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I'm looking for a solution that allows me to run Ubuntu off a USB stick and have git and few other programs installed that I use regularly for development (FTP, IDE, GIMP, maybe even XAMPP). This way I can take a functional development environment with me without having to setup programs on other computers (sometimes not mine) and not have to worry about properly removing everything when I am done. Don't want to leave access to my github repos by accident.

I am aware of http://www.pendrivelinux.com/ which creates a "Live CD" on a USB stick.

I would really like a solution that works on any PC (Windows or Linux)

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are you aiming for a virtual environment or something bootable? Or a mix of both? –  Journeyman Geek Aug 3 '12 at 11:10
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can install Ubuntu directly to your USB stick. Just specify it during the installation as the target drive. You can then boot from your USB stick and install all kind of software you need.

Then when you are at a new computer, just boot from your USB stick. This way you have all your environment with you, not even coping a single file to the computer you are using.

This way you have both flexibility and security.

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just a short tip: usb stick is like ssd drive. optimizing the kernel to work with ssd could help protect it to last longer (ie setting swapiness to low values, mount /var/tmp into memory, mount the root particion with nodatetime flags...) –  ulkas Oct 22 '13 at 10:54
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