I'm planning on installing Ubuntu 16.04.6 Desktop (32-bit) on a USB drive, like so, along with a FAT32 partition. (Full installation, not live CD.)

Are there any problems with this? For example:

  • Will it work in most systems (including 64-bit)?
  • Will the installation contain only the drivers needed for the computer used for the installation?

Note: I am not asking how to do it. I'm asking if there are any problems and whether I should do this.

  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How do I install Ubuntu to a USB key? (without using Startup Disk Creator)
    – karel
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 13:14
  • 1
    Think the only problems would be a some what slower experience and usb sticks would have a higher failure rate to hard drives. Would make sure to backup important stuff often.
    – crip659
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 13:17
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    FWIW - I did a full install on a 64GB drive and have it just plugged in to my Dell PC, and on boot choose "Ubuntu" as the OS. I use it for some Python stuff and general web surfing so far without any issues. I'd say the biggest limitation is the read/write speed of the USB might limit me but I've used it for ~4 months so far no problems (I'm on Ubuntu Disco).
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 21:20

4 Answers 4


Will it work in most systems (including 64-bit)?


Will the installation contain only the drivers needed for the computer used for the installation?

Ubuntu doesn't install specific drivers for each machine, it' has a full stack of drivers.

You can, and should, during the installation, mark the box "Installing propietary drivers"

I have install Lubuntu 16 and so far it works, on every machine I could try.

  • 5
    While the most systems only include x86 compatible ones… It won’t work on a Raspberry Pi, for example.
    – Melebius
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 7:49

Advantages of a Persistent install

  1. You can use the Persistent pendrive to install Ubuntu to another computer.

  2. A Persistent install takes up less space on the pendrive.

  3. You can reset the Persistent pendrive by overwriting the old casper-rw file with a new one.

  4. The Persistent install to pendrive takes less time.

  5. Slightly less wear on the drive.

Advantages of a Full install

  1. You can update and upgrade a Full Install.

  2. If you have problems or wish to modify, the solution is the same as with an internal install, (You can ask for help in forums).

  3. No ugly startup / install screen.

  4. Better security, you can encrypt a Full Install.

  5. You can use proprietary drivers.

  6. Hibernation works.

  7. There is no 4GB casper-rw or 4GB home-rw persistence file size limitation.

  8. Generally faster boot than Live or Persistent USBs.


No - You should be able to do this just fine. In fact, so long as you're booting it onto a 64 bit computer, you can use the 64 bit version. And so long as you're doing that, you may as well go ahead and use 18.04, instead.

The drawbacks to this are fairly obvious:

  • you'll be limited to the size of the storage space on the USB drive
  • it will boot/read/write only as fast as your USB port will let it.

Other than that, go for it. I actually keep an install on a keychain for "emergencies"

  • Thanks. I don't think the storage space or the read/write speeds will be a big problem (at least for me).
    – D. Pardal
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 14:03

It will work fine, I've been doing this for years. I carry a USB drive with a FAT32 partition for file storage and an XUbuntu installation with tools like GParted for helping my family with computer trouble. So far, it booted without problems on every computer I've tried it on.

If you do go this route, I recommend using a high-end USB 3 drive. I've had best experiences with the SanDisk Extreme series. A poor quality drive, like the ones sometimes given away for free at tech events, will make the operating system less responsive and may be worn down by its frequent small writes.

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