Up until now, UNetbootin was the best way to create a distribution on a stick. With UNetbootin, you can easily install a bootable Linux distribution onto a USB drive that can be used for various administrative tasks.

The problem with UNetbootin is that it doesn’t support Clonezilla, one of the most popular open source, bare-metal recovery tools. If you want a USB version of Clonezilla, you can either go through the command line-based steps to get it installed (which is not for the faint of heart), or you can use a UNetbootin spin-off that supports Clonezilla called Tuxboot.

Tuxboot supports these operating systems:

This short list alone is worth Tuxboot’s price of admission, which happens to be free — minus the flash drive. The ability to have these tools on portable flash drives could be a boon to administrators. Before I explain how to use Tuxboot, I describe how easy it is to create that Clonezille USB drive.

Installing Tuxboot

Tuxboot is available for Ubuntu and Windows; download the version to fit your platform. In this tutorial, I walk through installing this application on a Ubuntu desktop. For the Ubuntu version, you download a .deb file to be used for the installation and then follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Change into the directory into which you downloaded the file.
  3. Issue the command sudo dpkg -i tuxboot-XXX.deb (XXX is the release number).
  4. Type your sudo password and hit Enter.

If you installation errors out, follow these steps:

  1. Open Synaptic.
  2. Once the Synaptic UI opens, you will be informed there are broken packages. Go to Edit | Fix Broken Packages.
  3. Accept the fixes and click Apply.
  4. Click the Unity Dash and type tuxboot. Now the application will start.

Using Tuxboot

  1. Open the application.
  2. From the main window (Figure A), select the distribution you want to install (if you’ve already downloaded an ISO image, click Pre Downloaded and then locate the .iso file).
  3. Select USB Drive from the Type drop-down.
  4. Select the correct USB device from the Drive drop-down.
  5. Click OK. This will start the process of creating the bootable USB device.

Figure A

This window handles every aspect of the bootable USB creation. (Click the image to enlarge.)

If Tuxboot cannot locate your flash drive (this happened to me), you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command df -h.
  3. Search the listing of mounted devices and volumes (Figure B) and select the option for Show All Drives in the Tuxboot window.
  4. Select the correct Drive from the drop-down. If you choose the wrong drive when using the Show All Drives option, you could wind up installing the distribution over your desktop, so make absolutely sure you select the correct drive.

Figure B

Here is the listing of drives mounted on my Ubuntu machine. THUMBY is the target in question. (Click the image to enlarge.)

With the USB created, try booting with this device into the distribution you installed.

You don’t have to limit yourself to the distributions available to the Tuxboot drop-down; you can download an ISO image of nearly any Linux distribution and have Tuxboot install the distribution onto the flash drive.