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Thread: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
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    10

    How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    I want to run Ubuntu from a flash drive. When I search for how to do that, I end up at this page: https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/create-...ick-on-windows

    However, I tried that, and it is not what I want at all. The procedure there creates a flash drive that will boot, then give you the option to either "try" Ubuntu or install Ubuntu on the computer's drive. If you "try" Ubuntu, you seem to be in a temporary environment. Changes you make, to the startup applications for instance, don't sustain.

    I just want to run Ubuntu from the flash drive, plain and simple. I don't want the user to choose "try" vs. "install" at startup, and I don't want configuration changes to be rolled-back at the end of the session. I want to run Ubuntu normally, but from a flash drive. How do I do that?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    4,697

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    You can create the flash drive with persistence. How to do it depends on the software you use to create the live usb. The option should be pretty visible.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    London, England
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    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu Development Release

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    To create a USB drive having Ubuntu 20.04 with persistence you might try using this software.

    https://www.linuxuprising.com/2019/0...rage-live.html

    Regards
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
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    10

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    Thanks. I will try that.

    I seem to be missing something here. Why isn't "persistence" the default? Why would anyone ever want not-persistent?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    4,697

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    Quote Originally Posted by z-q View Post
    Thanks. I will try that.

    I seem to be missing something here. Why isn't "persistence" the default? Why would anyone ever want not-persistent?
    Because most people only use the live usb to try out and install Ubuntu, not as a 'real' system. You can even do a real installation on a usb drive (not as a liveusb) but in my experience the performance is no good, if you install on an external hard disk then it has the same performance as an installation to internal hard disk except it may take longer to boot. I used to have a portable ubuntu installation that I can boot up different computers but now with secure boot and what not probably would only work on the computer on which it is created.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
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    3,392
    Distro
    Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    Persistent Install vs Full install


    Ubuntu can be installed to a USB in different ways. A Live install does not save between sessions. A Persistent install extracts the OS from a compressed file and saves data to an overlay file or partition each session, and a Full install installs the complete OS to the USB just like an install to internal disk.

    Comparison between Persistent and Full install USB

    Advantages of a persistent install:

    1) You can use the persistent pendrive to install Ubuntu to another computer.

    2) A persistent install takes up less space on the pendrive.

    3) You can reset the pendrive by overwriting the old casper-rw file with a new one.

    4) The install to pendrive takes less time.

    5) Slightly less wear on the drive.

    **Advantages of a Full install:**

    1) You can update and upgrade.

    2) If you have problems or wish to modify, the solution is the same as with an internal install, (You can ask for help in the forums).

    3) No ugly startup / install screen.

    4) Better security, you can use full encryption

    5) You can use proprietary drivers.

    6) Swapfiles and partitions work and Hibernation can be enabled.

    7) Many persistent installs are limited to a 4GB casper-rw and a 4GB home-rw persistence file, to get more persistence requires persistence partitions. Once casper-rw is full, the drive will not boot.

    8) More efficient usage of disk space. Does not require reserved space for persistence.

    9) Faster boot, **no automatic disk checking** or Try Ubuntu/Install Ubuntu screen.

    10) You can run VBox and use virtual machines.

    11) Generally faster boot than Live or Persistent USB's.

    12) More stable, better for day to day use. I have run Ubuntu off a flash drive for 5 years making only LTS upgrades.

    Note that once booted, both methods run at about the same speed. If the computer has lots of RAM Ubuntu should run mainly in RAM and there will not be a big difference between running off internal HDD and USB3 flash drive f.

    Full Install Method

    A quick and easy method to flash a Full install to USB can be found here: https://askubuntu.com/questions/1300...-bios-and-uefi

    A more traditional methods for creating a Full install USB from scratch can be found here: https://askubuntu.com/questions/1217...ice-step-by-st
    Last edited by C.S.Cameron; July 23rd, 2021 at 02:01 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Beans
    10

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    Thanks to everyone for the replies. I understand much better now. I see that the thing I wanted to do, which I thought was simple and common, is actually complicated and uncommon. I will try to work through the step-by-step guide.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    1,594

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    Just install to the USB stick using a different USB stick. The fact that it is USB doesn't make any difference to Ubuntu in any way. A disk is a disk

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    6,269

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    It may not be that common but if you do a search here at the forums or online for 'create persistent ubuntu usb', you will find many hits. There are also a number of tools you can use but it depends upon what OS you are currently using. Doing an online search or searching these forums should give a lot of results. Some of the tools make it very simple, others are not so easy but I would hardly call it complicated

    Some tools are: Universal USB Installer, Unetboootin, Etcher, mkusb,

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Lab, Slovakia
    Beans
    10,431

    Re: How do I run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

    Just install Ubuntu the usual way and select the flash device as the target drive. There is no need for the ‘persistance’ complication. I’ve run machines that way for years.

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