Home‎ > ‎

Installation Ubuntu In USB Stick

This page gives instructions on how to run Ubuntu from a USB flash drive for installation or other purposes. This may be necessary for netbooks and other computers without CD drives and is handy for others because the thumb drive is so easy to use. The Ubuntu 9.10 CD/DVD ISO images come with the necessary Windows and Linux utilities to get the system on a thumb-drive.

For Custom, manual, older versions, and technical instructions and troubleshooting see: USB Installation Media. There are also network installation options available. You can also see the instructions for USB drives from the official Install Guide.

Known Issues

The 9.10 CDs and DVDs are missing the usb-creator.exe program used by the Windows installation processes discussed below. To install the i386 desktop version to a flash drive from a disk image on Windows, use the incredibly easy process described at http://www.pendrivelinux.com/create-a-ubuntu-9-10-live-usb-in-windows/ . When you boot the resulting live persistent USB, you can install to your hard disk if you wish at any time, or not.

If you just get a black screen when running from USB, using the setting "Discarded on shutdown, unless you save them elsewhere" in usb-creator might help. Forum: 9.10 nbr issues

9.10 Netbook Remix does not bring up Broadcom WIFI automatically. Poll and install a few packages manually with dpkg to get networking up. https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/jockey/+bug/449268

If you get "Incorrect CD-ROM detected" error on detection stage, reboot, press F6 and then ESC to go to manual boot line editing, and add the option 'cdrom-detect/try-usb=true'

Gather Prerequisites

Installation Type

Netbook Remix

  • 1GB thumbdrive with everything backed up elsewhere
  • iso image file, or cd and another computer ubuntu-netbook-remix iso, or kubuntu-netbook iso, or
  • Optional, large capacity SD card for storing ISO and or backing up data

Desktop or Server

  • 2GB thumbdrive, or just do network install

Computer used to make USB disk


  • Virtual Clone Drive, or other iso reading software or CD burner and blank disk, (or disk)
  • what level access to a computer?
  • usb-creator.exe comes with the .iso

Mac OS X

Command Line Interface

Note: this procedure requires an .img file; it will not work with an .iso file.

  1. Download the desired file
  2. Open a Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/) and get admin (type login; admin name; password)

  3. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices

  4. Insert your flash media
  5. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2)

  6. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2)

  7. Execute sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.iso of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m (replace /path/to/downloaded.iso with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img, /dev/rdiskN is faster than /dev/diskN). If you see the error dd: Invalid number `1m', you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M. TIP: Use Drag and Drop to put the full path from the downloaded file in finder.app to terminal.app to except typing errors

  8. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes

  9. Restart you Mac and press alt while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB-Stick


  • usb-creator (sudo apt-get install usb-creator)
  • administrator priviledges on computer used to set up thumb drive

Acquire Ubuntu and friends ISO



Disk from friend, download, order one.. etc.

Copy files to USB stick

ISO to USB Stick USB-creator Method

From Linux

  • The utility: usb-creator can be installed normal way with apt if not allready present on your system
  • run usb-creator
  • Top Pane, You will have to click "other", locate and select the .iso image
  • Plug the- to-be-nuked- USB thumb drive into the computer, it should show up in the bottom pane.
  • You will probably have to click format, make sure you have the right device!
  • There are bugs with the formatting, It may show up as two partitions, try selecting each of them (sdb sdb1 on mine, but this changes), one should work, if not restart the computer and try again.

If you get a DBus error with USB creator: this bug report maybe helpful: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/usb-creator/+bug/458334

From Windows

Burn the ISO file to disk or mount the ISO file in a virtual drive to access the files within the image.You can also use 7Zip to extract the ISO so you can work with the files inside.

usb-creator.exe is located in the CD image. Does not exist on the 9.10 i386 image.

You won't be able to select the USB drive if it wasn't formatted in a way that windows can see it. You may have to format it using explorer, then it will show up in the creator tool

Alternatively you can use Unetbootin to create a bootable usb drive. http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

Boot the Computer From USB

Most newer computers can boot from USB, You will have to go to the bios, and put either removable drives, or USB media before the hard drive. This is computer dependant, and it also depends on which way the USB drive was formatted, on a Dell Mini 9, it may show up as either, so it may make sense to review settings again.

9.04 and before .img for netbook

If you have downloaded a .img file, please refer to the .img writing documentation

Cannot Boot the Computer From USB?

Some computers can see the USB thumb drive and have the option to boot from USB, but cannot actually boot USB. All hope is not lost.


Just follow the instructions on the PLop website.


The USB boot will only work once. This is because, the files are changed on the usb drive. To reuse this method again: delete all files on the usb drive, and prepare the usb drive again (shown below).

Prepare the USB Drive

  • check the usb drive for files and back them up if needed, all contents will be destroyed.
  • 1gb minimum for netbook, may be higher for other types.
  • The windows utility won't let you select the usb drive if the drive isn't properly formatted and mounted. Booting from a USB drive created with this utility will behave just as if you had booted from the install CD. It will show the language selection and then the install menu, from which you can install Ubuntu onto the computer's hard drive or launch the LiveCD environment.


The Ubuntu USB desktop image creator is available in the package usb-creator, usb-creator-kde on Kubuntu, or usb-creator-gtk on 9.10.

From the 8.10 release on (9.10 on for Kubuntu), Ubuntu includes the usb-creator by default on all live CDs and installations.

You can find it in System-->Administration-->Create a USB startup disk (Ubuntu Desktop) or K-Menu-->Applications-->System-->USB Startup Disk Creator (Kubuntu), if it is not there then as normal run the following command in the terminal :

sudo apt-get install usb-creator

Make sure the software-sources are activated if you are on a live cd (software sources or sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list). You may need to install the python-gnome2 package as well.

It should do everything needed you just need to have a live cd in you CD-Rom or show the usb-creator the ISO image of it and the rest of the process is automatic! (for more info how to use this tool directly by just popping in a liveCD to a Drive in a running Ubuntu desktop see also "Live USB creator" below, note that it also works directly with downloaded .iso images)

If the progress bar proceeds very slowly (1% every 10 seconds or so) you may want to make sure your usb stick is mounted without the "sync" option. This seems to work around single-byte writes bug in Jaunty's usb-creator.



This method is recommended if you are creating Linux installation to coexist with your existing Windows installation.

  • Find a usb-creator app and run it

Being moved

The mainstream method for 9.10 is using ISO cd images and usb-creator. The process can be outlined in four steps:

  • Acquire the right Ubuntu installation files and tools
  • Get Ubuntu onto your USB Flash Drive
  • Configure your computer to boot from USB Drive and boot from it
  • Install Ubuntu -- works like normal

The material on this wiki is available under a free license, see Copyright / License for details
You can contribute to this wiki, see Wiki Guide for details