By far the fastest way to install a new operating system is from a USB memory stick. In this post I am going to install Ubuntu 12.04 from a USB drive using the fabulous UNetbootin program. Essentially, it turns your USB stick into a bootable drive, from which you can install an operating system from.

Prerequisites

  • Internet access for downloading Ubuntu ISO
  • A BIOS that supports booting from USB
  • A USB stick at least 1GB in size

Download Ubuntu

download the Ubuntu ISO image is via the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol. An array of official torrent files are available to download from the Alternative downloads page of the Ubuntu web site.

Simply download the corresponding torrent file for your machine. I have a 32-bit processor, so I downloaded the ubuntu-12.04-desktop-i386.iso.torrent file.

Having acquired the torrent file, open it in your favourite BitTorrent client. If you’re not sure which one to use, may I suggest a (very) tiny BitTorrent client called µTorrent.

Download and install UNetbootin

While you’re waiting for the Ubuntu ISO image to finish downloading, head to SourceForge.net and download the wonderful (and free) UNetbootin program. What is UNetbootin?

“UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Linux distributions without burning a CD. It runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. You can either let UNetbootin download one of the many distributions supported out-of-the-box for you, or supply your own Linux .iso file if you’ve already downloaded one or your preferred distribution isn’t on the list”.

Prepare the USB stick

With Ubuntu ISO image downloaded and UNetbootin installed, you are ready to create a bootable USB drive. Fire up UNetbootin, select Diskimage option and browse to the location of the Ubuntu image. With USB Drive option selected the correct drive chosen, simply click OK and watch the magic happen. Within a few minutes you should have a bootable USB drive. The process is just as quick - if not quicker - than burning a CD and the installation seems much faster. Not to mention it saves your blank media and the enviroment. This is an amazing program!

Install Ubuntu

To install your new operating system, simply reboot your machine, access your BIOS - press the Delete/F2 key when computer starts up. If this doesn’t work, consult your motherboard manual. Once you are in, make sure that your system is configured to boot from your USB stick. Also, make sure the device is at the top of the boot priority list. The exact options and settings depend on which BIOS you have. Please consult your system manual for more info.

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