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MakeUseOf reader Dado asked us, “How can I run multiple operating systems from a single USB?” He goes on to specify some different operating systems (OSs) that he would like to run and a few of them are Windows OSs. Dado adds that he would like to be able to boot into Windows on a USB and then install Windows from that same USB.

In theory, it could be done, but I’m not sure why a person would want to do that. First, you would be breaking some licensing agreements with Microsoft, unless you had some sort of site-licensing deal with them. Second, it would be a painfully slow installation process. Third, USB flash drives aren’t that expensive – why wouldn’t you have a few drives with the different Microsoft OSs on them? So, although I’m not going to answer Dado’s entire question, I will answer the part about having multiple OSs on one USB stick.

Where this becomes practical is if the different operating systems are Live CDs, that is, small operating systems designed specifically to provide maintenance to a computer from outside of the computer’s own operating system. This can be handy if the computer’s own operating system is corrupted through misuse, poor maintenance, or worse, malware.

There are a few nice programs that will help you create your multiboot USB stick. Today, we’ll take a brief look at three of them: XBoot, MultiBootUSB, and YUMI. Prior to using each of the different multiboot creation programs, I formatted my Kingston DataTraveler 101 16GB USB 2.0 flash drive, to ensure there would be no issues from the flash drive itself.


MultiBootUSB is available on SourceForge and appears to be a pretty popular program for just this kind of task. The MultiBootUSB software is also a portable application, meaning you simply put the MultiBootUSB-6.4.1.exe file onto your USB drive and run it all from the USB drive. No need to mess around installing it on your computer. This gives you a great deal of flexibility, should you want to change things up but you aren’t at your home or office computer.

While using it on my USB drive in a Windows 7 computer, I did get error messages every time I went to use it. It would tell me that MultiBootUSB was not installed on the F: drive. I checked my USB stick and it was labelled as the F: drive and, of course, the program IS on the USB stick.

bootable usb

It is limited to allowing installations of Linux-based Live distributions, however, most of the best Live CDs are Linux-based anyway. I decided to push on and just try adding the Kaspersky Rescue CD 10 ISO. The total size of the Kaspersky Rescue CD is 299 MB, so there is plenty of room for it on my 16 GB drive.

multiple operating systems

The total time to install it was about 25 minutes. It may feel like forever, but it is a process that you only have to do once.

The second ISO I added was the Ultimate Boot CD How To Create The Ultimate Boot CD For Windows How To Create The Ultimate Boot CD For Windows Read More 5.11 ISO. At 359 MB, it took about 30 minutes to install. But if you have StumbleUpon or Facebook, the time flies by. Now, I have two different bootable operating systems on one USB flash drive.

multiple operating systems

At this point, you’re supposed to be able to click on the QEMU tab and test the installations without having to reboot the system. QEMU is  a machine emulator and virtualizer, meaning it’s an operating system that will run in the Windows environment, but completely independent of Windows. I couldn’t seem to get this feature working with MultiBootUSB, even though I could use QEMU to boot the ISOs of the Live CDs I was using.

multiple operating systems

In the end, this wasn’t too important since I was able to boot my computer from the USB stick into both Kaspersky and Ultimate Boot CD. So, overall, the mission was accomplished.


One thing that I immediately noticed is that XBoot has a lot more documentation than MultiBootUSB, which is to say that it has some documentation. Both programs don’t really need a lot of instruction to use, but it’s nice to have in case something happens.

Installation of XBoot is really easy; double-click the executable file and it opens in seconds. From there it’s quite simple to add your ISOs – just drag and drop them into the main box.

bootable usb drive

From there, just click on the Create USB button. The program will prompt you to select the USB drive that you wish to install the ISOs on, and to select the kind of bootloader that you want to use. If your USB stick is formatted to FAT32, XBoot recommends Syslinux. If the USB stick is formatted to NTFS, Grub4DOS is recommended. You could also select Do not install any Bootloader, but since we want the USB stick to be bootable, I don’t see why we’d choose that. Click OK and we’re on the way!

bootable usb drive

The speed with which XBoot added the ISO files was also blindingly fast – mere seconds per ISO – versus the hour it took me to load the same ISOs into MultiBootUSB.  I couldn’t get a screenshot of it loading the ISO fast enough.

bootable usb drive

Yep, that’s all I could screen capture. Xboot also has the same QEMU features, where you can boot a Live CD ISO or boot the USB that you just made. Once again, I couldn’t boot the USB in QEMU, but I could boot the Live ISOs. I’m thinking my computer is the issue here, so I’m not going to include this feature in my final analysis.


However, the USB stick did work, and I was able to boot my computer into both Kaspersky and the Ultimate Boot CD. So once again, mission accomplished, and much faster!

YUMI – Your Universal Multiboot Installer

There seemed to be a lot of recommendations for YUMI around the web, so I added it to the crop to be tested. When I went to the hosting website,, YUMI and I got off to a bad start. Anytime I go to download software and the download page is full of advertisements, I feel like this is a shifty proposition. Throwing caution aside, I downloaded and installed YUMI. I didn’t feel much better as I did this. Check out the License Agreement.


All of a sudden I felt dirty. I continued though.

Once you get to the part where you are adding distributions to your USB stick, YUMI lays out exactly which ones are known to work, as well as where to download the distributions from. I thought this was pretty professional. You wouldn’t be wasting time trying to make something work that simply would never work! There are dozens of Linux distributions and other Linux-based Live CDs listed. At least one of them is likely to meet your needs.


I started with loading the Kaspersky Live CD. It took a bit less time than MultiBootUSB to load, about 20 minutes, but still a far more significant amount of time than XBoot.


Fortunately, Ultimate Boot CD 5.11 was on the list. So I added that as well. For whatever reason, adding the UBCD ISO only took a minute or two.

bootable usb

YUMI doesn’t have the additional QEMU tools like MultiBootUSB or XBoot, but then again, those tools don’t seem terribly necessary. Using the YUMI-created bootable USB drive, I was able to boot into both images without any issues. So, yes, YUMI does work.

The Take Away

Any of the three tools will help you create a USB stick that you can boot one of several operating systems with. All things being equal, and most things were, I would recommend XBoot over MultiBootUSB and YUMI, just for the sheer speed with which I was able to create a multi-OS bootable thumb drive. This program will be staying on my computer, the other two need to go.

Have you had any experience with these multiboot USB creation tools? Have you used another one? Any idea why the QEMU feature won’t work on my Windows 7 Pro system? Let’s talk about this in the comments.  Sharing the knowledge is how we all grow and we are all on the same team here.

Image Credit: USB Flash Drive with Data via Shutterstock.

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  1. Grahame J Emberton
    April 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Guy
    Found your article informative,since I wanted win 7 and 10 on a usb stick,so multiboot not an option and xboot would NOT see the usb drive no matter how and what I formatted it with....
    Used Yumi successfully and easily.
    Thanks for the write up,it was helpful.

  2. Cesar Huston
    March 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Hi, thanks for the info, really helpful!.

  3. Tyler
    December 15, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    With these programs, is it possible to set it so that part of it is an operating system and part was a normal USB?

  4. james
    November 21, 2016 at 9:59 pm


    I am TOTALLY new to the multi boot world and was wondering if someone would be kind enough to walk me through the whole thing. My goal is to have the latest Mac OS, Ubuntu, and Windows 10 all on the same 2tb hard drive. I am freelance photographer and motion graphic artist. I have found that some things just run better on different OS. Many thanks for creating this page.

  5. conrad andrew
    August 21, 2016 at 9:20 am

    i was wondering the multiboot i made using yumi only runs the same os even if i seleted xp it will install windows 8 something like that pls someone help me :) thanks for future help guys....

  6. Steve
    July 10, 2016 at 1:23 am

    What agreement states that you can't have multiple MS OS's on one drive?

  7. lil Joshu
    June 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    One advantage I've noticed about YUMI... is the ability to add to an already built drive later.

  8. Romer R Villareal
    June 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I tried to install a Windows 7 64bit install and a Kali linux with a live CD in xboot after creating a bootable USB the windows installer works but the Kali Linux shows the menu on what to choose either live cd etc but when i choose one of them it wont go through it just show those commands then nothing happends.

    Any idea on what i could have done wrong?

    • Guy McDowell
      June 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Sorry, there's too many variables and unknowns for me to be able to figure out what might have happened.

  9. George
    May 19, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    How to create four os on usb

  10. Jack
    March 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Hmm, XBoot took a lot longer than a few seconds per ISO for me. It's hard to imagine that the program really copied hundreds of megabytes per OS in seconds over USB. Are you sure about those benchmarks?

    • Guy McDowell
      March 29, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      Hey Jack,

      Nope, not sure at all. Three years have passed and I can't remember what I had for breakfast most days or why I'm in the kitchen. ;)

      I may have been using a USB 3.0 connection. Still seems a little fast though, doesn't it?

      • Guy McDowell
        March 30, 2016 at 12:03 am

        Just checked. The ISOs I used were just under 700 MB in total.

        USB 3.0 has real world speeds of 100 MB/s so it could have been about 7 seconds. Theoretically. Maybe.

    • Xwpis ONOMA
      September 15, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      USB 3.0 has a speed up to 5gbps (640MB/s). Depending on where you are transferring from/to, this can get as low as 150 MB/s but around 100 MB/s is really under-performing for USB 3.0.

  11. murali
    March 3, 2016 at 7:51 am

    why i con't install that app in my country @bahrain
    help me eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  12. Thomas
    February 11, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Very nice article. I am wondering if it is possible to make a USB that in the menu I can chose either to install Windows 7 , or run Windows 7 live? Thanks!

    • Ulilop
      March 30, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      You can try first create two partitions, one for the Windows 7 live cd and another for the Windows 7 iso installer. First, install Windows 7 to make it runnable in your usb, then install the iso of the installer.
      Use the app EasyBCD to let you chose which partition you want to boot on the startup.

  13. Anonymous
    August 31, 2015 at 8:17 am

    It's not detecting external hard disk

  14. hitesh
    April 2, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    only 1 os has been run and other os are not run please can you help me sir and madam

  15. Phil
    November 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Nice solutions here :D
    It was easy in my case : MultibootUSB didn't wanted to work, because i was using an external USB drive, not pendrive.
    XBoot crashed...simply.
    Easy2boot wanted to erase my drive (not...)
    And so i used YUMI : installed over an existing full drive without problem.
    I'm running an "unofficial SP2 Windows 7 x86" iso full install on a netbook from it now ;)
    No problemo.
    Thanks !

  16. niranjan chaudahry
    October 28, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Hi sir !
    I have 16 GB pen drive. And I want to bootable the pen drive the different os. Like windows xp, windows 7 & windows 8 in one pen drive
    Actually sir I had tried form x boot but we can’t get satisfied.
    So please reply to us how to make multi bootable in one pen drive.
    Plsssssssss. Reply………………………………………..

  17. Asher
    October 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Issues with all three tools. Tried to use all three. every time I booted my laptop got blank screen.
    Any idea?

  18. loki
    October 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Great tutorial, wish syslinux wasn't such an archaic bootloader, however it works (mostly).

    Qemu works just fine on win7 .... x64 ans x86... however it's an emulation and as such is only a benchmark not to be trusted as the truth... Qemu as lovely as it is has various limitations inherent to any virtualization application... best test remains to reboot the actual machine, these tools do however save lots when they do work.... peace to Fabrice and others constantly developing some nifty apps.

  19. Yousuf Iqbal
    August 25, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I think you should not criticize advertisement for a free open source project from volunteers. This is the main source of income for them. Thanks.

  20. vinoth
    July 27, 2013 at 5:10 am

    how can boot 3 os on one usb stick. include (Windows Xp, Windows 7, Windows 8)

  21. Chester Jones
    July 19, 2013 at 3:15 am

    So then, a person asks how to make a USB stick that will boot multiple OS's, specifically various versions of MS Windows, and you provide nothing of value to answer that question.
    Your article has resulted in a completely useless tool, that tool is you.

    • Guy M
      July 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      I answered the question, specifically that it can't be done. Then I offered an alternative. To judge my use in this world on that seems a little harsh.

      Are you sure you aren't my high school guidance counselor?

    • Steve Si
      July 26, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Easy2Boot will allow you to install multiple OS's direct from their ISOs. Just copy over the ISO (using Explorer or linux cp or whatever) and boot from the E2B USB Flash drive. It will install XP, Vista, SVR2K8R2, 7, 8, SVR2012 to a hard disk direct from the ISOs on the flash drive (any number as long as you have room for them all!). It will also work using a USB HDD, but a small auxilliary 'helper' USB flash drive is also required.
      For XP installs, E2B will even automatically generate the required F6 SATA/RAID/SCSI floppy disk (virtual floppy in RAM) and automatically pick the correct driver (you don't need to press F6). So you can install from an unmodified XP ISO to an AHCI computer.

  22. Umm...
    June 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    You felt dirty about YUMI's license WHY?

    You do realize that the license, and non-warranty clause, are the exact same as the Linux kernel itself?

    And nearly every piece of software you run on your Linux-based operating systems?

    You're kind of a uninformed fearmongerer.

    • Guy McDowell
      June 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      I'm a very well informed fear mongerer, I'll have you know!

      • Umm...
        June 21, 2013 at 2:05 am

        As for the advertisements, I highly suggest you get a nice adblocking solution.

        Adverts like that (I just viewed the page without mine on) are unfortunately so prevalent that any site that serves downloadable content is a pain to use.

  23. Shiva Kunwar
    June 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Thats what I was really wanting for few months.. Thanks..
    I think makeuseof is the make use of your internet...

  24. Hisham Sliman
    June 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    This link also shows hoe to build your own multi-boot set of live Linux distributions,

  25. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    June 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Tried XBoot. It works very well. Personally I keep three programs for this job, namely YUMI, Sardu, and the new addition XBoot because they have their own strength/weakness and certain programs work better with certain distro.
    I like YUMI because it consolidates everything together in one folder, so the USB stick is cleaner. I had had some problems with it though, as somehow I couldn't make it work with Sugar-on-a-stick (Fedora 17 vers) and XPud. You can also personalize the menu screen by editing/replacing Yumi.png if you're so inclined.
    Sardu on the other hand, provides you with links to well-known live CDs (utilities and rescue CDs from antivirus/antimalware vendors) which might come in handy at times. I can't vouch how well it iworks with images outside its supported list however. Unlike the other tools, Sardu comes with an installer, but the resulting folder can be copied to anywhere you want.
    XBoot runs smoothly -keep in mind I don't try QEMU because I simply don't need it- and I especially like how it can combine multiple images into one ISO file. Neat!
    For single boot USB creator however, nothing beats Unetbootin.

    • Guy McDowell
      June 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      I don't think I knew that XBoot can combine multiple images into one ISO file. That could come in handy.

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        June 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm

        Yes it can. Just choose 'create ISO' (the one with CD icon) instead of 'create USB'.
        Oh, and I just find out it can't handle Windows install image.

  26. Hisham Sliman
    June 4, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Is there an accessible library for different ISOs to download them from??

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      June 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      If you already have your eyes set on particular distro, or have known what tools you're going to put on, then the easiest way is to visit their website. I believe this page is the good start if you haven't made up your mind.
      Hope that helps!

  27. Randy Menard
    June 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    As usual, Guy and the Makes Use Of group come through with more informative stuff to educate and illuminate the various ways to "make use of" all the goodies available on the internet. If I have any problems, you guys are the first I come to for answers!

    Thanks for this great article. Having been wondering about how to cut down the number of USB sticks filling up my pockets!!! Many on one - great stuff!!!

    Keep up the great work!!

    • Guy McDowell
      June 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Thank you Randy. That's inspiring. I'm not the best Make Use Of has, but it's great to be at the table with this team.

  28. Merlin
    May 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    You are not limited to Linux live-CD's.
    In fact you can do an complete install of a Linux system onto a USB-stick and put it in your local language if that language is available.

    You can also put a WinPE on the stick so you have kind of a full Windoze environment at hand. Not as full blown as the Linux environment, but hey... what do you expect?

    With Windows7 and 8 you can put your own Windows environment (read settings) onto a stick and use it on another Windoze7 or 8 computer.
    You will need a valid activated Windoze for that.

    And of course there are the various Toolbox CD's like UBCDWin and the likes which provide a basic environment loaded with tools.

    I have a stick with Multiboot (YUMI) on it and a full Linux installation plus some toolboxes and an antivirus.
    I carry the stick allmost everywhere, so I allways have the tools at hand just in case.

    • Guy McDowell
      May 30, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Well said, Merlin. That should clear up some questions.

  29. Arxadius Stark
    May 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I have used XBoot before and like the author states it does have some documentation, which came in handy when I messed up in installing. I dunno about the others but my first preference is definitely XBoot. It might also be others too. c:

  30. Yan Thériault
    May 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Great article. Will one of these trick able a persistent linux installation?

    • Guy McDowell
      May 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      This is more so you can have multiple OSs on one USB stick, but yes, in theory you can have a complete Linux installation that will persist between sessions, if you have a large enough USB stick.

    • Steve Si
      July 26, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Easy2Boot + RMprepUSb will allow you to have different persistent filesystems for each ISO (even if they all require casper-rw as the filename!).
      You need to add a .mnu file for each one as well as the .iso and follow the instructions in the .mnu file.

  31. Onaje Asheber
    May 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Great Info!!!

  32. Nehad Alikhan
    May 29, 2013 at 9:56 am

    yes great

  33. Siddhant Chaurasia
    May 29, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Can we do this on a mac?

    • Guy McDowell
      May 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

      I don't know. Mac People, can you help this fellow? Anyone?

      • David Stout
        June 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm

        Great article Guy! I usually work on Macs but have needed to work on PCs more and more. This will help.

        As far as multi booting a Mac. Yes you can. The tool you need is built in. All you need is a installer for the OS you wish to put on it or a disk image of the Boot CD you want to use. 10.5 or lower for PPC machines or whatever minimum OS X (or newer) boots your Intel machine. Go to the Utilities folder and launch Disk Utility. Plug in the USB drive you want to multi boot and it shows up on the left side. It will have the device on top and any partitions slightly indented under it. WARNING NEXT COUPLE OF STEPS ERASES IT! Click on the device not the partitions and go on the right side and select the Partition tab. In that window the device will appear under the "Volume Scheme:" as a box with any partitions and their names in it. Any used space appears as blue in the box. Above it is a drop down menu that reads "Current". SECOND WARNING! Your about to delete any thing on this device. Click on Current and select the amount of partitions you'd like. It will then divide the device into that may equal partitions. Now if you want to Multi Boot a couple of boot CDs and you know the size of their uncompressed Disk Image (let me know if you don't know what that is) then set it to the size of it with a couple extra megs just to be safe. If you want to have a live OS X boot USB with utilities for emergency repairs to a non bootable Mac then you need to set the partition to AT LEAST 10 gigs per OS X instance on the device but probably more if you want to fit lot of good tools on it. NEXT STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT. Now go click the button underneath the box marked "Options". If you want to use it with Intel Macs you should select GUID Partition Table, PPC Macs select Apple Partition Map and PCs select Master Boot Record. Now click OK. LAST WARNING YOU CAN'T UNDO THIS! Click Apply in the lower right. You now have a multi partitioned USB drive. Using this same utility you can open any ISO or DMG and select it and use the RESTORE tab to right a copy of it to one of the partitions on the USB drive. Alternately you could install one or multiple copies of OS X's on it. Or both. It will also let you create bootable PC USB drives from ISOs, but not multi boot.

        How do you multi boot a Mac with it. Shut of the Mac and stick the drive it a USB port. Turn on the Mac and hold down the "Option" key. Any bootable partition it finds on any device plugged into it will be listed. Just select a partition and boot. Hope this helped.

        I used this method to create on USB installer for all versions of OS X for PPC macs and One for all versions of OS X for Intel macs. Much faster that installing from CD. Also have a 32gig USB with a Emergency boot partition of 20 gigs and DiskWarrior and TechTools boot partitions as well.

        Let me know if you have any questions.

        • Guy McDowell
          June 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

          Flesh that out a bit and you have an article you could submit to our Editors. Thanks! Great info.

  34. Paulo Bernardo
    May 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks! It's going to be useful. :)

  35. Mohammad Zubair Rkr
    May 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Nice USb Drive

  36. themainliner
    May 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I actually prefer MultiSystem for creating multiple OS USB drives. It's very powerful and incorporates Grub4DOS which makes it a viable option with more distro ISOs.

  37. jasray
    May 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    As an emulator, QEMU is slow even if the kqemu file is installed. To get QEMU to work with one small distro like DSL is a chore. So, in short, QEMU probably is overwhelmed with the massive size of the distro. QEMUs first widespread use was years ago with Puppy Linux. MobaCD tries to use it . . . slow to the point of painful. Slax or Puppy are good distros for QEMU. And the original intent of QEMU was for Internet Cafes, libraries, etc. A user with Puppy on a stick with QEMU could go to any computer, load Linux, take care of business, and leave without any mark left on the host machine.

    • Guy McDowell
      May 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Cool. Thanks for both comments, jasray! I love it when the Internet makes me smarter.

  38. thu ya
    May 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    These tools format the usb drive like windows 7 usb/dvd download tool.?Pls

    • jasray
      May 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      No, all of the tools mentioned will format Fat32 for Linux--not made for Windows and NTFS.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      June 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      If you're asking whether this will format your USB drive as in deleting everything on it, then the answer is yes. I suggest you to set aside a spare USB to use as utility stick, load it with rescue CDs and one or two lightweight Linux distribution for emergency, and portable softwares you might need. Once you finish getting everything on the drive, if there are still enough space, you can make a folder for your personal files.

      • Guy McDowell
        June 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

        What Lisa said. Ditto.

  39. Hani Al Jamal Jr.
    May 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Very useful. Should try it

  40. wulan
    May 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Excuse me , any one who can solve the problem " mutiboot is not installed in your drive "?? I could not solve it ! thanks !

    • Guy McDowell
      May 26, 2013 at 12:04 am

      I had that issue, and in the article I talk about how I just ignored the error messages and it still worked.

      I didn't really dig into why I was getting the error message. Just over the years, I've kind of noticed that some sort of errors messages will just happen no matter what and you have to ignore them. The job still gets done.

      If I had unlimited time, I might look into any error that isn't immediately critical.

  41. Lazza
    May 25, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Funny that one of the tools suggests syslinux. I created my own multiboot disk by hand using Linux for doing all the work, and syslinux is quite limited if compared to Grub4DOS, especially if you want to put some of the bootloaders in different subdirectories to avoid conflicts.

  42. Rajaa Chowdhury
    May 25, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Awesome article, very useful. Probably going forward I would be using XBoot. Seem the simplest to you for a guy like me. :)

  43. Kannon Yamada
    May 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    As usual, great article Guy! I've been looking for a rundown of multiboot USBs for a very long time now. Thanks for writing this.

    I'm curious - what method do you prefer - WSCC (from your last article) or one of these multiboot options? I used to love multiboots, although I screwed them up all the time. But when PartedMagic came along it provided many of the tools that I required of multiboots — in one package!

    But even PartedMagic isn't the end-all-be-all. I've been looking for a live Linux recovery USB with persistence enabled.. Basically a PC on a stick where I can install my own utilities and keep the anti-virus updated. You know the deal - with the RAM disk. *sigh*

    • Guy McDowell
      May 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      I don't really use multiboots on a regular basis, since most of my tech work is on thin clients now. WSCC and Live CDs are really two different sets of tools. Now, you could have WSCC as a tool on a Live CD on a bootable USB.

      I keep a few USB flash drives, one with portable apps for situations where I can make the fixes needed within the Windows OS. Then another one or two multiboot USBs for those times I need to work outside of the Windows OS.

      Thank you for the compliment, Kannon.

      • Rajaa Chowdhury
        May 25, 2013 at 4:15 am

        What kind of thin client hardware you use? WYSE???

        • Guy McDowell
          May 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm

          Yep, Wyse.

  44. macwitty
    May 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Time to see what USB stick we have in the draw and finally get a bootable stick. Have been thinking about it for some time (also started) but this article show it is easier than it seems to be

    • Guy McDowell
      May 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      I think you'd really like XBoot. I know I did.

      • macwitty
        May 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        You are right! It is up running now

  45. Manide
    May 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    As you said: "why a person would want to do that"? I totally agree!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      June 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Why? Just for the sake of it. Because we can. It's fun and educational.

      • Guy McDowell
        June 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

        Educational? Yes. Fun? We might have different definitions there! ;)

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          June 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm

          Oh come on. I admit I wouldn't use three-fourth of my toolbox items in daily basis, but they're there whenever I need them . Don't you think it's cool to pull your trusty USB stick to solve every situations, MacGyver style?
          Besides, people tend to be amazed when you boot up different OSs from one single stick.

    • SGT Burris
      August 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      The ability to boot multiple OS' doesn't violate an agreement. How you choose to activate that product after the point of installation is another question. As for why anyone would do something like this:

      On any given day here on Ft Hood I might image a laptop with Win7 for testing, install ESXi on another server, and then use my password recovery tool to get into another. Instead of having a key chain with 5 or 6 USB drives, I am trying to have one 32gb USB drive that I can install either my Linux Recovery Tool, VMware ESXi Hypervisor, Ubuntu Desktop or Windows 7.

      Something like this will allow me to boot off one drive and then choose what I want to run. I don't know how people come across this article if they aren't searching for how to do this exact thing; but then comment and say "why would anyone do this".

      Either way, thanks for the info

  46. vineedcool
    May 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    i had once tried to make a bootable windows xp os using wintoFlash but it didnt run well,,is there any good software for windows too???

    • Guy McDowell
      May 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      There might be, however I think that would violate MS's licensing, except for maybe Windows PE. What is Windows PE

  47. dragonmouth
    May 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks. I was looking for a program that would allow me to multi-boot from a USB stick.

    However, Kaspersky Rescue and UltimateBoot are more of a tool-type distros, along the lines of Clonezilla or ReDo that do not require too much in the way of resources. I would have liked to see you test multi-booting with some general distros like Debian, Slackware, *buntu or even Puppy. Does multi-booting general distros require /swap and /home to be on a hard drive, or can they be put on the USB stick?

    • Guy McDowell
      May 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      From what I understand, they will boot without /swap and /home being on the hard drive. I might understand incorrectly though, so YMMV.

      • dragonmouth
        May 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        "they will boot without /swap and /home being on the hard drive."
        By "they" do you mean Kaspersky and UniversalBoot or do you mean general purpose distros?

        In general, when doing a default Linux distro install, everything winds up in the same "/" partition (swap, /home, /var, etc.) on the same drive. Only when doing a Custom install can the user assign swap, /home to separate partitions that may have been set up on separate hard drives. Considering that the "/" partition of a general purpose distro usually runs close to 4 GB - 6 GB, one would definitely have to assign swap and /home to a hard drive, since a 16 GB USB stick would be big enough for no more than two distros. For real multi-booting, a 32 GB or 64 GB stick would be needed.

        When I multi-boot off a HD, I usually assign 10 GB to each distro's "/" partition. Then I set up a 2 GB swap and a 50-100 GB /home. All the distros use the same swap and /home partition.

        • Guy McDowell
          May 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

          Looks like you answered your own question.

        • dragonmouth
          May 24, 2013 at 9:59 pm

          No, I have not. While I may have multi-booted off of a HD, I have neve tried it off a USB stick. The problem with a USB stick is that it is too small to accommodate the whole environment unless one uses a 64 GB stick, and even then the /home partition is miniscule for any meaningful use.

        • Guy McDowell
          May 26, 2013 at 12:00 am

          Like I said, you answered your own question. You already figured it wouldn't be any good for what you wanted to do, so you are correct.

          You're a smart guy. If you need a specific configuration, or tool on a USB stick, you'll figure out how to do it.

    • Lazza
      May 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

      /swap and /home need NOT be on the hard drive. A USB Live distro is totally indepentent from the hard drive, you can take it off your cabinet if you wish, and it will work. Of course if the system founds a working swap partition it will use it (except if it is a computer forensics distro, for obvious reasons). If you need to access the /home on the disk you will have to mount it manually.

  48. David Moreira
    May 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I have always used UNetBootIn.

    • Lazza
      May 25, 2013 at 8:51 am

      I use it too and I like it a lot, but it's not for multi boot, just one distro at a time.

  49. Vishal Srivastava
    May 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I've been using Yumi for quite sometime now. I don't think the figure of 20 Minutes for Kaspersky Live CD is correct. I've not tried it, but I've never faced 15+ minutes install until something goes wrong (usually with the Pen Drive). The longest I had to wait was 15 Minutes for BackTrack 5R3. Also, I've to mention that Yumi is not limited to the list it presents. You can try to install any OS with it.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      June 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I think it all goes back to your machine's speed and workload. In my computer, sometimes the installation is very sluggish, but other times it's noticeably faster.

      • Guy McDowell
        June 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        I tried it again just for giggles, and yes, it went faster. Not as fast as XBoot, but definitely faster. Lisa is correct on this - I think I had PhotoShop open the first time, which as we know is a resource hog.

  50. naosuflyor
    May 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

    You should definitely try out easy2boot. I used all above, but I find easy2boot the most customizable and most powerful of them all. It supports all, from booting linux distributions, permanent installing OS-s on the USB drive, it even supports installing windows from the USB while having all the above things on it.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      June 11, 2013 at 6:31 pm

      Thank you for the link. I'll check it out.

  51. 6satria6
    May 24, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for this!

  52. ekadim
    May 24, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I believe Sardu should be on the list, too. I am long time user of Sardu and happy with its customizable options:

    • Guy McDowell
      May 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      I was going to include Sardu, but its website is cluttered with ads that look like they might be proper download links, but aren't.

      If anyone is looking for the proper download link for Sardu, as of today it is

      That could change at any time.

  53. Bublegum Blancaflor
    May 24, 2013 at 6:33 am

    super like post.

  54. Junil Maharjan
    May 24, 2013 at 6:11 am

    i have been using xboot and it is the best tool for creating multi boot cds and usb

    • jake
      November 3, 2013 at 2:53 am

      im using xboot too but when i use it, in booting some files are corrupted.
      but my image is not corrupted.
      can u help me pls??
      here's my email:
      thanks in advance.

  55. yudics
    May 24, 2013 at 5:49 am

    wow, magic USB Drive...