At the moment I am running Ubuntu 12.10 from a USB memory stick, and I wondered whether it would be possible to save and run any programs I have downloaded from another USB stick instead of the one with the operating system on.

I'd like to be able to set the download location in Ubuntu Software Center to the second memory drive, but i don't know how to do this.

I can keep the operating system on the one USB and the programs on the other USB, which makes everything much more easier.

Any ideas?


The install location for USC is linked to the update manager and everything so I don't think it can/should be moved.

A work around could be, after you install something with apt-get or the software centre, type this into the command line:

dpkg -L <package_name>

And that will tell you the path to the program's installation.

Then copy that folder to the other memory stick and delete it from the original folder.

Next replace with a sym link to the new location. As below:

ln -s /package/path/and/name /media/thumbdrive/packagefoldername

Break down of command:

"ln -s" -> creates a symbolic link

"/package/path/and/name" -> use the output of "dpkg -L"

"/media/thumbdrive/packagefoldername" -> enter the new location of the installation folder

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks Anake, that could be the solution i need. Please could you tell me how i replace the sym link? I'm still very new to Ubuntu and i need to be treated like a child in order to understand at the moment. If you could quickly explain then that would be great. – UbuntuRob Nov 30 '12 at 11:13
  • Ok I made my answer more explicit. However if you are a beginner I would avoid all of this and just use a bigger thumb drive. I'll be honest I can't think of any way this will be easier. – Anake Nov 30 '12 at 12:06
  • This has several problems but apart from being per app Applications usually leave many many files. And the system will have errors if the second USB drive is not available. – Davisein Nov 30 '12 at 12:18
  • I thought this was in aid of space saving, and assumed (probably wrongly) he would know that the second usb drive would always need to be present – Anake Nov 30 '12 at 12:44

Sorry but that is not really possible.

In Ubuntu the model of applications doesn't works as you think. You could change the place were applications are downloaded but when an application is installed files are distributed across the system. You can set a download place or transport applications without installing but you can't have applications installed in a secondary USB drive. Applications installed leave files in several places.

The reason why it is done this way in Ubuntu is because in this system applications can share libraries and files. This has a major impact in the size of the system. You can try to compare the amount of space Ubuntu (more accurate, Linux) takes in the hard-drive versus other systems as Mac or Windows.

If you are really stubborn there are always ways of some of your plan. But the system won't load without both USB drives connected. It is more advanced but you could just mount a partition to a path on the other pendrive. Or even more advanced https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuDesktopLVM. But I haven't heard about LVM on USB memories though.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.