Can it be done? I was thinking of installing to an external SSD I have, and connect it to my computers [*] with a USB to SATA enclosure or cable. I know what version I want, so there's no need for testing, and it seems double work to first create a live USB, and then install it to the SSD.

I would like to install straight from the ISO file. If it turns out I don't like the distro I choose, I just repeat the same process for another distro. This SSD is expendible so no worries about wear and tear from a lot of read and write actions. SSDs are almost at the same price as USB keys now, so if I can skip using USB sticks in Ubuntu installations, that's great.

[*] I understand that Ubuntu needs to be adapted to the hardware it will run on, so I'll probably only use one computer and configure it for that device.

Edit My question is possibly a duplicate of Easy Full Install USB that Boots both BIOS and UEFI I said no first, thought it was referring to another question, but I don't see any way to change my answer (in the box that popped up above my question).

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    Does this answer your question? Install Ubuntu from iso file using grub2 Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 20:50
  • This answer assumes you have a GRUB2 available. Doesn't that mean I need to have a working Ubuntu installation ready? Or simply, if I have no Ubuntu, only Windows 10, how can I have a GRUB2?
    – theodorn
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 20:57
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    It's much simpler to create installation media and forget this question, hands down. Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 22:10
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    You can install from an Image file. just download the image file and flash it to the SSD using Rufus, Etcher, Win32DiskImager etc. See: askubuntu.com/questions/1300454/… No need for an installer USB or the time it takes to make one. Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 3:16
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    @PJ Singh I have posted the important parts below. Flashing the image file to SSD will create a 15GB partition with a Full install of Ubuntu on it. (not a Live install), The rest of the drive will be overwritten with blank space. The 15GB partition can be stretched to the size desired, 50 or 100GB.or whatever. The remaining space can be filled with a NTFS partition that may be handy when plugged into a Windows computer. If you have a spare USB 15GB or larger give it a try, You can flash it to USB in Ubuntu using Disks, mkusb, Etcher, dd or SDC. P7zip is not required when using mkusb. Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


Install Ubuntu to SSD from a Pre-built Image File.

The USB drive should boot on almost any modern X86-64 computer, either Legacy mode or UEFI mode.

enter image description here

Thanks to sudodus, creator of mkusb, for the image file.

In Windows it may be necessary to install 7Zip before proceeding. Rufus and Etcher will use it when working with the .xz image: https://www.7-zip.org/a/7z1900-x64.exe

  • Looks good, but can I choose to boot from the BIOS, so the Windows bootloader will be unchanged, and the non-Windows SSD appear as a boot option? I do NOT want GRUB2 to replace the Windows bootloader.
    – theodorn
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 17:16
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    @theodorn: Yes, of course, Set the SSD as first hard drive, Windows can be added to Ubuntu's GRUB, or hit ESC, F2, F9 , F!2 or what ever, to boot from the SSD each time. Just like if you were booting from Live USB. The image has both BIOS and UEFI boot partitions and will boot in either mode. Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 0:16
  • A little follow-up. I ended up installing Kubuntu 21.04, the old-fashioned way. Replaced my 1TB HDD with a Kingston 120GB A400 SSD in an MSI-GE73 laptop. Created a live USB, and then did a full install on the Kingston.
    – theodorn
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 9:42
  • Though outside the scope of this question, it is worth noting that the Kubuntu installer placed the GRUB2 bootloader on the Kingston, without me even opting for it. Actually there was no option to decide that manually, since I chose the Kingston A400 for the install. I decided to let Kubuntu create partitions automatically, as there was nothing else on the SSD and I wanted to use it for the Kubuntu and nothing else. If I need to move data between OSes, I'll just use portable disks.
    – theodorn
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 9:48
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    I would not know where to find a pre-built Ubuntu Studio or Kubuntu Image. I think someday image files of all types will be common. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 9:59

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