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How can I make a persistent install of Lubuntu on my flash drive, so I can boot from my flash drive and save changes and files?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Running from USB is well supported by the standard Ubuntu setup, and there are a number of tutorials out there including this one.

In case that link vanishes, the procedure is as follows:

  1. Download and burn to CD the right Ubuntu ISO
  2. Boot from that CD
  3. Plug in the target USB drive
  4. Run the startup disk creator (found under system/administration in the menus
  5. Select the target drive and CD if they are not correctly selected automatically and choose how much space to reserve for changes
  6. Click "make startup disk" and wait for it to finish
  7. Shutdown Ubuntu and reboot from the newly populated USB drive, and give it a test

Installed to a USB drive that way, anything you save goes into the block of space reserved for such changes - this includes saving documents, installing new programs & updating existing ones, and changing settings - so the changes are available next time you boot using that USB drive. Not changes will be made to your existing drives unless you explicitly mount them using the new installation.

This should work equally well whether you are using a flash-based USB stick or an external drive connected via USB as long as your machine supports booting from such media.

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@Nironan: Lubuntu is Ubuntu minus ubuntu-desktop (and its dependencies) plus lubuntu-desktop (and its dependencies). if you can find or create your own Lubuntu LiveCD, this procedure should work well. –  quack quixote May 11 '10 at 12:07
    
@Nironan12: Perhaps the USB creator just isn't installed automatically in lubuntu's reduced weight default install. Try sudo aptitude install usb-creator-gtk, or see if you can find it using the GUI based package manager, once you have booted from the live CD. Given lubuntu's relationship with the other Ubuntu variants I expect the package to be available in the repository and work once installed. –  David Spillett May 11 '10 at 13:00
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I use this approach. It is quite useful, particularly when moving between different version of linux.

I have three usb hard drives, mainly for data storage, but I also use them for linux. I reserve about 50GB at the front of each drive. 45GB for the install and 5GB for the swap.

The Ubuntu installation to external drive since 9.04 has become simple. The only thing you have to be careful with is where linux puts GRUB. You'll want it on the external drive.

To make sure this happens, you have to select that drive in the last step of the pre-install questions. On this last screen there is an advanced button, click it and select the external drive from the list.

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