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Unetbootin Ubuntu

Unetbootin stands for Universal Netboot Installer. It can be described as a cross-platform utility that can make live USB systems and load a range of system utilities or install several distributions of Linux and other OSes without a CD.
Also, Unetbootin can be used with any type of USB storage device like external hard drives while the main application of this software is to create a bootable USB drive.

Unetbootin does not erase a file because it does not have the ability for formatting our external hard drive or USB flash drive devices. The primary request of Unetbootin is that is the easiest selection of software for several applications that might seem difficult to beginners.

Modes of Unetbootin

Unetbootin Ubuntu

Hard drive install

Hard drive installation mode implements a "frugal" install or network installation without any CD, the same as that implemented by the Win32-Loader. Some distinguishing features of Unetbootin are its support for a wide range of Linux distros, its portability, its capability for loading custom disk image (also ISO image) files, and its support for both Linux and Windows.

Unetbootin installs into a partition, not inside a disk image the same as the Win32-Loader and Unlike Wubi. Thus, making a dual-boot setup between Windows and Linux.

USB install

USB installation mode establishes bootable USB Hard Disk Drives and bootable USB flash drives. It is the creator of Live USB.

  • It is cross-platform (accessible for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows)
  • Non-destructive install (doesn't format a device) with Syslinux
  • Can load a range of system utilities like BackTrack and Ophcrack
  • Supports several distributions of mainstream Linux such as FreeDOS, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Slackware, MEPIS, Mandriva, Arch Linux, Linux Mint, Gentoo, CentOS, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and Ubuntu.
  • Other OSes can be loaded by hard drive/floppy disk image or pre-downloaded ISO image files
  • Support for LiveUSB persistence (storing files around reboots; this aspect is for the Ubuntu system only)
  • Automatically detects every removable device

Note: More than one install on a similar device is not supported.

Making a standard and full hard disk install if we can't utilize a Live USB
If we wish to make a standard and food installed and cannot utilize a live USB drive as our installer, we can still utilize a frugal install as an installer (with some other works required for partitioning). The particular information of this operation relies on the boot mechanism used by our distribution (as we cannot re-partition our drive while it is mounted). This issue again only comes if we are installing to a hard disk from the frugal install and not if we are installing to a hard disk from the live USB.

Let's first differentiate between two isolated kinds of distributions:

  • Distributions that require excess to the source medium: These types of distributions will require access to the source medium (our hard drive in this case) while they are running. As such, our hard drive partition will stay mounted while the distro is running and we would not be able for re-partitioning it. The installer ISO files and Live-CD for basically every major distros, including Sabayon, Linux Mint, Fedora, and Ubuntu belong to this type.
    If we are simply attempting to install the mini-distribution that is loaded into RAM entirely or will be applying the netboot installer for Debian and Ubuntu instead of the standard ISO of the desktop, then we do not need to read further.
  • Distributions loaded into RAM entirely: These types of distributions load everything inside the RAM and directly run from there. It stays unmounted since they do not require to access our hard drive partition and hence, we are free for re-partitioning our hard drive (with the Gparted or installer) while they're running.

These distributions tend to be minor distributions like DSL, Puppy Linux, SliTaz, and Parted Magic. Some distributions, such as PCLinuxOS, also contain an option, i.e., copy2ram boot that will enable them to behave like this. The netboot installers of Debian and Ubuntu also run from RAM entirely (but the standard server, desktop, and alternate installers don't).

Re-partitioning with Parted Magic

We need to first start Unetbootin and use the install mode, i.e., Hard Disk for installing Parted Magic. Restart and choose the option, i.e., Unetbootin boot for booting into the Parted Magic. Then, we need to run the partitioner using Parted Magic and shrink our Windows partition (resize instead of removing our Windows partition even if we do not wish to dual-boot because we will require something for Unetbootin to execute from; we can remove it later).

We will now have some space for Linux; leave it as it is because almost all user-friendly installers (like Fedora and Ubuntu's) will automatically make partitions appropriately in the space.

Creating a frugal install of our installer

We need to boot back into the Windows systems and again run Unetbootin. It will prompt us for uninstalling Parted Magic and say yes. Then, start Unetbootin, using the install mode, i.e., Hard Disk again, and send the ISO file we want to install (like Ubuntu Desktop ISO). Again, reboot and choose the option, i.e., Unetbootin boot for booting into the live environment of our frugal install.

Performing the real install with the live environment

Now that we are booted into our live environment, run the installer (on Fedora and Ubuntu, it is an icon over the desktop). Go from the steps as usual, but if we get to the partitioning stage, ensure that it is using the space that we set for Linux previously instead of trying to resize the partitions.

Cleaning up

Now that we have a standard and full install, we can remove the frugal install we used for launching the installer from; only boot Windows and delete Unetbootin.

What can we use Unetbootin for?

With CD-ROM and CD drives continuing to depart from everyday life, installing an operating system quickly through a USB drive is without any doubt the easiest approach. It is however also possible to house a fully functional operating system over a USB drive that is based on the principles of a Live-CD.

  • The Live-CD is a full operating system that can be executed without installation through a DVD or CD.
  • We need to simply insert our Live-CD, restart our computer, and the OS installed on it will automatically launch.
  • We can execute everything on it and a great thing is that there's no risk to the actual operating system installed on our computer because no data will be removed.
  • A possible solution had to be detected very quickly with the traditional CD-ROM in a serious crisis of disappearing altogether.
  • They are USB drives we need to look toward for facilitating advances in the right direction.

Geza Kovacs introduced the Unetbootin concept in April 2017. Quickly, it became a must-have result for Linux users and computer technicians everywhere. We however should consider that it'll permit the commercial OS installation (including Windows with others) which is efficiently illegal, given the user has not paid for their license.

Hence, Unetbootin makes it feasible for creating legitimate toolkits by having a complete variety of functional operating systems (for trying an attempt of software repair without data loss) or systems anticipated to be installed. The age of the CD is gone. Everything is now provided by a small USB drive that is providing increased storage space amounts.

It is indeed fair to say that Unetbootin permits us to install the freeware Windows version.

Discovering several operating systems

One of the best benefits of using Unetbootin is that it permits to automatically install the bootable drives along with a completely functional Linux System despite its simplicity, once known as a handy Live-CDs of the time.

We will get a great range of potential versions of the Linux releases for choosing from, that Unetbootin will download for us. The support of integrated Linux versions is quite impressive.

The complete list contains:

Unetbootin Ubuntu
  • Puppy Linux
  • xPUD
  • Frugalware Linux
  • LinuxConsole
  • Gentoo
  • Sabayon Linux
  • PCLinuxOS
  • Fedora
  • 3CX
  • NetBSD
  • FreeBSD
  • CentOS
  • Elive
  • Slax
  • Zenwalk
  • Linux Mint
  • SliTaz
  • Damn Small Linux
  • Arch Linux
  • OpenSUSE
  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Lubuntu
  • Xubuntu
  • Kubuntu

For computer experts and those seeking a solution to troubleshooting Unetbootin permits us to load the repair system utilities containing:

  • Parted magic
  • FreeDOS
  • Smart Boot Manager
  • Gujin
  • NTPasswd
  • Ophcrack
  • Backtrack
  • Kaspersky Rescue Disk
  • F-Secure Rescue CD
  • Dr. Web Antivirus
  • Super Grub Disk
  • SystemRescue CD

Note: A few computer software for troubleshooting still uses CDs, while Unetbootin prefers a simpler approach with a USB drive use. The only disadvantage of a USB drive is that we cannot install more than one system.

As such, we will need to make a small set of bootable USB drives for ensuring that we are set for the consequences.

Installing Unetbootin on Ubuntu

Unetbootin has been present for Ubuntu for a very long time and it has been the must-have app to flash the USB drive with an ISO image. First, we need to download an iso file and flash it using the other applications. We can do the exact thing with Unetbootin but the primary aspect is very spicy. We can select the Linux distribution version as we want and Unetbootin will download the ISO image automatically into a USB drive for us.

In this article, we will explain the same way we can download in install Unetbootin on the Ubuntu desktop.

Installation Process

On Ubuntu, the installation process of Unetbootin is very straightforward. First, we need to add the Unetbootin PPA and then begin installing it. Here are some steps for installing Unetbootin in Ubuntu:

  • First of all, we need to press the shortcut keys, i.e., Ctrl + Alt +T for starting the terminal window. We can also open it through the activities section.
    Unetbootin Ubuntu
  • After that, we need to add the Unetbootin PPA in Ubuntu. The command is as follows:

Unetbootin Ubuntu
  • It is time for updating the system after adding the above PPA. The system would update the repository contents with the updates and we can install the latest release of Unetbootin with the help of the following command:

Unetbootin Ubuntu
  • It is now the time for installing Unetbootin. We need to enter the below command for starting the installation process:

Unetbootin Ubuntu
  • Unetbootin would be downloaded and installed on our system relying on the speed of our internet connection. Once done, we can easily start Unetbootin through activities or even by entering "Unetbootin" inside the terminal window.

Working of Unetbootin

The functioning of Unetbootin is divided into 3 parts: download, extract files, and install the bootloader.

Unetbootin Ubuntu


Unetbootin supports FTP and HTTPS as the sources of the download. A redirector URL is usually used, or a regexp is used over directory listings on the mirror sites for ensuring that the latest version of the distribution is downloaded. Download resuming has not been yet done.

Extract files

What appears at the time of this part differs relying on the type of the disk image (floppy disk or ISO file image).

Floppy disk files

The describe the IMG file is copied to the /ubninit directory and memdisk is copied to the /ubnkern directory. Memdisk will load this IMG file into memory and start from it upon bootup.

ISO files

7-zip is used for extracting files using the ISO file to the objective drive. Heuristics, based on the name and size of the file, are then used for locating initrd and kernel files. These are positioned in the /ubninit and /ubnkern directories. Boot configuration files (such as menu.lst, extlinux.conf, isolinux.cfg, and syslinux.cfg) are then read for determining the boot options that require to be used and addresses of other initrd and kernel files.

Install the Bootloader

What appears at the time of this part differs relying on whether Frugal (Hard Disk) install mode or USB drive install mode is used.

Frugal (Hard Disk) install mode

Unetbootin changes boot.ini on Windows or applies bcdedit for adding an option of boot menu titled Unetbootin. It loads a bootloader, i.e., GRUB4DOS which is installed at the /ubnldr.mbr and /ubnldr directories, and it, in turn, reads the entries of the boot menu from the /unetbtin/menu.lst directory.

The installation file, i.e., .exe is copied to the /unetbtin.exe directory and it is included in autorun under the next boot up. It will uninstall Unetbootin by removing the extracted files when run and deleting the boot menu entry of Unetbootin.

The grub.cfg and menu.lst directories are changed for adding the Unetbootin entry on Linux. The available config file has been backed up to the grub.cfg.bak and menu.lst.bak directories. When Unetbootin is again executed, the uninstaller is executed. It will remove the extracted files and restore the boot configuration files that are previously backed up.

USB drive install mode

Unetbootin produces a correct syslinux config file in the /syslinux.cfg directory for the mode of the Live USB creation, and makes our USB drive bootable with syslinux. If extlinux has been installed and the USB drive is ext3 or ext2 on Linux then extlinux is used rather; the config file has been installed in the /extlinux.conf directory. Also, the partition to which it is installed is marked as active.

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