TechSpot: Run Ubuntu 10.04 from a bootable USB flash drive

So, you've been hearing all this buzz about Ubuntu for a while now and you finally want to take it for a spin? While dual booting Ubuntu with Windows is fairly straightforward, it can seem like a daunting and risky endeavor for the average individual. For those folks, test-driving Ubuntu via the LiveCD is certainly an option, but it comes with a couple major disadvantages: it's a much slower experience, and all your changes are lost once the operating system is restarted.

Besides a traditional installation, you can get around these limitations a few ways, one being with a virtual machine. Naturally, going that route means you'll have to download and install VM software, but this isn't viable for everyone not least because of hardware constraints. Another even simpler way involves creating a bootable USB flash drive with a fully functional copy of Ubuntu installed.

In addition to being speedier and letting you save data, creating a USB boot drive also allows you to take your installation of Ubuntu wherever you go. It should run on any machine that supports booting from USB -- which is just about every semi-modern PC you're bound to come across. It may sound complicated, but fret not, if you already have an Ubuntu CD, you're literally a few clicks away from creating a USB boot drive.

Read: Test-Drive Ubuntu 10.04 Using a Bootable USB Flash Drive

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31 Comments

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10.04 is probably the best Linux OS I've ever used, and I've used a few. It seems much more stable and supported all of my hardware on two different machines out of the box. I also love the new software center, the old one was getting, well, old.

CoMMo said,
10.04 is probably the best Linux OS I've ever used, and I've used a few. It seems much more stable and supported all of my hardware on two different machines out of the box. I also love the new software center, the old one was getting, well, old.

DITTO

I played with Ubuntu on and off over the years and I have to say 10.4 is really nice. Hardware easily recognized, driver updates download easy (similar to win 7) and the interface is snappy. After getting VLC and flash installed (thank God for package manager, no need to apt get anymore). I spent most of my afternoon in it, only rebooting for some gaming.

On topic I'll be trying this out once I find a spare flash drive. 10.4 may well be the '7' for Ubuntu.

kukubau said,
EXT2 IS ENOUGH. Ext3 for the persistence partition is a myth. Not needed.
EXT3 IS EXT2, just with a journal added. And journaling is absolutely recommended for reliability, if you need a crash resistant file system, in case of unexpected unmounts that can mess up with the data. It's especially recommended on USB flash drives, that are known to be ejected too often, without a proper unmount of the file systems, because people often hurries around. But if you need a faster file system and a generically reliable file system, there is EXT4, because flash drives are also known to be slow. But EXT4 isn't recommended if you need a proper compatibility. But there are an exception like coLinux, which are able to read and write an EXT4 file system from Windows.

Edited by PowerPatrick, May 8 2010, 11:00am :

UNetbootin sucks big time. Try Universal USB Installer! It preserves the original boot menu, not the ugly unebootin menu.

kukubau said,
UNetbootin sucks big time. Try Universal USB Installer! It preserves the original boot menu, not the ugly unebootin menu.

I haven't looked into this tool yet. But why does UNetbootin "suck big time"? I think it's a lame reason to hate it, just because of the boot menu.
I wouldn't call Universal USB Installer better either, because it probably just installs an image file on the FAT32 filesystem for persisting data. And that's a problem, when FAT32 are limited to have up to 4 GB in filesizes. Only some BIOS are compatible to boot an operating system from NTFS in such way. But it's better to use a whole separate partition that contains a EXT3 filesystem with "casper-rw" label instead of an image file.

Edited by PowerPatrick, May 7 2010, 10:24pm :

I used UNetbootin to make one earlier this week and I like the new version of Ubuntu. May make it a dual boot on my laptop this weekend.

thealexweb said,
Does it use up your flash drive's finite number of writes?

That should go without saying considering that it is running from said flash drive.

thealexweb said,
Does it use up your flash drive's finite number of writes?

No Ubuntu found some type of technology that no one else knows about to prevent the USB drive from being used at ALL, even though all of the data it needs is on the USB drive..

i had someone bring in a netbook the other week with a broken hdd (dropped) i just stuck ubuntu on a usb stick and told them that would get them there facebook fix and it only cost a few £.

AKLP said,
So, is this only for booting in the same pc, or its like a portable version of ubuntu?

It is portable version you can boot on any PC

Ubuntu 10.04 is very easy to use, i think most of PC owners could (finally) use it with no big problems. I hope all hardware will be bundled with linux drivers too soon.

m4n3 said,
Ubuntu 10.04 is very easy to use, i think most of PC owners could (finally) use it with no big problems. I hope all hardware will be bundled with linux drivers too soon.

First big problem is Office. Open office is not up at MS office level yet.
Secondly, all the nonsense commandline tweaking must be got rid off

sanke1 said,

First big problem is Office. Open office is not up at MS office level yet.
Secondly, all the nonsense commandline tweaking must be got rid off

The command line tweaking is part of what linux is. These days they are trying to make it as user friendly as possible but the tweaking will never completely go away. I think us power users want to keep that around.

As far as OpenOffice goes... Well I can't say anything is quite up to par with Microsoft Office but they are working at it.

sanke1 said,

First big problem is Office. Open office is not up at MS office level yet.

I use Microsoft Office 2007 in Wine, and it runs flawless. You should really try PlayOnLinux, which is a very easy frontend to Wine, with automated configurator that have a fairly big repository of patches. http://playonlinux.com

sanke1 said,

Secondly, all the nonsense commandline tweaking must be got rid off

There is a lot of GUI utilities for tweaking. You can eventually search for them in the Ubuntu Software Center, which should be easy.

Edited by PowerPatrick, May 7 2010, 10:55pm :

Installing Ubuntu by using Wubi from inside Windows 7 was incredibly simple and everything was automatic and totally hassle free. I've dabbled through the years trying this and that distro, but this was by far the easiest and this time everything just works. I hate having to use the terminal and happily this new Ubuntu, I haven't used it once. I will definitely keep this version installed.

Frankenchrist said,
Installing Ubuntu by using Wubi from inside Windows 7 was incredibly simple and everything was automatic and totally hassle free. I've dabbled through the years trying this and that distro, but this was by far the easiest and this time everything just works. I hate having to use the terminal and happily this new Ubuntu, I haven't used it once. I will definitely keep this version installed.

Wha? I feel really at home with that terminal. ^_^

(This comes from the fact that I practically lived in MS-DOS way back)

Yup

Booting it from USB stick is even faster then it booting from CD/hard disk
I was surprised

Edited by d5aqoëp, May 7 2010, 3:16pm :

sanke1 said,
Yup

Booting it from USB stick is even faster then it booting from CD/hard disk
I was surprised


CD - Yes.
HDD - No.