Great for if you use a friend’s, neighbor’s, family member’s, or school computer and want to be able to access your own files and programs and run a full featured linux operating system without messing with their files or configuration. Also good if you want to occasionally boot into linux but you don’t want to buy a whole other hard drive just for that. Personally I use it for school computers as the computer science teachers don’t care if boot into linux on the school computers that every desk has on it. Plus I can use it to show people how great linux can be in comparison to windows on lower spec hardware – lubuntu can run a lot faster than windows especially on older hardware, has little issues with viruses, and if the kids hop onto it to browse the web, you don’t end up with 20 toolbars. It’s very reliable, fast, and free.
I chose lubuntu because it’s the light version of ubuntu, and as such should work great even on older hardware. As the purpose of this drive is to be able to load your operating system and files onto any random computer you find, some of them might be very low spec but then your operating system will still run smoothly. Plus you can still install debian programs on it the same as ubuntu, so there are a lot of easily found options for customization.
- Delete volume from the USB drive
- In windows disk management tool or gparted, delete the volume but do not format (no ntfs, ext4, fat32, etc.) and leave it as is as a drive with a deleted volume.
- Boot into a live version lubuntu from a separate usb drive or dvd.
- In windows you can use rufus to install an iso to a portable drive or dvd to boot from, for the purpose of installing that operating system on a separate drive.
- Choose to install lubuntu
- If you can’t use the menu then try lubuntu and then on the desktop (once the operating system loads) click on the ‘install ubuntu’ icon.
- Choose the erase and install option and choose the usb drive that has the deleted volume that you want the operating system installed onto.
- Connect to the wireless network if available and choose to download updates.
- Also check the box for third party software
- Then after it’s done you can boot from that usb drive and it will save your settings and otherwise act as a normal hard drive to boot from
Adding an fat32 partition so you can still use part of it like a normal usb drive in a windows computer to store files on and that drive will also be accessible on linux.
If you still want to be able to use it to store files, and it’s resonably large – in testing I used a 128GB drive.
- Boot to another live installation of linux with your usb stick connected to the computer (you can’t alter the drive you boot into so you have to use another linux installation to edit the drive)
- Open gparted
- if not installed – sudo apt install gparted
- Select the drive you want to change from the dropdown menu (the usb drive you’ve been configuring and installed linux on)
- Right click on the drive and choose resize, and resize it to be smaller (I made it 90GB down from 128GB)
- Accept changes with the little check mark, and run the change
- Now there will be un-allocated space on the drive.
- Right click on that un-allocated space and choose to create a drive in fat32 format.
- Accept the change and complete
- Now you can boot into linux if you want and have all your customizations, or simply use it as a way to store and/or transfer files the same as a regular usb drive.
Possible Packages to install
- (sudo apt install ‘package’)
- can move monitors around left right etc for multimonitor setups
- good command line text editing program
- for the fun linux games
- If you want the option to boot into a desktop that functions more like windows, which can be great, but is more resource intensive. You can choose which desktop you want to use lxde (lubuntu) or ubuntu from the top right of the login screen. If you automatically get logged into lubuntu environment, logout, make the switch, log back in.