I would like to install Ubuntu to a USB Flash Drive so that when I boot my computer I can boot into the Flash Drive which will have UBUNTU Installed. The objective here is to put some tools on the Ubuntu system that offers recovery tools for the Operating system. Similar to a recovery partition on a computer. Is this possible? also is this Possible for Windows?

Thank you in advanced.

  • 1
    yes it is possible for ubuntu. i think it is possible for windows too but it is a much larger operating system so you will need a huge usb stick
    – nathan hayfield
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 0:44

4 Answers 4


To bring a vocabulary point : what you seek is a "persistent" Live USB, or persistent USB installation. Knowing that term you can readily find instructions from a lot of web pages.

You have a million option. Distros specialized in live CDs may be nice (Knoppix, Puppy). Historically they ran from CD and allowed to saved data on floppy, HDD or USB (still can do), working purely from USB is a natural evolution for them. Ubuntu is nice as I presume you know it well. Linux Mint is the same, but has flash, java, codecs out of the box even on a DVD. Choose a distro variant with a lightweight desktop if needed.

For rescue (command line only, boot to six root terminals) PLD Rescue CD is very likable (lots of stuff like dd, sshfs, ntfs-progs, chntpw, fdisk etc.)

For Windows I may mention there's Windows 8 "ready to go" but you need the Enterprise edition and this costs money.


Not sure if this is possible for Windows, but with Ubuntu (or any Linux distro) it is very easy. Create a VM without a virtual HD, and when installing set the location to the USB stick.

  • Thank you for the quick response Tony. So once I install to the USB stick will it be boot-able, for instance once I boot the windows PC I can boot into the thumb drive.
    – rwatts
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 8:43
  • In the meantime I will try this post and reply with results shortly.
    – rwatts
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 8:49

Yes, check out http://www.pendrivelinux.com. There's a tool there which can install various linux distros onto a USB drive, using syslinux to boot them.

For low-level tools, also check out http://www.ultimatebootcd.com, which can also go on a USB stick, though its tools are more CLI and less GUI.

Windows is a much more difficult beast, and I doubt it's possible to do in a manner which would be practical for your end goal.


Yes it is possible. You can download Linux Live USB Creator. with this, I was able to put a ubuntu iso image on my LaCie iamakey USB. It only used about 1GB on my USB which had a total capacity of 4GB. Yes, I have Windows7 and was able to use VirtualBox in Windows7 to boot up Ubuntu. Also, set your boot order to boot from USB and stick the USB in before you boot up and it'll boot directly into Ubuntu. I've only "tried" Ubuntu and not installed it but it worked just fine. Hope this helps some.

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