Ubuntu is the best known and most used Linux distribution. This distro is one of the easiest ways to get in touch with Linux on our computer. Like any operating system, we can all install Ubuntu on any hard drive on our PC. However, not everything has to be run installed, and one of the star features of Linux systems is to run in Live mode, from RAM, without installing.
A “Live” operating system, such as Ubuntu, is a system (or Linux distribution) that can be run without being physically installed on a hard drive. For this, it is only necessary to load the system into RAM and in a few seconds we can have a fully functioning distro that works the same as if it were installed. The difference is that, when we turn off the computer, all the information in the RAM is erased and there is no trace.
When we use a system in Live mode, no changes are made to the hard drives, so they remain intact at all times. In addition, we can access all their data without problems.
An Ubuntu Live is a distro that we must have on hand at all times. We can use this on any computer, and we can also have a rescue tool in case, for some reason, Windows fails.
The main thing is that we have in our possession an ISO image of Ubuntu . For compatibility reasons, we recommend downloading the LTS, since it has support for 5 years and is more stable than the semi-annual updates. We will also need to have a USB memory handy , which we will use to burn the ISO and make it “bootable”.
Of course, it is also necessary that the PC we want to boot meets the minimum requirements of this distro. In addition to having a free USB port, and being able to boot from it, we must also have a 64-bit processor, 1 GB of RAM and a graphics card with a minimum resolution of 800 × 600.
How to create an Ubuntu USB Live
The first thing we must do to have our Ubuntu USB Live is to download this Linux distro. To do this, we simply have to access the following link and choose the version that we want to download. Although the latest version is always tempting, we recommend downloading the LTS, as it will be supported for a longer time.
When we already have the ISO on our computer, the next step will be to burn it on a USB (or a DVD, although today that is obsolete) to start using it.
How to create an Ubuntu Live USB
There are several applications for creating a Live USB stick from an ISO. Although many users recommend Universal USB Installer, we are going to do it with Rufus, an application that is well known since it is the one we use when we want to create a Windows 10 installation USB .
We download this application from the following link and install the tool on our PC. When it is installed we will be able to see the main window of this application.
The first thing we must do in this application is to choose the USB device where we are going to create the Live image (the USB memory, which will have to be connected to the PC), in addition to selecting the ISO image that we will already have downloaded on our PC (the one that we went down in the previous step).
We must also choose the partition system we want to use (MBR or GPT), in addition to the target system where we are going to boot the image (if it uses BIOS or a UEFI system ; surely the latter). We will also choose if we want to create a persistence size, that is, a small space to save settings and files that will not be deleted when we extract the memory (for advanced users).
We can leave the formatting options by default, and click on “Ready” to start creating the Ubuntu Live USB.
We wait for it to finish (it will take a few minutes) and that’s it. We already have our Live USB with Ubuntu ready.
How to boot Ubuntu from Live USB
Once we have our Live USB ready, we only have to, with the computer off, insert it into one of the USB ports and turn it on. Depending on the configuration we have in the BIOS / UEFI, the system can try to boot the USB by default or it will boot from the hard disk.
To do this, the best we can do is press the boot key of our PC (F8, F12, or another, depending on the motherboard model) and we will choose that we want to boot from the USB.
In case of having problems starting this Live system or the USB does not appear, it will be because we have the Secure Boot configured in our BIOS. We must enter it and deactivate it to be able to load Ubuntu Live in RAM .
In GRUB (Ubuntu boot loader) we will choose that we want to test Ubuntu without installing it and wait for the Linux distro to fully load.
We can now use Linux from the RAM of our PC, without altering the system. Of course, we must bear in mind that the changes will be persistent until we turn off the computer. Everything we have done or save on this system will be deleted when we turn off the computer.
When you turn it on again, if we do not have the USB connected, the PC will reboot the same operating system as always.
Can I create a USB Live with other Linux than Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is the most used and best-known distro, therefore, it is the one that is always used as an example. However, of course, it is not the only option. Any Linux distro that has a Live mode, such as Debian, Kali (to do) or Tails (if we are looking for privacy and anonymity) can be mounted in the same way to create a bootable USB for our PC.
The only thing we have to do to do this is know how to choose the appropriate ISO for this purpose. Of course, not all Linux have a Live mode as simple and intuitive as Ubuntu. Therefore, if we do not like the Canonical distro, we will have to choose another option that allows us to carry out the tasks we want as quickly and easily as possible. At the end of the day it is about being able to repair our PC easily, not having to spend more time preparing Linux than repairing it as such.