Ubuntu, a popular Linux OS, can easily be loaded onto a USB thumbdrive and run from there. Using Linux might sound scary to people but the interface has been improved significantly and could be easily operated by majority of people familiar with windows or mac-based users after a initial learning curve. There are a number of advantages to loading Ubuntu and running it from a thumbdrive.
- Try and run Linux programs. You can easily explore Ubuntu without installing a single file to your hard drive. If you don’t like it, just shut down the computer, unplug the thumbdrive from USB and your previous system is restored. If you messed something up, just install Ubuntu to the thumbdrive again.
- Computer Recovery with a USB thumbdrive. Ubuntu is a full-fledged operating system. This means if your harddisk files are corrupted and you can’t boot into Windows, a USB thumbdrive recovery stick could be helpful to allow you to access files and the internet as a quick backup. At the same time, access to the system files could allow you to repair and recover the computer as well.
- A portable Operating System to keep and run personal files. If you activate the persistent option, i t allows you to save data changes back to the USB storage. This data can then be recovered and used again on subsequent boots, or even when booting from different machines. You can bring it to your friend’s place or your parents’ place and the same set of data and programs are available. Having to manage a number of websites, I loaded up the FTP details, passwords, image editors, Chrome with sync bookmarks and passwords onto the USB thumbdrive. This allows me to quickly transport my workspace into another computer.
Convinced? This tutorial will show you how to make your thumbdrive into a bootable USB stick for Ubuntu. You could try the instructions from Ubuntu Wiki (How to create a bootable USB stick on Windows) which recommends the use of Pen Drive Linux’s USB Installer. However, when following the instructions, I keep getting a isolinux.bin is missing or corrupt error message with Syslinux and isolinux. This happened across a number of computers and devices. Doing a search on the internet, it was recommended to use unetbootin instead.
If using Windows, run the file, select an ISO file or a distribution to download, select a target drive (USB Drive), set the space required for preservation (persistence) and that’s it. I recommend at least 1gb. If your USB drive doesn’t show up, reformat it as FAT32.
Reboot once done. After rebooting, press the appropriate button (usually F81, F11, F12, ESC, or backspace) while your computer is starting up to get to your BIOS boot menu and select USB drive as the startup target. Or enter the BIOS to choose the USB device as your primary boot selection.