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Kasun Indrasiri

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    Department of CSE
    University of Moratuwa,
    Sri Lanka

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How to install Ubuntu Linux from a USB stick

Posted by kasun04 on June 21, 2008

Installing an operating system through a media like USB Stick is seems like a kind of crazy things that you do. But in case of having a dead cd/dvd ROM drive this is the only thing that you can do to install the operating system. So, in such case you can install Ubuntu Linux from USB stick. Here is the procedure.


  • Flash Drive (I recommend you to have a clean flash drive formatted with FAT32)

Step 1

  • On the root directory of your USB device, create a folder “install”.
  • Copy the installer kernel and the initramdisk into this folder (Download source below.You need the files “vmlinux” and “initrd.gz”).

–  Download source for the installer kernel and initramdisk

For AMD64 Download from here

For i386 Download from here

(You need to download the files “vmlinux” and “initrd.gz”.)

Step 2

Note: You need to have the installer that fits the architecture of your Ubuntu version you want to install. In other words, you need an amd64 installer if you want to install an amd64 Ubuntu .iso image and the i386 installer for an i386 iso.

Step 3

From the installation iso image you downloaded, copy the folder “isolinux” to the root directory of your USB device (right-click on the .iso file, choose “extract here”). Rename “isolinux” into “syslinux”. Go inside the directroy “syslinux”. There, rename the file “isolinux.cfg” into “syslinux.cfg”.

Step 4

  • Make the stick bootable: Use fdisk to set the boot flag,
  • Install syslinux using the following command

sudo aptitude install syslinux

  • Now use syslinux to install a boot sector on your USB device

sudo syslinux /dev/sdbX

(where sdbX is the device name and number of your USB device, check with “sudo mount”. A file called”ldlinux.sys” will be created in the root direcotry of the USB device.)

Step 5

  • Copy the Ubuntu CD image in the root directory of your USB device (Contents of USB you can see as follows).
  • If you are using i386 you need to copy the complete .iso image in to the root directory of your USB device.

Good Luck

(Note: Unfortunately I haven’t tested this method to install Ubuntu in my desktop)


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