Is there a way to full install Ubuntu 11.04 in a 4gb USB drive? It says that I need at least a 4.6 GB drive. I want the full install, not the live persistent installation. I think that it don't need to use 4.6 GB, I just want a basic installation that is not like a live CD/persistent
Do the installation using the 'Alternate' version of Ubuntu and not the 'LiveCD'. Installation from a LiveCD really does require about 4.6Gb of space to do the installation, even though a fresh installation of Ubuntu does take up less than 4Gb.
The text-based Alternate installer will do it all in something like 3.5Gb so there'll be no disk space issues during the installation. I've done this a few times before with 4Gb flash drives so can verify that it works fine this way. You'll need to download an Ubuntu Alternate .iso image from here : http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/alternative-download
The text-based installer can be a bit daunting the first time, so check this guide to get an idea of what you're in for : http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/minimal
OK, this is what i did to run Xubuntu From a SD card it applies to USB sticks too it's really simple actually , though i used only (x)Ubuntu, i'm prety sure it works for other Distro's, not so sure if it will work using Windows.
First we need 2 USB sticks, one for the liveCD's and the other to install the OS.
Since you want multiple OS's in it, you should use a 16 or 32 GB USB stick, if possible use a USB 3.0 because transfer rates from a 2.0 device are quite slow, eg. i used a 8GB class 2 SD card to install Xubuntu, and it while it wasn't crawling, it didn't fly, though SD cards are slower than USB, for the livecd you can use a 1 or 2 GB drive.
Ok, now make a liveUSB bootable drive, i recommend you to use UNetbootiN, to do this, pick the iso and create the liveUSB.
Now, that you have the bootable USB, reboot your PC and start the liveUSB, once you're in there start the live session.
Once you're in connect the second USB to the PC and format it to EXT4, then simply point the installer to the USB drive and that's it ( i went a little on the extreme side, and disconnected all of my Hard drives to avoid grub being insalled on them or messing the existing installations).
Adding more distro's is just a matter of creating more partitions, though i don't know if USB's just as Regular Hard Drives , can only hold up to a certain number of Extended partitions, though you can share the /home, swap, i don't really know if /boot can be shared too or if it's safe to do so.
As to adding Windows to the USB device, maybe JUST maybe, if you create an NTFS partition and install
Also, be aware that you'll need to do a lot of regular 'house cleaning' to keep the drive from filling up. The package cache alone can grow to several GB if left alone. It would be worth your time to install BleachBit and regularly clean out what isn't needed, for both the user and root account. I've imaged almost 150 linux drives this year for students and running out of space is one of the most common issues.
Yes, it is possible, I was trying to do it on Ubuntu 13.10. At first it wrote, that I need more than 5.9 GB of free space. And until you do not have enough space, installation do not allow you to continue.
Solution : Insert one more USB key which is bigger or (size of this temporary USB and your first USB)>than installation requires. So, installation will allow you to continue, and choose, manual partitioning, and simply do not use your second (temp) USB. With this solution I get Ubuntu 13.10 to 4GB SD card. And it works pretty well.
NO 4GB is a bit too small.When you start installation on first step UBUNTU will tell you that at least 5GB required. So, minimum is 8GB.
I did it with 8GB then it fits in. 4GB for base,3GB for home and rest to SWAP. You can make partitions using GPARTED. which is included in LIVECD.
After doing this if you chk with windows.my computer screen see your pendrive blue.. Dont worry .Start installation and keep in mind. USB 2.0 is a bit slow. I suggest you to use USB 3.0 fast pendrive if your PC has it than it is fast.