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Due to encryption on my corporate laptop I opted to install Ubuntu 9.10 on a flash drive and just use it as my hard drive. I tried the vmware but it crashed my xp a couple of times. Now I have a couple of concerns since I am totally new to Ubuntu and Linux.

First, would it be possible for me to transfer my installation to a new usb drive? I now have a 4gb and it may get filled up soon, I don't seem to be able to see my actual files when I browse the usb drive. I also tried copying all files from this usb to another and boot from it but that failed.

Second, whenever the system boots up I am never prompted for a password, it is always the username ubuntu. Which I guess means if I lose my usb drive my data is open wide. Is there a way to secure it or to use users and groups as on a regular hard drive installation?

As a background, I created this by going into a working Ubuntu installation, System -> Administration -> USB Starter Disk Creator (was that the right way to start with?)


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Never tried it myself, but here's some reflections on the case:

Why it does not prompt for the password

It does not ask for the password because it wouldn't guarantee any kind of additional security on a USB stick. AFAIK the data on an USB stick created the way you did yours, is not encrypted, so it would be enough to plug your stick in another running system to access all of your data.

I believe (but I am not sure it works on that kind of installation) you could still force a password by typing in a shell:

passwd ubuntu

which actually permits you to put a password for the user ubuntu. Additionally you could change your settings in System -> Administration -> Login Screen to prevent the computer to automatically login with that user.

How would I make my installation more secure (requires re-installation)

I would plug the target USB key in the computer and boot said computer with a liveCD. Then I would select the USB key from the partition manager during the installation process (not all the sticks/BIOS combintations allows to see the stick as a drive, but most do) and install ubuntu on it the normal way but specifying that you want to encrypt your home folder, so that even if you loose your usb stick, your data won't be readable.

How to move linux installations from one drive / partition to another

Somebody has already answered that. In summary:

  1. boot using a boot CD
  2. copy all of the files from one drive to the other
  3. modify /etc/fstab (add mount points to new partitions)
  4. modify /boot/grub/menu.conf (add boot partition)
  5. reinstall grub

If you decide to experiment a bit with various GRUB configurations, the Grub Super Disk might be a useful tool to use.

Hope this helps! :)

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this isn't quite right. it doesn't prompt for password because it was created from a LiveCD -- which uses a basic default user with no password. reinstalling to the USB stick with the normal installation process would run through the basic user creation process. i think adding a password to the LiveCD user will work if the USB installation includes a persistence file; otherwise the installation is basically unchangeable (just like a LiveCD). – quack quixote Jun 10 '10 at 11:33

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