I am a tech support technician and I am using the shred function in ubuntu to securely wipe company laptops. I am currently using the desktop version and clicking "try" in order to run this command and then move onto the next laptop without needing to install. I want to use a version of Ubuntu that just boots to command line to make this more efficient. I have tried ubuntu server but I cannot find any "try" option. Can anyone help?
The Ubuntu Server is [also] distributed as a compressed image file. When extracted to a drive, it is an installed system that can boot PC computers both in UEFI mode and BIOS mode. You can find more details about it at this link to the Ubuntu Forums.
This system boots into text mode alias command line when extracted and cloned to any drive that is big enough for the extracted image, also a USB pendrive or USB SSD.
As long as it is supported (until April 2027), you may prefer the Jammy version, alias 22.04.x LTS, found via
Any bootable USB should work, though you might want to preinstall
shred. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LiveUsbPendrivePersistent explains how to install a "persistent" bootable USB stick where you can store stuff you want on the stick along with the live bootable Ubuntu.
While all Ubuntu installers support live booting (try the "Help" menu), you probably want a lightweight USB boot system. Maybe try SystemRescue.
(I still remember the days of tomsrtbt, which crammed a great utility collection onto a floppy disk. When Knoppix, the first notable live CD, came out, I remember being astounded. Then Ubuntu came out and set the new norm: nearly all modern desktop OS installers are now also live CDs.)
You say you're using company laptops and using Linux to shred the data. I'm assuming these are Windows machines that you're completely wiping to reinstall the OS onto. If that's the case, I would recommend: Darik's Boot and Nuke: DBAN. This will boot into an OS that will allow you to securely destroy/shred all data on whatever drives you choose. After this, you'll be able to reinstall Windows and go about your day. Take caution when using this as it is designed to make your data unrecoverable for the most part.