Create a UEFI-Bootable Linux Mint USB Drive

Test-drive Linux Mint using a Linux USB boot drive

What to Know

  • Format the USB drive, download the Linux Mint ISO file, then burn the ISO to the USB Drive.
  • Turn off Windows fast startup, restart your PC while holding down the Shift key, then select to boot from a device on the UEFI boot menu.
  • If you don't see the blue UEFI screen, reboot your PC and force it to boot from the USB drive during system startup.

This article explains how to make a bootable Linux Mint USB drive. Instructions apply to Windows PCs.

How to Format the USB Drive

Prepare the drive to accept the ISO-to-USB Linux transfer.

  1. Open Windows Explorer, and right-click the drive letter assigned to the drive.

  2. Choose the Format option on the menu.

    Windows 10 select drive to format
  3. When the Format Volume screen appears, verify that the quick format option is checked and the file system is set to FAT32.

    Windows 10 format USB
  4. Press Start.

    Windows 10 format USB Start

Write Linux Mint Image to the USB Drive

After the USB drive has been formatted, transfer the ISO file to it.

  1. Start Win32 Disk Imager.

  2. Set the drive letter to the USB drive you prepared.

  3. Select the folder icon and locate the Linux Mint ISO file you've already downloaded. You will need to change the file type to show all the files. Choose the ISO so that the path appears in the box on the main screen.

    Write USB with Win32 Disk Imager
  4. Press Write.

    Write USB with Win32 Disk Imager > Write

Turn off Fast Boot

To boot a UEFI-bootable Ubuntu-based USB drive (like Linux Mint), you must turn off Fast Startup from within Windows.

  1. Right-click the Start button, or press Win+X.

    Windows 10 right-click start
  2. Choose Power Options.

    Windows 10 Start > Power Options
  3. On the Power & Sleep screen, press Additional power settings.

    Windows 10 Additional power settings
  4. When the Additional power options screen appears, select the second menu item on the left-hand side: Choose what the power button does.

    Choose what the power button does in Power Options
  5. There won't be much on the power button settings screen to begin with. Select Change settings that are currently available to see more.

    Change settings that are currently unavailable
  6. Find the Shutdown Settings section at the bottom of the list. Ensure the Turn on Fast Startup checkbox is unchecked.

    Turn off fast startup
  7. Press Save Changes.

    Save changes

Boot From a UEFI-Bootable Linux Mint USB Drive

After you've disabled fast-startup mode in Windows, reboot your PC.

Screenshot of the Windows 10 UEFI Boot Menu
  1. To boot into Linux Mint, restart your computer while pressing the Shift key.

  2. When the UEFI boot menu appears, choose the Use a Device option and select USB EFI Drive

    Use a device

If you don't see the blue UEFI screen to choose to boot from EFI, try rebooting your PC and forcing it to boot from the USB drive during system startup. Different manufacturers require different keypresses to access this start-up customization feature:

  • Acer - F2 or delete
  • Asus - F2, F9, or delete
  • Compaq - F10
  • Dell - F2
  • Emachines - Tab or delete
  • HP - Escape, F1, or F10
  • Lenovo - F1 or F2
  • NEC - F2
  • Packard Bell - F1 or F2
  • Samsung - F2 or F10
  • Sharp - F2
  • Sony - F1, F2, or F3
  • Toshiba - Escape, F1, F2, or F12

Writing a Live System to Disk

After you've launched Linux Mint from USB and have explored the live file system, you can either continue to use the USB drive to launch a Linux session when you need it, or you can use Mint's own tools to transfer the Linux operating system to your PC's hard drive. 

When you install to hard disk, the bootloader automatically addresses UEFI compatibility on your behalf. You do not need to keep Fast Startup disabled in Windows to dual-boot into a Linux Mint system.

What You Need to Create a Bootable Linux Mint USB Drive

To create a UEFI-bootable Linux Mint USB drive, you'll need:

The disc image (a single large file with a name ending in .ISO) represents a direct copy of what the contents of a CD would be if a CD with Linux Mint were ripped to a single file. For that reason, you need a tool like Win32 Disk Imager, which executes ISO-to-USB for your Linux USB.

Why Make a Linux Mint Bootable USB Drive?

Linux Mint is one of the most popular Linux distributions since 2011, according to the page-hit rankings at Distrowatch. Mint's popularity follows from its ease of installation and its shallow learning curve, and because it is based on the long-term support release of Ubuntu, which provides stability and support.

Use a Linux Mint USB drive as a way of testing Linux Mint to see if it is suitable for your needs. If you like it, the live file system on the Linux USB device supports installation to your hard drive or even dual-booting of Linux Mint and Windows 8 and 10

Before PCs shipped with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface technology, spinning up a blank Linux CD, DVD, or USB drive was straightforward, as was booting with the media you created. Modern PCs that use UEFI, an extra security layer that protects the operating system's communications with your PC's hardware, require a few extra steps to work correctly with Linux USBs.

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