Ok. I am a Linux user but I purchased a laptop with Windows 8.1 pre-installed...


Lenovo G50
Intel i5 processor
4GB of RAM
Supports USB 3.0

I wanna install Ubuntu 14.10 on a USB 3.0 thumb drive without affecting the windows bootloader and files. Yes, there is an option to install it alongside windows but what happened on my other computer when I used that option is this: Windows Boot Manager appears every boot and asks me to choose between Ubuntu and Windows 8 and I HATE THAT.


Install Ubuntu 14.10 64-bit on an 8GB USB 3.0 thumb drive but it should not appear on Windows Boot Menu.

  • If you ask me..."How do you want to access Ubuntu if you don't wanna appear it on Win. Boot Menu?"


  • I wanna boot if from choosing the USB device from my computer's BIOS... on boot devices.

So what I want is like "Try Ubuntu without installing" but the OS is installed on the thumb drive and you can save files on it. And if possible use the thumb drive to boot Ubuntu on other computers which supports UEFI. What I want is like a portable OS and you can save files on it.


3 Answers 3


I have done this a few years back and what I did was just a plain install on a USB device and also installed Grub on it. So when chosen from BIOS boot menu, the USB drive loads Grub in which you choose Ubuntu. Should be simple and straightforward.

What also comes to mind too is chroot (using existing Ubuntu installation which you don't have). Here I am assuming that /dev/sda is hard drive with existing Ubuntu installation and /dev/sdb is USB stick. You require a existing installation of Ubuntu for this and a Live CD of almost any Debian based distro. All command require sudo before them or sudo -i as a step 0.

  1. create partitions on USB drive (using gparted) gparted /dev/sdb
  2. copy content from disk to USB partitions while Ubuntu is offline (with another live CD or similar). Something like: mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/existing-install/ mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/usb-stick-install/ cp -rp /mnt/existing-install/* /mnt/usb-stick-install/
  3. bind mount what is needed /dev; /proc; and /sys probably mount --bind /dev /mnt/usb-stick-install/dev mount --bind /proc /mnt/usb-stick-install/proc mount --bind /sys /mnt/usb-stick-install/sys
  4. chroot into USB chroot /mnt/usb-stick-install/
  5. run grub-install --recheck /dev/sdb
  6. restart and check if it boots

Though I'd first try a plain install, it should work fine.

  • sorry, im unfamiliar with mount and binding commands. can you make the instructions easier for me to follow? Oct 26, 2014 at 13:36
  • I'm on my mobile now so I can do it when I come home. Have you tried a normal install? It's far more easier and should work withou issues. Just make sure you choose your USB as the destination.
    – mbiber
    Oct 26, 2014 at 14:47
  • @BernardAlonzo I've edited my post and hopefully this will be enough. But again I strongly advise for you to try installing directly from Live CD to USB, it should work.
    – mbiber
    Oct 26, 2014 at 17:38
  • Ill first try a clean install whithout my hard disk. if it doesnt work then, will follow this. Ill let you know later if it works Oct 26, 2014 at 21:25
  • @BernardAlonzo do you have any updates for us? If you resolved your issue post the solution here so everyone can see. Give back to the community.
    – mbiber
    Nov 2, 2014 at 17:46

You can use Universal USB Installer to make a bootable Ubuntu USB drive and use the persistence option available there. This would allow you to set a persistent file of some size that you would decide and which would be a fixed size. You can then use that USB drive on any PC and boot as a normal Live CD but infact would be able to save files which wont get lost after shutdown.

I am mentioning this particular option because you wanted to use a 8 GB USB drive.


Based on the comment below, you want a bootable fully functional USB drive with the GRUB bootloader existing in the USB only and not interfering with the windows setup. There's a guide at Ubuntu Forums which had helped me do the setup that you desire. I had done it on a 160 GB HDD but the instructions should work fine for a USB drive too.

  • Umm... tried Universal USB Installer. yes it saves the changes. but no screen on setting up user/computer name & password. Its just like a live session because install-ubuntu and its shortcuts are up. I also found it unsecure. Do anyone knows another method where you can actually install it without it touching the MBR/Boot Loader?Thank you for your suggestion tho. Oct 26, 2014 at 13:33
  • My Apologies, The last paragraph in your question misled me. I have updated my answer with the relevant solution.
    – astrob0t
    Oct 26, 2014 at 13:51
  • I think that will work. I'll let you know later. Oct 26, 2014 at 21:32

It is really easy. you'll need two USB drives for doing this. First, copy the Ubuntu ISO to a spare USB A for installing it into the other one named B. Plug both the USBs to the computer and then boot from A. Then,find the name of the partition of the USB B, as per the Linux file system.

Suppose, the device name is sdb. It will have partition inside the sdb such as sdb1, sdb2 etc.

Then click on Install Ubuntu. Choose Do Something Else.

Choose the partition, i.e.:sdb1/ sdb2 and double click on it and choose ext4 journal file system. and set mount point as / (root).

Then, in the bottom of the window, there will be an option to fill the name of the device for Bootloader installation. Choose it as sdb IMPORTANT: CHOOSE THE DEVICE NAME, NOT THE PARTITION for the Bootloader installation. i.e: choose sdb here. Not sdb1 or sdb2

Then carry on with the installation. After you are done, shut down, remove USB A and go to the boot menu and choose the USB B for booting.

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