How to use Linux Mint without installing on a PC

In the previous tutorial I explained how to create a Linux bootable USB drive in Windows. As already explained one of the many incredible features of all Linux distributions is the ability to boot a distribution directly from the USB stick you created, without the need to install Linux and affecting your hard drive and the current operating system on it. It is not necessary to perform a complete installation to first use or try out Linux. This tutorial will explain how to boot from the just created Linux usb drive so you can use Linux Mint without installing on a PC. In an equivalent next article I will explain how to use Linux Mint without installing on a Mac.

Start a Linux Mint Live session

Okay, so you have the Linux USB drive now. If not than first follow all the steps in my tutorial How to create a Linux bootable usb drive in Windows. The nice thing of having this magical fresh Linux bootable live drive is that you can try Linux now on whatever desktop or laptop you want. Well, of course it needs to have a working USB slot to be able to use it, but that is basically it. So take the following steps:

1) If you have not already done so, first shut down your computer.
2) Then put the Linux USB stick into a free USB slot.
3) Start your computer.

If all goes well, in the first couple of seconds, right after seeing the logo of your motherboard supplier, you will see an option to go to Setup or to go to the Boot menu.

How to start up your boot menu depends on things like the brand, type and age of your computer. But for example if you have an ASUS computer it can be Esc or F8, if you have a Dell computer it probably is F12, for most HP computers it is Esc and for a Lenovo it is probably F8 or F12. So take a good look at the notification on your screen as it normally pops up only for a little while, or search the internet for your specific model. And you can find more information on hot keys for boot menu and BIOS Settings at or

4) So select the correct option to go to your boot menu. In the example above it is F12. Sometimes it is necessary to hit that key a couple of times.

Now you see a new screen with the options to boot from your hard drive or from USB.

5) Choose the generic USB option or if applicable choose the correct USB drive.
6) Now a menu with some options will be presented. Choose the option “Try Linux Mint without installing”.

Now the computer will boot with your Linux Mint Live environment.

Now that Linux Mint has been booted into a live session the real fun can begin. If everything went well you will see a desktop environment that probably looks something like the screenshot below.

Final words

Now you are being able to have some first looks at this Linux Mint distribution. Just browse around and try things out. In next tutorials I will show you the basic elements of the Linux Mint distro and go much more deeper in specific functionalities of this operating system.


About John Been

Hi there! My name is John Been. At the moment I work as a senior solution engineer for a large financial institution, but in my free time, I am the owner of,, and author of my first book "Linux for the rest of us". I have a broad insight and user experience in everything related to information technology and I believe I can communicate about it with some fun and knowledge and skills.

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