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Thread: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

  1. #1
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    Jan 2008
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    How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    How do you make it so you can install ubuntu on a USB flash/jump/thumb drive and save all of your documents, settings, and applications to that thumb/flash/jump drive-- but access hardware (screen, keyboard, mouse, etc.) with any computer you plug it into (that it's compatible with)?

    Step by step instructions would be greatly appreciated and if they are visually illustrated that would be even better.

    Thank you.
    Ubuntu = , but I = sometimes so I post s here and get answers then I because I get it ...
    but then I get again.
    Yup, that's pretty much how this place works

  2. #2
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    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    You can read this website. But be sure you have an excellent flash drive with very fast read/write speeds.

    http://www.pendrivelinux.com/2008/04...drive-install/

  3. #3
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    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    Just install Hardy Heron in your USB flash memory stick in the regular way the same as any other hard drive.
    Hardy Heron features the latest Xorg 7.3 Xwindow system from X.Org Foundation. Mine has been able to set itself up automatically for all the different computers and monitors around my house that I have been able to boot a USB with so far. This renders the 'Persistent' type liveCD USB installs obsolete.

    All we need to do now is just a regular installation, and select 'guided partitioning' and choose the USB as the disk to install in.
    Remember to install GRUB to MBR in the USB device rather than let it go to your first hard disk.
    In the 'Desktop' Live/Install CD you do that in step 7 of 7 by pressing the 'advanced' button and selecting which hard disk (MBR) for GRUB to be installed in, and select your USB's MBR.
    If you are using the 'Alternate CD' to install with, you click 'No' when it asks you if it can install GRUB to MBR in the first hard disk, and specify your USB's MBR.

    Normally, you won't have a lot of room for files in a USB jump drive, but those are available in large enough sizes these days for at least a few files. You probably need at least a 4.0 GB memory stick, but bigger is better. I don't think 2.0 GB would be big enough really.

    1st EDIT: This how-to might be helpful to try to keep the operating system's disk space usage down to a minimum and let you have the maximum space in your USB for files, HOWTO: Cleaning up all those unnecessary junk files... - By WhackToMack, also see, [ubuntu] /boot partition is full .

    2nd EDIT: I recommend using the Reiser File System for flash memory installations, for better disc write performance, for more details jump to post #69

    3rd EDIT: I like this: HOWTO: Use swapfile instead of partition and hibernate - by iva2k

    4th EDIT: Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex and later feature the uuid command in the latest GRUB.
    With UUID booting, you can boot a USB no matter what number the BIOS wants to give the USB drive.
    No matter how many other USB drives and other kinds of hard drive you might have plugged in to a computer at the same time, with GRUB's new uuid command, GRUB will always be able to find the right root and boot partition and boot your USB for you.

    5th EDIT: Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope and Karmic Koala and later all feature the ext4 file system by default.
    I now think ext4 file system is the best file system to use in flash memory sticks and Solid State Drives.

    6th EDIT: Karmic Koala and later versions of Ubuntu feature GRUB 1.97 as the default boot loader, most people call it 'GRUB2'.
    This new version of GRUB has improved abilities for USB booting and we're now able to boot Ubuntu in a USB using computers that were impossible to boot a USB device from before.

    7th EDIT: With GRUB2 it's easy to use this kind of USB install to rescue an unbootable system in a computer's internal hard disk, just boot the USB Ubuntu and run 'sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg' and it will (most times at least) detect the internal operating system(s) and add them to the USB's boot menu. Then you only need to reboot and select the internal operating system that has the boot loader problem and boot it. Magic!
    The reverse is also true, with Ubuntu running as the main operating system in the computer, you can plug in the USB with your auxilliary Ubuntu in it and run 'sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg for a boot option in the computer for booting the memory stick. It's much more convenient than using the BIOS to boot every time.

    8th EDIT: Now that Lucid Lynx is here, times have never been better for USB flash memory installations, we can now use Ubuntu One for extra file storage and syncing with our main computers when we're on the move. I am still learning about Ubuntu One, but so far I think it's great!

    If you have Ubuntu in your home computer, you can set up SSH Networking with port forwarding and use that over the internet to access all the files in your home computer from anywhere in the world, so you can then actually do much more with Ubuntu in a flash memory stick that you can carry around in your pocket than most people can with a whole computer.

    See my first sig link for illustrated examples of how to install Ubuntu.

    Regards, Herman
    Last edited by Herman; August 21st, 2010 at 11:20 PM.
    Ubuntu user since 2004 (Warty Warthog)

  4. #4
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    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    If your Hardy Heron USB install boots to a tan screen with a mouse pointer in it and nothing else, that's because there is a bug in Hardy Heron that seems to affect Gnome especially in USB devices.
    Refer to these two links, https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...dm/+bug/221850 and https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...ng/+bug/218434

    To summarize, it is necessary to use the 'ctrl'+'alt'+'del' keyboard combination and log into a virtual terminal and type 'sudo rm /tmp/X0-lock', and then 'startx', and you should then have your Gnome Desktop.
    Then open 'System'-->'Administration'-->'login window', open the security tab, and enable automatic login for the administrative user (yourself).
    NOTE: It takes ages for the login window to open, like about five or six minutes and it looks like nothing is happening. Just be patient.

    The first time you try to shut down you'll be back to the tan screen again, (for the last time).
    Press'ctrl'+'alt'+'del' keyboard combination and log into a virtual terminal and type 'sudo shutdown -h -t 0 now', to shut the computer down.
    From then on you shouldn't have any more problems, your USB disk will start up and shut down as normal.

    EDIT: Since the work-around just described above results in an operating system without any user login at boot time, it would probably be a good idea to set a GRUB password for at least some security against unauthorized use of the USB operating system. Link: GRUB password

    EDIT 2 : The above advice applies only to Hardy Heron 8.04, and not to 8.04.1 or later, the bug has been fixed.

    One more good thing about making a normal installation in a USB as opposed to a Persistent LiveCD installation is, a regular install auto- mounts other USB drives, so we can plug in another USB flash memory stick with room for more files in it and use that for extra disk space. I'm running one of my USB flash memory installations right now and I just finished watching a movie which is stored in another USB flash memory plugged in right under the operating system's memory stick.
    Last edited by Herman; August 21st, 2010 at 11:23 PM.
    Ubuntu user since 2004 (Warty Warthog)

  5. #5
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    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    wow, thanks for all the assistance, but what exactly qualifies as a high quality super fast flash drive?

    And would 8GB be necessary or would 4GB be fine? I thought the reqs. for Ubuntu are 4GB minimum.
    Ubuntu = , but I = sometimes so I post s here and get answers then I because I get it ...
    but then I get again.
    Yup, that's pretty much how this place works

  6. #6
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    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    also, how do you boot from the flash drive? do you plug it in and start the computer with the USB drive in or can you start from Windows/Mac OS X?
    Ubuntu = , but I = sometimes so I post s here and get answers then I because I get it ...
    but then I get again.
    Yup, that's pretty much how this place works

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    how do you boot from the flash drive? do you plug it in and start the computer with the USB drive in or can you start from Windows/Mac OS X?
    Yes, you must have your flash memory stick already plugged in before you start the computer up so it will be detected during P.O.S.T. and registered in the BIOS.

    There are at least three different ways that I use, and probably others can tell you more ways to boot a USB disk.

    1. If you don't have GRUB installed to MBR in your computer, another way to boot your USB flash memory device is by pressing a key as your computer boots to bring up a menu from your BIOS this way, How I boot from my BIOS with my F12 key (or F8 key in most PCs).

    2. If you still have Legacy GRUB - You can use GRUB's Command Line Interface to boot your flash memory stick manually.
    To make it more automatic you can add a new entry to the bottom of your internal drive's Ubuntu /boot/grub/menu.lst file which will chainload the MBR or the boot sector in the USB flash memory stick.
    For example,
    Code:
    title   Hardy Heron USB Stick MBR Boot
    root   (hd2)
    chainloader +1
    3. If you're using GRUB2 - Just boot into your regular Ubuntu installation inside your computer and run 'sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg', and it will automatically add an entry for the USB Ubuntu auxilliary operating system. Then boot your auxlilliary Ubuntu USB and run 'sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg' for an emergency boot entry in your USB for your main (internal) Ubuntu installation.
    Last edited by Herman; August 21st, 2010 at 11:36 PM.
    Ubuntu user since 2004 (Warty Warthog)

  8. #8
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    Re: How to install ubuntu on USB drive and carry entire computing system in pocket?

    I was hoping there was a way to carry your entire computing system in a small USB drive without making changes to any host computers.

    Is there a way to do that?

    I was thinking of booting school computers, office computers, other home computers, etc. into Ubuntu when I got bored or needed a different tool or file.
    Ubuntu = , but I = sometimes so I post s here and get answers then I because I get it ...
    but then I get again.
    Yup, that's pretty much how this place works

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    100
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    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    2 questions in reference to efficiency, Flash vs Hard drive?

    Here are 2 questions I have about using Hardy Heron on a latop.

    1) Will I get a longer battery life using the USB device instead of the hard drive?
    2) Will Ubuntu automatically put the hard drive to sleep since in essence the flash drive will have the swap file? Since most of my files are on-line for access and I listen to the streaming radio, I really do not need to use the hard drive. I also have 3 flash drives 8 gig 4 gig 2 gig.

    Thanks for you help

    Ooops, I forgot

    In future reference of buying a flash drive, if it can handle windows ready boost, does that mean it will have better random read and write speeds?
    Last edited by esteckis; May 11th, 2008 at 12:30 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: 2 questions in reference to efficiency, Flash vs Hard drive?

    those are good questions. I want to know that too. Don't forget to answer my questions in the post above that though!
    Ubuntu = , but I = sometimes so I post s here and get answers then I because I get it ...
    but then I get again.
    Yup, that's pretty much how this place works

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