Now, I have a laptop with Windows 8. For various reasons, I want to install Ubuntu that I can carry with me on the various PCs I work with. The same installation so that I don't have to constantly take care of installing new things and dependencies.

  1. Can I do a full installation of Ubuntu in a USB?
  2. Can I install softwares and other things in the USB itself so that I can boot it anywhere I want?
  3. What is the difference of this installation from full installation on a laptop harddisk?
  4. What features will and will not work with the USB option?


  • The main difference is speed, a laptop hard drive runs Ubuntu fasrter than a flashdrive. – C.S.Cameron Dec 1 '16 at 4:45

Yes, you can do a full install of Ubuntu to your flash drive and there is no difference whatsoever between it and a hard drive installation. As for features there will also be no difference. Ubuntu is an operating system and it does not matter if it is on a flash or hard drive, it still operates the same way. Think of your flash drive as just being another hard drive attached to your computer. I have ubuntu working for me on a flash drive. Here is how I did it.

I have Ubuntu installed on 64GB Sandisk flash drive. It is a persistent (as Ubuntu terms it) or permanent install. I can take it anywhere and plug it into any computer or laptop and be running my on desktop with all my files, emails, work, everything right there ready to go. To do this I burned Ubuntu to a DVD. Then I plugged in my flash drive and booted up to the DVD. I started the install and pointed it to my flash drive. I created the following partitions. 1. a boot partition /boot and gave it 250mb of space I choose ext4 for the format 2. a root partition /root and gave it 12000mb space and ext4 format 3. a swap partition /swap and gave it 4096mb of space (it will format to swap) 4 a home partition /home and gave it the rest of the space and formatted it to ext4.

Then I just finished the install and it runs beautifully, very stable, no problems. Note: I gave 4096mb to the swap but I have never seen Ubuntu use more than 1 1/2gb of swap and that was only for a second. I just allocated 4gb of swap in case...you never know but you probably will never need it and you can easily use 2048mb (2gb) swap with no troubles ever. I have 16gb ram in my computer. You will not have to worry about ntfs or whatever as windows reads all of my drive easily and vice versa. Another thing I should mention is that you cam plug your ubuntu drive into any computer anywhere in the world and it will boot up and operate which is something Windows cannot do.

  • This is so great! Solves a lot of my problems. I am tired grappling with UEFI and installation problems. Also, will 16 GB pen drive suffice? – Max Oct 2 '13 at 19:13
  • 16GB will last a long time unless you fill it up with files. Flash drives can last for years before failing. – Ronshere Oct 8 '13 at 9:47

Just so you know, primus, your PC must be able to boot from USB - I have three laptops (Dell one-kilo machines with 1.7GHz Pentium-M and 1GB RAM) deployed which do not, even though this is the 21st Century.

Secundus, it will be slower. The USB interface is not even as fast as PATA, much less a 5400 rpm SATA drive.

Tertius, the USB drive is more fragile, both physically and electronically. Flash memory will fail, and experience shows it fails quicker than the hypothetical specification.

Quartius, as with SSD drives, heavy use leads to failure earlier. If you have adequate RAM in the PC, that's preferred for external Flash use.

All that being said, it should work well, until it fails, if it works at all. And, to be on point, here are explicit answers to the four questions you raised in your original post:

1: YES

2: YES


4: ALL FEATURES WILL WORK IF YOU CREATE THE FLASH DRIVE WITH PERSISTANCE (which reserves R/W space so you can save files to it). As to how long it lasts until it fails, I don't have a good guess, but I have a booting USB flash drive which has been in twice-weekly use for 5 years, and it wasn't spendy, just a plastic-case 4GB run-of-the-mill flash drive.

And, a 16GB flash drive is more than adequate.

  • I only have a 16GB flash drive. And I don't do heavy work. Just writing blog posts and some occasional testing. How long will it possibly last before dying on me? And how can I install without swap? – Max Oct 2 '13 at 19:46
  • Don't worry about creating swap. I misspoke. – K7AAY Oct 31 '13 at 21:37

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