Make a Bootable Ubuntu USB stick: The Easy Way

By far the fastest way to install a new operating system is from a USB memory stick. In this post I’m going to show you the easiest way of making an Ubuntu bootable USB stick. For this we’ll use UNetbootin, a small portable program that turns your USB stick into a bootable drive – the alternative of a CD for example, from which you can install an operating system.

You will need:

  • A USB stick at least 1GB in size
  • Decent internet access for downloading Ubuntu or another Linux distribution of your choice
  • A computer that can boot from USB (check your BIOS settings and boot options)

Step 1: Prepare your USB drive

Insert your USB memory stick into an empty port and make sure to backup any files that you need from it as we’ll be formatting the drive later. This isn’t mandatory, but I like to format the drives I’m working with as it makes things much neater if you don’t mix personal files with the Linux distribution that you’re installing.

Step 2: Download & Run UNetbootin

Navigate to UNetbootin’s SourceForge page and download the latest version of the program. Once it’s downloaded you can run it straight away as it doesn’t require an installation.

Step 3: Select your desired distribution and destination memory stick

For this tutorial we’ll pick Ubuntu. By default the program will select the most recent Live version of the distribution, but since I have a 64-bit processor, I’ll go for the x64 version.

The next thing you’ll want to do is to make sure that you’ve selected the correct drive letter. Check in Start -> Computer to confirm. In my case this is drive E:\

Step 4: Run the program and sit back

At this stage you just have to press OK and let UNetbootin do its thing. It will download the correct ISO, unpack the files and make your flash drive bootable.

Step 5: Boot from the USB stick

Now the only thing you need to do is boot from the memory stick and you’ll be able to run Ubuntu Live. Check your BIOS settings to make sure USB boot is enabled. During restart most systems will allow you to select a boot device by pressing a key like Esc, Del or F12 – check Google or your manufacturer’s website for more information.