3 Ways To Create A Lightweight And Persistent Xubuntu Linux USB Drive

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Create A Persistent Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive Using Universal USB Installer

Xubuntu 14.10 Desktop
Xubuntu 14.10 Desktop.

This guide shows how to create a lightweight and persistent Linux USB drive using Xubuntu Linux.

Why would you want to do this? Here are 5 good reasons

  1. You want to install a lightweight, yet functional version of Linux on your computer.
  2. Your computer has no working hard drive, therefore a bootable Linux USB drive keeps the computer from the scrap heap.
  3. You want to try Linux but you aren't ready to commit full time.
  4. You want to create a system rescue USB drive with specific applications. 
  5. You just want a customizable version of Linux that you can carry around in your back pocket or on a keyring.

Now that we have the reasons, what are the steps required?

If you are using Windows

  1. Download Xubuntu 
  2. Download Universal USB Installer
  3. Insert a blank USB drive
  4. Use Universal USB Installer to create the persistent USB drive

If you are using Ubuntu

  1. Download Xubuntu
  2. Use Ubuntu Startup Creator.

If you are using another version of Linux

  1. Download Xubuntu
  2. Use UNetbootin

There is a more difficult process which requires using the command line but the above tools should suffice for most occasions.

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Downloading Xubuntu And Universal USB Installer

Xubuntu Website
Xubuntu Website.

To get Xubuntu visit the Xubuntu website and choose the version you wish to use. 

There are currently two versions available.

The 14.04 version is the long term support release and support is provided for 3 years whereas 14.10 is the latest release but only has support for 9 months. 

When you choose a download site you will be asked whether you want to download the 32-bit or 64-bit version. If your computer is 32-bit then you should choose 32-bit and if your computer is 64-bit then choose 64-bit.

Click here to for a guide to finding out whether your computer is 32-bit or 64-bit.

To get the Universal USB Installer visit the Pendrive Linux website and click on the download link halfway down the page labelled "Download UUI".

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Use The Universal USB Installer To Create A Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive

Universal USB Installer
Universal USB Installer License Agreement.

After you have downloaded the Universal USB Installer and Xubuntu, run the Universal USB Installer and click "Accept" when the security warning appears.

The Universal USB Installer is used to create a bootable Xubuntu USB drive with persistence.

The first screen is a license agreement. Click the "I Agree" button to continue.

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Create The Persistent Xubuntu USB Drive Using Universal USB Installer

Universal USB Installer
Universal USB Installer.

When the main Universal USB Installer screen is displayed choose the distribution you want to use from the dropdown list (i.e Xubuntu) and then for step 2 browse to the location of the ISO file you downloaded for the distribution.

Insert an empty USB drive into your computer and click the "Showing all drives" checkbox.

Choose your USB drive from the dropdown list (make sure you choose the correct drive). If the drive isn't empty check the format box. 

Note: Formatting the USB drive will wipe all of the data from the drive so make sure you have backed up its contents first

Set the persistence in step 4 to be the rest of the drive.

Click on the Create button to continue.

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Last Chance To Cancel The Creation Of The Xubuntu USB Drive

Universal USB Installer Warning
Universal USB Installer Warning.

The final screen shows you the process that will take place if you click yes.

This is the last chance to stop the installation. Make absolutely sure that you have chosen the correct USB drive and there is nothing on the drive you want to keep.

Accept the warning and wait patiently for the USB drive to be created.

Note: Adding the persistence can take some time and the progress bar doesn't change whilst this is happening

Eventually, the process will complete and you can reboot your computer and Xubuntu will load.

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Create A Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive Using Ubuntu's Startup Disk Creator

Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator
Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator.

If you already have Ubuntu installed on your computer then the easiest way to create a persistent bootable Xubuntu USB drive is to use the Startup Disk Creator.

To start the Disk Creator press the super key to bring up the Dash and search for "Startup Disk Creator". When the icon appears click on it. 

If you are unfamiliar with the Ubuntu Dash you may wish to click here for a full guide.

The Startup Disk Creator is fairly straight forward to use.

The screen is split into two portions. The top half is where you specify which distribution to use and the bottom half is where you specify the USB drive to use.

The first thing you need to do is click the button marked "other". This will let you choose the Xubuntu ISO file you downloaded in step 2.

Now insert your USB drive and click the "Erase" button to clear the drive.

Note: This will delete all of the data on your USB drive so make sure you have a backup

Make sure that the radio button marked "Stored in reserved extra space" is checked and slide the "How much" bar along until you have set the amount of space you wish to use for persistence.

Click on the "Make Startup Disk".

You will be asked to provide your password at various intervals but essentially your USB drive will be created and you can use it to boot Xubuntu.

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Create A Persistent Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive Using UNetbootin


The final tool I am going to show you is UNetbootin. This tool is available for Windows and Linux.

Personally, when using Windows I prefer to use the Universal USB Installer but for Linux UNetbootin is a decent enough option. 

Note: UNetbootin isn't 100% perfect and doesn't work for all distributions

To download UNetbootin using Windows click here.

If you are using Linux use your package manager to install UNetbootin.

Make sure your USB drive is inserted and make sure that it is formatted and has no other data on it.

To run UNetbootin within Windows all you have to do is click on the executable, within Linux you will need to run UNetbootin with elevated privileges.

How you run UNetbootin within Linux depends on the desktop environment and the distribution. From the command line the following should suffice:

sudo unetbootin

The interface for UNetbootin is split into two. The top part lets you choose a distribution and download it, the bottom part lets you choose a distribution that you have already downloaded.

Click on the "Diskimage" radio button and then press the button with three dots on it. Find the downloaded Xubuntu ISO file. The location will now appear in the box next to the button with three dots.

Set the value in the "Space used to preserve files across reboots" to the amount you wish to use for persistence.

Choose the USB drive as the type and choose the drive letter for your USB drive. 

Click "OK" to create the bootable Xubuntu USB drive with persistence. 

The process takes a few minutes to complete and once it has finished you will be able to boot into Xubuntu.

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What About UEFI?

If you want to create a UEFI Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive follow this guide but use the Xubuntu ISO instead of the Ubuntu ISO.