I am using Windows XP and I want to install Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx on my 16 GB pen drive. I have a live Ubuntu disc. I want my install to be persistent so that whatever changes I make are preserved. I do not want to alter my MBR but I want to able to boot fro my pen drive through BIOS.

  • No replies.... :( :(
    – User
    Jun 1 '10 at 14:20
  • 2
    You need to be a little more patient. Jun 1 '10 at 14:39

It works. I use a Jaunty install on a 16GB drive.
I dont expect Lucid to be any problem -- will be shifting to it shortly myself.

Ubuntu Wiki: LiveUsbPendrivePersistent

Update: I completed one 8GB flash drive install of Lucid yesterday.
Some points to remember,

  1. With Lucid, you can use the System, Administration menu
    to install after booting with the LiveCD
  2. Remember to select the Advanced button after setting up your flash drive partition as root -- you must select the flash drive device (probably /dev/sdb) to write the MBR.
    That way you wont kill the normal boot sequence of your machine.
    • You can then plug the USB on any USB Bootable machine to boot into your Ubuntu system
    • I usually tap the BIOS Boot Menu key at machine startup to manually select booting through the USB with such a bootable Ubuntu flash
  3. You can also have an extra data partition on the 16GB drive
    (Ubuntu footprint will usually not exceed 10GB even after you install several additional things).
    • If you make a partition that you might want to use as data space on a Windows machine,
      it will be accessible only if its the first partition.
    • So, use gparted to make a vfat or fat32 primary (of say 6GB),
      then, mark the rest as logical and create your root partition (and a swap if you wish)
    • Install Ubuntu in this logical root partition.
    • You can mount the 6GB space from Ubuntu and still use the key as a 6GB drive on Windows (when you have not booted through it)
      • Imagine the Possibilities!
  4. It would be wise to keep backing up any data you have on the flash drive
    to a more permanent storage regularly
    This will protect you from loss or damage of the tiny Ubuntu OS you can carry around with you

Of course, BACKUP, BACKUP and BACKUP first and foremost !!!!

I installed Ubuntu Lucid Lynx on a 16GB memory stick with no major issue. However, there is ONE thing that you need to be extremely careful about. At the very last window before confirming and going ahead, you need to click on the advanced button, to change the location of the master boot record for the startup. By default, it will install itself on /dev/sda, or /dev/hda, depending on your hard disk. This is your main booting hard disk, and it will screw up your hard disk. Make sure it is instead installed on the USB stick device, which should be something /dev/sdb, or /dev/sdc.

I would also recommend that you have NO other USB storage device on your computer at that time, and if you can temporarily disconnect your hard disk, it is even safer.

I screwed up two hard disks with this, once with JoliCloud, and once with Ubuntu 10.04.

I would also recommend that you have no swap partition. Such partition is accessed a lot and your memory stick has a finite number of writes it can sustain before becoming defective. If this is only to experiment with Ubuntu before doing the big move, don't worry. If you want to have it permanently on the stick for portable use, remove the swap partition, expanding the main partition instead.

But otherwise, it works like a charm.


If your BIOS supports disabling and enabling SATA and IDE ports, you don't have to worry about accidently overwriting your current MBR. Just disable them first.

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