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usb linuxBoot one of over a hundred Linux distros from a USB disk. With Live USB, software you can run on both Windows and Linux computers, it only takes a couple of clicks to make your USB disk a bootable Linux disk. The live CD just might be the most useful tool in any geek’s arsenal – we’ve pointed out 50 uses for live CDs in the past and plan on showing you many more. As time goes on, however, CD drives become less common. That’s why booting from a USB drive is useful: it works on notebooks and other devices without optical drives.

Linux Live USB Creator Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Read More , a similar program, can help create live USB drives, but it only works on Windows. Live USB Install works on both Windows and Linux, and is incredibly simple to use. Just pick which version of Linux you want to use and which drive you’d like to install it to. Your software will be downloaded and installed, and you will soon be able to live a contented life involving the booting of Linux from a USB disk.

If this sounds complicated, don’t worry: it isn’t. Your disk will be up and running in no time.

Using Live USB

The interface couldn’t be much friendlier, inviting you to pick what version of Linux you’d like to install. If you’ve already downloaded an ISO file, great. You can point Live USB towards it to create your live USB disk. If you already have a Linux CD, that’s also great – you can use that as a source too.

usb linux

If you don’t have either though, you can simply click a version of Linux and Live USB will download it for you. You’ll need to scroll through a rather long list to do so:

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linux thumb drive

Not sure where to start? Ubuntu, Fedora and Linux Mint are all good options if you’re looking for a general Linux experience. You’ll also need to pick which version you want. Not sure what this means? Just pick the most recent version, because that’s probably what you want.

usb linux

Once you’ve figured out what you want to install, it’s time to figure out where you want to install it. Insert your flash drive and pick it from the menu:

If you can’t see your drive, hit “Refresh“. It will show up.

Persistent Installation

You can, if you want, create a “persistent” installation of Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions. What does this mean? Software you install and documents you create after booting this thumb drive will stay on your thumb drive. It’s a virtual computer on a drive!

Download Now!

Ready to try this out? If so, head over to the Live USB download page. You’ll find a DEB package there for Ubuntu and source code for other Linux distributions. You’ll also find the Windows download.


This program is easy to use and works well. I plan on using it to try out a variety of Linux distros in the months to come.

But, as always, I want to know – how did this program work for you? Fill me in the comments below; I’ll be around to answer questions.

  1. windows 8 review
    May 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

    You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be actually something that I feel I would by no means understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next put up, I will try to get the hold of it!

  2. Enzo Ti
    February 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    is the linux really be installed in the usb drive??or just a live cd??

    • jhpot
      February 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      It's a live CD, basically.

  3. Paul
    December 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I tried the ubuntu linux tutorial it downloaded no problem and then onto my pen drive try to use it wouldn't work also tried rebooting my PC still did not work I have Windows 7 home premium any suggestions would be grateful yours faithfully Paul

    • jhpot
      December 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      Did you get Ubuntu onto your flash drive? If so, you need to tell your computer to boot from USB when you restart. How to do this varies from computer to computer, but look for instructions when your computer turns on. For example: it might say "To enter setup, press F8", in which case you should press F8. It might be different for you, but follow the instructions. Once you get into setup, find the boot options and set your USB drive as the default thing to boot from.

      Don't see the USB option Your computer might not be capable of booting from USB. Burn a CD instead.

      • Paul
        December 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm

        thanks for your reply I will look into the boot sequence and tried that Paul

  4. Chrisviss1
    December 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Nice work. Thanks. But I have another question: Can you give me name(s) of dvd burners on Linux, that makes a dvd readable on Windows?

    Tanks again.


    • jhpot
      December 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      The default burners in most Linux versions should do the trick. K3B is really good otherwise; check your distribution's package manager.

  5. themainliner
    December 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Hmmm...looks OK. I'd like to know how it compares to MultiSystem which is my app of choice in this category. MultiSystem would appear to be a winner, however, as it creates and updates a menu so, on a larger USB device, you can choose to boot from many live/installation images.

  6. gyffes gyffes
    December 15, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I like unetbootin for single iso installs, but for carrying a plethora of OSum on a disk, look for SARDU. I've got 5 live linux OS, 3 different AVs, various tools (Ophcrack, parted magic, etc) etc all on one 16gb drive, with plenty of space left over for a few movie files.

    SARDU -- not affiliated, but terribly happy customer.

    • jhpot
      December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      It's nice having access to a variety of tools.

  7. mark hahn
    December 15, 2011 at 9:02 am

    absurd to mention only deb files for getting it, since fedora has come with liveusb-creator for a long time.

    • jhpot
      December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Now I know this.

  8. Sobird2day
    December 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    those are network computers without a combo cd-dvd burning drive. he stated above As time goes on, however, CD drives become less common.Well most enthusiasts or people that want to try linux will have a burner or get a portable drive just for the wow! factor of being able to instantly have a different os. some people, including myself, also love to resurrect old computers.So i think cd and dvd drives will be around for awhile.Linux is great on older computers. But the bios  won't let u boot from a flash drive.

    • jhpot
      December 14, 2011 at 7:14 am

      That's true: CDs have their place, particularly on older machines. For my  netbook, though, USB is the way to go.

  9. Internet2k4
    December 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I completely agree that's how it should be.  However, my experience after about a year of installing various Ubuntu and Mint versions via Persistent Live USB (PenDrive installer) has been that the Live version always goes flaky after a few weeks of use.  It's too much to list all the things that go wrong, twenty or thirty boots into use, the typical ones are that the USB install loses access to the HDD, or there are sudden demands for Administrator passwords that don't exist, that prevent updates or adding new packages, whatever - the Live installs just start out fine, then go screwy.   I am now "graduated" to dual boot of my favorite Linux OS on my cheap little netbook, not because I want to have it on my HDD, but because that's the only way to find out if it will really work for me.

    • jhpot
      December 14, 2011 at 7:12 am

      You're right: installing is better if you plan to use the distro quite a bit. I actually use this method to install without burning a CD.

    • dobs
      January 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      -here's something you'd think would do likewise,
      but it's been 60+ bootups from running the puppy5.2 live cd
      & all recent&previous stuff is still ok...go figure

  10. klu9
    December 11, 2011 at 6:53 am

    How does this compare to UNetbootin?

    • jhpot
      December 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      It's easier to use than UNetbootin, but is similar in many ways. This one supports automated downloading a lot of distros, which is nice.

  11. Anonymous
    December 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I'm the family tech support guy. This is one of the tools that I use more often when dealing with malware.

    • Jeff Fabish
      December 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      How is an image burner helpful when removing malware? 

      • jhpot
        December 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        Some of the best anti-malware tools are bootable from USB, which is perfect when malware prevents a system from booting.

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