How to Make Your Own "Ubuntu LiveUSB"




Ubuntu is a remote computer operating system based on Linux. It is a free and open source software, using its own desktop environment. (Somwhat simmilar to Windows.)

A Live USB is a USB that has a bootable OS (Operating System) on it.

This instructable will help you create one!

(Please bear in mind that this is my first instructable article. Suggestions are welcome!)

Step 1: Preparation

What you will need:
- A 4GB USB Drive (The OS itself is about 2.5GB, which will leave you with plenty of space for your own files)
- A fast internet connection (to download the necessary files)
- A computer that can boot a USB
- Windows XP/Vista/7 (To run the installer)
- A bit of common sense (to put it all together!)

Step 2: Backup


Back up all the data on your USB safely onto your computer, as this will erase your USB!
(Although it is possible to keep your data and have the OS installed, I do not recommend it!)

Step 3: Downloading

There are two files that you will need to download:
- The Ubuntu virtual image (.iso) file - Get it from here: Size: 712MB
- The USB Installer (.exe) file - Get it from here: or get the older version from my attachments. Size: 981KB

Step 4: Install

1. Open up the file named "Universal-USB-Installer-" or whatever you named it.
2. Puch the "I agree" button.
3. Select the version of Ubuntu that you are installing (you do not need to check the "Download .iso" checkbox, as you have already downloaded the file).
4. Click the "Browse" button and find the ".img" file (NOTE: This step will be done automatically in some versions of the installer when the two files are in the same folder.)
5. Then find your USB Drive from the selection (I do not suggest checking the "SHOW ALL DRIVES" button)
6. IF YOUR USB IS BACKED UP: Check the "Format drive" checkbox - !!! THIS WILL ERASE ALL DATA ON YOUR USB !!!
7. Slide the slider completely to the right (this will give you usable space on the USB).
8. Punch the "Create" button

Step 5: Double-check

This will be said as a pop-up, but I will say it anyway: CHECK THAT THE DIRECTORY YOU HAVE SELLECTED AS YOUR USB IS YOUR USB, otherwise you will have a different drive erased and dumped now useless files into.

Step 6: Process

Let the installer finish (NOTE: If you have a large USB, this will take quite long. The bar will not move for quite a while during the last operation.)

Step 7: Boot

Restart your computer. (Not yet. First finish reading...)

This is the tricky bit:
During start-up, you will see a black/blue boot screen flash. During that time-frame (usally 1-3 seconds), press the "alternate boot key". This will be the "esc" or one of the function keys, but you never know which one - each computer has a different one (In my home laptop it is the "esc" key and the school computers are F2, F8 or F10). The good part is that (in most cases) the computer will tell you which key it is! Search the screen and press the "pause" button if the screen flashes for too short.
Good luck.

Step 8: What Next?

What next? You have a few choices.
- Customize (Ubuntu can easily be transformed into MacBuntu)
- Show off
- Use it when your computer gets slow (I sometimes use it when I want to play high CPU-demanding games that my Windows simply cannot run)
- Retreive your locked up files (when you put a password onto your Windows account and forgot it, you can still get your files using this handy program, as you can use "file explorer" to view your hard disk like USB) PLEASE DO NOT USE FOR MALICIOUS PURPOSES
- use it as a portable OS (use it at home, use it at school, use it anywhere you want!)

A fair bit of WARNING: Some Ubuntu versions are unstable and will fail to boot after a few uses. Just repeat these steps to reinstall.

Thank you for reading this instructable and GOOD LUCK!



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    31 Discussions


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Although it will work if you put it in a 2GB USB, you will have no OS Storage space as all space will be occupied by the OS, so unless you want to install apps or create files on it every time you boot your PC, I do not recommend it. Also, i did not get what you are saying in the second part of the question. Do you want to have apps within the OS, or have them on your USB in the first place, with the OS installed over them. Anyways, the first option will be quite impossible, unless you want Ubuntu Lite, and the second option I do not recommend because you might loose them, either when installing the OS, or uninstalling it.
    Oh, and by the way, thank you for asking, and be free to ask whenever you want.


    Reply 11 months ago

    Right. The distressed like Ubuntu or Mint nowadays is really close or even more than 2GB. So this is no space left in the most popular cases. About the second part I can say if you using command line closely and know what you do, that isn't a problem to create an bootable UEFI GPT FAT32 for example. You can make partitions but I think it makes no sense because not all systems actually supports it as I know. plus for a person who jump after a Windows system is so unusual to use command line commands. Unfortunately the time of DOS has ended.


    Reply 11 months ago

    Wait a minute. The author, heh... So just please delete my previous message. Okay? If it is a policy... It is not my deal if you know the issue or for you it isn't a problem at all.


    2 years ago

    I can't do part 1 of step 4 because I'm on a mac. This is all I get,

    You can’t open the application “Universal-USB-Installer-” because Microsoft Windows applications are not supported on OS X.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 months ago

    Wine it! The app allow you to work with it. It is Open Source so you can check it and change if you want. Anyway I highly recommend you to learn some command line things like dd because you have UNIX and this is a good thing. Windows doesn't have the same by default.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Another tool that is compatible with Mac OS X is called UNetbootin (link: ).
    Try use it, see how it goes.


    1 year ago

    Help me


    idk what to do


    3 years ago

    When I do this my installer is only for installing on the computer, I can't install Ubuntu on the USB. I'm new to this, it'd be great if you could help. :) Thanks

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi, if you followed the instructions step-by-step then you should've been able to create a bootable USB. When you boot from the USB, you will be given the option to install Ubuntu onto the PC, but if you just want to run it from USB, then do not select this option, and go for live mode instead. This will only use your USB and will not touch the hard disk


    3 years ago

    Is moving the slider all the way to the right neccessary?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Not necessary but recommended. If you have a fairly small (~8GB) USB, you really want all the space to be available for your Ubuntu USB. If you have a larger USB, then you can choose how much space you want to let Ubuntu have, and the rest you can use even under Windows for whatever you want


    3 years ago

    All worked great - thanks for the effort and time involved in creating the Instructable. Matt, Syd. Australia


    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for this one. It's very useful and educative. But I'm wondering if it could be possible to coupling this with - say - a gParted Live image in a multiboot device for much more utilities and handfulness on a single stick. Or in short: can we do multiboot USB pendrives with this?

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Unfortunately, it'snot possible with current USB technologies. You cannot (easily) partition a USB to create multiple locations for different OS's. You would also need multiple different boot sectors, and that might confuse the PC. All in all, you would do better with an OS per USB. That being said...

    There is a way to do this. You could just use folders in the USB for specific OS's, and the edit GRUB to allow you to choose your boot location (never tried this though). Another option would just be to use a portable hard-disk instead (or format your USB to NTFS). This should, in theory, allow you to multiboot your USB.

    This is all in theory though, I never tried it all, simply had no need for it. But I will give it a look.


    Reply 3 years ago

    It's possible. You just need to partition the USB like so:

    1st partition) NTFS: here's your data, this is the sole partition that windows is going to recognize when connecting your USB.

    2nd par.)ext4 or equiv.: here you install your live OS, I have openSUSE here.

    3rd par.)ext4 or equiv.: another live OS, I have ubuntu here.

    Then, if you want to boot to your various live partitions, you have to change the boot flag with something like gparted or parted.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I believe this sounds like it should work, but it is impossible to partitition USBs using the Device Manager built-in to Windows. But I think it should be possible under a Linux envirnonent. Although I read somewhere that it isn't recommended? Not sure. Anyways, thanks for the comment!