My Jackalope jogs jauntily again!


In my last post I had vented my disapproval at Ubuntu 9.04 being not up to scratch. But I really wanted to use this latest version of my favourite distribution. So I thought of an alternate way to install it onto a flash drive without creating any new partitions. I have a 4 GB Buffalo flash drive, which is quite ample for a default Ubuntu install. This is how I accomplished it:

1. Install Ubuntu inside Windows using WUBI:

a. Choose ‘Install inside Windows’ option:


b. Set the size of the install to a capacity that is less than your flash drive. My drive can hold 4 GB, so I chose 3 GB:


c. The installation process will begin, and after it ends, reboot your PC.



2. After reboot, choose Ubuntu from the boot menu. Then Ubuntu will install on to the loopback device. (The space you allocated during install has been used to create a virtual loopback device that Ubuntu will use as a hard disk partition.)

3. After installing Ubuntu, reboot with a Linux Live CD(which includes gparted) inserted in the drive, and then insert the flash drive in which you intend to install Ubuntu.

4. Run gparted. This is used to edit partitions. Format your flash drive using NTFS. Then set the boot flag active.

Note: This can also be accomplished by the HP Windows Format Utility for USB Drives on Windows.

5. Copy the following files to your flash drive:






ubuntu – folder

6. Edit the boot.ini file:

Original file:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
C:wubildr.mbr = "Ubuntu"


Modified file:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
C:wubildr.mbr = "Ubuntu"

This makes sure that your flash drive has only Ubuntu, and it’ll boot into Ubuntu on any computer.

7. In your flash drive, navigate to  ubuntudisksbootgrub and open menu.lst with a text editor. Search for the string root=UUID , and change all occurrences from root=UUID=<some_number> to root=LABEL=USB.

8. Now reboot your system off the flash drive, and Ubuntu will be up and running!

9. Install a few necessary packages, I chose to install: Adobe Flash player, plugins for proprietary media formats (restricted packages) and Eclipse. You can install as many packages as you want, which of course depends upon how large your flash drive is.

10. Now you have  a portable computer that you can use on any PC without needing to fear about privacy or security.


Adapted from :

17 thoughts on “My Jackalope jogs jauntily again!

    1. M cousin’s PC is not powerful enough. She’s stuck on Win98. So for her to use a better OS I did this.

  1. hi. Your post was the simple option I had found so far.

    I ordered the jaunty and I want to install it in a flash drive. Should the flashdrive be FAT32 or NTFS?

  2. Step 5 says copy files. Copy them FROM WHERE…? Pardon my ignorance but I can’t seem to find them.

    1. You need to enable ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’ option in the folder settings. Then you can copy these files from the partition(C:, D:, etc.) where you installed WUBI and Ubuntu.

  3. I finally found all the files and installed everything.

    You could greatly simplify the whole process with a batch file to copy the windows files (which will always be in a default location set by WUBI), create boot.ini, and invoke a text editor on the grub config (btw, the slashes in the path don’t show up in your text). It would just need one param passed, the drive letter where the thumbdrive is. I’m a sh scripter, couldn’t write a bat to save my soul.

    Rather than go to the trouble of rebooting from a live CD to run gparted, it’s a lot easier to just apt-get gparted so long as you have a running ubuntu sitting there anyway. For those of us who have never used gparted before, it wouldn’t hurt to explain which options to use. But it’s not so complicated a person can’t figure it out, however a naive person could accidentally nuke his windows harddisk so it’s worth a comment or two.

    The directions are in reverse order. A person will want to do the updates first (apt-get update, apt-get upgrade, download flash and whatever else) before installing to the thumbdrive.

    But… *sigh* It doesn’t boot.

    I’m curious whether you have actually created a bootable USB using your directions, step by step?

    Hope you find this to be useful criticism rather than a gripefest. I think it’s a great idea. I’m going to redo from scratch and see if I can figure out what went wrong.

  4. Ok, a couple things. My windows is XP. There are multiple files on my system named wubildr and wubildr.mbr; which one am I supposed to use? The different wubildr files have different file types and sizes. File search does not find a boot.ini anywhere although there is a boot.ini.backup. Gparted will not format to ntfs, it is greyed out.

    I am not comfortable doing admin in windows. I use it for apps and now I’m only using it to try to create this persistent thumbdrive. If you could be a tad more specific about the details it’d be really helpful.

  5. Last post… Skip the windoze file copying nonsense; that’s why we’re using linux, no? Just mount the windoze partition and there are no hidden or ambiguous filenames. End of windoze file hiding problem. So I got everything copied and tried to boot. System says it is not a bootable device. This leaves the question of how to get the .mbr file into the mbr? I don’t know how to do that, and it’s not something gparted knows how to do either. My guess is you used the HP utility. Yes?

  6. We can use either gparted or HP’s utility. In gparted you need to format the drive as NTFS and then set the bootable flag. It seems the 9.04 Live CD has some trouble, but a hard disk install should work fine. As I said, I did this workaround for my cousin who needs XP and doesn’t want her partitions to be disturbed.

  7. I used to have that HP utility until I blew away windoze and installed linux. 🙂

    Gparted doesn’t offer the option to format as ntfs. That option is grey, it is not available. Gparted does not itself do the format; it is calling something at the command line, no? It’s not mkdosfs as that doesn’t know ntfs (according to the man page). Do you know what utility is being called?

  8. Fingered it out: have to apt-get nfsprogs as they aren’t loaded by default and gparted can’t use ’em if they aren’t there.

    I finally got everything done out of every step you presented, but it doesn’t boot although it does get as far as a grub menu.

    So, have you got fedora 11 persistent on a stick?

    1. Oh fine, ntfsprogs or nfsprogs? And I’m running Fedora Leonidas pre-release on my internal hard disk. Too bad I can’t download the release version, my ISP throttles torrent downloads. Need to wait till HTTP/FTP is available or get a disc from a vendor soon.

  9. Arrggh! Late-night typo, what can I say? Of course it is ntfsprogs.

    Perhaps some kind person will let you download it from them? You’ve got my email address. Then perhaps you could help me figure out what it’ll take to make jaunty jog on my stick. I’ll even rewrite your instructions to use all the shortcuts I fingered out.

    Meantime I am playing with puppy and finding it quite delightful.

    1. I’ve asked my friend over here to download it. Same ISP, but no throttling. I’m wondering why this happens.

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