Install Linux Mint on a USB Flash Drive

Edited by Jay, Maria Quinney, skyhermit

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If you're a Windows user who is toying with the idea of running Linux Mint, you can create a bootable USB drive and test it out on your Windows PC first. If you like what you see, you can take it further and install Linux on its own partition down the road.

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Linux offers a wealth of options for a Windows power user seeking to escape the ever-changing landscape that is Windows 10. Maybe you're fed up with the spying, the user interface, or the fact that Windows has transitioned to a service rather than an all-in-one OS like it used to be. Whatever the reason, Linux is an excellent alternative for those looking for something different than Windows.

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In the following VisiHow tutorial, we're going to go through the steps on how to create a bootable Linux Mint USB flash drive. We recommend using a USB drive for testing out Linux Mint as it's quick enough to get a feel for how the OS will function.

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Download Linux Mint

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For this guide, we went with Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia (Cinnamon desktop), but you're free to choose and desktop you wish (MATE, KDE, Xfce, etc.).

  1. 1
    Visit the following link, scroll down the page and click on the download link (32 or 64 bit) depending on your system.
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-01.png
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  2. 2
    On the download page, choose a mirror link closest to your location
    .
    This will ensure that your download will be as fast as possible.
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-02.png
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  3. 3
    When prompted with the open/save dialog, select "Save File", then click "OK".
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-03.png
    The download may take a while, as the distribution ISO is 1.8 GB.
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Format USB Drive

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  1. 1
    Connect the USB drive you plan on using to your computer
    .
    Next, open a Windows Explorer window, navigate to the flash drive, then right-click and select "Format".
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-04.png
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  2. 2
    Once the Format options are open, select either FAT 32 or NTFS as the File system, place a checkmark next to "Quick Format", then click "Start".
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-05.png
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  3. 3
    When the Warning pops-up, select "OK" to continue.
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-06.png
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  4. 4
    Once your USB drive is formatted, click "OK" to close the dialog window.
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-07.png
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Download YUMI for Windows

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Although we used YUMI - Multiboot USB creator for this tutorial, there are other free options available; ImgBurn, UNetbootin, and LinuxLive USB Creator to name a few.

  1. 1
    Visit the following [ link], scroll down the page and click on the "Download YUMI button (not the beta version).
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-08.png
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  • 2
    When the open/save window appears, click "Save File" to begin the download.
    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-09.png
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  • Use YUMI to Create a Bootable Linux Mint USB Drive

    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-00-yumi-bootable.png

    Now that you have YUMI (or a similar program) downloaded, it's time to create your bootable USB drive.

    1. 1
      Navigate to the folder that stores your browser's downloads (download folder in most cases)
      .
      Locate the YUMI installer, then right-click and "Run as administrator".
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-10.png
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    2. 2
      If you see the following UAC prompt, click "Yes" to continue
      .
      If you don't see the UAC window, proceed to the next step.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-11.png
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    3. 3
      Read through the License Agreement, then when you're ready, click "I Agree".
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-12.png
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    4. 4
      Now it's time to choose the USB drive you plan on using
      .
      Use the drop-down to find and select it.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-13.png
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    5. 5
      Next, use the drop-down to select the distribution you're using
      .
      In our case, it's Linux Mint.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-14.png
      With the distro selected, click the "Browse" button.
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    6. 6
      Navigate to the location where you downloaded the Linux Mint ISO earlier in the first section of this guide
      .
      In our example, it was in the "Downloads" folder.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-15.png
      Click "Open" once you have the ISO selected.
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    7. 7
      You can set a persistent file size for storing changes, by moving the horizontal slider (optional)
      .
      Once you're ready, click the "Create" button.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-16.png
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    8. 8
      When the confirmation window appears, read it carefully, then click "Yes" to create your bootable USB drive.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-17.png
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    9. 9
      Once the process is completed, click "Next".
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-18.png
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    10. 10
      Next, you'll see a dialog asking you if want to add any additional distributions to the drive
      .
      For our example, we selected "No".
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-19.png
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    11. 11
      With the process complete, click "Finish" to close the window.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-20.png
      You've just created a bootable USB drive for Linux Mint
      .
      You can use this on any computer that will boot from USB.
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    Change the Boot Order on your Computer

    NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-00-bios.png

    To be able to boot from your USB drive, you'll have to change the boot order within the BIOS settings on your system. This process differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the basic premise is the same.

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    1. 1
      In our case (using a Clevo laptop), we had to press the F2 key during the bootup phase.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-21.png
      You may have to perform a quick search to find the exact method for entering the BIOS of your system.
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    2. 2
      Once you're in the BIOS, look for the "Boot" menu
      .
      This may be in the advanced section.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-22.png
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    3. 3
      Once you're viewing the Boot menu, use the arrow keys to select the USB drive that you just used in the earlier section
      .
      You'll notice instructions somewhere on the screen informing you how to move items up and down, as well as saving.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-23.png
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    4. 4
      When you've changed the boot order with the USB drive first, use the keys designated to "Save and Reset"
      .
      in our example, that is the F4 key.
      NorthernTouch install-linux-mint-usb-24.png
      When you're prompted with the "Save configuration and reset" dialog, press the "Enter" key to save and reset your machine. Your system should now reset and boot into Linux Mint.
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    ** Please Note** If you can't boot from your USB drive, go back and try a different Flash drive. For whatever reason, Some USB drive manufacturers don't work well when creating bootable drives.

    Questions and Answers

    Making the correct file choice in EFI Boot Selection?

    I have a San Disk 16GB USB flash drive which I have installed a Mint ISO using YUMI. . I want to boot from the USB to try it live before installing it on my old computer. The computer is a Dell XPS 13 9343 (I think this was the first XPS 13, about 4 years old).. In order to set the boot sequence, I press F2 during the startup and get into the BIOS setup. There I have made sure that POST Fastboot is set to "Thorough". Next I made sure that "Secure Boot" was Disabled. Then under System Config I checked that "Enable Boot Support" and "Enable External USB Port" were both checked.. Finally I went to the Boot Sequence (which now has only "Windows Boot Manager" and the "UEFI: Samsung SSD") and am trying to "Add Boot Option".. Under this option I first give my option the name "USB Drive". Then I must give the file name for the boot. This is where I need your help.. I open the EFI Boot Selection and the USB drive lists "multiboot" which is what YUMI created. Clicking on that multiboot directory, I must chose which file to boot from. There are many files in the main multiboot directory (such as syslinux.cfg) and also other folders (menu, ISOS, and linuxmint-19-cinnamon). If I chose the linuxmint-19-cinnamon folder I can chose from "casper-rw", "linuxmint-19-cinnamon-64bit-v2.ISO". Please tell me which file to chose for the Boot Option.. Sorry to make such a long story out of such an easy question.. Any advice you can give (also for when I want to actually do the install in order to replace Dell's Win8.1 OS with the LinuxMint on the internal SSD) will be greatly appreciated.. Thanks for your help. The Dell Boot sequence, at least for my 4 year old XPS 13, is more complicated than I have had with other laptops. I didn't have enough experience to know which file to chose from the USB flash drive LinuxMint installation. I have tried: I have read every article I could find and this one was the most detailed but even it didn't tell me this one detail about the proper choice of files for the Boot Selection. I have tried choosing various files to boot from but none of them worked. Now I am having trouble because this questionnaire keeps asking for more detail and refusing to accept the question even though I have given all of the information I have. I think it was caused by: Inexperience and personal cluelessness. Maybe the Dell computer is more problematic than lots of other laptops.

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    Article Info

    Categories : Use Windows 10 | Use Linux Mint | Software

    Recent edits by: Maria Quinney, Jay

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