I'm an 8th grade science teacher and I have recently been given 17 mini dell computers. All are in great physical shape, however, none of them have an operating system or hard drive. I can load Ubuntu 14.04 from USB stick, but to get them to detect and connect to an open WiFi, I have to have them plugged into a Ethernet cable then have to run:

  1. sudo apt-get update
  2. sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source (ask me to click "y")

How do I get them to detect and connect to open WiFi, on startup, when booting from USB and not connected to Ethernet cable?

I thought about batch files on desktop, but there's that Ethernet issue again.

Again, I have no operating systems, no hard drives and I have to boot from USB stick

Is there another version of Ubuntu that would work? Is there some way to install some package onto the USB that would run from start up? I just don’t have a clue. It's practically impossible for schools to get funds for the technology we need and I would hate to see these computers go to waste.

My only other options is to set them up and leave them on all the time but that violates school policy and I'd get in trouble for that.

Thanks for any advise

  • ...and why don't you install Ubuntu from USB on all of those machines? An alternative would be to do a real installation to another USB stick, and then install the Broadcom's bcmwl driver. – mikewhatever Apr 25 '15 at 13:45
  • I should made that clear...no os no hard drive. everything must run from usb – sat1425 Apr 25 '15 at 15:18
  • Well then, can you get a sufficiently large USB stick (8GB is enough) for a real installation? – mikewhatever Apr 25 '15 at 15:22
  • 1
    I"m not aware of that..are you saying I can to an entire ubuntu installation on a flash and run from there? Is so, how is creating that flash different from the one I have? Reading link you provided now....will be in touch – sat1425 Apr 25 '15 at 15:38
  • Yes, that is pretty much what I said. The difference between copying an ISO + making it bootable, and a real installation is, for example, the ability to install additional drivers. SDCards are also an option, by the way, ... I know Dell Mini 10 netbooks had sdcard slots. – mikewhatever Apr 25 '15 at 15:50

The software you need to get the wifi going is included, just go to Software and Updates/Additional Drivers

enter image description here

Then select the Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA and Apply Changes

Do you mean just no operating system, or no internal hard drive?

| improve this answer | |
  • I should have that clearer...no os and no hard drive everything has to run from USB thanks – sat1425 Apr 25 '15 at 15:19
  • 1
    Jeremy-- When I tried the additional driers in software sources, it starts to apply changes and get about 90% done, then stops and return back to the options like in the image you provide. It will not complete. Maybe because running from USB? thanks – sat1425 Apr 25 '15 at 15:34
  • Have you actually installed Ubuntu to the USB or do you just have the ISO image on it? How big are the USB in GB? – Jeremy31 Apr 25 '15 at 17:24
  • using 8gb. I have full ubuntu installed on the USB – sat1425 Apr 25 '15 at 18:45
  • What kernel do you have uname -a as I know of a download that you could save to the desktop – Jeremy31 Apr 25 '15 at 18:50

You can make your own customized Ubuntu in that you can pre install the software you need. . So that you don't have to install packages every time in usb stick... also you can add startup script so that every time wifi will turn on automatically Google for custom Ubuntu Hope it works


As I understand your question, your requirement is:-

  1. You have to run system from pen drive (No HDD or other storage device available)
  2. You want to connect WiFi automatically when you boot system for your pen-drive.


=> I Tested on ubuntu-14.04.2-desktop-i386

=> Windows system to make my pen-drive bootable.

=> 8 GB Pen-Drive (You can use 4 GB pen-drive)

=> Tried in my home WiFi password protected netowrk


  1. Download .iso file of your distribution.
  2. Download Universal USB Installer or direct link
  3. Run Universal USB Installer ---> Click on I agree.
  4. In Step 1 Mention Your distro name.
  5. In Step 2 Browse to the downloaded Your_distro.iso file.
  6. In Step 3 Select your Pen-Drive.
  7. Select "Format X:\Drive (Erase Content)
  8. [Most Important Step] In Step 4 drag that bar up to 2024 MB or 1024 MB (for 4GB pen-drive) will also works, depends on your pen-drive Capacity.

  9. Click on create & wait for complete the process successful.

  10. Now boot your system with pen-drive
  11. Select "Try ubuntu"
  12. After it starts completely, connect WiFi to your desired network manually once, now it will save your connection Settings to pen-drive. So next time when when you boot your WiFi, It will connect it automatically.

Note:- If you use pen-drive everyday for too much read and write, It won't last for long, because its having limited read and write cycles.

Hope It Works :) .... If not Please let me know..

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    how do I add start up script to the use usb? – sat1425 Apr 25 '15 at 18:47
  • 2
    Please explain, how to do that (see How do I write a good answer?). – David Foerster Apr 26 '15 at 12:54
  • Pardon me for my Previous Answer... Please check Edited section for Described Answer. - @sat1425 – Vishal Apr 26 '15 at 18:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.