How to install Ubuntu from USB: On the advice of your friends, have you decided to try the Ubuntu operating system too? Good idea. Ubuntu is one of the most famous Linux distributions in the world and integrates many applications to work (LibreOffice), surf the Internet (Firefox), chat and play multimedia files. In short, once installed you already have everything you need to start working and having fun with your PC, whether fixed or portable. Driver problems? Sometimes there may be, but the situation has clearly improved compared to a few years ago, now the Linux distro are able to adapt to many different hardware without special user intervention.
So, can you know what else you are waiting for to try Ubuntu? How do you say? The computer on which you want to install the operating system does not have a working DVD player and therefore you don’t know how to proceed? No problem, get a USB stick of at least 2GB and get ready to transfer all the installation files of the operating system on it, it’s really a breeze!
If you need a hand, below is a guide on how to install Ubuntu from USB that just waits to be read and put into practice. I assure you that you will be able to successfully complete it even if you have never had to deal with the Linux world in your life. At the end of the procedure you will end up with a “dual boot” system in which you can decide from time to time whether to start Ubuntu or Windows, no files of those you have stored on your PC will be deleted. In the tutorial I will use Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, but the indications given in it should also be valid for other versions of the distro. Happy reading and enjoy!
What do you need to install Ubuntu from USB?
Before getting to the heart of this tutorial, let’s see what it takes to install Ubuntu on a PC. The need is almost within everyone’s reach, so you shouldn’t encounter any particular problems.
- A PC that meets the minimum requirements of Ubuntu , then a computer equipped with at least 1.5GB of RAM, a processor of at least 1GHz and at least 7GB of disk space.
- A USB stick of at least 2GB.
- A fast Internet connection , to download the ISO image containing the Ubuntu installation files.
- A software to create the stick with the Ubuntu installation files , during the tutorial I will report a couple of them compatible with both Windows and Linux itself.
Do you have everything it takes to install Ubuntu? Well, before downloading the operating system and pouring it onto a USB stick, I suggest you complete the following operations.
As already mentioned in the opening of the post, Ubuntu can coexist safely with Windows and its installation does not involve the deletion of the files on the disk (unless you voluntarily decide to format the drive). However, when changing the partitions of a hard disk it is always good to protect yourself by creating a backup copy of your data . If you don’t know how to backup your data, read my guide on what is the backup .
Disabling Secure Boot
All newer computers (those sold with Windows 8.x or Windows 10 pre-installed) have a new generation BIOS, called UEFI , which has various security measures. One of these is the Secure Boot , which prevents unsigned software from starting so as to avoid running malware when the PC is turned on.
Well, with the Secure Boot enabled it is not possible to correctly start the Ubuntu installation process and therefore you must deactivate it before proceeding. Here are all the steps you need to take to access the UEFI management panel and disable Secure Boot.
- If you have a PC equipped with Windows 10 , click on the Start button and go to PC Settings . In the window that opens, click on the Update and security icon , select the Restore item from the left sidebar and press the Restart button now located under the Advanced startup item . Then go to Troubleshooting> Advanced Options> UEFI Firmware Settings , press the Restart button and wait for the computer to restart.
- If you have a PC equipped with Windows 8.x , go to Start , look for the term “settings” in the screen that opens and select the PC Settings icon from the search results. Then go to Update and restore (in the left sidebar) and click on the Restart now button which is under the wording Advanced startup to restart the PC. Finally, go to Troubleshooting> Advanced options> UEFI firmware settings and press the Restart button .
- When the UEFI configuration panel appears, use the directional arrows on the keyboard to reach the Security tab and select the Secure Boot item to set its value to Disabled . When the operation is complete, select the Save and exit item to exit the UEFI by saving the settings and you’re done.
Keep in mind that the UEFI management panel is not the same on all PCs, so you may have to select menus or options slightly different from the ones I have indicated to you. For further information read my guide on how to enter the BIOS and / or search on Google for a tutorial dedicated specifically to your computer model. Also connected to the official Ubuntu website and take a look at the documentation regarding the installation of the operating system on UEFI systems.
Disabling Windows Quick Start
Another thing I recommend you do is disable the quick start function included in Windows 8.x and later, which allows you to speed up the system startup times when you put the computer on stand-by: this is a feature very useful, but if enabled it can prevent the Ubuntu installation media from starting correctly.
To disable the Windows quick start function, click on the Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), search for “control panel” in the menu that opens and choose Control Panel from the results of research.
In the window that opens, click first on the Hardware and Sound icon and then on the Change behavior of the power buttons item located in the Power Options section . Then, click on the item Change the options currently not available to allow the modification of the PC settings, remove the check mark from the Enable quick start option and press the Save changes button (bottom right) to make the changes effective .
Do you want to install Ubuntu without giving up on Windows? In this case you have to free up some space on your PC’s hard disk (at least 20GB I would say) and reserve it for the penguin’s operating system. During installation, the latter will then create all the partitions necessary for its operation.
To create a portion of free (unallocated) space to reserve for Ubuntu, access the Windows Start menu , search for “partitions” and select the Create and format hard disk partitions icon from the search results.
In the window that opens, right-click on the main partition of the disk (eg C 🙂 and choose the Volume Down item from the Windows context menu. Then specify the amount of space to reduce, in MB in the appropriate text field (in this field you must indicate the number of MB to reserve for Ubuntu partitions) and click on the Reduce button to save the changes.
If everything goes in the right direction, in the partition graph you will find a black rectangle relating to the unallocated space on the disk , which should correspond to the amount of MB you have indicated above in the Windows partitioning utility window.
How to download Ubuntu
If you want to find out how to install Ubuntu from USB , you need to get the operating system image file to transfer to your stick. Then connect to the Ubuntu website and click on the Download it now button . In the page that opens, use the drop-down menus located under the Configure your download item to select the version of Ubuntu to download and click on the Start download button to start the download.
I advise you to download the latest version of Ubuntu LTS , i.e. the one with long-term support (two years) for 64-bit desktop systems, but obviously it all depends on your needs. However, know that if you have a recent computer equipped with UEFI, you must obtain the 64-bit version of the operating system.
How to create a USB stick with Ubuntu
Once Ubuntu is downloaded, you can go to download Rufus , a free application that allows you to transfer ISO images to USB sticks and make them bootable for the installation or execution of operating systems in live mode. So connect to the Rufus website and click on the item Rufus 2.xx to download the program to your PC.
When the download is complete, run the Rufus-xx.exe executable and click the Yes button to allow the software to automatically search for the latest updates from the Internet. In the window that opens, expand the drop-down menu Device / Unit and select the drive related to the USB stick on which you want to copy the Ubuntu installation files, then click on the CD icon located at the bottom right and select the Ubuntu ISO image .
At this point, make sure that the MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI and FAT32 options are selected in the Partition scheme and target system type and File System drop-down menus , check that there is a check mark next to the items Quick format , Create disk bootable with – ISO image and Create extended label and icon file and click the Start button to start creating the USB stick with Ubuntu.
Before proceeding, Rufus will believe you how to copy the files on the stick and if you want to delete all the files on the drive: choose the option Write in ISO image mode and answer yes to the second request. If you are asked to download files from the Internet, accept by clicking on the Yes button .
If for any reason Rufus doesn’t convince you, you can create a USB stick with Ubuntu installation files also with UNetbootin , a free software compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux. Its operation is as intuitive as that of Rufus.
How to install Ubuntu
Once you have finished copying the files to the USB stick (it should take a few minutes), insert the drive into the computer on which you want to install Ubuntu and restart the latter. A screen should appear automatically with the items Try Ubuntu without installing (try Ubuntu without installing it) and Install Ubuntu (install Ubuntu).
How to install Ubuntu
If this does not happen and Windows starts normally, enter your computer’s BIOS / UEFI and set the USB ports as the primary boot drive. If you don’t know how to do it, take a look at my guide on how to enter the BIOS where you will find out how to access the BIOS and UEFI and change the boot order by setting the USB ports or the CD / DVD player as a drive. primary.
Not even in this way can you solve the problem? Obviously there is something wrong with the USB stick on which you copied Ubuntu. To solve the problem try to change the key or, if you have a UEFI-based PC, try these alternative solutions.
- Create the key again with Rufus by choosing the GPT partition scheme for UEFI option from the Partition scheme and target system type drop-down menu and activating the dd mode at the end of the procedure.
- Download the bootia32.efi file from this web page and insert it in the EFIBOOT folder of the Ubuntu stick. This allows you to boot the USB sticks on 32-bit UEFI systems, like many convertible devices with Windows 8.x and Windows 10 that are on the market.
- If your system supports Legacy BIOS mode , activate it to install Ubuntu by emulating the old BIOS. Be careful though, doing this will not get a full dual-boot system. If Windows was installed via UEFI, in fact, you will have one operating system that starts when the UEFI mode (Windows) is active on the PC and another that starts when the Legacy BIOS mode (Ubuntu) is active. To learn more, read my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS and the documentation available on the official Ubuntu website .
In the unfortunate event that not even these “tips” would help you start the Ubuntu stick, go to Google and look for an ad hoc tutorial for your computer model (eg how to install Ubuntu from USB on [PC model] ).
When the Ubuntu home menu appears, select the Install Ubuntu item and wait for the operating system home screen to appear. So choose the Italian language from the left sidebar to use the operating system in Italian and press the Install Ubuntu button to start its installation procedure.
In the window that opens, agree to download both the latest Ubuntu updates and third-party software (e.g. the MP3 codec) by placing a check mark next to the appropriate items and go ahead .
At this point choose whether to install Ubuntu alongside Windows by creating a partition dedicated to the latter on the computer’s hard disk or to replace Windows with Ubuntu by deleting all the files on the computer (as well as Windows itself). I strongly recommend the first option, but it’s up to you to decide on what your needs are. If you choose, click on Next and adjust the disk space to be allocated to Linux (operation necessary only if you have chosen to install Ubuntu without removing Windows). To confirm the operation, click on Install and then on Next for two consecutive times.
In conclusion, indicate your geographical position to set the correct time zone, go ahead , choose the language to use for the keyboard layout, click again on Next and set a combination of username and password to access the operating system.
So click on Next and Ubuntu installation will be completed within 15-20 minutes. You won’t have to move a finger. When the PC restarts, you can start using the operating system without having the USB stick inserted. If you have decided to support Linux with Windows, every time you turn on your computer you can choose whether to use one operating system or the other.
In case there are problems with GRUB, the boot loader that uses Ubuntu to manage the startup of the PC (and therefore also allow the startup of Windows) try to follow the instructions in my tutorial on how to restore GRUB .