Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

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 have installed Ubuntu several times on my thumb drive. First times were on 8 gig thumb drives. I noticed I could not save anything as when I rebooted, it was all gone. So, I got a 30 gig drive, tried installing again.. and same thing. Now I find out I am running a LIVE version.. not actually an install. So, for the somewhat novice who cannot do command-line installs, Step by step is there a way to install ubuntu-12.04.3-desktop-i386.iso using, unetbootin-windows-585.exe to a 30 gig usb stick using my windows 7 machine? I am not running intel.

I love to death Ubuntu, but want to be able to download and install apps and have them saved. Thank you. Please, post the steps.. 1.Go to .. and download... 2.Use... to install... 3.Must format usb stick?....

Know full well how to do command line and such in windows.. just not Ubuntu.. thank you. Standing by, hoping someone posts this.. or even posts a link to where someone has RECENTLY addressed this.. all I could find is from 2011, 2010... thanks.

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Geppettvs D'Constanzo, user68186, karel, Warren Hill, Aditya Oct 29 '13 at 11:38

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.

I have not tried this but there may be a way by using a virtual machine and telling it to use a USB stick as the hard drive. See this question How do I install Ubuntu to a USB key?. It worked in 11.04 don't know if it works with current versions. – Warren Hill Oct 28 '13 at 20:03
There's nothing wrong with using instructions from '10. The instructions here still apply perfectly. – minerz029 Oct 29 '13 at 2:19

This has been answered in the past, of which I reproduce here for you my previous answer.

The answers in this question: Is there a way to install Ubuntu on usb pendrive as normal instalation (not live cd)? are also applicable to SD Cards. (Tested by me)

Pay special attention to this:

Anyway I suggest you to disconnect all your hard disk drives in your computer, specially those which are having a OS installed (Windows, Linux, etc.) as you may finish having a multi-boot USB/SD Memory with GRUB and in certain cases the bootloader can be written in a different device, other than the USB Memory/SD Card.

Included in my answer here.

Please also see the answers to this question: Is there a way to install Ubuntu on usb pendrive as normal instalation (not live cd)?

BTW: After installing in a USB/SD Card you can install whatever you want, and keep as many files as the capacity of the USB/SD allows. You can even use the USB/SD in a different computer without any problems.

Good luck!

share|improve this answer

Have a look at There you can learn how to do it. Or see this article if using Windows.

share|improve this answer

Method 1

Use a Linux Live USB creator that supports persistence - having files and settings carry over between reboots. You should note that this really sucks the life out of your USB. It won't last more than a few months of use.

Method 2

For something a bit more long term, get 2 USBs. On one, do what you've been doing so so far. On the other, do whatever you want- it'll be wiped and Ubuntu will be installed onto it. Let's call this second one the 'other' USB.

Boot from your Live USB as you have been doing before. Plug in your other USB. On your live desktop, you should see a little icon called Install Ubuntu 12.04. Run this. It may take a while every time you click something but be patient. By the way, be sure to check both boxes about installing updates while downloading, and about using proprietary software.

When choosing installation type, hit Something Else and choose your other USB. You can probably get away with making one partition on it that fills the entire thing. Also, install the boot loader to your other USB. This is in a drop down box on the partitioning screen.

The rest of the installation is pretty self explanatory.

You clearly know how to boot from a USB, so if all goes well this should be perfect.

Good Luck.

share|improve this answer
Be sure to add the boot to the root of the usb and not the sda1. (In my case sba1. You may want to be careful to double check to see the usb drive you selected is still orange before hitting the install button. It seemed to jump after I formatted it. Lastly, do not unmount the drives. This might help protect your original system, – Bhikkhu Subhuti Mar 7 at 14:20

If a smaller flash drive you want to add persistence. But that does not modify live verions, but allows saving some things. If an app is saved, it in effect has to be reinstall on every boot. But can be useful to let you save settings or your data files.

If a large flash drive it is no different than any install to another hard drive or external USB hard drive. You may want to make some changes to reduce writes and use ext4 and change it to not use journal or use ext2 to reduce writes. Supposedly some advantages to ext4 even without journal.

On screen for auto install or Something else or manual install you want manual install. All auto options install grub2 to sda, only manual install gives options on where to install boot loader and you want it in external flash drive. You do have to size, format and specify mount of / (root), swap and any other partitions if separate. If a lot of RAM you may not need nor want swap on flash drive.

How do I install Ubuntu?

Some that installed standard installer to flash, then have full install issues with first few sectors still having ISO info that interferes. If you have issues run Boot-Repair and it will zero out first 2047 sectors and reinstall grub.

share|improve this answer

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