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i want to try out ubuntu but i want to load it onto a USB drive first, if i do this can i still use my USB drive for other storage or will it become completely dedicated to running ubuntu?

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Yes, you will be able to use the drive for other things although some of its capacity will be used by Ubuntu files.

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I found out in quite a dramatic way (long story) that yes, you can use it for other things. However, if you are using the Startup Disk Creator, make sure not to click the button that erases the drive if you already have things on there. Creating a live usb does not automatically erase what is already present on the drive.

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You will still be able to use the usb drive, but just not from the live ubuntu session, because it will be mouted as /

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If you do a persistent install your first partition will be Fat32. Both Ubuntu and Windows can read and write to FAT32.

When booted from a persistent install, the data on the flash drive can be found in filesystem/cdrom. You need to be Root to access it.

A full install of Ubuntu on flash drive can be made with the first partition being FAT32 or NTFS and / on a following partition. You can access this first partition without being Root.

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