How To Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin

Blake Elias 30-07-2008

UnetBootin We’ve already talked about Linux and why you should try it What's This "Linux" Thing and Why Should I Try It? Read More , but probably the hardest part of getting used to Linux is getting it in the first place. For Windows users, the simplest way is to use Wubi Virtualization-Free In-Windows Linux Installation Read More : it runs from Windows, installs Ubuntu to the drive of your choice, and automatically creates a setting in the Windows boot loader to add a second boot option for Ubuntu.


But there are some drawbacks to installing with Wubi. For one thing, you can’t suspend or hibernate to save power, which you could do if you had the regular install (i.e. burned and booted from the CD). Also, because Wubi doesn’t get its own partition, it actually uses the Windows boot loader to boot from a disk image of a Linux partition on your Windows drive; this results in slightly reduced disk speed and a dependence on the Windows boot loader (you can’t ditch Windows entirely and run Ubuntu as your main OS). So, Wubi may be good for people who want to test Ubuntu, but once you’ve decided to use it on a regular basis, Wubi probably won’t cut it.

Burning a CD can take a while, getting a CD shipped takes an even bigger while, and a friend who can lend you a disk might be hard to find. So, the other option is to use UNetbootin. UNetbootin can either download the contents of the Ubuntu Live CD (or CDs for other distros) or use an already downloaded CD image and put it onto a flash drive. It then makes your flash drive bootable, and makes it behave just like a regular Ubuntu CD.

Download UNetbootin here, insert your flash drive, and run the program you downloaded.

Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin

Where it says ‘distribution’, drop down the menu and choose Ubuntu (or whatever distro you want, if you prefer something else). If you already downloaded the CD image, then instead choose the disk image option and point it to the disk image you downloaded. At the bottom, choose your drive from the drop down (if it doesn’t show up in the list, make sure the type is set to flash drive, that your flash drive is plugged in, and that other programs like a file manager can open it””if it still doesn’t show, try closing and re-opening UNetbootin). Then hit OK and let the program work its magic. Once it’s done, head to the next step.


Now, this will only work if your machine can boot from an USB (most can). To do this: Reboot your PC, and either open the BIOS with whatever key it says (F2 on mine) and change the first boot device to an USB flash, or get a one-time boot menu (F12 on mine) and choose USB flash. It will open up just like the Live CD Put your Linux Distro on a Live CD Recently, Live DVDs and Live USB have cropped up as well. These live systems are full versions of the operating system that run completely from the given medium. Read More would. Then choose whatever language you want and start the installation. Make sure you know what partition you’re going to use: the setup will give you a partition manager to manage the partitions, but it’s a good idea to already know which disk you want to use, how much free space it has for a new partition, et cetera. Once you’re done, you can wipe the flash drive and use it for whatever you’d normally use it for (you couldn’t do that with a CD unless it was a CD-RW, but those are more expensive and aren’t as good for data quality).

If you already have a Wubi-installed operating system, you can use LVPM to upgrade it to a regular installation, but I won’t get into all the details here (maybe in a later post, but there’s a pretty thorough guide at the project page).

So there you go, a full Linux installation without having to burn a single CD, with all the features and performance.

If you have any questions or problems, leave a comment or if you know something better than UNetbootin, be sure to let us know in the comments too.


Related topics: Portable App, Ubuntu, USB.

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  1. Andrew
    June 21, 2017 at 10:32 am

    So i download the unibootin-linux 64-647.bin file as prescribed. Clicking on it brings up, open file with dilog box????? fustrated. I have Mint 17 running. Shold I be running it through softwarre manager?

  2. khaled a.karim
    November 6, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    but the program doesn't support UBUNTU 16.10 the latest version...

  3. mo
    October 29, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I made an ISO image of Ubuntu 9.04 Live CD using MagicISO.

    Then I made Live USB using UNetbootin.

    But when I boot my system from my pendrive, Ubuntu starts running in Busy box.

    What could be the problem?

  4. Anononononimous
    August 7, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    when i use my LG 1 gig USB drive to try and install eeebuntu standard 3.0 i am confronted with a unetbootin boot menu, i try to select "Default" nothing happens, the menu simply reloads itself, i've tried all the options but the menu just keeps reloading itself, also, the countdown does nothing either, any help please?

  5. NeonMaximillian
    October 7, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    My BIOS have different USB boot setting:

    I selected:
    1st BOOT - USB-FDD
    2nd BOOT - HDD-0
    3rd BOOT - Disabled
    Saved it...

    But why won't it boot on my usb stick?...
    Please help...

    • EvilTux
      October 30, 2008 at 10:41 pm

      That's because you should choose USB-HDD ("Universal Serial Bus"-"Hard Disk Drive") like the firts boot option.

      Good Luck!

  6. Jirah Cox
    July 31, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Thanks for the great article. I just wanted to correct the statement that Wubi installs can't sleep or hibernate - mine can do both (XP SP3 hosting Wubi-Ubuntu 8.04 on a Dell Latitude D810). It sleeps on lid closed and wakes on lid open.

    • Blake Elias
      July 31, 2008 at 11:21 am

      Thanks for pointing that out!
      It's interesting, because not only could I not hibernate or suspend on my Dell Precision desktop, but when you open Ubuntu's umenu from Windows, the option for "Install inside Windows", which launches Wubi when chosen, says that suspend and hibernation are not enabled [Broken Link Removed] . I guess in some cases it will work, although it's not officially supported like it is in a regular installation.

  7. Alan
    July 31, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Sorry for the dummy question. Can you please tell me whether the Linux will be installed on USB device or on my system.

    Is there any reason why it shouldn't be installed on the system?

    • Anonymous Coward
      July 31, 2008 at 10:35 am

      What you're doing is transferring the LiveCD content over to your USB drive and making it bootable. Then, you boot from it and do an installation just like you would from a LiveCD.

  8. Barry
    July 30, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Congratulations on your first article to be published on makeuseof!

    • Aibek
      July 31, 2008 at 2:56 am

      Same here, Congrats!