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How to install and update Ubuntu to a Pen drive

I am brand new to Linux/Ubuntu; still a devoted Win7 fan who is running Linux from a USB just to play around with it. All I can say is WOW!

But here's what I want to do: I have a freind who has a old Dell laptop, not sure if its running Xp or Vista; but the O/S is all screwed up. Now, what I'd like to do is to pretty much give her a "brand new computer" in the form of Ubuntu run from a stick or CD. This would give her full out-of-box functionality of her laptop while at the same time protecting all of her crrent user files.

My questions: I would assume that using a good large capacity USB wuld be the best way to go for docs, jpgs, mp3, exe's, etc. Would a second USB stick be good for stand-alone files? Exe's would have to be on the drive containing the O/S?

(I would also assume that in this case the best idea might be to get a full backup HDD; even a solid state drive - but then again, backward compatibility for 7 yr old hardware?)

Since my own Linux USB is brand new; can O just simply make a copy of the .iso to another USB for her; or would I have to again download the .iso and its installer directly to her possibly corrupted Windows O/S?

what I am seeing is that all she would have to do is to boot into her BIOS, select which O/S she wants to use; in effect a brand new computer for the cost of a USB...

Also; on my own 64 bit win7 system running Ubuntu on an 8GB stick - it seems I can't download exe's?

marked as duplicate by Uri Herrera, Jorge Castro, jrg Mar 7 '12 at 20:28

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Don't confuse a proper Ubuntu installation to an ISO made bootable from USB (aka Live USB). The latter is mostly intended for trying/testing Ubuntu before installing, as well as installing (obviously), and could also be used for rescuing files from a system that wouldn't boot. It's not intended for any kind of long term deployment, every day use, programs installation, updating, downloading large files, and so on.

In the case of your friend, it would be best to have Ubuntu installed properly to another HDD (could be USB) or the same HDD alongside Windows.

PS: Ubuntu doesn't use EXEs. :~)


I would suggest you take this approach, it is basically a way to save her files and then set up her "brand new computer".

1- Download Ubuntu desktop ISO, but it sounds like you already have that, so step one is done. 2- Install the ISO to a USB memory drive or stick so it is bootable. The way to do that is described here.

3- get another USB memory stick/drive handy 4- boot from the drive on which you installed the ISO. Note that you cannot just copy the ISO image to the drive and make it boot, it must be installed. If the Laptop is too old to boot from USB drive, then use your CD burning software to burn a CD from the ISO image. Again, it is NOT a CD with the ISO file but a CD that contains the ISO content. (think of an ISO as a picture of a CD or DVD, you have to reinstall that picture exactly as the original or it won't work). 5- Once the laptop is booted, use the other drive and copy the files from the hard disk with Windows to the extra drive. You are now backing up all the user data files. Be liberal because you will need the backups.

Now that ALL you files of interest are backed up, install Ubuntu on the HD of the laptop. You have 2 basic options; 1) wipe the HD and install Clean or 2) Install side by side with windows, which assumes you have enough disk space.

I suggest you wipe the HD and install clean. This will delete all the files on the HD which is why you did the backup. Once the install is done, put the files from the second USB back onto the Ubuntu HD. Many of the files will open and data available.

Some files will not open because applications in Windows are different that applications in Ubuntu. If you were thinking that you would boot Ubuntu and still open user files using the applications installed in Windows, I am sorry to say that will not work as you wish, and sort of doing that is an advanced topic.

So I hope you want to save the files and start fresh with Ubuntu. Many office documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) work fine in OpenOffice or LibreOffice (free with Ubuntu), but Outlook .pst files will not open in evolution althought some folks have had good success importing the data.

I hope this helps.

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