Installing Ubuntu 12.04 on a USB Drive Persistently

AttilaB
AttilaB used Ask the Experts™
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I have an 8GB USB drive that I would like to have Ubuntu 12.04 in a bootable, persistent way. I find a lot of instructions
on the internet, such as the ISO installer for Windows 'Universal-USB-Installer-1.9.6.0'  or procedures from inside Ubuntu the
'Startup Disk Creator' utility. Each time I get a USB startup disk with no persistence:

This is how the system boots when I boot from USB drive, Dell Latitude ST Tablet
What I would like is that when I boot the USB it would boot into the a pre-configured Ubuntu, with the installed desktop of my choice,
with the last configuration loaded automatically. Just like when running it from a hard drive, not a USB.

Any procedures that WORK?

(I am trying to load Ubuntu 12.04, not the latest version, because this is what runs the best on the Dell Latitude ST tablet I mainly want to use this USB drive with)
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Most Valuable Expert 2015
Commented:
All you have to do is install Ubuntu to the USB stick as you would to an internal disk. First boot from your Live Media where you burnt the iso to (DVD or another USB stick), then start the Ubuntu installer. When you get to the place where you select where you want to install the OS to, just select the correct location, and also don't forget to select the correct location for the boot loader (I think that is in the same menu section of the Ubuntu installer). If you can, remove the tablet's internal disk so you don't install to the wrong location by mistake.

Author

Commented:
Well, I used a desktop computer because it was easier to remove the hard drive connections.
It took a very long time to install, and it required a 16 GB USB drive because the 8GB turned out to be too small for some strange reason. (Crashed for too small space to install eventually with the  8GB drive.)

After installation to the 16 GB USB drive it worked a couple of times, flawlessly booted the tablet also and the OS seemed to be working fine running from the USB drive. Then it crashed at the next boot, and when I re-started it just brought up the grub menu, and it never does anything after loading the GRUB menu. It is a different GRUB menu from the one installed on the tablet itself, it must be GRUB installed on the USB drive.  It doesn't have the Windows option in grub like the one on the tablet's own drive. (I have a Windows partition on the tablet's own drive) Maybe there is a conflict between the 2 GRUB menu programs? I don't need a GRUB menu anyway when I boot from the USB
drive.

I don't know what's happening or what to do with it.
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Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
For Ubuntu 8 GB should be enough. The iso is as far as I know around the size of a CD, and installed it probably needs about 4GB or so. If it crashed after some usage, you probably have a bad quality USB stick, or a failed file-system on it.

When you install Ubuntu it will look for other OS's and add them to the GRUB menu if it finds any, but for that to work you must of course have the original disk installed during the installation. But it is isn't really necessary to be able choose between Windows and Linux, as you can select the boot order from the BIOS.

Author

Commented:
I know, but for that to work I have to get rid of grub on the USB stick somehow. It just seems to hang on the unnecessary grub menu coming up from the USB stick.  This grub menu doesn't seem to respond to any user input or never times out to continue either. The other grub menu, that comes up when I DON'T use the USB stick to
boot is fine and I need it to select Windows or Ubuntu. How do I get rid of grub on the USB stick?
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
Just reinstall ubuntu to that stick, but this time using the tablet, and not another PC. That will overwrite grub on the stick.

Author

Commented:
You mean like with the 2 OSs and original grub on the tablet, flash drive in place in the tablet, I just connect a USB DVD ROM drive, boot from an Ubuntu install disk say I want to install to the blank USB drive,  then install.
(I will make it blank first)
Then re-boot from the USB stick without the dvd and let it configure Grub to match.

Is that what you are saying?
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
Not exactly. Boot the tablet from the install DVD with the USB stick connected. Start the installation tool from the DVD, and when you get to the place where you select where you want the Ubuntu installed on, select the USB stick. I believe it is something like "Manual Installation". Somewhere in that part of the setup menu, there is also and option where to install the boot loader. Also here you can select the USB stick. Don't select the internal disk of the tablet. That will just install Ubuntu and Grub to the USB stick. I currently don't use Ubuntu, and if I were, it would be a newer version, so I don't know the exact location where that option is or what it looks like, but most of the installers are similar. I don't like Ubuntu's Unity desktop, and besides it is very slow and needs modern hardware accelerated GPU's. I prefer distro's with better desktops and that perform better, like Makulu Linux (of which there is an XFCE version which is based on Ubuntu).

Author

Commented:
Sounds good:  Could I try this procedure for the USB drive with Makulu Linux 9 XfceLite  32bit?

Or would you recommend something  other?

I am downloading it right now. It will take a while. Honestly I don't mind trying another distro. I just tried this one, ubuntu 12  because other people had luck with it with this particular tablet. And because now it mostly works now for me, after quite a bit of struggle. Also I tried Ubuntu 14 and it was a disaster because all of the fancy useless stuff. I never use Unity either. I actually tried XFCE desktop with the tablet with Ubuntu 12 and it was really buggy. Otherwise I liked it. Gnome Classic 2D works way better, this is why I switched, and this is what I use now.

I wonder if Makulu Linux 9 XfceLite  32bit will support my touch screen though, like Ubuntu 12 does?
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
Yes, try MakuluLinux XFCE Lite 32 bit. I can't tell about touchscreens, as I don't have any PC with such a thing. But I think it will work fine. You might just have to install further options with synaptic package manager to get everything going the way you need to.

Author

Commented:
I will do it in the afternoon when I get home and let you know how it goes. The one thing I did not like about XFCE on this tablet before that it was not showing the battery state.

It probably can be installed to do that, right?

It is kind of important on a hand-held computer with only 5 hours of total battery power.
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
I'm not sure about the lite version, but the standard XFCE version of makulu has that as a default. If it isn't there by default it is a taskbar applet that you can add or enable whenever you want.

Author

Commented:
Please bare with me. I have not got to try the last step, I had car trouble and really busy with work. I will do it shortly
and get back to you.

Author

Commented:
Well, Makulu Linux XFCE doesn't want to boot for me with the tablet or desktop. You actually solved my problem with installing Ubuntu 12.04 on the 16 GB drive , it is just that for some reason the grub menu came up on 3rd boot, and if I wait long enough it will try to boot but gets stuck with something wrong with file system, you want to fix it?

At that point I have no way to input because the tablet has one USB and cannot boot through a hub. Cannot hook up a keyboard.

If only I could get rid of grub and make it boot on tablet the same as the first 2 times, smoothly on the tablet.

The 16 GB USB drive boots fine on a desktop computer, as long as I use the keyboard to navigate grub.

Thanks for your help. Maybe I will post the question of getting rid of grub / search on the internet.

Author

Commented:
Thanks.
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
Maybe you need to check the grub.cfg file and set the timeout to 0.

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