How to create a Linux bootable USB flash drive

Ralph deGennaro rmdegennaro at
Tue Nov 25 17:56:30 GMT 2008

Hola all,

I recently had need for one of these for my brother who is over seas. The
military gives him access to a Windows machine, but he rather not use it.
What he wanted was something was more like a regular install though, not the
LiveCD on a USB drive.  So I went searching for another solution....

This website has good instructions:  And the
first thing I tried was a regular full install with no internal HD's
connected.  This would not boot on all the computers I had access to test
on.  So, what else...

This link<>worked
great in allowing you to save back to the LiveCD.  It make the LiveCD
into a "persistent" LiveCD.  I assume because it makes the first partition
FAT32 and boots basically like a CD, but overlaying the second partition on
top.  This presumably does not have to deal with BIOS/grub oddities.

But there are some quirks.  The "ubuntu" user can't be deleted because it
always seems logged in.  Even after disabling auto-login and adding a
password (any thoughts?).

Also, by default all users of the admin group can sudo without a password.
I didn't like this, and had some "fun" trying to figure out how to change
it.  I changed /etc/sudoers as needed; check
here<>( for help.  This gave me complaints
about permissions for some users I created, so I had to make ~/.dmrc to be
644 (rx-r--r--) and the home directory 700 (rwx------) for each user.

Last quirk is the kernel is basically that from the LiveCD.  So no simple
updates to it.  Expect an error.

Oh, last thing.  It also seemed to make equally sized partitions for FAT32
boot & ext3/casper-fs storage.  The first partition gets mounted as /cdrom
(just like the LiveCD), and you can't edit it.  I resized/created the
partitions with GPartEd (from my regular install) so that the first FAT32 is
1GB, the second partition uses all space except for a third partition of
FAT32 (~2GB) so my brother can download stuff from the Windows box to his
home directory on the Ubuntu thumb/pen drive.  I suppose you could make it
larger and NTFS if you wanted to setup the stuff to read/write NTFS.

Oh, and it all works so nicely, I'm going to dd it to my own drive as an
install/recovery/mobile installation.  A bit slow, but extremely useful for
travelling during the holidays.  :-)

Later & Happy Thanksgiving all.  See some of you in 2 Thursdays.


p.s.  I tried the built in builder on the LiveCD.  I never got it to boot,
and sometimes it didn't copy files.  Oh well....

On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 3:03 PM, Mike Rushton <leftyfb at> wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> Yeah, I noticed that as well. Although it only create a live 8.10 usb
> flash drive. Not 6.06 - 8.10 and choice of alternate, live, daily, etc
> as well as a bunch of other distro's.
> But yes, I noticed it, tried it and it works and it's a great start.
> Jonathan M. Prigot wrote:
> > I notice that Ubuntu 8.10 has/will have this, although it's probably not
> > as versatile as this.
> > --
> > Jonathan M. Prigot <jprigot at <mailto:jprigot at>>
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, 2008-10-24 at 15:02 -0400, Mike Rushton wrote:
> >
> >
> > This app automates the job of creating bootable USB flash drives with
> > several different distro's. I know several of us have had the problem at
> > one point in time. Just thought I'd share with the rest of the group.
> >
> >
> >>
> - --
>  ,-O  Ubuntu Linux
> O   ;
>  `-O  Linux for Human Beings
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