How to install Ubuntu from USB drive
The standard approach of installing Ubuntu desktop operating system is burning and booting an installation CD. This has been detailed in How to install Ubuntu Desktop article. If you have trouble burning and/or booting from CDs, or you don't want to burn a CD, Ubuntu or other Linux distributions can be created and installed from a USB drive. Here I listed the essential steps for creating a bootable Ubuntu installation USB drive.
Step 1: Download Ubuntu
There are three different ways to get Ubuntu. This article will only talk about how to use the download version.
Download Ubuntu to your computer now. The downloaded file is a single image file with .iso file extension and is nearly 700M.
Step 2: Verify the downloaded image file
This is an essential step in Ubuntu installation - make sure the downloaded file has not been tampered.
Verifying Ubuntu ISO image for correct MD5 hash value is a simple process. You need to download a software and use it to calculate a value that is identical to the one provided by Ubuntu website.
An ISO image is an archive file (disk image) of an optical disc. The image contains all the data (files and folders) of an archived CD or DVD. Before you use the data, you need to restore its folder and file structures. This restoration process is known as burning image to disk, which means you restore all the data to a disk (CD or DVD).
(1) Download and install HashCalc.
(2) Run HashCalc and select the Ubuntu image file and then calculate its MD5 value.
Here is what it looks like after the MD5 is calculated:
(3) Compare with the correct MD5 hash value for your Ubuntu version.
Ubuntu MD5 Hash page lists MD5 hash values for all the different versions of Ubuntu, including Kubuntu, Edubuntu, and Xubuntu.
Step 3: Prepare USB stick
First, make sure your USB stick has a space of at least 1 GB as we are going to load the entire Ubuntu installation folders and files onto it.
Second, format the USB flash drive. Because the USB stick should only store the installation files and nothing else, so you need to format the USB stick before proceeding. Open Window Explorer and locate the USB drive letter. Right click on the USB drive letter and select Format. When the window comes up, select FAT32 as the file system and then click Start. See screenshot below.
Step 4: Download and run UNetbootin.
UNetbootin provides a GUI to create USB drives from ISO files.
(1) Download UNetbootin. Download the version for either Windows or Linux.
(2) Run UNetbootin
Under UNetbootin's "Diskimage" option, select the Ubuntu image you have verified in Step2 above. Then specify your target USB disk under "Drive:". After pressing OK, wait as the ISO is extracted to your USB drive; once done, you will have a bootable Ubuntu USB drive.
After you click OK, UNetbootin will go thru four steps to extract Ubuntu installation files from the ISO file and copy over to your USB disk, and install bootloader.
(3) Click Exit to close UNetbootin.
Most likely you will use the USB drive on another computer (destination computer), so don't click "Exit" button.
Step 5: Change the boot sequence in your destination computer.
Destination computer is the computer you are going to install Unbuntu on it. In this step, you need to make sure in its BIOS settings it has the ability to boot from USB device.
When computer starts, it needs to know which drive to run first - it can be CD/DVD drive, removable devices, or hard disk. This is known as boot sequence. Boot sequence can be changed within BIOS settings (or called CMOS).
To access BIOS settings, after you turn on the computer and depends on what type and brand of the computer you use, keep pressing Del key, or F2, or F8, or F12 key, the BIOS settings screen should come up. In the Boot Sequence section, move the USB drive (or Removable device, etc.) to the top of the boot priority list. If you are not sure, check your motherboard's manual for detailed information.
Step 6: Install Ubuntu onto your destination computer from the USB drive.
Now you are good to go. Plug in the USB drive into your destination computer and boot it.
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