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How to try Ubuntu from a USB stick – an easy & safe option for checking out an operating system

Want to try out Ubuntu but aren’t sure about installing it on your computer?


This is an easy explanation of how to try Ubuntu from a USB drive. These directions take you through putting Ubuntu onto your USB drive to starting your computer with the option to trial Ubuntu.  All without changing anything else on your computer.



I gave these instructions to my completely not computer savvy friend and she managed to figure it out!




1. Complete backup of current computer files– all the ones you want to keep. An easy way to do this is to put everything on an external hard drive. Plug the hard drive into your computer and copy and paste the files. Make sure you safely remove the drive when you’ve finished. You should back up regularly.


2. Empty USB memory stick with at least 2GB memory.


3. Internet connection


Recipe for putting Ubuntu onto your USB stick


The first thing you want to do is put Ubuntu onto your USB stick.


1. Put the USB stick into your computer.


2. Download pen drive’s USB installer. Go to this site and click on the big blue ‘download’ button. This opens the installer.

3. There are four steps to follow:


Step 1:Select a Linux distribution from the dropdown to put on your USB

– Select Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop (this is the latest version)


Step 2: Select your mythbuntu-10.10-desktop*iso

– click ‘browse’ and open Ubuntu 12.04 ‘iso’ file.


Step 3: Select your USB Flash Drive Letter Only.

– this it the letter that corresponds to the portal where your USB is plugged in. If you don’t know already the easiest way to find out is to go to: Start menu, then, My Computer, then see where your USB is plugged in and there is a letter of the drive that it is plugged into. Enter that letter into ‘Step 3’.


Step 4: Don’t worry about this, it’s optional and you don’t need to do anything.


4. Then click on ‘create’and patiently wait for the creating to finish.


Recipe for starting your computer from the USB stick


Restart your computer WITH the USB stick IN


The next step is to interrupt your computer’s start up so you can get into the BIOS.


1. As your computer is starting there’s a moment before the current operating system kicks in. Press either F2 or F10.


These buttons change depending on your computer, F2 is the most common button, F12 and ‘escape‘ are also known to work.


Your computer will open with a page with writing on it. It looks kind of technical. It might look like this:



Or this:



Or something similar.


Your USB is the external or removable device. You want your USB drive to be at the top of the list.


2. Use the up and down arrows to choose the highlighted “External Device/Removable Device” and move it to the top option.


3. Save your changes and continue starting your computer.


Your computer will now start from the USB stick. This screen will appear:



4. Choose your language.  Following this guide “English” is probably your preferred option.


5. Click “Try Ubuntu”.


The below screen should now appear. This is the standard Ubuntu desktop, you can explore how everything works from here.




Have fun playing around


This article was written and posted on 7th October 2012

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One Response to How to try Ubuntu from a USB stick – an easy & safe option for checking out an operating system

  1. Paskal December 10, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I haven’t used Ubuntu but I can try to help. Sounds like the default kenrel the cd is trying to load is not compatible with your pc. Sometimes the default kenrel on those live cds is a 32 bit kenrel, looks like you got a 64 bit cpu, also is your hard drive scsi or ati ? Sometimes the live cds have an option to choose a kenrel before it loads or pass special parameters to it. For example a live cd am using call slax, right before the kenrel boots i press F1 and a menu comes up with all the different parameters i can pass to the kenrel, see if that cd has something like that, and see what parameters/ kenrels apply to your cpu. If your not sure try going to their web site for help. Also if downloaded the cd as an iso image and burn it, sometimes those are downloaded with errors. I hope this helped!ME

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