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

Ubuntu users can install UNetbootin from Ubuntu Software Center.

ubuntu software center

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

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

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.

Related
  • http://canadiantechblogger.com Brad

    I used this last week to install Ubuntu, easiest thing ever :).

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      Hi Brad,

      Yep, UNetbootin is the best and the easiest! :)

  • http://smallusbflashdrive.com/ Small USB

    Great tutorial. Does this mean you can boot from this stick, without actually installing it on your computer..I have never used Linux. so if I had Windows on my computer could I boot to the stick and use Linux?

  • Tony Bradley

    Does UNetbootin leave space on the USB stick to allow data to be read from/wrote to the stick while using the Liinux apps?

  • jason uk

    hi there , ive recently had trouble with my hard drive its working fine but isnt booting , and now the drive has used up all its space for new installs of windows , i download this very good usb loader unetbootin its really handy , what i needed to know is how do i use the gpart partion programme , do i have to delete partitions or format them , im relaly not great with computers but id like to learn how i can repair my drive and run windows again , all help is very much appreciated any help would be great …. thanks from jason email adress tottenham1881********** im on skype and msn .

    [Email address moderated for privacy]

    • http://www.mytechguide.org/ Mezanul

      Hi Jason,

      Sorry, I cannot understand your problem properly, but I’ll try to offer you a solution here. Basically, I couldn’t understand what you mean when you said, “now the drive has used up all its space for new installs of windows”? Is your hard disk not booting at all? Is your drive getting recognized when you’re trying to install an operating system? Do you want to recover your data? Do want to just fully format your drive and install Windows?

      If the answer to the last question is Yes, than you don’t need gpart at all. You just need to put in your Windows 7 DVD (assuming you’re trying to install Windows 7, since you’ve not mentioned anything in your comment) and boot from the disk. Here’s the official steps as described by Microsoft:

      To install Windows 7 using the Custom option and formatting the hard disk

      To format your hard disk during Windows 7 installation, you’ll need to start, or boot, your computer using the Windows 7 installation disc or USB flash drive.

      1. Turn on your computer so that Windows starts normally, insert the Windows 7 installation disc or USB flash drive, and then shut down your computer.
      2. Restart your computer.
      3. Press any key when prompted, and then follow the instructions that appear.
      4. On the Install Windows page, enter your language and other preferences, and then click Next.
      5. If the Install Windows page doesn’t appear, and you’re not asked to press any key, you might need to change some system settings. To learn how to do this, see Start your computer from a Windows 7 installation disc or USB flash drive.
      6. On the Please read the license terms page, if you accept the license terms, click I accept the license terms, and then click Next.
      7. On the Which type of installation do you want? page, click Custom.
      8. On the Where do you want to install Windows? page, click Drive options (advanced).
      9. Click the partition that you want to change, click the formatting option you want to perform, and then follow the instructions.
      10. When you’ve finished formatting, click Next.
      11. Follow the instructions to finish installing Windows 7, which include naming your computer and setting up an initial user account.

      Reply back if you need further help.

  • Alex Cox

    My installation of GNU/Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu) comes with an application called USB Image Writer, which creates a bootable USB stick. So why should I install UNetbootin? Thanks!