How to create a bootable live USB


Creating a bootable live USB allows you to Install Ubuntu, or another Linux Distro, on your Computer or even just try it without installing it.

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Using a Bootable Live USB means that you don't need to burn a CD or DVD to do this, which is useful if you don't have any blank CDs or DVDs laying around or your computer doesn't have an optical drive.

If you would instead like to create a Live CD/DVD view our article How To Create A Bootable Live CD/DVD.


- Ubuntu ISO

You will need a USB Stick/Flash Drive with a minimum 2GB of free space, if you do not already have one please see the links below:

Options for creating a live USB

  1. Startup Disk Creator - (Ubuntu Only)
  2. UNetbootin - (Ubuntu, Windows & Mac OS)

Startup Disk Creator

If you are using Ubuntu you should have a program called 'Startup Disk Creator' installed that will enable you to create a Live USB from a CD or an ISO disk image for example Ubuntu.iso.

  1. Launch the Startup Disk Creator from the application menu/Dash:

    or run the following command in the terminal (Ctrl+Alt+t):

  2. Select the source CD/Image, click 'Other...' to browse for the file.

    Navigate to your source image and select 'Open'.

    Make sure you have connected and selected your USB stick with a minimum 2GB of free space, then click 'Make Startup Disk'


UNetbootin runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. You can either let UNetbootin download one of the many distributions supported out-of-the-box for you, or supply your own Linux .iso file if you've already downloaded one.

  1. First of all you will need to install UNetBootin on to your machine.

    If you are using a PC or Mac: Download the software installer from UNetBootin downloads.

    If you on using Ubuntu: Open up a terminal (Crtl+Alt+t) and enter in the following commands:

    wget -q -O - | sudo apt-key add -
    sudo sh -c 'echo "deb precise-getdeb apps" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/getdeb.list'
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install unetbootin

    If you are not running Ubuntu Precise (12.04) replace 'precise' (in the second command) with the reliant code name:

    • - Ubuntu 10.04 - 'Lucid'
    • - Ubuntu 10.10 - 'Maverick'
    • - Ubuntu 11.04 - 'Natty'
    • - Ubuntu 11.10 - 'Oneiric'

    Note: Unetbootin is available without adding this source however only an outdated version and therefore does not contain all of the latest distros so it's highly recommend you use this source.

  2. If you do not already have an ISO file: Select Ubuntu in the distribution drop-down list, then select a version (e.g.12.04_live).

    If you have an ISO: Select 'Diskimage' and navigate to your ISO file and click 'Open'.

  3. Connected your USB stick with a minimum 2GB of free space, Click 'OK'.

    Once this process is complete you will you have a bootable Live USB.

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