Install Ubuntu from USB stick

Installing Ubuntu from a USB is useful if you have a computer without a CD drive (such as a netbook), or prefer the convenience of a USB flash drive instead to burn a CD. Alternative methods are available of course. You can install Ubuntu from inside Windows or from CD image. This method is similar as installing Ubuntu from CD. First we need to download ISO image and then to save it in a special way to USB stick so later on we can boot from it.

Prepare Ubuntu bootable USB from Windows

If you are Windows user you have couple of options but the easiest one is to use Pen Drive Linux or UNetbootin. Both programs are similar and they both do exactly the same task but we are going to use the second one, because it is open source. So go to the web site of UNetbootin and download it or follow this link for direct download. UNetbootin does not need installation – just save it to some directory. Here are the steps:

1. Insert USB memory stick into computer.
2. Start UNetbootin.
3. From the main screen select Distribution.
4. Then from drop down box select Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro that you wish to install from USB).
5. Then select the version of Ubuntu or better leave it by default for the latest version of selected Linux distribution.
6. Make sure that you see USB drive inserted and mapped in our case as F:.
7. Then click OK button and wait until UNetbootin download and save selected Linux distribution to USB drive. Obviously in this case your computer needs to be connected to Internet.
8. If you already downloaded Ubuntu and just want to save it to USB. You can select Diskimage, then click button and then from File Open Dialog select ISO image that you want to save to USB flash.

Ubuntu save to USB drive

Prepare to install Ubuntu from USB

And here are the progress of preparation of bootable USB stick.
Unetbootin Prepare Ubuntu Progress

Save Ubuntu to USB from Linux

If you are running already Linux and want to prepare bootable USB flash drive juts follow next easy steps.

1. Download Ubuntu or any other Linux ISO image that you need to save it.
2. Open Terminal.
3. Insert USB memory stick into computer.
4. Type dmesg to see to which device USB was assigned.

howopensource@ubuntu:~$ dmesg
[21704.383412] USB Mass Storage support registered.
[21705.380872] scsi 6:0:0:0: Direct-Access     General  USB Flash Disk   1.00 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
[21705.381737] sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 0
[21705.382457] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] 7831552 512-byte logical blocks: (4.00 GB/3.73 GiB)
[21705.382953] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
[21705.382956] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Mode Sense: 03 00 00 00
[21705.383750] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] No Caching mode page found
[21705.383796] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
[21705.386078] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] No Caching mode page found
[21705.386119] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
[21705.387475]  sdb: sdb1
[21705.390321] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] No Caching mode page found
[21705.390362] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
[21705.390406] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk

5. USB device is sdb.
6. Now write ISO image to that device using Disk Cloning command dd.

howopensource@ubuntu:~$ sudo dd if=ubuntu-14.04.1-desktop-i386.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M
howopensource@ubuntu:~$ sudo sync

7. Parameter if stands for input file and of for output file. Basically you specify ISO image and where to write it. Parameter bs specify byte buffer.
8. After that do not forget to run sudo sync in order changes to be flushed to USB.

Here are the three commands you need to execute:

howopensource@ubuntu:~$ dmesg
howopensource@ubuntu:~$ sudo dd if=ubuntu-14.04.1-desktop-i386.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M
howopensource@ubuntu:~$ sudo sync

For more info look into the screenshot and pay attention to highlighted parameters which need to be replaced with proper value depending of your computer.
Install Ubuntu from USB

Next step is to restart computer and to boot from USB memory stick. During boot process press F12 to get the boot menu with available options and select to boot from USB. F12 works for most computers but if it does not work for your computer check BIOS and consult with motherboard user manual.

Finally you should get Ubuntu splash screen.

Install Ubuntu or Boot from USB

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