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I want to make a persistent live Ubuntu/ Mint usb drive with more than 4gb of storage. I know there is an option of installing linux directly on the drive but I dont want to do this as it will restrict the drive from working on different computers. One options is to make an additional partition with extra space but if i do this how do I make newly installed software be stored on this partition?


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Doing a Full install to USB drive will not restrict the drive from working on other computers unless proprietary drivers are installed, (Nvidia, etc). – C.S.Cameron Feb 8 at 3:37
up vote 23 down vote accepted

The current Unix USB Installers (e.g. LinuxPenDrive) create a persistent file on the boot partition together with the other files needed for booting. This boot partition is formatted with FAT32 and because of limitations in FAT32, the maximum size of this file is 4GB. To have more persistent storage, this file can be replaced by a partition. The size of such a partition is only limited by the size of the USB drive.

I used the GParted partition manager to resize the FAT32 partition and make space for a big EXT4 partition for the persistent storage. The persistent file can simply be deleted and at the next boot, the Ubunty system will automatically use the bigger persistent partition. There is one complication, though: you need another Ubuntu system to do this because Ubuntu cannot modify its own active boot partition.

I used a 2nd USB drive with Ubuntu live. For the instructions below I used "32 bit Ubuntu 13.10 desktop" version.

  • Install Ubuntu live on 2 USB drives. Configure a small persistent storage of around 100 MB for each of the USB drives
  • Boot Ubuntu from one of the USB drives. Make sure the other USB drive is unplugged
  • Start "GParted Partition Editor" from the Ubuntu Dash. This partition manager is default installed in 13.10.
  • Insert the other USB drive, wait a short moment and do a refresh in GParted (Ctrl + R). You will notice that a new device is added at bottom of the list of devices. Check that the size matches with the target USB drive. Select this device (see example picture below, the device name can be different on your system)

enter image description here

  • Check that the mount point (/media/ubuntu/UUI) is identical as in above picture
  • Open a terminal window (Ctrl + Alt + T) and remove the persistent file with the following command (adjust this command if the mount point is different in your case) :

    rm -v /media/ubuntu/UUI/casper-rw

  • Refresh GParted (Ctrl + R) and notice the change in "Used"

  • Right-click on the partition and select unmount. You will notice that the Mount Point is no longer displayed.

  • Right-click on the partition and select Resize/Move. Select New size: 1000. This will leave some space to store additional or updated files. Click "Resize/Move". An "unallocated" partion will appear

  • Now create a new partition for the persistent storage. Select the unallocated partition and right click on New.

  • Select File system: ext4 and Label: casper-rw and click Add

enter image description here

  • Check if everything looks OK and click on the green check-mark to apply all pending operations.

enter image description here

  • Shutdown Ubuntu, remove the first USB drive (this USB drive is no longer needed) and reboot from the second USB drive.

  • Open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and type the following command:

    df . -h

    Check that the Avail size matches with the persistent partition size you created...

enter image description here

Have fun with it


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This worked to me up until clicking the check mark to apply all operations. Then I got an error message from linux, I forget the exact wording but the 'system detected an error would you like to report the problem' one. I went back into gparted and I am unable to mount, resize, create partition or do anything to the drive now. Should I just format it and start over? – user137717 Aug 18 '15 at 4:24
This method does not work with 64 bit Ubuntu 14.04 and later. – C.S.Cameron Feb 8 at 11:45

After several failed attempts with Startup Disk Creator I finally succeeded with mkusb following the instructions from here:

or here:

The following lines indicate the steps I tried and worked for me with Lubuntu 15.10 on the same OS.

  1. Install mkusb

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mkusb/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install mkusb

  1. If you do not have an official ubuntu (Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu ...) ISO image download one.

  2. Run mkusb

    sudo mkusb

when the password is requested enter the admin password

  1. then in the mkusb window select the ISO image you have downloaded.
  2. I have also toggled the option to have a persistent drive created.
  3. Select the option to install the selected ISO image.
  4. Click OK and then select the Drive on witch to install (BE careful to select the correct drive!)
  5. Choose the amount of memory you want to use for persistent data
  6. Click OK and wait for install to finish
  7. Then reboot system.

If you did not check it until now make sure that the bios settings allow booting from USB before HDD.

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Thanks, good stuff – pylover yesterday

So what you do is you make a startup disc. (Dash, search "Startup Disc")

Then, you want to install GParted with:

sudo apt-get install gparted

When that is done, open GParted and resize the one current partition to the smallest 1/2 GB unit you can (i.e. 0.5 GB, 1.0 GB, 1.5 GB). Select the option to create a (tiny) persistent file. When that is done, delete the persistent file and empty your trash. (I know, unnecessary, but I do it and it always works)

After that is done, create an EXT2 partition, labelled casper-rw. casper-rw is the most important part here! Make that as large as you can.

Plug that into a pc and enjoy.

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Thanks for the response. What if i don't have Startup Disc? All I have available are windows or linux mint. Maybe someway to do this with unetbootin? – Jakobovski Dec 31 '13 at 3:03
start with unetbootin for all the steps BEFORE the ext2 creation. Then, boot into mint and install gparted and carry on. – Kaz Wolfe Dec 31 '13 at 3:41
Thanks for the help. I cant find the 'create persistent file' option in gparted. – Jakobovski Jan 1 '14 at 23:17
You make the persistent in UNETBOOTIN. You make the ext2 partition in gparted. – Kaz Wolfe Jan 2 '14 at 2:44

protected by Community Dec 17 '15 at 0:54

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