I created a USB-stick with Ubuntu, using the recommended tool "Startup Disk Creator" and the image for Ubuntu 13.10. The very simple interface looks like this:

enter image description here

There can't be much to misunderstand in this GUI. I have chosen to create a USB stick with a live version of Ubuntu, which will save files and settings from session to session, on the USB drive, right?

Well, it just doesn't save anything. I go in, create a file on Desktop, restart and it's gone.

I did the whole procedure three times, i.e. first creating the USB, then testing if I could save.

Have I misunderstood something?

  • I raised this question, but now five years later, using Ubuntu 16, the Make Startup Disk does not even allow me to choose any "reserved extra space". I even downloaded the 13.10 iso, but that was not enough. It is the tool itself that has changed since then. Apr 28, 2018 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


Bug 1159016 is for broken presistence on UEFI machines.

The live media has two boot mechanisms, syslinux for non-UEFI and grub for UEFI machines.

The persistence mechanism is simply a word "persistent" on the kernel boot command line, and while the syslinux boot works with persistence, the word was missed in the grub.cfg file.

You can add it yourself. Edit the grub.cfg (usbpen/boot/grub/grub.cfg) file and add persistent just before the file= on the vmlinuz lines. And yes, your desktop will be part of the things which will be saved when things are working.


menuentry "Try Ubuntu without installing" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux   /casper/vmlinuz.efi persistent file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash --
    initrd  /casper/initrd.lz

ISO formats changed about 14.04, making changes as suggested above more difficult (editable FAT filesystems can no longer be used on the USB). The best current way to make a persistent USB is to use the mkusb tool from mkusb download site. The mkusb-installer should set things up for you.

  • 1
    Note that the grub.cfg is always there, so if you can't find it you are looking in the wrong place, so don't try and create it. Jul 30, 2015 at 17:56
  • Is it possible to edit the file from within the Live CD? I get error messages that it is a "Read only filesystem", when trying to edit /cdrom/boot/grub/grub.cfg (with sudo). Jul 30, 2015 at 18:00

Live USb is actually an installation media. It has a standart setup.

You should use it to install Ubuntu in a different USB/HDD. When you choose to try it, it always open as a fresh ubuntu from a standart setup.

At the picture I saw, You created a live (installation media) from the .iso file to the Kingston Data Traveller.

Now you should (can) use it to create Ubuntu OS with the install choice to a new usb.

  • 1
    Please look at the GUI in the bottom... It says: "When starting up from this disk, documents and settings will be stored in reserved extra space" Nov 10, 2013 at 22:09
  • But that extra space is not Desktop. It is the second partition of your usb that can be used as normal USB memory. Save your files to the second partition in. You will be able to use them later.
    – ubuntu_tr
    Nov 10, 2013 at 22:12
  • 1
    I think you are wrong :) But let's try and discuss this. 1) Give me an example of a setting (like special keyboard layout) that I can save in one session, that will be there in the next. 2) If the slider-bar is the size of another partition, then why is there only one partition on the USB pen after running the partition? Tell me how I can save one file there and access it in the next session. Nov 10, 2013 at 22:25
  • Open file manager nautilus and mount your reserved area first. That is it. And you can find disks application from dash to look the size of the partitions of USB
    – ubuntu_tr
    Nov 10, 2013 at 22:28

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