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How to create a Live-USB memory with one or multiple operating systems in it? Step by step guide

With the remarkable disuse of optical drives, external USB drives or pendrives are considered an ideal means to perform multiple functions , thanks to their possibility of connection to any device (due to the recognized connection port they handle) and their transport capacity. Whereas, in addition to supporting file storage, it also simplifies other tasks .

In this sense, USBs are used to run a myriad of applications, work on a computer that does not have an operating system installed and, if that were not enough, they are also perfect for creating a Live-USB memory . So, they manage to run a different OS than the one installed on a computer , by means of this last functionality.

However, although it is a very useful function, many people are unaware of this possibility and, especially, how it can be carried out. Therefore, here we will introduce you to everything you need to create a Live USB, the steps to follow to do it correctly and some tools that work to install complete operating systems on removable disks .

What is needed to create a Live-USB memory?

Although it is true, in the computing environment, a Live-USB memory is defined as a removable mass storage device that has the capacity to host a certain operating system, in its entirety . In this way, it manages to start an OS on any computer, regardless of whether it has another operating system installed. Thus, Live USBs allow the use of the operating system they have and, at the same time, allow the use of all the software pre-installed in said operating system .

They even have the particularity of being able to use the remaining storage space of the USB memory to archive system configurations in each live boot without losing them in the next session , as well as to save personal files . In this way, a Live-USB device can be booted on different machines with different architectures from each other . But, to be able to enjoy this optimal advantage, it is necessary to know what is required to create a memory of that type, correctly.

Therefore, below, we mention the utilities, necessary for this:

  • Of course, a USB stick . In this case, it is recommended to use such a device with a capacity of 2 GB and an acceptable read and write speed . In addition, it is important to format the memory in FAT32 format (since those configurations such as NTFS can cause failures when creating the persistence space).
  • You also need a Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system that supports booting from a USB stick .
  • In addition, software that has been designed to facilitate the creation of a Live USB must be installed . Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives available in the market and you can choose the simplest of all to carry out this process quickly.

Learn step by step how to create a Live-USB memory from scratch

You might suppose that it is difficult to create a Live-USB device from scratch, but it really is not . Since, thanks to the tools available to carry out this type of procedure, the steps to be carried out are not complicated to carry out .

Thus, we proceed to explain, in detail, what you have to do to make a Live-USB memory correctly and without asking for help from experts:

Install the tool to use on your computer

First of all, it is important that you start by looking for and installing the corresponding software from which you can create your Live-USB memory . In this case, we will use the tool called “Unetbootin” which is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, as well as Linux. Now, to install this program on Linux , you just have to access the terminal and type the command: “sudo apt-get install unetbootin” ; that’s it.

Whereas, if you want to download it on Mac or Windows, you must download the executable file from here:

Download Unetbootin Windows

Download Unetbootin MacOS

Download the ISO image of the operating system to use

Download the ISO image of the operating system to use

Once you have installed the tool to use on your computer, it is time to download the ISO image of the operating system that you want to install on your Live USB device . For this, above all, it is essential that you make sure that said element has support to work in LiveUSB mode , correctly.

In addition to this, you have to take into account other relevant aspects, such as: Select the appropriate architecture based on the particularities of your computer and consider that current computers can work with the i386 and amd64 architecture , while older ones usually only operate with i386 architecture .

Format the USB memory in question

Format the USB memory in question

Now, it is time to format your USB memory to be able to create the Live USB correctly , considering that it is recommended to do it in FAT32 format , for the reasons that we discussed in the previous part of the post. In the case of Windows , this can be done directly from the system file explorer and when the drive in question is located, you just have to right-click there and press “Format” to choose the file system you prefer ( FAT32, NTFS or exFAT).

But, in other operating systems, it is recommended to use external tools that facilitate the formatting of your USB device . Whereas, there are many alternatives that allow you to perform this procedure in a few minutes and safely. In any case, when you have already formatted your USB memory, it will be time to remove the pendrive from the computer . In order to continue with the Live USB creation process .

Create the Live-USB memory

Create the Live-USB memory

After formatting the USB device from your computer and removing it, it is time to insert it again and start the tool with which you will perform the procedure. In this case, we will proceed to open Unetbootin and then you will be able to view the main menu of the program.

Thus, perform the following steps:

  • Mainly, in the section that indicates “Disk Image” you have to choose the ISO file of the operating system to use that you downloaded.
  • Now, in the “Type” section , you must select the option that says “USB Drive” .
  • Then, in the “Unit” field , proceed to choose the name with which the system recognizes your USB memory in use.
  • Followed by that , where it says “Space to store permanent data, after a restart …” , you must establish the persistence capacity that you want to grant to your Live-USB memory , which will allow that when the operating system shuts down, your data and settings on the USB memory . As a recommendation, if you have a 2 GB device, you can allocate 600 MB for this .
  • Finally , you simply have to press the OK button and wait a few minutes while the Live USB device creation process completes .

List of the best tools to install entire operating systems on removable disks

Apart from Unetbootin, there are also other programs or tools that are ideal for installing entire operating systems on removable disks in order to enable the creation of a Live-USB memory effectively .

So, with the aim that you have several solutions to choose from when doing this process, we present you 5 tools of interest for this:

LiveUSB Install

LiveUSB Install

This consists of a multiplatform utility that can be run on Windows and Linux, which has been created with free software tools, such as Python, Inkscape, GIMP and GTK . In this sense, LiveUSB Install presents the ability to create persistent installations of distributions based on Ubuntu and Debian so that your information is not lost when restarting the USB memory and, in addition, it allows you to install numerous Linux distributions .

For its part, through LiveUSB Install , it is not necessary to download the ISO image of the operating system to be used, as it allows distributions to be downloaded from the Internet automatically . Added to this, it also features the ability to format flash drives larger than 32GB .

Download LiveUSB Install Windows

Yumi Multiboot USB Creator

Yumi Multiboot USB Creator

It is defined as a program that works under Windows and Linux . Thus, it is used to host more than one distro in LiveUSB mode and therefore works as a universal USB installer. Consequently, it is a tool mostly used for creating a bootable USB flash drive containing multiple operating systems , as well as for cloning drives, for antivirus utilities and diagnostic tools .

Regarding its operation, we highlight that, Yumi uses “syslinux” to start extracted distributions and stored in the USB device , in addition, it uses GRUB again to be able to start several ISO files from a USB device, as long as necessary.

Download Yumi Multiboot USB Creator Windows

Rufus

Rufus

Without a doubt, it is one of the most recognized tools when it comes to creating a Live-USB memory . Thus, a totally free and open source program that has support for both Windows and Linux. Thus, it is useful for creating USB installation media by means of bootable ISO images .

In addition to this, Rufus is also used to work on a computer that does not have an operating system installed , run a low-level utility and update the firmware or BIOS of a computer directly from DOS. It should be noted that this program has options based on the partition scheme, the file system, the type of boot to be created and the size of the cluster and starts the process by simply clicking on  “Start” or “Start” .

Download Rufus Windows

RMPrepUSB (easyboot)

RMPrepUSB (easyboot)

It has been cataloged as one of the most complete applications, since it has the ability to convert your USB devices into bootable drives in an extremely simple way and, in addition, it provides the possibility of creating various types of bootloaders , according to requirements. of each user.

Additionally, this program has essential options for file systems, boot loaders, syslinux, grub4dos and QEMU Emulator. It also offers DiskDoctor to verify the status and includes speed tests , in addition to allowing you to install several operating systems on the same pendrive, without any limitation. It even offers the ability to create partitions, restore lost files, and format devices for free .

Download RMPrepUSB (easyboot) Windows

WinSetupFromUSB

WinSetupFromUSB

Basically, this is an application that has multiboot capabilities and has support for Windows and Linux , plus it is totally free. In this way, it is a recommended utility to create and prepare bootable USB memories to install different operating systems and other ISO files without any complications .

In this sense, WinSetupFromUSB presents compatibility with numerous files, that is, with most of the installation files of Windows operating systems (XP, 2000, 2003, Vista, W7, W8, etc.) and the main Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, etc.). Like, many other ISO images , as long as they support grub4dos CD emulation, such as the Ultimate Boot CD, most DOS-based utilities, Acronis and Paragon boot disks.

Download WinSetupFromUSB Windows