How to Create a Multiboot Linux USB Drive Using Linux

Put several Linux distributions in on a thumb drive

What to Know

  • Download MultiSystem, burn the disc image to a USB key, then reboot the computer using the USB drive as a boot drive.
  • In MultiSystem, drag distributions from the file manager to the Select ISO or IMG box. Do so for additional distributions as necessary.
  • Reboot using the USB drive. The MultiSystem menu loads. Select Linux distributions from the top of the list and press Enter.

Create a multi-boot USB drive for Linux using the MultiSystem tool. The tool supports an ISO image to support burning directly to USB.

Install and Boot MultiSystem on a USB Drive

Before you can create a Multiboot Linux USB Drive you need to download and install MultiSystem.

  1. Download MultiSystem and burn the disc image to a USB key.

  2. After you burn the USB stick, reboot your computer using the USB drive as the boot drive. This process launches MultiSystem in a live session.

Add Linux Distributions to the USB Drive

The next step is to add some Linux distributions to the bootable USB drive you created.

  1. After you have downloaded all of the distributions you wish to add to the USB, open the downloads folder on your computer using the file manager installed on the computer.

    Add Linux Distributions Using Multisystem screenshot
  2. Drag the first distribution into the box that says Select ISO or IMG on the Multisystem screen.

  3. The image will be copied to the USB drive. The screen goes black and some text scrolls up; you will see a short progress bar highlighting how far through the process you are.

    It takes a while to add any distribution to the USB drive and you should wait until you are returned to the main Multisystem screen. The progress bar is not particularly accurate and you may think the process has hung.

  4. After the first distribution has been added it will appear in the top box on the Multisystem screen. 

  5. To add another distribution, drag the ISO image to the Select ISO or IMG box within Multisystem and again wait for the distribution to be added.

Boot Into the Multiboot USB Drive

The final step is to boot into the multiboot USB drive.

  1. Reboot your computer leaving the USB drive inserted and press the relevant function key to bring up the boot menu before your main operating system loads.

    Boot into the multisystem screenshot
  2. From the boot menu choose your USB drive. The MultiSystem menu loads and you should see the Linux distributions you chose at the top of the list.

  3. Select the distribution you wish to load using the arrow keys, and press return. The Linux distribution will now load.

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