3 Ways to Create a Lightweight and Persistent Xubuntu Linux USB Drive

Find a simple way to make a permanent Xubuntu USB

The Xubuntu Linux environment offers the under-the-hood capability of Ubuntu, but with the XFCE Desktop Environment instead of a "heavier" and more resource-intensive desktop environment that ships natively with Ubuntu.

Downloading Xubuntu and Universal USB Installer

Xubuntu website

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

You'll be able to pick between the current version and the most current long-term support version (labeled as "LTS"). LTS versions are supported for three years while non-LTS versions contain newer software, but are supported for just nine 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. If you're not sure, go with 64-bit. 32-bit computers are usually very old and are fairly rare these days.

Use the Universal USB Installer to Create a Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive

Universal USB Installer

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.

Create the Persistent Xubuntu USB Drive Using Universal USB Installer

  1. To get the Universal USB Installer visit the Pendrive Linux website, and select the download link halfway down the page labeled Download UUI.

  2. When the main Universal USB Installer screen is displayed choose the distribution you want to use from the dropdown list (i.e Xubuntu).

    UUI Select Xubuntu
  3. Then, browse to the location of the ISO file you downloaded for the distribution.

    UUI Select disk image
  4. Insert an empty USB drive into your computer, and select the Showing all drives checkbox.

  5. Choose your USB drive from the dropdown list. If the drive isn't empty, check the Format box. ​Formatting the USB drive will wipe all of the data from the drive so make sure you have backed up its contents first.

    UUI Select USB Drive
  6. Set the persistence in step 4 to be the rest of the drive.

  7. Press Create to continue.

    UUI flash USB drive

Create a Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive Using Ubuntu's 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.

  1. To start the Disk Creator select the Applications icon at the bottom of the side panel to bring up the list of your applications, and search for "Startup Disk Creator." When the icon appears, select it. 

    Ubuntu search Startup Disk Creator
  2. 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.

    There's a good chance that your Xubuntu disk image is already listed in the top section. If so, select it. If not, you need to press Other, so you can browse to the Xubuntu ISO file you downloaded.

  3. Now, insert your USB drive, and press Erase to clear the drive. This step will delete all of the data on your USB drive, so make sure you have a backup.

  4. Ensure that the radio button marked Stored in reserved extra space is selected, and slide the How much bar along until you have set the amount of space you wish to use for persistence.

  5. Press Make Startup Disk.

    Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator

    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.

Create a Persistent Bootable Xubuntu USB Drive Using UNetbootin

UNetbootin is available for Windows and Linux. If you are using Linux, you may be able to use your package manager to install UNetbootin.

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

  2. To run UNetbootin within Windows, all you have to do is click the executable; within Linux, you will need to run UNetbootin with elevated privileges. You'll also need to specify an additional setting to run it with root privileges.

    sudo QT_X11_NO_MITSHM=1 ./unetbootin-linux64-677.bin
  3. 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.

    Unetbootin running on Ubuntu
  4. Select the Diskimage radio button, and then press the three dots icon. Find the downloaded Xubuntu ISO file. The location will now appear in the box next to the icon.

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

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

    Unetbootin flash USB
  7. Press OK to create the bootable Xubuntu USB drive with persistence. 

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

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