Penguin In Your Pocket: Running Linux On USB - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
1/26/2009
09:08 PM
50%
50%

Penguin In Your Pocket: Running Linux On USB

How do you make the ultimate portable PC? With the right Linux distro and a USB memory stick, you already have one.

How do you make the ultimate portable PC? With the right Linux distro and a USB memory stick, you already have one.There are some very good reasons to create a bootable Linux Live CD using a USB drive or other flash memory device. Many netbook PCs, for example, save space by eliminating a built-in optical drive; this makes it impossible to run a traditional Linux Live CD/DVD.

A bootable USB stick also gives you the ultimate portable computer: A self-contained Linux desktop system that will run on any PC that supports booting from a USB storage device. And unlike most Live CDs, a USB or flash drive allows you to create persistent custom desktop settings and to store your documents and other files.

Currently, at least two major Linux distros make it easy to create a bootable USB device: Ubuntu 8.10 and Fedora 9.

This week, HowtoForge, one of my favorite Linux help and support resources, posted a great illustrated guide to creating a bootable USB stick using Ubuntu 8.10. The guide is clear and easy to follow, with plenty of screen shots, including help adding the persistent data-storage option.

There are still a few things to keep in mind before you get started. First, you'll need access to a PC running Ubuntu Linux 8.10. Second, you'll need a USB stick, SD card, or other flash memory device with at least 1 GB of space. (If you plan to store data and files on your bootable flash drive, be sure you'll have enough space for those, too.)

Third, and most important, remember that the host PC must support booting from a USB/flash memory device, and that option must be enabled in the system's BIOS. This may be a problem on older systems or when a sysadmin has locked down the BIOS for security reasons.

Also, remember that your USB Ubuntu Live distro also gives you the option to do a full Ubuntu installation to a host machine, which makes it extremely handy for netbook owners who don't have ready access to an optical drive.

Last year, Lifehacker.com published a similar guide to creating a bootable USB drive using Fedora 9 -- the cost-free, community-supported version of Red Hat Linux. The Fedora Live USB Creator, however, offers one big advantage: It runs as a regular Windows application. This tool will create a bootable USB drive using an existing Fedora Live ISO image, or it will automatically download a copy for you

As the article points out, when you're done, you may have to tweak the USB drive's partition-management settings to make it bootable, but this problem is easy to fix (from a Windows command line) if you run into it. In addition, many of the same caveats I mentioned before about USB drive capacity and BIOS settings also apply here.

Finally, keep in mind that traditional Live CDs are still a great option for trying out Linux distros on PCs or laptops with optical drives. Right now, the LiveCD List shows 315 Live CD/DVD options, so you're not likely to get bored anytime soon.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Slideshows
Flash Poll