So basically as it stands I have a laptop which has no cd/dvd drive, and I don't have a usb drive.

The laptop has windows 7 installed with ubuntu 11.04 installed through wubi.

What I want to do is remove windows completely, and make ubuntu the only OS installed on the system.

Is there a way to do this without re-installing ubuntu? (i.e. can I take my wubi install away from windows?)

or is there a way to from inside ubuntu have it run the ubuntu iso somehow so I can just wipe the system and install it fresh? (even if it means I need to have an e.g. 2gb partition just for the image to reside in).

  • 1
    I haven't tried this so I don't know how easy it is, or if it would work with a netbook, but you could try a Netboot install.
    – Isaiah
    Aug 4, 2010 at 23:55
  • help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation That should cover what you need to know. :)
    – Apple
    Aug 5, 2010 at 0:26
  • If he has no USB disk, maybe he has an SD card? (E.g. normally used for a digital camera or mobile phone or such.)
    – JanC
    Aug 23, 2010 at 15:43
  • 2
    Is this just a theoretical exercise or you really can't actually buy a 1GB, 5 bucks USB stick or borrow one from a friend?
    – MestreLion
    Aug 31, 2011 at 6:04
  • 1
    or possibly askubuntu.com/questions/1207/…
    – belacqua
    May 15, 2012 at 23:04

15 Answers 15


Yep, all your friend needs to do is download and install Wubi. It's designed for this exact scenario. You can check it out here: http://wubi-installer.org/

  • 10
    A wubi install isn't the same as a normal ubuntu install.
    – Isaiah
    Aug 4, 2010 at 23:51
  • Hm... This does look like the simplest option.
    – dieki
    Aug 4, 2010 at 23:55
  • Yes, if he wants to dual boot with Windows Wubi is what you need to use. Aug 5, 2010 at 0:20
  • 2
    that wubi link no longer works and goes to the Ubuntu desktop edition download page. I've got the same issue as the asker, does that mean it's impossible to install the Netbook edition without an optical drive/usb drive?
    – andy
    Dec 22, 2010 at 23:20
  1. Use Windows 7 to shrink one of your partitions (you can shrink a mounted partition while running Windows). If you already have 4 primary partitions you'll need to remove one of them first.
  2. Boot wubi and install GParted and create an extended partition in the free space you created, and then 2 logical partitions, one an ext4 partition large enough to contain your Wubi install, and optionally 1 swap partition (> size of RAM).
  3. Migrate wubi to the partition, installing the grub bootloader at the same time
  4. Boot the migrated Ubuntu and format the Windows partition, which you can then reuse as a separate /home or you can use the same migration script to move the migrated Ubuntu to it.

This solution doesn't require a live CD/USB (although it's always a good idea to have one.


If you have a USB Flash drive of 1GB or more you can use the following method.

What You Will Need

  1. You'll need to download the Universal USB Installer.
  2. Download your chosen Ubuntu ISO Image from Here.
  3. A USB Flash Drive with 1GB or more of available free space.

The Process

  1. Download the Universal USB Installer...
  2. Download your Ubuntu/Linux ISO of choice.
  3. Open up the Universal USB Installer program and select your Linux ISO from the list.
  4. After selecting your Linux ISO select the name of the drive you wish to write the Ubuntu program to. NOTE: This process will completely remove ALL data from your drive when writing the Ubuntu Program to it so make sure it's the one you want to use!!!
  5. After the process completes turn off your pc, stick in the Live USB that you just made, then turn your pc back on, and then select the USB Drive from your boot menu. After that you can either test Ubuntu on your machine or install it!
  6. Enjoy your new Ubuntu installation!

If you wish to create a flash drive that is persistent (I.E. You can save stuff to it like files and settings etc...) might I suggest that you take a look at the following question and it's subsequent answers? Method to create a live USB disk (with persistence) which actually works?

Hopes this helps you out!!!

  • @Rafael Santos Great! Glad that helped :)
    – zkriesse
    Jul 16, 2011 at 17:19
  • 1 GB is not actually correct. The Ubuntu community works hard to keep the size of the ISO under one standard CD, 700 MB. Some overhead will likely be present though, so 720 MB is more realistic. However, nowhere near 1 GB is required (unless you want persistence).
    – Hello71
    Jul 17, 2011 at 1:28
  • @Hello71 Well they don't exactly make a USB Flash drive under 1GB, least not that I've seen... Plus if you look at the Ubuntu Download site, they say and I quote: "Insert a USB stick with at least 2GB of free space." so...
    – zkriesse
    Jul 17, 2011 at 1:55
  • 15
    This doesn't fit in the category no CD nor USB.
    – Lucio
    Jun 30, 2013 at 16:11
  • not the answer for the question, Aug 20, 2015 at 5:47

The Ubuntu Help Wiki has a section on Installation Without a CD with sections like from USB, Windows, Linux, VM, etc.


If your laptop supports it, you should be able to do a net install using PXE. Most laptops will allow you to "boot from the network" at startup. You might have to hit ESC or something like that during boot to get in the right menu.

This does require you to do a bit of setup on another machine in your network, which will serve the Ubuntu installation media. See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PXEInstallServer


Please make a backup before testing this because I'm not 100% sure it will work flawless.

I think the way to do it is something like this (untested):

  1. Format one partition that will be your destination for the installation (I suggest you to choose the ext4 format)

  2. Copy the your files and folders from wubi to the new partition

  3. Make sure you have a folder named /boot/ with at least two files like initrd.img-2.6.38-10-generic and vmlinuz-2.6.38-10-generic

  4. Than you will have to install grub:

These instructions were adapted from: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Grub2#Recover


This method of installation uses the chroot command to gain access to the broken system's files. Once the chroot command is issued, the LiveCD (in your case the wubi installation) treats the broken system's / as its own. Commands run in a chroot environment will affect the broken systems filesystems and not those of the LiveCD.

1) Boot to the LiveCD Desktop (Ubuntu 9.10 or later) (Open Ubuntu at Wubi). Please note that the Live CD must be the same as the system you are fixing - either 32-bit or 64-bit (if not then the chroot will fail).

2) Open a terminal - Applications, Accessories, Terminal. 3) Determine your normal system partition - (the switch is a lowercase "L")

sudo fdisk -l

If you aren't sure, run

df -Th 
Look for the correct disk size and ext3 or ext4 format.

4) Mount your normal system partition:

Substitute the correct partition: sda1, sdb5, etc.

sudo mount /dev/sdXX /mnt  
# Example: sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt

5) Only if you have a separate boot partition: sdYY is the /boot partition designation (for example sdb3)

sudo mount /dev/sdYY /mnt/boot 

6) Mount the critical virtual filesystems:

sudo mount --bind /dev  /mnt/dev
sudo mount --bind /dev/pts  /mnt/dev/pts
sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc
sudo mount --bind /sys  /mnt/sys 

7) Chroot into your normal system device:

sudo chroot /mnt 

8) If there is no /boot/grub/grub.cfg or it's not correct, create one using


9) Reinstall GRUB 2:

Substitute the correct device - sda, sdb, etc. Do not specify a partition number.

grub-install /dev/sdX 

10) Verify the install (use the correct device, for example sda. Do not specify a partition):

sudo grub-install --recheck /dev/sdX 
11) Exit chroot: CTRL-D on keyboard 12) Unmount virtual filesystems:

sudo umount /mnt/dev/pts
sudo umount /mnt/dev
sudo umount /mnt/proc
sudo umount /mnt/sys 

13) If you mounted a separate /boot partition:

sudo umount /mnt/boot 

14) Unmount the LiveCD's /usr directory:

sudo umount /mnt/usr 

15) Unmount last device:

sudo umount /mnt 

16) Reboot.

sudo reboot 

  • This is awesome but it can't be done without a spare partition already existing on the drive. So if there's a single large NTFS partition from which the machine is booted from - something need to be done first.
    – Sergey
    Aug 31, 2011 at 1:45
  • If he doesn't have a spare partition, he could shrink the Windows partition from inside Windows, right? ;-)
    – desgua
    Aug 31, 2011 at 2:00
  • Is it possible to shrink the "root" Windows partition while booted in Windows? I don't thinks so.
    – Sergey
    Aug 31, 2011 at 2:43
  • I'm not 100% sure because it was some years ago but I think I've done that with Windows 7.
    – desgua
    Aug 31, 2011 at 11:02
  • You can shrink it with PartitionMagic
    – rubo77
    Sep 7, 2014 at 4:21

You have to use alternative cd

  1. First Download the Alternative cd iso using torrent from this link.

  2. Either mount or burn the iso to usb (using startup disk creator).

  3. A dialog will be displayed offering you the opportunity to upgrade.

  4. Follow the on-screen instructions.

  • So just burn the image to usb then restart into the live usb?
    – user11847
    Mar 5, 2011 at 17:47
  • oh and how do i download those images, when ever i click on them it just is "Not Found"... Thank you for all the help :)
    – user11847
    Mar 5, 2011 at 17:50
  • Here is the link for 10.10 32 bit torrent (releases.ubuntu.com/maverick/…)
    – Lincity
    Mar 6, 2011 at 5:37
  • also you DON'T restart there will be a dialog on your screen asking you to upgrade.
    – Lincity
    Mar 6, 2011 at 9:58
  • There was no dialog screen asking to upgrade. i had brought the iso to the 9.04 desktop via usb and made a start up disk using the usb creator and selected save else where. it made it on the usb and then... just said it was done and ready to use on other computers. please fill me in on any steps i have miss or what i have done in error. thank you.
    – user11847
    Mar 6, 2011 at 19:03


UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Linux distributions without burning a CD. It runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. You can either let UNetbootin download one of the many distributions supported out-of-the-box for you, or supply your own Linux .iso file if you've already downloaded one or your preferred distribution isn't on the list.

UNetbootin can make a "frugal install" on your local hard disk if you don't have a USB drive. For the Hard-Disk/ "frugal install" mode, UNetbootin uses a Linux-based installer to install a small modification to the bootloader to boot the desired distribution's installer or to load the system utility, no CD required. After the distribution has been installed, or once done using the system utility, the modification to the bootloader is then undone.

You can use the following link to run the "frugal/hard-disk install":



If you have an Ethernet connection to the machine, and it supports it, you may be able to network boot/install. That is, use the drive on another machine to install Ubuntu over your local network.

Check out the Ubuntu community doc for it over here.

Edit: Wow, jelmer, beat me to it while I was typing.


I once installed an Ubuntu derivative(Samurai) using Virtualbox to mount my harddisk raw partition as a virtualbox hard drive. It involves creating a vmdk file which is linked to the partition. Then anything you do on the virtualbox goes to the partition. Even the grub install worked.

However, this method is quite risky as it involves giving raw access to Virtualbox. Further you can,quite simply try to boot into Windows twice (the second time inside your VirtualBox), so it is not recommended. But it is always an option to install it, and just delete the Virtual Machine. However your boot structure, partition should still retain your brand new Ubuntu install.

Here's the link I used : Accessing Physical Disks on Virtualbox


He could setup a live CD ISO for PXE boot, or use one that is available on the net.

See Netbooting Ubuntu Live CDs.

  • I think this is more complicated than he's capable of.
    – dieki
    Aug 5, 2010 at 0:10
  • Question says without cd or usb Jun 16, 2016 at 9:06

He can download and install wubi which doesn't require a usb or cd key. Here is a link.

Here is also another link on the various way ubuntu can be installed.

  • 2
    Same as above. Wubi is not a usual install, it always resides inside windows.
    – txwikinger
    Aug 4, 2010 at 23:55
  • that is true. @snostorm check out the link for other download options
    – myusuf3
    Aug 4, 2010 at 23:59

You could use Unetbootin and set it to use the hard drive.

  • He needs to keep Windows, and dual-boot; can he do this with Unetbootin? Last I checked you couldn't, but maybe something changed.
    – dieki
    Aug 5, 2010 at 0:14

Wubi will allow you to install Ubuntu while keeping Windows installed. If at anytime he decides he does not like Ubuntu he can uninstall it just like a normal program and it will give him his space back. If he does any other install it will be much harder to uninstall. He'll have to use the Disk Management tool and delete the partition and then extend the Windows partition. In order to get Wubi you can download it at http://wubi-installer.org/ or download the current Ubuntu release and then use 7-Zip to extract the ISO and then click on wubi.exe. An installer should appear and he can follow the instructions from there. It's very simple for even the most non-tech users.


Well, theoretically, if you already have more than one partition on your disk or some unallocated space, you could boot Ubuntu using wubi, create a new partition from there, install Ubuntu on that partition, reboot, remove the Windows partition.

The point is - you can't modify partitions or install Ubuntu on a partition you booted from, so you need more than one. Wubi does not count as a separate partition - it resides on the Windows partition so you can't touch that.

But, honestly, USB drives are very-very cheap these days - make a small investment and save you some time :)

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