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Can I create a bootable USB on a MAC which I can use on a toshiba laptop which is basically stuffed ?

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Please rephrase your question. How do you want to use it on what kind of laptop that is stuffed with what? – aquaherd Jan 17 '13 at 21:58
I went through the process with unetbootin and created a bootable? USB. The laptop attempts to boot from it and shows "missing operating system" and hangs. If I just boot the laptop I get the grub menu that shows Android or Windows as options - this was from a previous attempt to get the pc working with Android. If I choose windows all I get is a BOOTMGR missing error. – paulisabout Jan 23 '13 at 9:57
I tried both the standalone down load and the distribution method with unetbootin and neither works. Would a different version ISO work. When I used unetbootin for creating a bootable USB for android it worked but that was on a windows pc! – paulisabout Jan 23 '13 at 10:00

You want to create an Ubuntu live USB that boots on a non-working PC. The good news is, PC's and Macs are equally capable of this. There's no impediment to creating the flash drive for the PC just because you're doing it on a Mac.

Assuming this Mac is of relatively recent vintage, and thus has an Intel processor, the ISO images you'd write to USB for use on a Mac would be the same or similar. But even if they weren't, the architecture of an ISO image being written to a USB flash drive would not have to be the same as the architecture of the machine writing it.

Writing an Ubuntu Live USB on a Mac, to Use on a PC

Assuming your Mac is running OS X, you can write the ISO image to the USB flash drive using this method or one of the methods presented here. It's advisable first to check the ISO's MD5SUM (see below for why this may be a particularly good idea in your situation).

So here's a summary of one pretty easy way, from beginning to end:

  1. Download a desktop ISO image. Make sure it's suitable for the computer on which you want to use it. So long as you get it from there and it's a .iso file, it will be suitable, unless your laptop has a 32-bit processor and you use the 64-bit ISO image. (The other way around is fine, though if you plan to install Ubuntu on the laptop and the laptop is 64-bit, you should strongly consider the 64-bit version.)

  2. Open (shown as Terminal in Applications / Utilities). Type openssl md5 followed by a space. Drag the ISO image you downloaded from the Finder to the Terminal (this pastes its full path). Press Enter. Make sure the MD5 checksum you're shown is correct for whichever ISO file you have.

  3. There's an easy graphical way to write the ISO to a USB flash drive. Ironically, the resultant flash drive will work on a PC but not a Mac. You only want to use it on a PC, though.

    So it makes sense for you to use UNetbootin for Mac OS X. Get it from there, then run it, open up the ISO image you downloaded (select Diskimage instead of Distribution in UNetbootin), and write it to the USB flash drive.

    UNetbootin on Mac OS X, about to write an Ubuntu ISO to a USB flash drive (the drive still needs to be selected)
    UNetbootin on Mac OS X, about to write an Ubuntu ISO to a USB drive (image contributed by Elisabeth Terrio)

    Be careful not to write it to the wrong drive, as if you do that, it will overwrite that drive's contents with an Ubuntu live system!

Can it be used on the non-working / stuffed / borked laptop?

The bad news is that your laptop could be broken in ways that keep it from booting at all, even from a USB flash drive.

  • This is why it's a good idea to MD5 test the ISO as described above. If it doesn't work, you don't know if it's a bad download ...or just trouble getting the Toshiba laptop to boot it.

But if the OS is installed on your laptop (here, Windows) is what's broken, that's fine. You can boot from an Ubuntu live USB. With the live system, you can use the computer (but you cannot save any files permanently to the live system, you must use a separate volume for that). You can also access files in the Windows system (which is handy, as it lets you recover documents and other important files).

You can also install Ubuntu. If you don't plan to attempt repairing your Windows system, the best way is usually to offload all the important files from it, then install Ubuntu to use the entire disk (which will overwrite it, so you must have your documents elsewhere, preferably in two places so they're backed up).

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Sadly that did not work - see above! – paulisabout Jan 23 '13 at 10:45
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well I finally found an answer that allows me to create a bootable USB of Ubuntu.....

In effect this allows you to mount an image on the USB and off you go. It uses Terminal in OS X to unmount the USB, copy the .ISO file renamed to .DMG using the dd (convert and copy) and unmount it again. Amazing it worked. My UNIX is very old so that might not have worked. The throwback of dd to JCL was amazing.... No reason it should not work for a Windows.ISO!If you really wanted that!!!! Ubuntu is now installed on my PC at last and death to windows8 which someone calls an operating system! Hurray.

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