I don't want to lose everything on my Windows, can I just not install it and always "try" Ubuntu?

What are the disadvantages? What are the advantages?

Thanks in advance.

  • You can have best of both worlds by installing Ubuntu as a Virtual Machine. Installation is straightforward and if you mess something up you can just throw away the VM. Jun 10 '14 at 5:56

When you "try" Ubuntu you basically run the operating system from the USB itself with everything needed loaded into memory.

When you setup your USB stick it asks you for additional space to use in order to keep your data. There you can store data that you may use between sessions. For example, you can "try" Ubuntu, connect to a network and then restart and boot again from the USB. The network you connected to will be remembered from data saved into the USB itself.

Main Advantages:

  • Not another Operating System into your hard disk. You don't have to deal with partitioning and it doesn't slow a bit your boot time by showing the grub menu.
  • Portable. You can boot from that USB from any PC that supports booting from USB.

Main Disadvantages:

  • Things generally run slower than usual because of lower read/write speed in USB sticks.
  • Every time you have to insert your USB and wait for the Operating System to load through it. This can be very slow if your USB is slow itself.
  • Very limited disk space. The 'disk space' is essentially the space you've configured to use inside the USB (while writing the ISO to the USB). So things can get tight.

All of the above considering that you are booting Ubuntu from a USB stick.

Of course, you can install Ubuntu alongside Windows and select from a menu your OS of choice on each PC restart.

  • Why GRUB slows down? It is possible to hide them.
    – TuKsn
    Jun 9 '14 at 22:07
  • Typically, when you install a system alongside another system, Grub shows up on system startup that lets you choose between the operating systems. Grub takes some time to load itself, even if you ignore the default 10 second timeout for the default choice or user interaction (navigate and press Enter)
    – hytromo
    Jun 9 '14 at 22:22
  • I think this time is not relevant (perhaps 1 second?).
    – TuKsn
    Jun 9 '14 at 22:47
  • This has to do with your PC. My 5 year old laptop is really slow loading GRUB, but my new one does it in about 1 second.
    – hytromo
    Jun 10 '14 at 11:58

You don't have to lose your data. You can have a dual-boot setup. Just choose the right option in the installer. (The one that says "install Ubuntu alongside Windows", not the "erase all data" one.)

See the Official Documentation for a detailed guide with screenshots.

  • I just get lost at the point where I need to choose partitions. I've never done any of this stuff.
    – hexagonest
    Jun 9 '14 at 21:55
  • Don't forget to make a backup if you want to install.
    – TuKsn
    Jun 9 '14 at 22:44
  • @DoorKnob Did you check the link I posted? You don't have to choose partitions manually, the installer can do that for you.
    – kraxor
    Jun 9 '14 at 22:47

Yes, you can: there is no proprietary license to block your actions.
Advantages of using a Live Linux distribution:

  • You can use boot your system on any supported machine without installing it;
  • On any machine, the Live system doesn't alter the existing files unless you ask;
  • The Live system can be copied and reproduced easier;

Disadvantages are:

  • You system is slower: the boot will last 2/3 times a normal boot, loading new software in memory from the support will require more time and any action, in general, will be slower;
  • The system is read-only if you use a Live optical support;
  • The system can get corrupted easily and you will desire to bring a copy with you for security;
  • The support will deteriorate much faster and you'll need to use good quality supports (this applies on any mobile support);
  • The RAM usage is higher and can have spikes;
  • Some software can't function well on a Live system;

A Live system is good to test a system before installing it or for doing maintenance.
Until better technology for removable supports is available I'd install any Linux system (you, also Ubuntu) before using it for work.
Remember that there are also distributions - like, for example, Kali Linux (for security hardening) - designed to function primarily on a removable device.

Have fun with Ubuntu.

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