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Thread: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

  1. #1
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    Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Purpose/Overview

    This guide creates a LiveUSB out of your standard 1 GB (or larger) USB flash drive entirely from within Windows, using a nice graphical application (no command lines), UNetbootin. The generated Ubuntu (or, optionally, another Linux distribution) LiveUSB functions identically to a standard Ubuntu LiveCD, so you can use it for Ubuntu installs or system recovery as you would a LiveCD, the only caveat being that your computer will need to be fairly modern (built after roughly 2002) in order to be able to boot a USB drive.

    Requirements

    * Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, or newer (though this guide can be done from Linux as well, see site). I have personally tested this on Windows XP, Windows 2008 x64, Ubuntu 7.10 i386, and Ubuntu 8.04 amd64; the others were reported by users. Note that this will NOT work on Windows 95/98/ME.

    * A USB drive, with slightly more free space than size of the ISO file you wish to use (roughly 700 MB for Ubuntu). Your USB drive will not be formatted, so your existing files should be safe, though backup important files just in case. (The USB drive should also be formatted as FAT32, though if you don't know what that is, don't worry; your USB drive is probably FAT32 unless you reformatted it yourself)

    Instructions

    1. Download the latest version of UNetbootin for Windows

    2. Download an ISO file for Ubuntu (any of its derivatives such as Kubuntu or Xubuntu will also work).

    3. Run the UNetbootin executable. The dialog shown in the screenshot below should appear (Note that the screenshots show PCLinuxOS, but the same procedure works for Ubuntu and most other distros). Select the Disk Image radio button, and use the file selector on the far right to select your ISO file. Select USB Drive as the installation type, and select your USB drive under "Drive". Note that memory cards will also be displayed, since Windows detects both as "Removable Drives", so ensure that it's really your USB drive that you're selecting. If your USB drive is not displayed, you may need to unplug and reinsert it, restart UNetbootin, restart Windows, and/or reformat the USB drive (To reformat your USB drive, go to "My Computer", right-click the USB Drive -> Format; note that this will wipe out all data on it, and should be unnecessary).



    4. Press OK to begin installing to your USB drive. As shown in the screenshot below, the installation occurs in 3 stages (downloading, extracting, and installing the bootloader), but since you've already pre-downloaded the ISO file, the first stage will be skipped. Since filesystem.squashfs is the largest file (over 650 MB), the progressbar will hang once it gets to this file as it is extracted and copied to the USB drive; this is only momentary, though; wait patiently, and do not close the application.



    5. Finally, after UNetbootin installs the bootloader onto your USB drive, you will be prompted to reboot, as shown below. Reboot. You should now be able to boot and install Ubuntu from your liveUSB drive, though you may first need to specify the USB drive in the boot order of your BIOS, which can usually be accessed by pressing Esc, F1, F2, F12, Del, or another key combination which is usually displayed as Boot Devices or BIOS Setup as your computer starts up.



    Undoing Changes

    If all you wish to do is remove the Ubuntu liveUSB installation from your flash drive in order to free up space, you can simply delete the files and folders that were created by UNetbootin, which will be listed in the files "ubnfilel.txt" and "ubnpathl.txt" on the top directory of your USB drive. However, should you wish to wipe the last traces of the bootloader and liveUSB system out entirely, you can use the format tool included in Windows (note that this will wipe out all data on your USB drive); simply open Windows Explorer, navigate to My Computer, right-click the drive letter of your USB drive, and select the Format option from the drop-down menu. Accept the default options (though you may want to check the "Quick Format" option if you're impatient), and your USB drive will be wiped clean and reformatted.

    Notes/Credits/Misc

    UNetbootin was created by me (Geza Kovacs). This is a simplified version of the guide I previously posted on the PCLinuxOS forum, with instructions/information that shouldn't be required for Ubuntu (altering USB drive partitioning schemes) removed. This same procedure should also work for creating LiveUSB drives out of various other isolinux-based ISO files (used by most mainstream Linux distributions, such as Fedora, PCLinuxOS, etc), though it won't work for Windows CDs or the like. If you think you've found a bug file a bug report, or post the issue you're experiencing.
    Last edited by tuxcantfly; May 29th, 2008 at 09:40 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Simply great utility!

    It worked flawlessly. I did reformat the Flash drive to FAT32. Drive in question is a 2GB PNY model.

    Before that, I had followed instructions from Ubuntu at: http://www.ryancloke.com/ubuntu-804-...ve-usb-how-to/ and it was not recognizing the boot sector apparently and was at my wits end till I saw your post.

    Thank you so much.

  3. #3
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Very smooth, very cool.

    Is there any way to make it persistent?

  4. #4
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    EDIT: This apparently doesn't work anymore on 8.04 (I last tested this on 7.10), see https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LiveUsbPendrivePersistent for instructions instead

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCee View Post
    Very smooth, very cool.

    Is there any way to make it persistent?
    Go to http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/diskimg/ and download one of the files (128mb.zip, 256mb.zip, or 512mb.zip) corresponding to the amount of persistent space you want (make sure the size of the persistent disk image is smaller than the free space you have on your USB drive).

    Now extract the file "casper.rw" from the zip file to your USB drive.

    Now edit D:\syslinux.cfg (assuming D:\ is where your USB drive is) and add in "persistent" at the end of the line that begins with "append", and save the file, so your syslinux.cfg should look something like this:

    Code:
    default unetbootin
    label unetbootin
    	kernel /ubnkern
    	append initrd=/ubninit file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash persistent --
    For more info see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCD/Persistence

    Hopefully I'll get this automated in the next version or so.
    Last edited by tuxcantfly; June 1st, 2008 at 08:08 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    I'm trying to install Hardy Server (from iso), but I keep running into a couple of problems. The first issue I have is with the CD-ROM detection. No matter what I do, it can't install drivers or detect a CD-ROM since it doesn't exist. That's the whole point of my trying this out. I'm assuming this then causes an issue with debconf since it's looking in /cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-server.seed and cdrom doesn't exist.

    Any ideas?

    It looks like this bug report is probably related to my issue: https://bugs.launchpad.net/unetbootin/+bug/237867
    Last edited by geetarista; June 12th, 2008 at 12:34 AM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Quote Originally Posted by geetarista View Post
    I'm trying to install Hardy Server (from iso), but I keep running into a couple of problems. The first issue I have is with the CD-ROM detection. No matter what I do, it can't install drivers or detect a CD-ROM since it doesn't exist. That's the whole point of my trying this out. I'm assuming this then causes an issue with debconf since it's looking in /cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-server.seed and cdrom doesn't exist.

    Any ideas?

    It looks like this bug report is probably related to my issue: https://bugs.launchpad.net/unetbootin/+bug/237867
    I haven't tested using any of the alternate/install Ubuntu isos, but I presume they apparently don't have the necessary filesystem drivers or the like built in into the default initrd, so it probably won't work.

    You could either simply install using the standard desktop/liveCD version, remove the GNOME stuff and install the various server-specific packages.

    Alternatively, should you happen to have internet access on the machines, you can use the "Netinstall" version of Ubuntu (listed under the version selection box), and from there you can select the option to download and install the server-specific packages once you've rebooted and have started the installer.

    Alternatively, you could also manually give it the "hd-media" kernel and initrd files, available from the Ubuntu FTP archives, and that should be able to detect your predownloaded and extracted ISO file and install from it.

  7. #7
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Thank you for your response. I tried both the netinstall and using a regular iso, but now I'm having the same issue as people in this thread: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=824576. I'll post a follow-up once I figure something out.

  8. #8
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Quote Originally Posted by geetarista View Post
    Thank you for your response. I tried both the netinstall and using a regular iso, but now I'm having the same issue as people in this thread: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=824576. I'll post a follow-up once I figure something out.
    Since the updated initrd is already in hardy-proposed, I suppose this'll be fixed upstream soon, but until then, you can download the latest kernel (linux) and initrd (initrd.gz) files from http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dis...nstaller/i386/ and supply them to UNetbootin under the "Manual" option as the kernel and initrd files.

    Also, what was the issue you encountered with the regular iso (I presume you tried installing using the standard, full Ubuntu desktop/liveCD as I suggested)?

  9. #9
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Yeah, I tried all of the options and still doesn't work. One time I got this error: "No boot filename received. DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER." I did some searching and I guess it's trying to boot from the network, which obviously doesn't work. I don't know if grub wasn't installed correctly or if it's something else. My BIOS boot settings are also correct. I don't know if this is a hardware issue or just this whole process.

    I really need to have a static solution because my client wants to pay for the USB so they can re-use it to install on other servers with my instructions. So it would be best if I could use an ISO install of Ubuntu Server to make things a lot easier for them and myself. What do you suggest?

    I also just tried downloading the kernel and initrd files using the manual option like you suggested and I now get the original problem where it can't find a cd-rom.
    Last edited by geetarista; June 13th, 2008 at 06:43 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Howto: Create LiveUSBs from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

    Used Unetbootin(Win) on 2 distros. After succesive write on "Flash-card" One freezes at OS load screen, second doesn`t even want to boot(freezes when trying to read data from card and shows "couldn`t find kernel" error). The distros are:

    "mandriva-linux-one-2008-spring-KDE-int-cdrom-i586"

    "ubuntu-8.04-desktop-amd64"

    Tryed both on 2 PCs, one is my laptop, second is desktop, errors are the same. The errors about "couldn`t find/Mount" directories or files in both cases. Could it be because I use micro SD card instead of "normal" USB-Flash Drive? Any tip on solving this?

    Tryed it on USB-HDD, same errors.

    Could it be what Unetbootin works "better" under linux OS? )

    The photo of screen with errors is here.
    Sorry for bad angles, don`t have a tripod.
    Last edited by Kpu4; June 16th, 2008 at 09:25 AM.

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