How To Create a Linux Live Bootable USB Stick using UNetbootin

Have you ever wanted to have a portable operating system, that can live inside a small USB flash drive and you can carry it around with you? Although, this is possible and have been around for some time. It was possible for a geek to run a Linux distribution from a USB stick just like you would have run it from a Compact Disc, but this task was quite hard to do. Why? Because the process was very geeky! You had to type a lot of geeky commands in a terminal and if, somehow, you forgot one or typed something wrong, the process had to be started all over again. Well, the process is now not at all geeky with so many simple applications available that makes it possible for anyone to create a bootable USB flash drive with any of his favourite Linux Distro in it.

How? We did talked about a few of them before like:

This time, with the help of another such great and marvelous application called UNetbootin, the process of creating a bootable disk can be achieved in just 5 minutes and with a few clicks!

UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for a variety of Linux distributions from Windows or Linux, without requiring you to burn a CD. You can either let it 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.

The things that you will need before starting the process:

A copy of UNetbootin, at least 1 GB USB flash drive.

One of the supported Linux distributions of your choice:

  • Ubuntu (and official derivatives)
  • Debian
  • Linux Mint
  • openSUSE
  • Arch Linux
  • Damn Small Linux
  • SliTaz
  • Puppy Linux
  • gNewSense
  • FreeBSD
  • NetBSD
  • Fedora
  • PCLinuxOS
  • Sabayon Linux
  • Gentoo
  • MEPIS
  • SimplyMEPIS 8
  • AntiX 8
  • Zenwalk
  • Slax
  • Dreamlinux
  • Elive
  • CentOS
  • Mandriva
  • FaunOS
  • Frugalware Linux
  • xPUD

How to use UNetbootin to create a bootable Linux USB flash drive?

Step 1: Download UNetbootin

Grab the UNetbootin executable. Download from here (Windows version) or here (Linux version), and save it on your desktop.

Step 2: Execute UNetbootin and Create your own portable Linux distribution

After installing UNetbootin, insert the USB flash drive into an empty USB port of your PC. (Note: This is important, because if you insert it after you’ve opened the UNetbootin application, you will not be able to use the USB stick.).

Now, double-click on the UNetbootin executable, to launch the UNetbootin application.

In Linux, right-click on the downloaded file and select Properties. Now, click on the Permissions tab, and select Execute for Owner.

unetbootin permission
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Ubuntu users can install UNetbootin from Ubuntu Software Center.

ubuntu software center
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The rest of the process is same for both Windows and Linux users.

As you can see in the screenshot below, all you have to do now is to select your favorite Linux distribution ISO image file which you have already downloaded, double-check if the USB drive selected is the one which you want to make bootable and click on OK.

unetbootin
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If you have not already downloaded a Linux distribution, then UNetbootin can download it for you and then go ahead with the process of creating the bootable USB stick. All you have to do is select the preferred distribution and then the version/edition, and click on OK to begin the process.

unetbootin
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That’s it! After the process completes, reboot your machine and boot from the USB stick. Have fun with your brand new portable Linux operating system! :)

Faced any difficulty in using UNetbootin, ask your questions below. I will do my best to troubleshoot your problems and answer them as quickly as possible.