How to make an on-the-fly flash drive with a bootable Linux distribution

How to make an on-the-fly flash drive with a bootable Linux distribution

Looking for a way to take you with an easy-to-use Linux distribution tool that will allow you to install Linux wherever you go? Look no further than Ventoy.

Creating a flash drive with a bootable Linux distribution usually involves reformatting the drive. This means that if you want to change the distribution, or add more, you will lose the distribution that is already on the drive.

What if you can’t just maintain that distribution, but make this process extraordinarily easy – like, easily? No wonder, as with the Ventoy app, this is reality.

Ventoy is perhaps one of the best tools on the market for making bootable flash drives for Linux distributions. With Ventoy, you install applications to a flash drive, which will format the drive into two separate partitions, one of which uses the exFAT file system. On the exFAT partition, you can simply copy the ISO image you want to use and Ventoy does the rest. You can then take the drive and install a number of Linux distributions on your laptop or mobile desktop – wherever you are.

As simple as that.

I will walk you through the steps to prepare a bootable flash drive that you made Ventoy, so you can make a Linux distribution toolkit on-the-fly to carry around.

What do you need

Ventoy can be installed with Linux or Windows. I will show you with Linux, so the only thing you have to follow is the Linux distribution. This can be a server or a desktop because the Ventoy version of Linux is command-only. For the Windows version, there is a GUI tool that is useful for making Ventoy easier.

How to install Ventoy

Ventoy is a portable application, because you don’t actually install it to the host machine. You download the file, extract it, and run it from within the newly created folder that will install everything needed on the target flash drive. So, the first thing to do is download the file from the Ventoy git page.

After downloading, extract the file with the command:

tar xvzf ventoy*.tar.gz

This will create a new folder, named ventoy-AAA-linux. Change to the new folder with the command:

cd ventoy-AAA-linux

Where AAAis the release number.

In that folder you will find a subfolder, named ventoy-AAA(where AAAis the release number). Change to that folder with the command:

cd ventoy-AAA

Where AAAis the release number.

The next step is to plug in your USB device. After entering, return to the terminal window and give the command:

df -h

You will see that the flash drive is listed, which will include the name of the drive that is known to Linux (such as / dev / sdb). That’s the name you need to install Ventoy to the flash drive.

To install Ventoy to a flash drive, run the command:

sudo ./ -i /dev/sdX

Where X is the name of the flash drive.

You will be asked twice if you want to continue, with the color of all data on the drive lost (Figure A).

Figure A


Install Venoy on a USB flash drive.

After Ventoy is installed, your USB drive will then appear listed as Ventoy (Figure B).

Figure B


Our flash drive is now installed.

How to copy ISO images to drive

At this point, all you have to do is download the ISO image that you want to add to Ventoy and then copy it to the exFAT partition (named ventoy). You can copy it using the file manager or from the command line, such as:

cp /path/to/image/image.iso /path/to/ventoy/

Make sure you use the path and full name to the ISO image and the path to the Ventoy partition on the USB drive. For example, copying a basic OS can look like:

cp ~/Downloads/elementaryos-5.1-stable-20200603.iso /media/jack/ventoy/

After the copy is complete, you can then copy more ISO images into the folder (if your USB drive has space), or eject the drive.

Boot the computer where you want to install Linux from the Ventoy-enabled flash drive and select the distribution you want to install (Figure C).

Figure C.


If you have a lot of ISO files copied to the Ventoy drive, they will all be listed here.

That’s all there is to it. To make this setting better, you can delete and add ISO images to the Ventoy flash drive as you wish.

You will have trouble finding a better solution for making a Linux mobile installation device. Try Ventoy, I’m sure you will be sold soon.

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