Short Nerd Chief

Install Ubuntu 8.04 LTS from USB [HOWTO]

Posted by Fred on May 23, 2008

I decided it was time to move my Wubi install onto a dedicated partition, in order to speed up disk operations a tad and enable hibernation/suspend on the laptop.  At the time, LVPM, which automates the process of doing just that, was not available for Hardy Heron, but there was a script on the forums to make to process easier.  Unfortunately, my attempts at creating new partitions with Gparted hosed the master boot record of my hard disk, and the Compaq didn’t come with Vista install disks, so I ended up restoring the original disk image, losing the Wubi install.

For some reason, I was never able to burn an install CD properly, but was able to install from USB via this guide.  I’ll summarize the steps, in case you want to do the same thing.

First, download some software for your Windows machine.  Get an Ubuntu Live CD image of 8.04, a copy of 7-zip to decompress the ISO file and syslinux to make your USB stick bootable.  Install 7-zip and unzip syslinux to the Desktop.  For ease of use, rename the syslinux folder syslinux.

Go into My Computer and right-click on the drive letter of your USB stick (in my case, it was G:). Choose format… and make sure to format as FAT32 and not NTFS.

Now open a Command Prompt by clicking Start > All programs > Accessories > Command Prompt or Run > cmd.  In the command prompt window, issue this command:

Desktop\syslinux\win32\syslinux -ma g:

If your USB drive is something other than G:, change the command accordingly. Close the command prompt window.

Back on the Desktop, right-click on the Ubuntu ISO and choose 7-zip > Extract to ubuntu-8.04-desktop-386.  This will decompress the installation files into a folder on your Desktop.  Open this folder and copy everything to your USB stick.

Now we need to make a copuple of changes to the file system.  On the USB drive, open the isolinux folder and copy all the files to the root of the drive.  In my case, that meant everything in G:\isolinux had to be moved to G:\.  Also, rename the file isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg.

Now we’re ready to boot into the USB installer.  On my laptop, I had to go into the BIOS by hitting [F10] and boot and change the boot order so USB HDD came before Laptop HDD.  Some BIOSes are already set up to boot from USB.  Some, like an old Toshiba I have, can’t boot from USB at all.  On the Compaq, [F9] will let me temprarily boot from a different device, but that is [F11] or [F12] on some machines.  You’ll just have to experiment.

Once booted, the Live USB acts just like a Live CD, so help abounds on the Ubuntu site. 


6 Responses to “Install Ubuntu 8.04 LTS from USB [HOWTO]”

  1. Is it possible to install ubuntu on vista machine with dual booting option

  2. Forgot to add something to previous comment. Hard disk is partitioned to two and native format of windows vista used.

  3. Fred said


    You absolutely can install Ubuntu easily alongside Vista and dual-boot. That’s what I do. If you have an extra partition, you can install Ubuntu into that or let the installer partition for you (choose manual partition unless you are going to let Ubuntu take over your drive). It wasn’t always the case, but Ubuntu should automatically configure itself to allow read and write access tour your Vista NTFS drive(s). Just look under Places. My Windows drive is called “71.3 GB Media.” I’ve configured my system to mount those at a location that makes more sense, but that’s a project for another day.

    Keep in mind, however, that although Ubuntu can read Windows directories, it can’t access Windows system resources, so your hardware will only work if it’s supported in Linux (or you use something like ndiswrapper) and Windows programs are usuable only if they work in Wine. My laptop and miscellaneous hardware work fine after a tweak to make the wireless work via ndiswrapper.

  4. Acearo said

    I don’t know how much of a thread necromancy this comment is considered, but you are amazing. This is exactly what I needed. My little sister’s CD drive went out, so I had to install Ubuntu from a Flash Drive per your amazingly detailed instructions.

    Thanks a million.

  5. suraya said

    install from usb stick can save a lot of cd/dvd waste.

  6. beankat said

    I hope this comment can help another like it did me. These directions are great with just one exception. For some reason, the bootable USB Ubuntu drive was not recognized by the eee 901. I told the BIOS to ignore all other boot media, but still I got nothing. It became very frustrating until finally, instead of waiting on the BIOS to recognize, I just hit ESC at the initial splash and found myself in the Ubuntu load menu. HOORAY!

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