One of the many powerful features of Linux is the ability to start a distribution directly from a USB stick, without affecting your hard drive and the operating system on it. It is therefore not necessary to perform a complete installation to use or try out Linux. But even if you have made the decision to install Linux individually or next to Windows or OSX, a bootable Linux USB stick is the most practical and quick solution. This article will explain how to create a Linux bootable usb drive in Windows, from which Linux can be started without installation. An equivalent article explains how this can be achieved from an Apple macOS / OSX environment.
Requirements to create a Linux bootable usb drive in Windows
Before we can actually create the Linux bootable usb drive we need to have some things ready available:
- Universal USB Installer (UUI)
- Linux iso file
- USB stick
Universal USB Installer (UUI):
There are, as is the case with everything, several ways to Rome to make a Linux USB stick. One of these options is offered via Universal USB Installer (UUI). UUI offers the possibility to create Live USB sticks based on a previously downloaded ISO file.
Linux iso file:
Besides Universal USB Installer we also need a Linux distribution that we want to put on the USB stick. For this article we choose the Linux Mint Cinnamon edition because I think it is absolutely the best Linux distribution for both beginners and real power users. But in the end this depends entirely on your own preference and you can also choose another distribution, such as Ubuntu, KDE Neon, or Solus.
A FAT32 formatted, at least 4GB, but preferably 8GB USB memory stick.
Steps to create a Linux bootable usb drive in Windows
In this article we assume an approach in which we download the iso file of a Linux distribution (in this case Linux Mint 19) and offer this to UUI for further processing.
Download Linux Mint
1) Go to https://linuxmint.com/download.php
2) Make a choice here for a desktop environment (eg Cinnamon) and 32 or 64 bit, depending on your hardware.
3) Then choose a download mirror nearby your location for quick download.
4) The iso file will then be downloaded to your standard download folder.
Download Universal USB Installer (UUI)
5) Go to https://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/
6) Scroll down a bit and click the Download UUI button.
Create Linux USB stick
7) Go to the Download folder and start Universal-USB-Installer-22.214.171.124.exe.
8) Select the correct Linux group / Distribution at Step 1. In this case Linux Mint.
9) In Step 2, reference must be made to the location of the just-extracted iso file. Use the Browse button to find the correct location and select the Linux iso file.
10) At step 3 you select the USB drive on which Linux is to be set up.
11) Next you have the option to format the USB drive. Select this option.
12) Depending on the distribution, it is sometimes possible to save data from the USB stick during a Linux Live session. In the case of Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu) this is possible, so we get a Step 4 where we can choose a Persistent File Size. You can leave it at 0, but in the case of an 8GB stick or larger it can be set to 3000 MB, for example.
11) Once everything has been completed, press Create and the Linux Live USB stick will be set up. This can take a few minutes, so time for a cup of tea.
That was all. The USB stick has been created. A follow-up article will explain how we can use this stick for a Linux Live session or to install it on a hard drive.