How to create a bootable Linux USB stick | by Nithil Krishnaraj | July 2022

A USB (Image credit: USB Memory Direct)

What you will need:

  • A computer with at least one USB port
  • An external storage device such as a USB device that you can easily erase completely
  • A strong internet connection

Words to know:

  • distribution — A variant of the Linux operating system, different distributions serve different purposes
  • tuxedo — Linux’s mascot, it’s a penguin!
A ranking of Linux distributions (Image credit: Reddit)

Well what is a distro? A Linux distribution are variants of Linux and serve their own purpose. For example, Pop!_OS, a popular distro, caters to new (and old) Linux users and has a user-friendly interface. This is the distro we are going to install, but as always, you always have the option to choose a different one. For a list of Linux distributions, see this website: https://itsfoss.com/best-linux-beginners/.

A screenshot of Pop!_OS (Image credit: OMG! Ubuntu!)

Downloading Pop!_OS is very easy and probably the easiest step in the process. Go to https://pop.system76.com/, this is their website. System76 is a company that makes Linux laptops and desktop computers and is also the same company that developed Pop!_OS. Press the blue “Download” button.

Now that we’ve downloaded the file for our operating system, it’s time to install Etcher, software that will allow us to create a bootable USB drive. First, go to https://www.balena.io/etcher/, the software download site. Balena is the technology company that created Etcher. Once on the website, click the “Download for Windows (x86|x64)” button. Once downloaded, open the file and follow the instructions. It should be pretty easy to follow. If you followed the instructions correctly, you should end up with this screen:

Finally, if you have followed all the steps correctly, you should see the above screen. Now connect your external storage device, e.g. a USB drive, to your computer. First, click Flash from File and select the file you downloaded earlier.

A screenshot of Ubuntu (Image credit: Wikipedia)

If for some reason you don’t like Pop!_OS, you can always choose a different distro. This makes Linux versatile and flexible. A popular alternative to Pop!_OS is Ubuntu, another distro developed by technology company Canonical. Mainly aimed at all audiences, this distro is user-friendly even for beginners. To download Ubuntu, go to https://ubuntu.com/download/desktop and download the file. All you have to do after that is follow the instructions for Etcher above and use the Ubuntu file instead of Pop!_OS.

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