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Linux On A Stick

written by: John Lister•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 11/28/2008

You can now create a version of the Fedora Linux operating system which fits on a USB drive that you can carry anywhere and use on any PC. We explain the why's and how's of this process so you can see if this is right for you.

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    So Many Questions

    This article will help you answer some of the main questions that you have about placing Fedora Linux OS on a USB drive so you can decide if this is the right move for you.

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    Why would I want to do this?

    Because a USB drive is portable, you’ll be able to run Linux on most computers anywhere you happen to be. That’s handy if you want to run particular applications, or if you simply want to use or demonstrate Linux on somebody else’s machine. It’s also a handy back-up plan if a Windows computer has a serious problem which stops it running to keep you from losing data or programs.

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    What type of USB drive do I need?

    For the basic edition of Fedora, you’ll need a 1GB drive, which will leave you room to store around 200MB of data as well. If this isn’t enough, or you want to run the ‘developer’ edition, you’ll need a 2GB drive.

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    How do I create a USB version of Linux?

    The process isn’t overly complicated, though it helps if you familiar with using Linux’s command line system. The full process is detailed at:

    You should read these full details before attempting to create a Linux USB stick. However, to give you an idea of the work involved, one version of the process (which you can do in Windows) is:

    • Download and run Fedora’s live USB creator tool (
    • Select a version of Fedora marked as Live (meaning it can run straight from a CD). You can use a version already on your computer (for example from the official Fedora Site.) or follow the links in the USB creator tool
    • Select a size for the ‘Persistent Overlay’ setting. This is the space you want to leave free for storing your data files. Remember that the Fedora system will take up around 650-700MB and that you should leave some space (perhaps 50MB) unused for safety.
    • Click on ‘Create Live USB’
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    How do I use the USB version of Linux?

    On some computers, you will simply need to turn on, or restart, the machine with the USB stick already inserted. On others, you’ll need to look out for a message as your computer starts up (before it loads Windows), telling you what to do if you want to boot from a CD, DVD, or other device. Usually this is as simple as pressing a particular key and then selecting the device.

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    USB Fedora creator menu
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    Using a USB stick to upload Fedora and your files on is pretty easy and actually a great backup idea. You can use this USB stick to demonstrate Linux to new users, transfer your files quickly to another computer, or keep special files secret and safe.