Hi there folks,
Is it just me or is the idea of installing an Operating System to a USB pen just amazing. No matter how long I think about it, it doesn’t get boring. Laptops? Netbooks? If it’s portability you’re after, then how about an Operating System and all of you files in your pocket? Cool ! It’s a bit like planes – No matter how long I watch them for, I still wonder how they stay in the air… they go so slowly!
OK, so here’s my tutorial on how to install Linux onto a Memory stick. For this excercise, you’ll need a large USB stick – I have used a 16GB stick, but that is because I want to have my videos and music with me. An 8GB will do, and you’re pushing it at 4GB, which is only slightly larger than a basic Linux installation + OpenOffice, Firefox etc etc… Next, you’ll need a LiveCD of the Linux distribution of your choice. I used Fedora. See below for instructions. That’s it!
- A USB memory stick with preferably at least 8GB capacity – they’re really cheap these days!
- A Live CD of your favourite Linux distro
- A computer to do the installation on
Insert the USB stick into your PC. IMPORTANT: Make sure that there are no files on the USB stick, they will be lost. The intention for my USB stick is to have some space to store music and video that I can share with other people. Other people may not be using Linux, so we need to create an area (or partition) that will allow the other PC’s to see some area of the USB stick. So I opted to divide my 16GB USB stick into: 9GB Linux filesystem (ext3) and 6GB multi platform compatible (NTFS). Note FAT16 has a 2GB size limit, and FAT32 has a 4GB size limit. Luckily the NTFS support is now very good in the Linux world, so I opted for that. So on my PC, I used “gParted“, the Gnome disk partitioning application to make these partitions.
So we can see that I have divided the 16GB into 8.79GB of ext3 and 6.15GB of NTFS. gParted is a great application, which I recommend to everyone.
Once that is complete, the next instruction is to download the latest LiveCD image from the distro website. I wanted to install Fedora KDE onto my PC, so went to their website: http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora-kde and downloaded the iso file.I then used k3b to burn the image to a CD:
Once the CD is ready, reboot your PC, leaving the CD in the CD/DVD-rom. Also, make sure your USB stick is plugged in. When your PC starts up, be ready – you’ll need to tap the key that it states is used to choose the boot device. It’s sometimes F12 but changes from PC to PC. Select CD/DVD-ROM from the menu. Your PC will now boot up the LiveCD version of your chosen Linux Distro. We’re making progress!
OK, once you’re into the desktop, there should be “install now” or similar sitting on the desktop, or in a menu somewhere obvious. You should be given an installation application, similar to the one Fedora produce:
Please, please do make sure that you’re careful here, as you will, at some point be asked which hard drive you want to install to. Disclaimer: You have been warned! Take a mental note of the capacity of your USB stick, and the name of it too. The intention is to install to the ext3 partition you set up earlier. Fill in all the details, then you will be prompted to restart your PC. when it turns off, Please tap the button again to choose the boot device.
With any luck, your USB memory stick device will be listed, either on its own, or in the HDD sub menu. Select it, and fingers crossed, you will now be booting the Linux distro of your choice from the USB stick. We’re almost done !
My final advise is to update your software packages after the first boot, it will contains the latest and greatest iterations of open source software.
I hope that this helps you, even if it answers your question of whether or not it can be done, or maybe one or two important tips along the way?
Any comments, questions or feedback, post below !