Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I already know how to make a bootable flash drive. My question kind of involves this. I would love to make a portable hard drive with the bootable version of Ubuntu on it and be able to save my files and settings to the same hard drive. So in short when I plug it into computer A and make a word document I would like to save it to the desktop and then when I plug it into computer B the file is there on the desktop, Along with my other settings.

I would like if I could do that with any computer I can boot Ubuntu on too. If anyone knows how to make this would I would be extremely happy if you could help me out with this. I am new to Linux and don't know too much so if you could explain it to me like I am 5 years old I would appreciate it.

share|improve this question

What you are asking is already possible with a HDD (Hard Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive). You can simply insert any hard drive or SDD, install Ubuntu on it and be able to insert that same drive in other computers and it will work perfectly. Linux in general is actually not dependent of the hardware you install it in. If you install Ubuntu on an AMD computer with 4 GB of RAM and an Asus motherboard, then take the hard drive out and insert it into an Intel computer with 2 GB of RAM and an Intel motherboard, it will work without any problems.

The only exceptions are the proprietary drivers that are needed for some hardware, mainly Nvidia, Ati, Broadcom and Mac OS Computers. But you can remedy this by installing the drivers the first time you get to one of this scenarios. You won't need to do it a second time.

Now if you wish to create an installer on a Flash Drive, well you can use what karel says on his answer or as an alternative you can use the tool that comes by default with Ubuntu called Startup Disk creator. For this particular case where you want to either install Ubuntu on a HDD/SDD or a Flash Drive, you would need to execute the Disk Creator from the terminal with an additional parameter:

usb-creator-gtk --allow-system-internal

This will show you all the drives on the system (All storage devices).

What I would suggest would be to simply make a LiveUSB using the Startup Disk Creator, run the LiveUSB and either insert another Flash Drive or HDD/SDD and install the system on that unit. This way you have a LiveUSB that installs Ubuntu (Portable) and a Flash Drive / HDD / SDD that has Ubuntu already installed and is also portable.

share|improve this answer

Assuming you're currently running Windows, you should be able to follow These Directions. At the bottom of the window you'll notice a slider that lets you decide how much space should be used for persistent storage (set to 0 by default). Before clicking the Create button, make sure to adjust this to whatever size you see fit. Or, if you're running Ubuntu See Here. Again, the persistent slider is located at the bottom, although here it's referred to as "reserved extra space". Adjust as desired.


share|improve this answer
Will this allow me to boot across other platforms other then windows alone? – Leo A. Jun 13 '13 at 5:58

what your asking is to be able to run ubuntu with (saving files permenantly, as a full desktop) while still being able to use part of the hard drive to save files:)

basically take everything important off it and somewhere else

Open Gparted and delete all partitions

place your ubuntu disc in (or make one) install ubuntu (ON YOUR PORTABLE HARD DRIVE) but when it asks to use the entire space hit no, as what space you leave will be the space windows sees


open your bios and set the boot order to check for usb before the hard drives in the computer (note if your computer ever fails to boot unplug all usbs)

you should now be able to boot off the portable when its plugged in and your normal os when its not

now open gparted and go to the partable

in the unallocated space left after the install create a partition out of all the space (NTFS and primary) windows will only see the ntfs partition

boot off the portable and place a shortcut(link) in your desktop to the ntfs partition,

if you want to boot your ubuntu portable off any computer just go into the bios and select boot menu

select boot from usb:)

Hope it helps, if not feel free to comment or contact meh

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.