[How to] Boot and Run Linux from Pen drive using UNetbootin

Ubuntu team developed live file-system which can be booted on system without installing the operating system on hard disk (even with persistent storage which allow you to save changes on pen drive). Most of the Linux systems incorporated this technology in their distributions which allowed people to run Linux distros on CD/DVD or pen/flash drive prior installing it on their systems. By live-booting, you can check that your system is supported by the Linux distribution and take a test drive of the operating system. BUT, how you’re going to run your favorite Linux from pen drive? So, I’m going to tell you the procedure to Boot and Run Linux from pen drive using UNetbootin.

Why UNetbootin?

  • UNetbootin is simple to use.
  • UNetbootin works for most of the distros.

Install and Run UNetbootin on your system

Installing and Running UNetbootin on Linux

  • If you’re using a Debian/Ubuntu based distribution then click to install UNetbootin in Linux . Then search for it in main menu to run it.
  • Simply search for UNetbootin’ in your package manager and install it. Then search for it in main menu to run it.
  • If both above method don’t work for you, then click to download UNetbootin for Linux . Check if that file is set as executable; you can do this by right-clicking that file -> selecting Properties’ -> go to Permissions’ tab -> Check Allow executing file as program’; that’s completed. Now, just run that file by opening it. You will see UNetbootin first window as shown below:

Installing and Running UNetbootin on Windows

Using UNetbootin to make bootable pen drive

1. Start UNetbootin.

2. You can start in any of these two ways:

(i) Choose a distribution and it’s version; and UNetbootin will automatically download it for you.


(ii) Choose an ISO file of any Linux distribution (you can download them from their respective sites). I used Solus OS RC2 ISO file for this tutorial.

3. Choose the persistent storage size in MB so that you can save changes on your pen drive (option for persistent storage only works in Ubuntu or Ubuntu based Linux distros). Here, I kept it zero but you can choose your required size.
4. Choose the USB drive in which you want to put Linux distro. In Linux, you need to be careful while choosing the proper USB if you’ve plug-in many USB/pen drives on your system; otherwise you can lose some data on your pen drive.
5. Click OK.


6. After completing copying files, UNetbootin will install boot-loader on your pen drive and finally, it will become bootable. Click finish’ to manually boot pen drive or restart’ to restart your system and boot pen drive.

Booting Linux from bootable Pen drive

  • Insert bootable pen drive in your system.
  • Open boot drive options by pressing right button (it differs from manufacturer to manufacturer but most probably one of these: Esc, F2-F12 or Del keys).
  • Choose to boot from pen drive.
  • Choose appropriate option from Linux boot screen menu.
  • You’ll see your favorite Linux desktop in sometime.

UNetbootin is the most simple tool to install a Linux distro in a pen drive for live-booting. And, booting off Linux distro from that pen drive is too, as simple as installing it. UNetbootin is mostly used by people because of its ease.