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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
A Brief About Linux
3.
How a USB Booting Work?
4.
Why to Boot Linux from USB?
5.
Steps to Boot Linux from USB
5.1.
Downloading the ISO File
5.2.
Making Bootable USB
5.3.
Booting Linux From USB
6.
Frequently Asked Questions
6.1.
Can we install applications or software while using a bootable USB?
6.2.
Can we save the data and settings on a bootable USB?
6.3.
Can we use the same USB drive for multiple Linux distributions?
6.4.
Will booting Linux from USB harm our computer's existing operating system?
7.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

How to Boot Linux from USB?

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Introduction

Linux is an operating system that is known for its versatility and powerful command line interface(CLI). When it comes to using it in our local environment, the first thing that comes to our mind is how to boot Linux. Then we find ways to boot it, and then we choose one of the ways to boot Linux on our local machine. One of the best ways to boot Linux is using USB(Universal Serial Bus).

How to Boot Linux from USB?

In this article, we will discuss about how to boot Linux from USB. Firstly, we will discuss about what Linux is. Then we will explain about the steps to boot Linux from USB. 

So, let’s get started!!

A Brief About Linux

Linux is an open-source operating system like Windows, Mac, etc. It serves as the core foundation of various operating systems, and we can call them Linux distributions. There are some popular Linux distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, etc. Each of these Linux distributions comes up with several Features of linux operating system and functionalities. 

linux

Linux operating system is famous for its security features. It is also known for its robustness and versatility. This makes it a popular choice for a variety of applications. It is also helpful in managing hardware components like SD cards.

Also read, Features of linux operating system

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How a USB Booting Work?

In USB booting, we simply need to connect the drive to our machine. Then our machine will load the added ISO( International Organization for Standardization) file and run the operating system. The USB booting works only because of BIOS(Basic Input/Output System) and UEFI(Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). 

working of usb booting

When we restart or reboot our machine, BIOS or UEFI firmware start searching for bootable devices such as USB drive. When it finds a bootable device, then the BIOS/UEFI firmware loads the bootloader. Bootloader is a program that is responsible for loading the installed operating system from the bootable device. Then after the loading, the operating system runs on our machine after checking all the necessary files.

**Now, you might be wondering why we need to boot Linux from USB.

Why to Boot Linux from USB?

There are several reasons to boot any Linux distribution from USB:

  • When we boot from USB, it doesn't require any installation on our computer, and it saves the memory
     
  • Booting from USB gives us an advantage, we carry our customized Linux environment anywhere
     
  • If we boot from USB, we can test different Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, etc 
     
  • Bootable USB drives can also be used for data recovery and system repair

Steps to Boot Linux from USB

There are several steps that we need to follow to boot Linux from USB. Let us look at each step.

Downloading the ISO File

In this step, we need to make a bootable USB drive. To make a bootable USB drive, follow the mentioned steps:

Step 1: Firstly, we need to download the ISO file of Linux from their official website. We can download any Linux distribution according to our requirements. Suppose we are downloading the Ubuntu.

official website of ubuntu

Step 2: Now, go to the downloads section and click on the Ubuntu desktop option.

download section

Step 3: Now, download the latest version or any early version of Ubuntu. Suppose we want to download the 20.04 version.

downloading

Now, click on the download button, and it will start downloading the ISO file of Ubuntu.

Making Bootable USB

Now, we need to make a bootable USB drive. So, to make a USB bootable, we can use tools and applications that can make a USB bootable. Suppose we are using a tool called Rufus. We need to follow the mentioned steps:

Step 1: We need to download the Rufus tool from any third party or their official website.

downloading rufus

Step 2: Now, scroll down to the download section and download the latest version of Rufus.

finding a suitable version

Step 3: Now, when the download is completed, we need to install the Rufus to our local machine. After installing it, the application will look like this.

rufus display

Step 4: Now, we need to attach our USB to our system, and we can see it in the device section. Then we need to select the downloaded Ubuntu ISO file in the boot selection section.

attaching USB and adding ISO file

Step 5: Now, leave everything default and click on the Start button. Then we will see the status of making a bootable USB. 

starting the bootable usb making process

When it is finished, we will see something like this.

done with the bootable usb

Now, we have a bootable USB drive, and we can use it accordingly.

Booting Linux From USB

Now, we need to follow the mentioned steps to boot Linux from a USB drive. 

Step 1: We need to connect the USB drive to our computer. We need to make sure that we have closed every file and folder and saved them. 
 

Step 2: Now, we need to restart our computer and keep in mind we still need to attach the USB drive. We don't need to remove it while doing the restarting.
 

Step 3: Now, there are some common keys that we need to press when we get our computer's logo on the restart. The common keys are F2, F10, Esc, and Del. These keys might vary depending on our computer’s brand. 
 

Step 4: Now, we need to press these keys until we are not getting the BIOS or UEFI display. After getting the display, we need to go to the boot order section.
 

Step 5: Now, we need to select the USB drive as our first priority in boot order.
 

Step 6: Now, we need to save our settings and exit from the BIOS settings.
 

After following these steps, we will see our computer is restarting. Then our computer will take us to the installed Linux distribution. Then we can set up our Linux distribution accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we install applications or software while using a bootable USB?

Yes, we can install applications or software on a bootable USB Linux. But we need to keep in mind that any installations we are making will be temporary. They will not exist after the rebooting of the system.

Can we save the data and settings on a bootable USB?

Yes, we can save data and settings on a bootable USB. There are several Linux distributions that are designed for bootable USB drives and offer a "persistence" feature. With this feature, we can create partitions and save the data.

Can we use the same USB drive for multiple Linux distributions?

Yes, we can use the same USB drive for multiple Linux distributions. There are various tools available that help to create a bootable USB. They allow us to format and write different ISO files onto the same drive. 

Will booting Linux from USB harm our computer's existing operating system?

No, if we are booting Linux from a USB, then it will not harm our computer's existing OS. 

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed about how to boot Linux from USB. We have also discussed about how USB booting works. Then we have explained the steps to boot Linux from USB. If you want to learn more about Linux, then you can check out our other articles:

We hope this article helped you to get knowledge about how to boot Linux from USB. You can refer to our guided paths on the Coding Ninjas Studio platform. You can check our course to learn more about DSADBMSCompetitive ProgrammingPythonJavaJavaScript, etc. 

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