Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

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Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby tuxcantfly on Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:20 am

Note: This is a modified version of my guides for Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS

Purpose/Overview

This guide creates a LiveUSB out of your standard 1 GB (or larger) USB flash drive entirely from within Windows, using a nice graphical application (no command lines), UNetbootin. The generated Mint (or, optionally, another Linux distribution) LiveUSB functions identically to a standard Mint LiveCD, so you can use it for Mint installs or system recovery as you would a LiveCD, the only caveat being that your computer will need to be fairly modern (built after roughly 2002) in order to be able to boot a USB drive.

Requirements

* Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, or newer (though this guide can be done from Linux as well, see site). I have personally tested this on Windows XP, Windows 2008 x64, Linux Mint 4.0 and 5.0-r1. Note that this will NOT work on Windows 95/98/ME.

* A USB drive, with slightly more free space than size of the ISO file you wish to use (roughly 700 MB for Mint). Your USB drive will not be formatted, so your existing files should be safe, though backup important files just in case. (The USB drive should also be formatted as FAT32, though if you don't know what that is, don't worry; your USB drive is probably FAT32 unless you reformatted it yourself)

Instructions

1. Download the latest version of UNetbootin for Windows

2. Download an ISO file for Mint.

3. Run the UNetbootin executable. The dialog shown in the screenshot below should appear (Note that the screenshots show PCLinuxOS, but the same procedure works for Mint and most other distros). Select the Disk Image radio button, and use the file selector on the far right to select your ISO file. Select USB Drive as the installation type, and select your USB drive under "Drive". Note that memory cards will also be displayed, since Windows detects both as "Removable Drives", so ensure that it's really your USB drive that you're selecting. If your USB drive is not displayed, you may need to unplug and reinsert it, restart UNetbootin, restart Windows, and/or reformat the USB drive (To reformat your USB drive, go to "My Computer", right-click the USB Drive -> Format; note that this will wipe out all data on it, and should be unnecessary).

Image

4. Press OK to begin installing to your USB drive. As shown in the screenshot below, the installation occurs in 3 stages (downloading, extracting, and installing the bootloader), but since you've already pre-downloaded the ISO file, the first stage will be skipped. Since filesystem.squashfs is the largest file (over 650 MB), the progressbar will hang once it gets to this file as it is extracted and copied to the USB drive; this is only momentary, though; wait patiently, and do not close the application.

Image

5. Finally, after UNetbootin installs the bootloader onto your USB drive, you will be prompted to reboot, as shown below. Reboot. You should now be able to boot and install Mint from your liveUSB drive, though you may first need to specify the USB drive in the boot order of your BIOS, which can usually be accessed by pressing Esc, F1, F2, F12, Del, or another key combination which is usually displayed as Boot Devices or BIOS Setup as your computer starts up.

Image

Undoing Changes

If all you wish to do is remove the Mint liveUSB installation from your flash drive in order to free up space, you can simply delete the files and folders that were created by UNetbootin, which will be listed in the files "ubnfilel.txt" and "ubnpathl.txt" on the top directory of your USB drive. However, should you wish to wipe the last traces of the bootloader and liveUSB system out entirely, you can use the format tool included in Windows (note that this will wipe out all data on your USB drive); simply open Windows Explorer, navigate to My Computer, right-click the drive letter of your USB drive, and select the Format option from the drop-down menu. Accept the default options (though you may want to check the "Quick Format" option if you're impatient), and your USB drive will be wiped clean and reformatted.

Notes/Credits/Misc

UNetbootin was created by me (Geza Kovacs). This is a simplified version of the guide I previously posted on the PCLinuxOS forum and Ubuntu forums, with instructions/information that shouldn't be required for Mint (altering USB drive partitioning schemes) removed. This same procedure should also work for creating LiveUSB drives out of various other isolinux-based ISO files (used by most mainstream Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, PCLinuxOS, Gentoo, etc), though it won't work for Windows CDs or the like. If you think you've found a bug file a bug report, or post the issue you're experiencing.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby newW2 on Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:51 am

tuxcatfly,

Very nice job on this. Worked flawlessly, even from an XP Pro guest OS running in a VMWare Workstation hosted on Linux Mint. I know it should work from the VM, but it is another promotion-like point that you could add.

I also looked at the License and credits. Good luck with your current occupation, and your future job plans. I hope those plans include additional contributions to the Linux community.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby babooom on Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:33 pm

worked great, only one question/request.

is there anyway to save the changes to the OS or to keep the programs installed?

Thanks
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby rfpa on Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:06 pm

Great! Just a question: as anyone tried to install it on Acer Aspire One?

Thanks
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby Ivan on Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:45 pm

Hello im trying to install on Acer one, i did well with the backtrack 3 on text mode, i wasnt unable to load the grapich mode yet, im trying with this now, i hope that have success on this
[quote="rfpa"]Great! Just a question: as anyone tried to install it on Acer Aspire One?
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby BakUp on Sat Nov 15, 2008 11:29 am

Is Unetbootin supposed to be persistant ? I have tried using it many times and my installs are not persistant......so pretty much useless !
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby thorhr on Sun Nov 30, 2008 4:52 pm

rfpa wrote:Great! Just a question: as anyone tried to install it on Acer Aspire One?
I used it to flash my bios on an aspire one then I installed Mint 6 rc1 on it which is the third linux system I have installed the first 2 I installed using a usb disc drive. Works great! What I would like to know is how to install Mint to a usb drive.
Thanks
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby BigBadBob on Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:18 pm

Are you thinking of adding the persistence loop file system?

Ibex has this as part of the admin menus but it didn't seem to make it into Mint. I wonder why?
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby saurabh on Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:36 am

I tried installing using the hard disk option and i get some ntldr error. Please help.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby bumperduck on Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:29 pm

Perfect install - thanks!
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby globetrotterdk on Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:22 am

I get the message that the USB drive is not a system disk. I have tried this on two different computers.
Acer Aspire One 725.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby globetrotterdk on Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:01 pm

OK, got it. For some reason the download mechanism doesn't seem to download the iso properly. Now I know why the FAQ states that the iso file should be downloaded separately.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby kbelk on Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:05 pm

Worked perfectly! Thanks! :D
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby calymea on Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:14 pm

Hi, I have tried Unetbootin on Window$ and it did not detect my brand new SanDisk USB drive, saying no USB drives were found. My computer works flawlessly with USB's for anything else. I too, have tried it (Unetbootin) on two computers with the same result. The USB drive in question has been tested on both computers using Window$ and Linux and works fine, also I have an identical SanDisk drive, plus 3 other USB's which all work too. Thanks.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby COlsen on Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:17 pm

Can this be created within Mint, or is it only possible to do in Windows?
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby mOjO on Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:13 pm

I tried this with Linux Mint 7 ISO and it ran ok but the stick seems unbootable. I can see the contents and it mounts fine
It's a 4GB Sandisk Cruzer Mini and I recently had Knoppix 6 booting OK off of it so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong here.
For the sake of argument I also tried to get it booting off of RIP Linux using their mkextlin.sh script and that also completed fine but fails to be detected as a bootable volume on any machine I stick it in. (I tried my HP notebook and a few random desktops I was working on but no luck.)

The knoppix USB installer used FAT32 just like UNetbootin does but the RIP script actually repartitioned the stick as EXT3.

My ultimate goal would be to have a working Mint7 LiveUSB stick to use for various tasks. Ideally, I'd like to have a way to store persistent settings/data as well much like I could do with Knoppix.

Anybody have any ideas?
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby oakhilltop on Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:57 pm

I used unetbootin to create a live usb image and it worked great. Its good if you want to avoid burning CD's to be thrown away later. Too bad many of my machines are too old to boot from the usb drive.

I am trying to find a way to run Mint, stealthily, on my work laptop. Unfortunately, the usb drive is not persistent. I've been doing a little searching, but have not found a way yet to install Mint onto my usb drive. I've tried virtualbox which works ok, but seems to have some problems. Firefox didn't work with media etc.

It would be really nice if unetbootin had an option to make the drive persistent.
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby aneesh.nl on Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:17 pm

Unetbootin available for GNU/Linux also.

Also I have installed using it because I do not have an optical drive installed on my system.

any way to save datas and setting in it??
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby utisest on Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:24 pm

BakUp wrote:Is Unetbootin supposed to be persistant ? I have tried using it many times and my installs are not persistant......so pretty much useless !


http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

You'll need to put download and put syslinux.cfg in the syslinux folder once you've installed. :D
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Re: Create Mint LiveUSB from Windows using a GUI (UNetbootin)

Postby dojero on Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:15 pm

I finally managed to create a persistent USB installation using Unetbootin.

After you've made your Unetbootin USB drive, you'll need to do two things: first, you've got to create a casper-rw file on the USB. That's the file that will hold all the changes. It's what makes a persistent install persistent. After that, you'll need to amend the syslinux.cfg file on the USB to include the persistent designation. The syslinux.cfg file is the boot file; if when you boot, you haven't specified that you're booting a persistent system, then the system won't use the casper-rw file.

In order to alter the USB drive, you should not boot into it. Instead, boot into another system and mount the USB drive so that you can save to it.

To create the casper-rw file, you've got two choices. If you just want to download a file from the internet, there are casper-rw files of 128, 256, and 512 MB that you can download. For many people, these will be sufficient to hold changes that you make to your settings. The unetbootin location for these casper-rw files is here: http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/diskimg/. Simply download one of the files, unzip it, and put the extracted casper-rw on the USB drive.

The other choice is to create your own casper-rw file. To do that, you'll have to decide how large you want the file to be. If your USB is formatted as a FAT32 drive, then the largest file you can have is 4 GB (4096 MB). Up to that number, you can make it any size you want. To create the casper-rw, you need to carve out space first..

CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! The dd command is a dangerous command. With it, you will write zeros to space on a drive. If you write the command incorrectly, you could overwrite invaluable data and it would be lost. PLEASE NOTE: I have no responsibility for any loss of data using this command. Used correctly, this method will work. You must have enough unused space on the drive you're using to write this file to create this file. If you don't have 4 GB of free space, then you can't create a casper-rw that's 4 GB in size.

If you are unsure about creating your own casper-rw by using the dd command, please don't do it. Instead, see above and download one of the casper-rw files that's at the unetbootin web site. That's much, much safer.

ASSUMING you have the space, the command to write the drive is:
Code: Select all
dd if=/dev/zero of=casper-rw bs=1M count=1024
Taking a look at the code, you'll see that you are placing zeros into casper-rw. The 1024 is the size of the casper-rw you want to write. For 4 GB, that would be 4096. 1024 is 1 GB.

Depending on the size of the casper-rw you choose to write, this can take some time.

After it's done, you need to set the filesystem for the casper-rw. That command is:
Code: Select all
mkfs.ext3 -F casper-rw


Once that's done, you can copy the casper-rw you've created to the USB drive.

Then, open the syslinux.cfg file on the USB drive with an editor and you'll see the various boot sections. In the first one (default), you'll see a line that begins with the word append. At the end of the append line, just before the double dash (--), add the word persistent. There should be a space before and after the word persistent: persistent --

Save the syslinux.cfg file and then you can boot with your USB drive. It will take longer to boot, but it will save changes you make persistently.
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