Can I make a LiveUSB with persistance that can boot on a Mac or a PC? I have heard about GRUB2 but I have been having trouble installing it. rEFIt can be installed on the Mac and used to boot the USB but I want a method that allows me to bring my flash drive anywhere and boot the OS. I want there to be no required software on the other computer. Is this possible? If so can anybody post a guide on how to do it?
migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 6 '11 at 7:11
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Using an Ubuntu live-cd, you can install to your usb stick.
Just plug in your usb stick, and boot the live-cd. Then follow the standard installation, making sure that you choose the usb stick instead of the hard disk as the target device.
This should allow you to boot from the usb stick on any pc that supports this feature. For maximum compatibility with unknown systems, I suggest using a 32-bit version of Ubuntu. And for best performance, you might want to use Xubuntu or Lubuntu, since their desktops are less resource intensive than KDE/Gnome/Unity.
You can also install other Linux distros this same way.
Just to note... there are certain distros designed to run from RAM, such as Puppy Linux or Tiny Core, that will place less demand on your usb stick, prolonging its' useful life. However, these distros tend to require more effort to maintain or configure, since they use specialized techniques to manage their filesystems, and use more traditional X-based tools. However, they do do offer very good performance in return for the extra effort, and are actually just fun. If you decide to try one out, I suggest Puppy 5.25, as it can access Ubuntu's Lucid repos as well as the Puppy repos. But the install to USB stick is nowhere near as easy as Ubuntu.