How To Create A UEFI Bootable Ubuntu USB Drive Using Windows

01
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Choose The Version Of Ubuntu To Download

Download Ubuntu
Download Ubuntu.

This guide shows you how to create a bootable Ubuntu USB drive which will work on UEFI based and BIOS based systems..

As an additional bonus this guide will also show you how to make the drive persistent so that changes made in the live mode are kept for each subsequent boot.

For this guide you will need a blank USB drive with at least 2 gigabytes of space and an internet connection.

The first thing to do is download Ubuntu by visiting http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop.

There will always be 2 versions of available for download. The version at the top will be the current long term support release and this is designed for the majority of users.

Currently the long term support version is 16.04 and it guarantees 5 years worth of support. Whilst you use this version you will receive security updates and application updates but you won't get new features that are released. The LTS version provides a great level of stability.

At the bottom of the page you will find the latest version of Ubuntu which is currently 16.10 but in April this will become 17.04 and then in October 17.10. This version has all the latest features but the support period is much shorter and you are expected to upgrade to each subsequent release in turn.

Click on the download link next to the version you wish to use.

02
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Download Ubuntu For Free

Download Ubuntu For Free
Download Ubuntu For Free.

Lots of money goes in to making the Ubuntu operating system and the developers like to be paid for their work.

After you have clicked the download link you will be presented with a list of sliders asking you to donate as little or as much to each portion of the operating system's development as you wish to do so.

Most people don't want to pay for something without knowing what they are getting.

To pay absolutely nothing for Ubuntu click the "Not now, take me to the download" link at the bottom of the page.

The Ubuntu ISO image will now be downloaded to your computer.

03
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Create The Ubuntu USB Drive Using Etcher

Create Ubuntu Drive Using Etcher
Create Ubuntu Drive Using Etcher.

The best tool for creating a Ubuntu USB drive is Etcher. The software is free to use and can be downloaded from https://etcher.io/.

Click on the large green download link at the top of the page.

After the download has finished click on the Etcher executable file. A setup screen will appear. All you have to do is click "Install".

When the software has been completely installed click the "Finish" button. Etcher should start automatically.

Insert a blank USB drive into one of the USB ports on your computer.

Press the "Select" button and navigate to your "Downloads" folder and find the Ubuntu ISO image downloaded in step 2.

Click on the "Select drive" button and choose the letter of the USB drive that you inserted.

Click "Flash".

Ubuntu will be written to the drive and a validation routine will run. After it has completed you will be able to boot into Ubuntu.

04
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How To Boot Into Ubuntu

How To Boot Into Ubuntu
How To Boot Into Ubuntu.

If you simply reboot your computer you might be surprised when it boots straight into Windows.

The truth is however that Windows is usually set to boot before anything else on most manufacturer's computers.

You can however override the boot order and the following list shows you the key to press depending on the manufacturer of your computer:

  • Acer - Escape, F9 or F12
  • Asus - Escape or F8
  • Compaq - Escape or F9
  • Dell - F12
  • eMachines - F12
  • HP - Escape or F9 (in some cases you need to press Escape and then F9)
  • Intel - F10
  • Lenovo - F8, F10, F11 or F12
  • NEC - F5
  • Packard Bell - F8
  • Samsung - Escape or F12
  • Sharp - F2
  • Sony - F10 or F11
  • Toshiba - F12

This site gives a full list of the relevant function keys for the boot menu and the BIOS settings.

You need to press the relevant function key before your computer boots. Basically keep pressing the key until a boot menu screen loads much like the one in the image.

If the keys above don't work for your particular make try one of the other function keys. Manufacturers have a habit of changing them for no apparent reason.

When the boot menu appears click on the option which matches your USB drive.

05
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Make the Ubuntu USB Drive Persistent

Pendrivelinux.com
Pendrivelinux.com.

To make it possible to install applications and save settings on a live USB drive you need to make it persistent.

Ubuntu looks for a file called casper-rw in the root partition in order to provide persistence.

To create a casper-rw file using Windows you can use a piece of software from pendrivelinux.com called PDL Caster-RW Creator. Download the application by clicking the link and then double click the executable to open it.

Make sure your Ubuntu USB drive is inserted and select the drive letter within Casper-RW Creator.

Now drag the slider across to determine how big you want the Casper-RW file to be. (The bigger the file, the more you can save).

Click "Create".

06
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Edit Grub To Add Persistence

PDL Casper-RW Creator
PDL Casper-RW Creator.

To get your USB drive to use the Casper-RW file open up Windows Explorer and navigate to /Boot/Grub.

Edit the file grub.cfg by right clicking the file and selecting "Open With" and then notepad.

Look for the following menuentry text and add the word persistent as shown in bold below.

menuentry "Try Ubuntu without installing" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux    /casper/vmlinuz.efi  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash persistent --
    initrd    /casper/initrd.lz
}

Save the file.

Reboot your computer whilst holding down the shift key and boot back into Ubuntu.

Programs and settings will now be remembered each and every time you boot into Ubuntu from the USB drive.