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How do I install Ubuntu to a USB key?

This is my problem. I burned Ubuntu 11.10 iso to a CD. I was able to boot my PC with it. I plugged in my flash drive, and inserted the CD and restarted the computer to boot Ubuntu.

I then chose to install Ubuntu alongside with Windows (XP prof.). Then I was able to select my flash drive as the installation location. I prepared partitons by dragging a bar and allocating the size for the Ubuntu installation, and for other files. I set 3GB for ubuntu and 1GB for other files. The pen drive was partitioned and files installed on it. After sucess I ejected the CD to restart the PC to use the new OS.

When it restarted I expected to be asked to select an OS to boot. But I could only boot with Windows XP. Properties of my flash drive show its total capacity is 1GB. The partitioned 3GB is missing.

  1. How can I boot with the USB stick?
  2. How can I get my 4GB USB stick back?
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marked as duplicate by Takkat, Jorge Castro, Eliah Kagan, Mitch, stephenmyall Oct 3 '12 at 8:12

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Did you set the boot order correctly in your BIOS? It sounds like you got everything right except for that. – Tom Brossman Oct 2 '12 at 20:01
now how can i get to use all 4GB in the flash drive after it. in windows xp it shows only 1GB as the capasity of my flash drive. @Tom Brossman – lakshitha Oct 2 '12 at 20:13
It's normal, XP cannot 'see' the 3GB partition because it is ext3 (or 4) which XP doesn't recognize. Just ignore that. Make sure you set the boot order to CD then USB then HDD in the BIOS. Not all computers can do this, especially if it's old. – Tom Brossman Oct 2 '12 at 20:16
ok after testing ubuntu, i need to prepair my pen as a normal 4gb one. which i can use with win XP. so how can i do it. @Tom Brossman – lakshitha Oct 2 '12 at 20:21
This is how to install Ubuntu to a USB drive:… – Takkat Oct 2 '12 at 21:25

I'm pretty sure you have to boot from bios again and choose boot from us drive again. Or enter into bios and set for boot from usb or cd first before harddrive options.

Edit: You have to just install ubuntu on the usb flashdrive. Reinstall ubuntu to the flashdrive not boot alongside windows xp. So make sure your flashdrive is mounted

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in my boot order it dont show usb. it shows hdd, dwd drive only. i think that i will have to install it on my HDD. seperate space from C. now is their no way to get the all 4GB in my flash drive back @user93328 – lakshitha Oct 2 '12 at 20:10
yes you can, you can either reformat it in windows xp or from the ubuntu live cd. – user93328 Oct 2 '12 at 20:21

Two problems: One, Your computer cannot boot from USB drive. Two, 3GB is probably too small for a full Ubuntu installation. Even if it installed without an error, it may not run properly once it tries to download updates etc. See minimum recommended requirements

Your best bet is to start over from the beginning.

First, get rid of the Ubuntu installation in the USB drive. To do this,

  1. boot windows and copy all the files you need from the USB drive to a folder.
  2. Format the whole USB drive in Windows so that Ubuntu is gone and you get all of the 4GB back.
  3. Copy the files from the folder back to USB drive.

Second, Boot from the Live CD and install Ubuntu in your hard drive alongside Windows.

Best of luck.

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1st set your bios boot order correctly.(select usb device on 1st order then other else).

2nd Ubuntu need to take some space to install(minimum 3gb).If you not satisfy format your usb device you will get back your 4gb space.

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See the problem is that the boot loader probably doesn't know anything about Ubuntu. I am guessing GRUB knows about Windows, but it isn't being loaded first. My guess is you need to get into the Windows boot laoder and make a configuration change in there.

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so how can i do it. please explain @aserwin – lakshitha Oct 2 '12 at 20:17
-1 sorry this isn't helpful. – Tom Brossman Oct 2 '12 at 20:17
Right answers usually aren't! ;) – aserwin Oct 2 '12 at 20:20
The answer is in his explanation of his process. He chosse to install along side of Windows, but he didn't install in the same place that Windows is. Grub makes a record of Windows, but grub is never laoded, the Windows boot loader is... which has no knowledge of Ubuntu. – aserwin Oct 2 '12 at 20:22
I realised that my pc cannot boot from usb. so is it possible to do it in the way its explained here, GRUB or windows boot loader, i dont understand these thgings, please explain it clearly how to do so.. @aserwin – lakshitha Oct 2 '12 at 20:49

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