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I'm wondering if it's possible to create a sort of dual booting USB flash drive that can install either operating system.

I have a copy of Windows 8.1 and a copy of Ubunutu, my computer is currently running Windows 7. I want to format the drive and then load both the new OS's on, but I don't have a second USB drive or DVD drive. If I format the drive I will lose these images.

I understand that I could just create a boot drive for one OS and put the image file for the other onto the drive, then when I've got one OS running just do the same with the second OS image that I saved to the drive. But I was just wondering if it's possible to do something like this?

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Yes and no.

To accomplish this, you'd need multiple partitions on the USB flash drive -- one for each operating system installer. This is doable, but with two caveats:

  1. Almost all BIOSes support booting off USB flash drives, but most do not support selecting which partition to boot from. The BIOS will boot from whichever partition is flagged as 'active'. You'd have to flag the appropriate partition as bootable every time you wanted to switch.
  2. Windows specifically does not support multiple partitions on a USB flash drive that has it's removable media bit (RMB) set. In practice, almost all flash drives have this. If you insert a flash drive that has multiple partitions on it into a Windows system, it will probably only see the first partition in the best case. In the worst case, it won't see it as formatted at all.
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  • Alright so it seems like my best option would to be to just store the Ubuntu image on the windows boot usb then when I've installed windows, format the boot drive for ubunutu. Will there be any problems storing the Ubuntu image on the windows boot drive? (like does it check hashes of the drive or anythin)? – James Hay Sep 27 '14 at 0:38
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    I'm not sure what you mean by "storing the Ubuntu image on the windows boot drive". If you mean the ISO file, then yeah put it on the USB stick with the Windows files. Windows won't care if there are extra files on it. Then once Windows is installed, reformat the USB stick for Linux boot. – Wes Sayeed Sep 27 '14 at 0:44
  • Yeah that's what I meant. Cheers – James Hay Sep 27 '14 at 2:43
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I think what you're looking for SARDU

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  • I use Sardu from 2 years it is very good application – Mohannd Sep 27 '14 at 0:46
  • Sardu says I must download all the ISO's using it's download manager? I don't really want to do that, I already have a copy of Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu that I would like to use. – James Hay Sep 27 '14 at 2:43
  • No you don't need download , only but the iso files in the iso folder sarducd.it/tutorial – Mohannd Sep 27 '14 at 3:08
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yumi is a good choice for me. It handles the iso exctraction and partitioning. It also has a nice gui when you boot, and a helpful interface for removing ISO files when you are done. The only thing it doesn't do is downloads the ISO for you like unetbootin. And I don't know if it was just a victim of circumstance but I could only get the archlinux usb to boot when I used isohybrid and dd.

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