Ubuntu 9.04 Live USB Persistent (Windows Install)

Want to try Ubuntu but don’t want to bother burning a CD? … or …
Want to be able to use Ubuntu from (almost) any computer and keep the same configuration?

Well this tutorial is for you!

I am going to walk you through a simple installation (with pictures)… Please feel free to let me know if you have any comments or questions…


(this tutorial assumes you are using a Windows OS (like 2000, XP, or Vista)

Step 1 – Download a few tools

You will need just a few simple tools to help get the job done.

  1. HP USB Format Tool (filename should be SP27608.exe)
    (HP USB Format Tool alternate download link)
  2. Helper Program (please right click and go to “Save file as…” filename should be Ubuntu904P.exe)
Starting out...
Starting out...
*note that I already double clicked on Ubuntu904P.exe and it auto-extracted to the desktop, hence why you see the folder by the same name.
*note that the Ubuntu904P.exe comes with the 1 GB version of casper-rw (that’s the file that allows you to have persistence on the USB). If you would like 2, 3, or 4 GB’s of persistance, please download the appropriate casper-rw file of your liking and use it to replace the casper-rw file in the Ubuntu904P folder (be sure to extract the file from the zip first).
(right click -> “Save file as…”)

Step 2 – Format your USB drive

Go ahead and double click the SP27608.exe and it will run you through a short installation for the HP USB disk storage format tool. Once installed you want to format your USB drive.

IMPORTANT: Your USB drive should be at least 2GB!
IMPORTANT: Be sure to back up any files from the USB drive that you want to keep… They will be gone forever once the drive is formatted.

In the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool, select the appropriate drive letter and also ensure that FAT32 is selected.

You can enter a volume label if you like, but it’s not required.

Here is how mine looked:

Once you are sure you have the right drive letter and the file system is set to FAT32 go ahead and click Start.

Format the USB Drive
Format the USB Drive
Format Finished Confirmation
Format Finished Confirmation

Step 3 – Install

Now that you’re USB drive is formatted, you are ready to install!

Since my USB drive is 4GB I decided to go with the 4GB Casper (so I can use 4GB persistence).

Go to your Ubuntu904P folder – which will have the same files/folders as in the picture below – if you are ready to install (don’t want/need a bigger casper) then run the Ubuntu904.bat – otherwise open the casper archive of your choice (2GB, 3GB, or 4GB – links available up at step 1) and extract it to the Ubuntu904P folder as show in the following pictures.

Ready to Install (Unless you want a bigger Casper)
Ready to Install (Unless you want a bigger Casper)
Confirmation request for replacing the Casper.
Confirmation request for replacing the Casper.
Click Ubuntu904.bat to begin install.
Click Ubuntu904.bat to begin install.
*Note: If you do not see the Ubuntu904P folder, or if for some reason the contents are not right, you need to double click on the Ubuntu904P.exe (lower left corner of the pic above) to get it.

A command window (think DOS if you’re old enough to know what that is) will pop up with some text explaining what is going to happen.

It will ask you to enter the drive letter of the USB drive you want to install to. This is very important! Type it in and hit enter.

What you see when you first run Ubuntu904.bat
What you see when you first run Ubuntu904.bat

Next the installer will check if you have the Ubuntu 9.04 iso already or not. It is going to look inside the Ubuntu904P folder. Don’t worry if it’s not there because it will download it from here -> http://releases.ubuntu.com/releases/9.04/ubuntu-9.04-desktop-i386.iso

If you want to you can download it from a mirror site closer to your location and just download it into the Ubuntu904P folder prior to running the bat.

I chose to download the ISO myself first. If you want to do the same, make sure you move the ISO to the Ubuntu904P folder as seen in the following image:

Move the ISO to the Ubuntu904P folder if you downloaded it manually.
Move the ISO to the Ubuntu904P folder if you downloaded it manually.

Once the download is complete, the installer will proceed to extract all the files necessary (including the casper files needed for persistence) to your USB drive. Be patient, it may look like it is getting hung up on the casper but it’s not… The casper just takes a little while to copy over, especially if you opted for a larger casper.

Installer at work.
Installer at work.

Finally it will ask for your permission to make the boot partition on the drive. You will need to press any key (read any of the info text if you want first) to finish.

Press any key to make the drive bootable (IMPORTANT)!
Press any key to make the drive bootable (IMPORTANT)!

Once it is done making the drive bootable, it will give you a final confirmation.

All Done!
All Done!

Now verify the contents of your USB. It should look something like this:

Contents of newly created Ubuntu 9.04 Live USB with Persistence.
Contents of newly created Ubuntu 9.04 Live USB with Persistence.
Drive Properties.
Drive Properties.

Step 4 – Reboot

Now that you have completed the installation you will need to reboot your computer and check your BIOS settings to test it out.

Each computer is different, so how you get into BIOS will vary. Usually you have to press F1 or F2 or perhaps the Del key just as the power comes on (or when prompted).

Look for a menu that has boot settings and see if you have an option to allow boot from USB. If so enable it. Save changes and restart your computer.

If your computer does not allow USB booting, don’t worry, you may still be able to use Ubuntu Live from your USB (with persistence) with the help of a USB boot CD (I’ll put up a tutorial for that soon).


Step 5 – Enjoy!

Enjoy your new bootable USB with Ubuntu 9.04!

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions. Also see the following references if you want a different perspective on the tutorial:

PendriveLinux
Ubuntu Help

Alex

Alex is a professional web and mobile developer. He loves spending time with his wife and kids, and is still very much a kid at heart. He enjoys reading comic books, watching TV/Movies, playing video games, playing with action figures and Legos.

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