Thursday, November 25, 2010

Installing Ubuntu using a USB Stick

A couple of weeks back I happened to see an installation CD for an older version of Ubuntu in a rubbish bin. Not very environmental friendly indeed. I think a lot of us have this experience of burning the installation CDs, just to chuck it aside after using once for the installation. For me I still have a number of installation CDs for older versions of RedHat, Fedora, Ubuntu, etc. Sometimes I just feel like throwing them all away, but stop short of doing that because somehow I just feel that it is a wasteful thing to do.
Of course for those who are doing upgrade you can choose to upgrade via the network using the update manager. But after a few upgrades later, you may feel like having a fresh installation instead because you just feel like doing a clean up of unwanted applications and library files from your system. So is there a more environmentally friendly way to do installation? Actually there is a way, and that is none other than using the USB stick. Following are the main steps involved to perform installation using a USB stick:

Check BIOS Setup
The more recent computers should be able to support booting up via a USB stick. This can be verified by going into the BIOS setup during boot up time by pressing a key (typically the "Delete", "F2" or "F12" key). Look for something called Boot Sequence, and you should be able to see whether USB device is listed as one of the option. You may need to move the USB device upwards in the boot sequence if it comes below the harddrive by default.

Download the CD Installation Image
Once confirmed that your system can boot up using a USB stick, the next thing will be to download the installation image. You can just download the same ISO file for the CD installation image. There is no special installation image just for USB device.

Copy the Image into a USB Stick
After the image has been downloaded, you cannot just copy the image directly into the USB stick as the USB stick needs to be made bootable. In Ubuntu, there is a program call "Startup Disk Creator" for this purpose. You should be able to find it under System -> Administration. When the program has started, you should be able to see the screen as follows:

For the Source disc image, browse to the installation ISO file you have downloaded. For the Disk to use, select the USB Device. Of course you need to plug in the USB Device if you have not already done so. You can leave the other settings to default, and click on the "Make Startup Disk" button to start creating the startup disk. The CD installation image is about 700 MB in size, so you have to make sure your USB device is more than 700 MB in size. Note that whatever contents originally in your USB device will be erased with this process.

If you want to create the startup disk in Windows, you can try using the open source burner call InfraRecorder. I have not tried this method though. 

Boot Up and Install Using the USB Stick
This is the final step to determine whether your bootable USB stick is working. Just plug it in and start the system. If the Ubuntu screen appears, then you are in business! It should boot up as a live CD, and you can proceed with the installation from there. If the boot up fail, you may want to check the BIOS Setup as mentioned above.

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1 comment:

  1. Good article..


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