How to install Ubuntu Linux from USB Pen Drive

This tutorial explains how to install Ubuntu Linux from the Pen drive or USB drive step-by-step with practical example. Learn how to create, prepare and use Ubuntu bootable USB drive in detail.

Downloading Ubuntu installation disk image

Ubuntu packs installation files in an archived package. This package is formatted and distributed as an ISO image file. You can download this ISO image file from the following webpage.

Since installation files are compressed and packaged in the ISO image file, we cannot use them directly in the installation.

Preparing Ubuntu installation disk from the ISO image file

To install Ubuntu from the downloaded ISO image file, we have to prepare an installation disk from this. By default, the ISO image file is packaged for the DVD. To use a DVD as the installation disk, we only need to burn the ISO image in DVD. For this, you can use any free and open source ISO burner software.

The ISO burning software automatically extracts installation files from the ISO image and burns them in the DVD. In burning process, it also adds the extracted boot files at the correct place.

Due to any reason such as; target system does not have DVD drive or you don’t have a blank DVD to burn the downloaded ISO image file, you can also use a USB/Pen drive for this purpose.

If you choose to use a USB/Pen drive for making the installation disk, you have to prepare it in different way. Just like we burn the ISO image to DVD, we cannot burn the ISO image to USB/Pen drive.

Besides this if we directly extract ISO image file in USB drive, it also does not work. As it does not place boot files at the necessary place. To make a USB drive bootable, we must have to create a MBR and place boot files in that. We also have to format the USB drive with the file system which Linux understands.

Sounds complicated, not exactly. You do not need to perform any of these actions manually. Just like the ISO burning software, there is plenty of USB burner software exist. You can use any USB burner software which makes the USB drive bootable and burns the ISO image.


Rufus is the free and open source software. It not only makes USB drive bootable but also extract the contents of the ISO image file. It is available in two variations; installer and portable. The only difference between both variations is that the installer variation installs the Rufus in system permanently.

You can download the Rufus from the following webpage.

download rufus

This software is currently available only for the Windows platform. You can use this software on any Windows system such as XP, Vista and Windows (7, 8.1, and 10).

Creating Ubuntu bootable installation USB/Pen drive

Download the Ubuntu installation ISO image file and Rufus USB burner software from their official webpages.

rufus and ubuntu downloaded

Once both files are downloaded, attach a USB drive with the system and launch the Rufus.

On starting, it takes confirmation for checking update online. If you want to update the Rufus before creating the Ubuntu bootable USB drive, click the Yes button otherwise click the No button.

update rufus

The Rufus starts as a standalone application. It detects all attached USB drive and lists them in the option “Device”. Select the USB drive which you want to use for this process.

select usb device

Click the Select button, and select the downloaded ISO image file of Ubuntu.

select iso image

Leave the remains options as they are and click the Start button.

start rufus

Once the START button is clicked, the Rufus starts the process.

In first step, it reads the files which make the drive bootable from the ISO image. If system is connected with the Internet, it also checks the latest version of these files online. If it finds newer version of any of these files, it prompts us to download the latest version of that file.

If prompted, click the Yes button to confirm the downloading.

download boot files

Upon confirmation, it downloads and uses the latest version of that file.

downloading boot files

After reading, downloading (if require) and verifying the necessary boot files, it checks the type of selected ISO image file. Based on the type of ISO image, it can write the extracted files in two ways; ISO Image mode and DD Image mode.

ISO Image mode: - In this mode, Rufus makes USB bootable in such a way that we can not only access the files stored in USB but also use the remaining space of USB to store additional data or application software.

DD Image mode: - In this mode, we cannot use the remaining space to store the additional data.

Let’s take a simple example. We use 8GB USB drive for this purpose and after making it a bootable installation drive, 5GB space remains free. Depending on the used mode, we can or cannot use this remaining space to store additional data. If ISO Image mode is used we are allowed to use this remaining space while if the DD Image mode is used, we are not allowed to use it.

If prompted, select the desired mode and click the OK button.

iso write mode

To create a new supported file system, Rufus formats the USB drive before writing anything. In this process, all data stored in USB drive is removed. Rufus takes confirmation for this action. Click the OK button to confirm the action.

format confirmation

That’s all information and confirmation Rufus needs before starting the process. Now it performs all necessary steps and actions. It also displays the real time update of process in the Status section.

process running

Once all steps are done and the Ubuntu bootable install drive is created, it displays the Ready message in the status section.

Click the Close button to close the Rufus.

process completed

Remove the USB/Pen drive from the system. Now we can use this drive to install the Ubuntu.

Installing Ubuntu from the USB/Pen drive

Attach the USB/Pen drive which we prepared by following the above steps and start the system. When the system starts, press the Esc key on the first screen to open the boot menu.

access boot menu

In the Boot Menu, set the Removable Devices as the first boot device.

set boot device

Setting the first boot device to Removable Devices forces the startup process to boot the system from the removable devices instead of the hard disk.

Once the initial booting process is finished, Ubuntu installation process starts.

Following image shows the first screen of the installation process.

first screen of installation

Ubuntu installation involves several steps and options. Due to length of this tutorial, all these steps are explained separately in the following tutorial.

How to install Ubuntu Linux step by step explianed

That’s all for this tutorial. If you like this tutorial, please don’t forget to share it through your favorite social network.

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