Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Use the pen, it´s your friend

Pen drive, that is.

I wanted to share my experience on booting Linux from a pen drive. I find it extremely useful and convenient. It is a very good solution for those who may not be confident enough to run a native installation of Linux, but also for those who want to carry their computer with them any time, any where.

First off, for those who don´t know, how do you get this to work? Well, there a number of ways to make it happen. I used the USB drive creator available from Ubuntu, but that requires a full Ubuntu installation, of course. For those wanting to complete this process from a Windows PC, you can find all kinds of info and step by step tutorials in this great site:


As for the Ubuntu way, simply go into System menu > administration > USB live creator. That brings up a very convenient and simple application that will ask you two things: The location of the ISO you want to create your USB drive from, and the location of the USB drive itself. After a few minutes you will have your bootable pen drive.

The cool thing about this setup is that you are essentially using your pen drive as you would use any hard drive. Unlike a LiveCD, you can actually store info on your pen drive as you would in a standard drive, so all your settings stay were you left them. In other words, wireless settings, installed applications, themes, icons, wallpapers... Everything you customise to your liking will be there next time you boot!

What´s even cooler is that you add a layer of abstraction that way, as your Ubuntu session is now independent from the machine you use. As long as you use machines with kernel supported devices, you will be able to freely jump from one machine to the next, always using your very same Ubuntu session!

I personally find that very convenient. I run Linux at home, but the company I work for uses Windows. Because of security policies, I am not supposed to install linux on any corporate machine, but this solution allows me to use my company PC with Linux with absolutely no impact to the corporate build. I can use my Ubuntu anytime I want by simply booting my PC from my pendrive, and it is the same session I used elsewhere. No need to use UbuntuOne or Dropbox, or need for an internet connection to keep things in synch, everything is right there where I left it!

Anyways, I have found this little feature to be just perfect for my needs and wanted to share it. Hopefully you will get a kick out of it too!