Guide to using a USB memory stick to install or run Linux


Posts: 3,357   +116
Before we get started, two things are needed:

1. A USB memory stick, with at least 1GB capacity
2. A computer/laptop capable of booting from USB devices

So in this guide, I’m going to explain how you can utilise a spare USB memory stick as a tool to install, and use (in live mode) Linux distro’s – thus completely replacing the need to burn CD’s. It is also much quicker to run in live mode, and installs your chosen linux much faster as well.

So let’s get started....

Step 1: First thing we’re going to do is download your favourite Linux live distro. In this case, I’m downloading Ubuntu Linux, 10.04 32bit edition. Save it to the desktop to make life easier shortly.

Step 2: Insert your USB memory stick. Then quick format it to ensure everything is clear and it’s ready for changing into a bootable USB stick. At this point make note of its assigned drive letter. Remove any other memory sticks.

Step 3: Download Linux live USB creator from here: and save it to your desktop.

Step 4: Double click the .exe file you just downloaded, and Click run when the security warning box opens. Extract the contents when requested.

Step 5: Double click on the “Linux Live USB Creator” folder on your desktop, and double click on the “LiLi USB Creator.exe” file.

The program will now open and you should see it as below:

Step 6: Select your USB memory stick – Here you see mine selected (Make sure its the assigned drive letter you took note of before)

Caution: Make certain you have the correct drive letter – You don’t want one of your hard drives being formatted by accident.

Step 7: Click on the image above “ISO/IMG/ZIP”. Navigate to your desktop, and then highlight your previously downloaded linux live distro. Click Open.

It will then proceed to check the integrity of the ISO image, and you’ll see a progress bar like below:

Once completed, it will come up with the following:

Step 8: Select the size of saved memory you require.

Because this is recognised as a USB disk, you are able to use it not only as a live linux desktop, you can also save to it like you can in a real installation. I find it very useful for keeping certain software installed that I can use to trouble shoot computers. You could use it to store pictures, or software pre-downloaded if you like. So set how much you want. I’ve set mine at the maximum I can have:

If you’re not interested in setting it up, just leave it at 0MB and go to the next step.

Step 9: Set it up as below

I advise you turn off “Enable launching LinuxLive in Windows.” Option, as it can be a bit temperamental, and really is not needed to install or run your Linux. Ensure the Format option is selected, and hide created files is ticked.


Posts: 3,357   +116
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
Step 10: Click the lightning tab to start installation.

It’ll start extracting the ISO to the USB memory stick like below:

It will then build up the space for your persistence (to save items)

It’ll then format the persistence file as below (mines approx 15min due to being 3.3GB in size)

Once complete this will appear, and a page will load in your web browser:

It’s now safe to close the application. You’re done. J

Step 11: To use this, press whichever key your prompted to press during bootup to enable you to select what drive to boot with. Then select your memory stick, and hey presto, it’ll start and run exactly like a CD/DVD would, but MUCH faster!


Posts: 3,357   +116
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
Thanks. You posting actually reminded me I'd done this, and needed to link it to my step by step Ubuntu guide. :)

Thanks. :D


Posts: 103   +2
yes, great!

i've been thinking of doing this for a while, your guide has given me the boost i need!


Posts: 18   +0
Thanks so much for this. this really helped. just one qwestion though is it possable to boot up a computer thats at a login screen. cause I would like to put a usb in the usb hole and be able to still use the computer even though its a at a login screen. thanks once again.