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How to create a bootable USB for Linux that allows you to install it anywhere? Step by step guide

Between the many and varied uses of USB memory sticks since they were created, there is the possibility of using them to simply perform tasks such as the installation of an operating system.

This use is particularly easy to Take Advantage When It Comes to Linux Distributions. They are very easily found on the internet, both on their official pages and on mirrors, and setting up a bootable USB with a Linux distro is a simple task.

We will explain below the factors to consider and the steps you will have to follow to convert that USB stick that you surely have out there in a bootable one to configure your PC.

What to keep in mind before creating a Bootable USB with Linux?

Although it is not overly complicated, installing a Linux distro via USB is not something to be taken lightly, since it involves certain factors to consider.

Let’s see next:


In this aspect, it should be noted that not all distros are executable via USB, since there are some that are excessively complex and therefore too heavy for the task. Besides this, there is a difference between a distro designed to be a portable workstation, and a full operating system squeezed into a USB, so be careful when selecting the distribution adequate.


Applications to update distros on Linux

When selecting the distribution to install on your bootable media, keep in mind that although you can install the distribution on the hard drive of the computer you plan to use and update, the version written on your USB will be the same. To be able to update the distro saved in your bootable, it will be necessary to format and repeat the writing process with the most recent version of the distribution.

Storage space

When you select the distro you think use as portable OS, you have to take into account its size. The weight of ISO files on Linux distributions varies a lot, some may be less than 200MB in the same way that others may exceed 3GB.

With this in mind, you have to be aware of the capacity of your USB stick, but above all, you must know the amount of space available on your PC’s hard driveOtherwise, you may find that your portable OS is simply too much for the computer you plan to use.

Learn step by step how to create a Bootable USB with Linux to install it quickly and easily

Balena Etcher download site

Configure a USB stick to convert it into a bootable medium it is a very simple process if you have the correct tool. There are many writing tools that will help you with this process, but one of the most direct is Balena Etcher.

Now pay attention, we will teach you how to create your bootable USB stick with this simple tool:

Download ISO Image

The Linux distributions can be found online very easily, since its official pages offer the most current and secure versions for free, Just search for the distro that best serves your purpose and download the ISO image to your PC.

Save Image to USB

The next step is to download the writing tool Balena Etcher, which can be found below in the links we provide or on their website Once downloaded, proceed to install and run it.

Download Balena Etcher for Windows

Download Balena Etcher for Linux

Download Balena Etcher for MacOS

Afterwards, the procedure is as simple as select the ISO file of the distro you want to write, select the USB that will serve as the bootable medium of your Linux operating system, and click on “Flash”. This process formats the USB stick and writes the file ISO in it, so that as soon as the program prompts, all that’s left to do is safely remove the drive and you will have a means to start your portable distro when you need it.

We show you step by step how to have two Linux distributions on the same Bootable USB

The great attraction of Linux distributions is that, for the most part, they are lightweight and some are perfectly optimized to work with bootable peripherals as a CD or USB memory so, with adequate space, it is possible to have two distros ready in a bootable medium.

Here are the steps to follow to write two ISO files with different distributions on your USB:

Download and install WinsetupfromUSB

WinsetupfromUSB download site

This tool is downloaded from the web and its installation process is just as simple. Once downloaded, unzip the file and select the appropriate installer for your computer’s architecture (32 bit / 64 bit). After installation, insert the USB memory into your computer and run the tool.

Select the operating system

The interface shows us a selection of operating systems to install. In order to install a distribution Linux convenient for you, press “Linux ISO / Other grub4dos compatible ISO”.

Select writing parameters

Before you can install the files, press “Refresh” for what WinsetupfromUSB acknowledge the pen drive inserted into the computer. Then you are going to check the boxes “Auto format it with FBinst” and “NTFS” after which you press “GO”

Select the ISO file

Linux ISO Other grub4dos compatible ISO Linux

Press next to the checkbox “Linux ISO / Other grub4dos compatible ISO” to open the options. A window will appear with a warning to which we press accept, and then you are going to select the first ISO file to install. The tool will send two more warnings, one saying that the file will be divided into several parts in case it is too large, another informing that FBinst will format the USB, thus erasing all the data it contains.

Approve the requests and select the name

Later, a series of warning windows will pop up that you must accept. Specifically, it is a repeat of the USB format warning and a FBinst.exe execution message. Behind this, You must choose the name of the ISO on the Pendrive, this is the name that will be displayed on the interface when you start your computer via USB. As soon as you define the name, press OK to start the installation process. It will be a couple of minutes before the installation complete message appears.

Repeat the process

Installation of two operating systems in USB for Linux

Finally we have a bootable USB with an operating system, but if you want to add an additional distro you will have to repeat the process with some minor changes. Each ISO must be selected individuallyl, so you must wait for the first one to be correctly written to the USB before continuing.

Enter the tool again and select “Linux ISO / Other grub4dos compatible ISO” to install another distro, and uncheck the box “Auto format it with FBinst” so that the new distribution is installed alongside the current one, rather than replacing it on the USB.

List of the best Linux distributions to have on your installation USB to use anywhere

If what you need is to create a bootable USB for a Linux distribution, your options are quite wide, both in capacities and in weight, since there is a large number of distributions of very varied characteristics that they will cover your needs.

The best Linux distributions to boot to USB are:


Knoppix desktop interface

Despite the 4.3 GB ISO, it is one of the best operating systems for this purpose. It is based on Debian and its default desktop environment is LXDE, although this option is modifiable. You can access from your address It is widely recognized for being the Linux distribution more compatible with Intel hardware, and you can use its native tools to restore lost data and even repair corrupt systems.

Peppermint OS desktop interface

It is based on Ubuntu and designed to integrate with web applications and the cloud. Peppermint Os is lightweight, stable, and customizable, making it a very solid choice for your portable workstation. Use the desktop environment LXDE and is intended to be a starting point for new Linux users, thanks to its friendly interface and its low requirement of hardware resources.

Slax graphical interface on Linux

Its small size and its minimalist style desk earn it the nickname of being a pocket operating system. Its scarce 256 Mb of weight make it a very light distribution. Despite this small size, Slax has all the necessary tools of an operating system, such as web browser, command terminal and more, it also provides the benefit of the entire community Debian, on which it is based.

Puppy Linux graphical desktop interface

It is a collection of Linux distributions with few requirements, all executable from the RAM and none exceeds 350 Mb of weight, becoming Puppy Linux one of the lightest distributions to use. It includes all the computing tools of daily use and an easy-to-understand interface, friendly with new users. They are fast, versatile distros and some of them are part of a large community that develops the solutions you are looking for.

Kali Linux desktop interface

It is designed to run easily on a USB stick, its 2.7 GB weight is no impediment to its fluency, and being developed for cyber security tests, has hundreds of tools to ensure the security of your PC. It is one of the most used distributions for computer security applications, such as penetration tests and ethical hacking.