without using Startup Disk Creator)

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This is a step by step tutorial shows you how to install the real Ubuntu OS on USB stick to create a ‘Windows To Go’ style USB drive. Tested with Ubuntu 14.04


Before getting started, you need to prepare something:

A 8GB+ USB Drive. A Ubuntu Live CD/DVD/USB. In the case below, I created a bootable Ubuntu Live USB from the .iso image. A computer with an operating system installed.

And always backup your data on the USB flash drive!

To get started:

In my case I have a newly bought 16GB USB stick, a 4GB old USB stick, and a laptop multi-boot with Ubuntu based systems.

1. I don’t have a Ubuntu CD/DVD, so I decided to burn the Ubuntu .iso image into the old USB stick. To do so:

Download Ubuntu image: Download UNetbootin: For Ubuntu, install it from Software Center. Plug in the USB stick. Start UNetbootin, and burn the .iso image into USB

2. Plug in the bootable...

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The latest version of Ubuntu is 16.04 and it is a long term support release which means it will be supported until 2021.

You do however need to make sure you choose the correct flavour. The choices are 64-bit or 32-bit.

To find out whether you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit type “PC Info” into the search box. Click the “About Your PC” option that appears at the top of the results.

A settings window will appear and halfway down the right hand side of the page you will see the words 32-bit or 64-bit.

Now that you know whether your computer is running 32-bit or 64-bit you can choose the relevant option on the Ubuntu download page and click the “Download” link.

You will be asked to make a donation, which helps with the future development of Ubuntu. The default amount is 15. You can increase or decrease this amount by either sliding the sliders to the left or right on each category or entering numbers in the box.

If you...

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Install Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. How to create a bootable USB stick on Ubuntu. Creating a bootable Ubuntu 16.04 USB from Startup Disk Creator. Try Ubuntu before you install it.

To create a USB stick from which you can install Ubuntu, you must first download Ubuntu and, if you want, verify the download. Then, follow these instructions: Insert a USB stick with at least 2GB of free space. Open the dash and search for Startup Disk Creator.


To create a USB installation device, you will need:

A 2 GB USB flash device/drive/stick. Also make sure this USB device is properly formatted and mounted. If not please erase and format the USB before using. An Ubuntu flavour ISO file (Click Here To Download Ubuntu 16.04)

Create A Bootable USB Stick On Ubuntu 16.04

Insert a USB stick with at least 2GB of free space Open the dash and search for Startup Disk Creator

Select the Startup Disk Creator to launch the app Click ‘Other’ to choose the...
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You can, yes.

This process assumes you are installing from a live cd. While a live usb should work fine as well, the cd option is theoretically the safest, as there is no chance of overwriting the cd during the partitioning.

I recommend you start off by disabling your internal HDD in your BIOS first, as this makes sure there is no chance of accidentally overwriting your internal partitions. Also, the partitioning step of the Ubuntu setup will be much easier, since it will only detect the USB drive. With other words, it's best to make the USB drive the only storage device present on the machine during the installation.

Next, boot up the live cd and initiate the installation as usual. Make sure you choose "use whole disk" if you disabled all other storage devices, otherwise you will have to do manual partitioning. In the last case, create an ext4 partition on the USB stick (make a partition table if there isn't one) and, if necessary, a SWAP partition if you...

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Short answer: You can't. Apple doesn't want you to boot an OS other than OS X off USB. If your Mac has a working optical drive, use it. It will save you pain. If you have a newer Mac (64 bit), just remember to use the Mac iso(amd64+mac), not the regular amd64 iso. (See this for an explanation of the difference)

Longer answer: (Ok, I lied above.) You can, but "it's complicated". One method that has worked for a number of people is to dd the bootable USB key to its own partition on your hard drive and then boot off that partition. The basic method is explained nicely here.

This doesn't always work, even on the same hardware. In particular, if you have a MacBook Air, which doesn't have an optical drive, then the forums are filled with posts of trying the dd-to-a-partition trick and failing. For MacBook Air owners, it is strongly advised to obtain a MacBook Air SuperDrive (no, a regular USB CD/DVD drive does not suffice) and then use that to install through the usual CD...

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Please make a backup before testing this because I'm not 100% sure it will work flawless.

I think the way to do it is something like this (untested):

Format one partition that will be your destination for the installation (I suggest you to choose the ext4 format)

Copy the your files and folders from wubi to the new partition

Make sure you have a folder named /boot/ with at least two files like initrd.img-2.6.38-10-generic and vmlinuz-2.6.38-10-generic

Than you will have to install grub:

These instructions were adapted from:


This method of installation uses the chroot command to gain access to the broken system's files. Once the chroot command is issued, the LiveCD (in your case the wubi installation) treats the broken system's / as its own. Commands run in a chroot environment will affect the broken systems filesystems and not those of the LiveCD.

1) Boot to...

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The general procedure to install Ubuntu (or Ubuntu flavour, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) from a USB flash drive is:

Acquire the correct Ubuntu installation files ('the ISO') Put Ubuntu onto your USB flash drive Configure your computer to boot from USB flash drive and boot from it

Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

Install Ubuntu to your internal drive (hard disk drive or solid state drive).

Ubuntu can be installed from a USB flash drive. This may be necessary for netbooks and other computers without CD drives and is handy for others because a USB flash drive is so convenient. Also, you can configure Ubuntu on the USB flash drive to save changes you make, unlike a read-only CD-ROM drive.

Booting from a USB flash drive created with usb-creator alias Startup Disk Creator and mkusb will behave just as if you had booted from the install CD. It will show the language selection and then the install menu, from which you can...

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Have a look at this guide and video on my website on installing Ubuntu to a USB drive. It will help you do exactly what you want and it's very simple.

How to Install Ubuntu To USB Drives

Installing Ubuntu to an external hard drive or USB memory stick is a very safe way to install Ubuntu. If you are worried about changes being made to your computer, this is the method for you. Your computer will remain unchanged and without the Usb inserted, it will load your operating system as normal. When you connect and boot from the USB drive you will be given the choice to load Ubuntu or your usual operating system.

What we need to install Ubuntu to a USB drive is a computer, an Ubuntu live CD/USB, and a USB drive. 8 GB is the minimum recommended size for a functional and useable system (although 4 GB is the minimum). We recommend an external hard disk and at least 20 GB.

It is recommended to partition your USB drive, but not necessary, assuming you have 2GB RAM...

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It is possible to do. You begin by continuing. your Ubuntu installation on your computer as normal, until you reach this screen:

Then tik Something else and continue.

Now in this screen, you will see that the installer lists both your Hard Drive and your USB. Your USB's name should be dev/sda2. Alternatively, your can see that it will show in the free space bar the drive with the matching amount of space.

Select your drive from the list of devices and again from the list that says Device for boot loader installation and click Install now

You will now be installing Ubuntu on a USB. One thing to note, I will take at least three times as long as it is to install on a USB drive, than on a Hard Drive.

Of course, this will depend on if you are using USB 2.0 vs. USB 3.0, as well as the brand, as some Drives are faster than others. Be Patient.

Another thing, running Ubuntu from a USB will be again, at least three times slower than...

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Ubuntu 14.04 features include plenty of eye candy and some performance boost. Its successor 14.10, on the other hand, doesn’t offer a lot of new things when compared to 14.04. If you are doing a clean install, you may wonder about what things to do after installing Ubuntu 14.04.

Requirements vary from person to person, depending upon whether the person is experienced Ubuntu user, a novice user, an artist or a programmer, but most of the things listed here are essential after a clean install of Ubuntu. Without wasting time anymore, let’s have a look at must to do things after installing Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr.

Update: Our list of things to do after installing Ubuntu 16.04 is ready. Take a look at it if you are using Ubuntu 16.04.

Things to do after installing Ubuntu 14.04:

Change software sources and update your system:

First and foremost thing to do after installing Ubuntu is to change the software sources and add Canonical Partners...

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