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I just followed directions on how to get ubuntu onto a USB thumbdrive using OSX. I can restart my macbook air and hold down the alt/option key and boot into Ubuntu fine.. BUT.. Ubuntu says it want's to run an INSTALLER.. I am afraid if I do that it's going to overwrite my internal harddrive and brick my macbook air... or at least overwrite my OSX filesystem - ... Is it safe to run the installer? will it complete installation in some way on the USB thumbdrive and make it so if I want to run ubuntu I just boot into the thumbdrive and I'm off to the races?

After doing some more reading here it looks like I need to get a second USB THumbdrive and use the installer on the first drive to install Ubuntu 'for real' onto the second drive so that I'm not always in 'live' mode? Is that correct?


I hope my question is clear.

marked as duplicate by Braiam, Eric Carvalho, mikewhatever, txwikinger, BuZZ-dEE Jan 19 '14 at 11:11

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    @searchfgold6789 Almost certainly not a duplicate of that. Neither the question nor any of its answers address the majority of what this question is asking: safety, what "Install Ubuntu" actually does. (See my CW answer.) And I doubt any of those methods will produce a USB flash drive that boots on a Mac. (Macs make us think different when it comes to bootable USBs.) Which does not really appear to be what the OP wants here anyway. Many reasons to consider this quite different. – Eliah Kagan Jan 17 '14 at 8:33

If you don't need to save files on your thumb drive, you don't need to do anything. Do not run the installer from the thumb drive system.

If you do need to save files on your thumb drive, see this question. You'll want to create a persistent area on your thumb drive. The installation might be similar to the way you created the Ubuntu thumb drive in the first place, though I am unsure if the methods there will work on OS X. If you need further help with that youcan expand your question here or post a new one. This will not involve running the installer inside the thumb drive system, either, and when using a system with a persistent area, you should still not run that.

In any case, you are right to think that clicking Install Ubuntu inside the thumbdrive system can overwrite data on your hard disk. You can install Ubuntu to your hard disk without overwriting data, by clicking that and then being very careful to tell Ubuntu to install alongside your existing system. But if you don't want Ubuntu on another disk, don't use "Install Ubuntu" on the thumbdrive system.

If you want to install Ubuntu on a second thumbdrive, then one of your options is to use "Install Ubuntu," though I suspect the system produced in that way, when installed on a drive attached to a Mac via USB, will not boot.

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