March 21, 2014

How do I put a linux on a pen drive ?

The easy way: unetbootin ( works for the...

The easy way: unetbootin ( works for the most distributions.

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That is a hard question to answer. Why?...

That is a hard question to answer. Why?

Because there are 2 basically different ways of running Linux from a usb drive.

First off if you are looking to have a portable OS that you can use anywhere you should go with a 32 bit version of the OS you want to use. This will run on 64 or 32 bit boxes.

Second you need to have support for a number of different hardware combinations from different hardware vendors.

You can install a Linux OS directly on the stick as you would on any drive. Then you will need to make sure that you have drivers for a wide veriety of hardware. This is usually included in the install but some may require proprietary drivers from the hardware vendor.

Most common Linux distros are available on Live Media. You can easily install the Live image (ISO file) on the stick. Then format another partition to ext4 and set it up for persistence.

Persistence allows you to customize and upgrade your system like a straight up install.

You need to check the documentation for the distro you want to use as to the specific way to set up persistence for that distro. This usuall will include a specific label for the ext4 partition and maybe a file put on that partition so the Live Session will recognize that partition for what it is. There is also some modification to the menu entry for the Live Session to be made.

I find, on my usb stick and my hardware that the Live Session with persistence is much faster then a straight up install on the stick. This is a usb2 stick on hardware that has no usb3 support. While you may have usb3 support on a very nice 64bit box, not all the hardware you may want to plug the thing into may be 64 bit or have usb3 support.

The cli command "dd" is the best way to put an ISO image on your stick.

dd if=<file /> of=<device /> bs=4M; sync

should do the trick.
is the path to the ISO like;


is the drive designation for the entire stick such as;


where x is the actual designation for your stick.

Just a bit more info on the command in case you need it;
"if" is Input File
"of" is Output File

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