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Install Ubuntu on your computer using a USB flash drive

Ubuntu is the most popular Linux operating system today. It is trusted by companies around the world and is the first Linux experience for most people.


To switch from Windows to Ubuntu, set up a new computer, or create a virtual machine, you must first install Ubuntu.

The easiest way to get started is to install Ubuntu from a USB stick. Here’s how.

1. Download Ubuntu

Ubuntu Desktop Download page

Linux is part of the open source community, which means anyone can help develop software and contribute to code creation. To complement this, Linux operating systems like Ubuntu are available for free.

This means you can get a copy of Ubuntu for use on any computer, laptop or server for free directly Ubuntu website. You have several options, but for home use you want to download Ubuntu Desktop.

You can also make a selection here. There are two versions of Ubuntu Desktop; latest release and long-term support (LTS) version.

New versions of Ubuntu are released every six months and are supported for nine months. LTS versions of the operating system are released every two years and are supported for five years.

LTS publications are better suited for professional or server environments where the risk of change is higher. For home use, you can stay with a standard Ubuntu release.

Clicking on the edition of your choice will download an ISO file containing the Ubuntu operating system.

Charge: ubuntu (Free)

2. Install the balenaEtcher

Screenshot of the balenaEtcher download site

There are many programs for Windows 10, macOS, and Ubuntu to create bootable USB drives. Ubuntu even has a built-in option, Startup Disk Creator. However, one of the easiest options is to use multi – platform software such as balenaEtcher.

The program is available for MacOS, Windows and Linux operating systems and is open source and free to download and use. The MacOS version requires installation. However, Balena offers a portable version for Windows. The Linux program is available in AppImage format, which also does not need to be installed.

Unlike many third-party options available, balenaEtcher is easy to use and has a simple user interface. This is important because some programs make it all too easy to accidentally erase your entire hard drive.

Charge: balenaEtcher (Free)

3. Create an installation tool

balenaEtcher-screen imageAfter installing balenaEtcher, you need to create an installation USB stick. Installing Ubuntu requires a device with at least 4GB of storage.

Insert the flash drive of your choice into your computer and open balenaEtcher. The creation process will format the USB drive, so be sure to back up or copy all the data on the disk before proceeding.

Start balenaEtcher on your computer and a dialog box will open showing the three-part process. The first step is to click Select an image and go to the location where you saved the Ubuntu ISO and select it. The next step is choose a target. Select the desired USB drive from the drop-down menu.

Once these two selections are made, the third step becomes available. care about flash and follow the on-screen instructions to begin the operation.

Overall, the process is the same whether you are using a Windows, macOS, or Linux computer. However, if you are creating an installation medium for a MacOS device, you must first format the USB drive with Apple Disk Utility.

Before you open Etcher, go to applications > utilities > Disk Utility. Insert the USB drive and select it from Disk Utility. Select from the toolbar Erase.

This opens a dialog where you need to set the format MS-DOS (FAT) and system GUID partition map. Once selected, click Erase. You can then open Etcher and continue with the installation process described in detail earlier.

4. Start the installation tool

Select a USB device to start your computer
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Once balenaEtcher has stopped flashing, it’s time to move on to installing Ubuntu on a USB drive. To do this, you must restart your computer to a new installation medium.

On all platforms, this means that you must use your computer’s boot loader or BIOS application to prioritize the Ubuntu USB drive during boot.

The simplest option for Windows users is to use your computer’s BIOS screen to boot from a USB drive. To do this, you should change the boot order on your computer

How to change the boot order on your computer (so that you can boot from USB)
Learn how to change the boot order of your computer. It’s important for troubleshooting and customizing settings, and it’s a lot easier than you think.
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. If Ubuntu is your current operating system, you can use the GRUB Boot Loader to access the USB drive.

The process is slightly different if you are using a macOS device. Restart your Mac by restarting your computer’s USB drive. When the computer starts, hold Option / Alt key to open Apple Startup Manager. From this screen, select the Ubuntu USB stick.

Once your computer knows that the USB drive will boot, you can start the Ubuntu installation.

5. Follow the Ubuntu installation instructions

Install Ubuntu from USB

Once the Ubuntu installer has downloaded, you have the option to do so. clicking on the Install Ubuntu start the installation. However, you can also choose Try Ubuntu Boot into the live version of the operating system.

This allows you to try a popular Linux distro without installing it. However, if you shut down your computer, it will not save data in this mode, so it is only for testing Ubuntu before installation.

Once you have selected Install Ubuntu, you must follow the instructions on the installer screen. This will guide you to the type of installation you want (standard or minimum), where to install the operating system, and how to download updates.

After the installation, you can choose whether to format the hard drive or install Ubuntu alongside another operating system. If you choose the latter, you will also need to choose how much space you want to give to your new Linux installation and whether to create a new partition.

Once the files have been copied from the USB drive, the installation will guide you through creating accounts, including naming your computer and setting a password. When the installation is complete, you will be prompted to restart your computer.

From there, boot into a new Ubuntu installation and enjoy the Linux experience.

Installing Linux from a USB stick

Over the years, installing Ubuntu required technical experience and knowledge of a Linux terminal. However, the installation process is now reasonably painless, so you can get your Linux machine up and running without delay.

It is not always possible to install software on your computer, especially if you use company-owned hardware. In this case, you may want to consider using one the best Linux disks to install on a USB stick

Top 5 Linux Disks to Install on a USB Stick
USB is great for running portable versions of Linux. Here are the most useful Linux distributions for a executable USB drive.
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