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I'm not entirely sure if this is possible but here it goes: I need to run Ubuntu to do some development and there may be times when I'm stuck with a Windows machine or a Mac OS X machine.

My first thought was to use a thumb drive with a VM to do this however it's also possible some machines may have less ram than optimal for a VM.

Is it possible to then do the following:

  • Install Ubuntu as a bootable OS onto the thumb drive itself so I can boot directly into ubuntu on a machine.

  • Use the same Ubuntu installation inside of a VM on more powerful machines.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you need only a few development tools from linux on a Windows machine for some light work, consider Cygwin. You can save some time and effort with this.

As for the original question:

Install Ubuntu as a bootable OS onto the thumb drive itself so I can boot directly into ubuntu on a machine.

Yes, this possible. You have two options:

  • Creating a Live USB Stick (similar to a Live CD). Read this post for details.
  • Create a persistent install that remembers changes that you make between reboots (unlike a live installation which gives you a clean slate every time you boot). Take a look at this article for details.

Note that both the posts were written for Ubuntu 9.10, so you many need to make a few tweaks/changes if you're using some other version.

Use the same Ubuntu installation inside of a VM on more powerful machines.

This is also possible. You can install Ubuntu on a VM on one of the machines and "export" the installed image for use on the 2nd machine (I know VirtualBox offers this functionality for sure, though its a little slow). This approach will work if you have only a few machines that need this VM environment.

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Thanks. This helps but I ended up going for just using VMWare as some of these options weren't quite working out and VMWare seems to work fine for now. – Kris Mar 5 '12 at 2:36

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