Boot Linux from USB the Easy WayThe best part of using Linux is that there is a wide selection of distributions called ‘distros’ available for consumers and businesses alike. Many of us like to try different distributions to see what is being offered and how well one of the variations of Linux will perform on our computer hardware. The problem once was that, if you didn’t want to install the distribution on a hard disk, you needed to run Linux from either a CD or DVD in what has been referred to as running live.

But using a live CD or DVD poses these problems:

  • Changes to the OS cannot be saved.
  • Documents you create cannot be saved.
  • Favorites cannot be saved.
  • Browsing history, cache, tabs, and bookmarks are all lost when the disk is rebooted.
  • Emails, contact lists, inboxes, and outboxes are also not saved.

There is a piece of free software that solves these problems plus more in one simple-to-use package. The program is called Linux Live USB Creator and is available to use with Windows. Here is what Linux Live USB Creator does:

  • Allows the installation of most of the popular Linux distributions — including those from Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux and more — which can be downloaded and installed through Linux Live USB Creator.
  • Allows booting directly from the USB drive.
  • Allows virtualization using Oracle software to boot Linux inside of Windows.
  • Allows saving of all of the items mentioned above and includes the saving of new installed software packages directly to the USB drive via what the developer calls Persistence.

Below is the startup screen for Linux Live USB Creator and the directions are easy to understand — even for a novice user.

Boot Linux from USB the Easy Way

  • First, select the USB drive that you wish to use for the Linux installation.
  • Next, select the mode in which to install or download the Linux distribution of your choosing. Selections include:
    • from ISO/IMG/Zip file
    • from a CD or DVD
    • downloaded from a long list of various Linux sources. You will have the option to manually select a download mirror or to automatically allow the fastest mirror site to be selected.
  • Live mode allows you the opportunity, if your USB capacity is large enough, to set up Persistence. Persistence allows a data store size of up to 4 GB to keep your stuff on. If you read the FAQ included on the Linux Live USB Creator site, there is a link on how to increase the storage on a USB drive to larger than 4 GB.
  • Options to perform the following tasks are:
    • Enable launching Linux Live in Windows aka Virtualization.
    • Hide the files that are created on the USB drive.
    • Format the USB drive in FAT32.

    Note: I select all three options, which seems to work the best for me. I have tried five different distributions using this method and all five worked perfectly.

  • This is the simplest step. Click on the Lightning Bolt to start the installation.

The best part of using Linux Live USB Creator is the ability to launch the program while in Windows.

Boot Linux from USB the Easy Way

I placed a shortcut to the Oracle virtualization program on my desktop by using the E:\VirtualBox\Virtualize_This_Key.exe command to activate the program. Your drive letter may be different depending on how your system is set up.

Linux Live USB Creator is a very good program and is currently being offered to us for free, which is an unbeatable price. The biggest benefit of the program is that it allows you to take your own operating system with your own settings, programs, and data with you, no matter where you go. You should be aware of the fact that some USB drives perform better than others, so your performance may vary.

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Andriano Gasparri