Linux Installation for Newbies (UNetbootin USB Flashdrive)

One of the main reasons to use Linux is that you want a more secure system that is less susceptible to virus, malware, and critical failure. Another great reason to use Linux is that you can accomplish things more quickly in a much more efficient way than with other platforms. An excellent way to install Ubuntu is with software that prepares a USB drive to be able to install Linux on another computer.

Install Ubuntu

Download the Installation ISO and create a bootable UNetBootIn Disk

The steps of this blog will show how to:

  1. Download the Ubuntu iso You want (I recommend 14.04)
  2. How to Find Out if Your Computer is 32bit or 64bit
  3. Prepare a USB disc for UNetBootIn and OS installation

In case you were wondering what an ISO (Eye-Ess-Oh) is; it basically is a way of designating a single file so that it can be used to boot or load complex media. An iso is a single file that represents many files that would be on a DVD disc (to be played as a movie originally.) This is a way of storing files on a DVD disc so that you can put it into a movie player and have the movie automatically load by that machine and start playing. It also is a way that you can put a DVD into a computer and have it automatically boot an operating system without having to initiate this process with any entered commands. It also turns out that this type of file can be loaded onto a USB drive to make a “Bootable Flashdrive.” Keep in mind that there are still some old motherboards out there that may not be able to boot from flashdrive without flashing the BIOS/firmware. There are software programs that you can install that will enable you to activate or manipulate iso files as well. A popular program for Windows that can do this is Daemon Tools. A truly free version can be found at Softronics. it is often represented as “.iso” which is a file extension. A way you may see this on a computer is “somefilename.iso” I highly encourage people to look into the inner workings of their iso files and see exactly what it is they are dealing with. There are many versions of software like this for Linux at the end of this article.

The version of Ubuntu that you choose is dependent on your hardware and the sort of system you want to run. If you are just getting started I recommend the Ubuntu client called Trusty Tahr 14.04 LTS. LTS stands for Long Term Support. This means that it is officially supported starting April of 2014, (hence the 14.04.) If you want a different Ubuntu installation iso other than the ones I recommend working with, you can check out Ubuntu’s releases page.

How to find out if my windows computer is 32 or 64 bit:

  1. Open the Start Menu
  2. Right Click on Computer (or My Computer for older versions)
  3. Left Click on Properties
  4. Look under System (if it says x64 then it’s 64 bit, if not; then it’s 32 bit)

How to find out if my Apple OSX computer is 32 or 64 bit:

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the Menu Bar
  2. Select About This Mac
  3. Click More Info
  4. Open the Hardware Section
  5. Find the Processor Name
  6. Compare to this list:
    1. Intel Core Duo or Solo = 32
    2. Intel Core 2 Duo = 64
    3. Intel Xeon = 64
    4. Intel Core i3 = 64
    5. Intel Core i5 = 64
    6. Intel Core i7 = 64

How to find out if my Linux computer is 32 or 64 bit:

  1. Open Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T)
  2. Type in the terminal:

1 uname -m.png

    1. OR for more information

2 lscpu.png

    1. If i686 then 32-bit hardware and can only run 32-bit OSs
      1. Use uname –help for more info
    2. If x86_64 then 32 or 64-bit version of Linux can be installed

How to tell if my chipset/motherboard/hardware is 32-bit or 64-bit with no OS installed:

  1. Boot into the BIOS
    1. You may have to Google the procedure for this on a per/manufacturer basis. Each company/motherboard has its own procedure. Often you can read the text during bootup and look for commands to get you there.
  2. Find your processor information
  3. Reference your processor model at the manufacturer’s website
    1. Intel Processors
    2. AMD Processors
    3. Macintosh PowerPC Processors
  4. Sometimes you can save yourself some time by just looking at the processor if you are comfortable removing the heat sink. This is much more difficult with most laptops or tablets, so this is only recommended if you have a tower chassis.

If you are capable of running 64 bit, do so. If you are not, then you are stuck using a 32 bit version of the OS. This is generally considered much less secure, but will still be more resistant to virus and malware than any version of Windows. I will post the links again for ease of use:


Now that you have your iso, it is time to find some hardware to load on to. Your best options are a DVD disc, or USB/Thumb/Flash drive. This is how we get the OS installed onto a freshly formatted Hard Disk Drive or Solid State Drive.

  • Find a USB Flashdrive with more than 1Gb of space on it.
    • The most versatile flashdrives for OS installation are 2Gb and above.
    • At the time of this writing there is no need for a drive larger than 8Gb (2Gb – 4Gb would do for just about any common application)
  • Download UNetbootin

Type in these commands one after the other.

3 install Unetbootin.png

Create your bootable OS installation USB drive

  1. Open UNetbootin
    1. I prefer using terminal in Linux for this

4 open unetbootin.png

    1. Select the Diskimage radio button (Alt+i)

5 diskimage unetbootin.png

    1. Click the … button
      1. If you do not want to use a mouse
        1. Tab >> Tab >> Tab >> Spacebar
          1. You may have to select the program which can be used with the Tab+Alt hotkey. There is a subtlety with this command where you depress and hold the Alt key, and then tap the Tab key to cycle through all open programs that may be open.
      2. Find the iso image you downloaded in the previous steps
    2. In the Unetbootin Drive: dropdown menu (Alt+v)
      1. Find the USB drive you want to install your OS with
        1. It is safer to use a totally clean drive (freshly formatted)
          1. For detailed/comprehensive instructions for how to completely clear a flash drive and be certain there is no residual software on it, check out my instructions:
            “How to Completely Reformat a USB Drive”
    3. Click the OK button to create your installation disk

Now that you have the OS iso on your USB drive; unmount your USB drive from the current machine and put your USB drive into the machine you want to install Linux on. Turn the new machine on and access the BIOS to ensure that you have USB boot option enabled. Do what it takes to boot from the USB drive (questions about this can be answered by looking up the specific BIOS, motherboard, or chipset that you have. Perhaps a search in google like; “Asus USB Boot instructions” would yield a good answer.) I recommend a complete and thorough reformat and full installation. Only do this if you are willing to wipe all files and programs from the HDD in question. I recommend this even if the HDD or SSD are fresh from the manufacturer out of the box.

Back to the alternate ISO manipulation programs:

Each of these programs has different strengths and weaknesses. I am basically listing them so that you can learn how to view, understand, and manipulate iso files.



After running the cdemu -h command you should see the CDemu program load in your Terminal and show this helpfilecdemu -h.png

The next ISO program is called Gmount-ISO.



After installing gmountiso you can search for the program with Linux’ search feature found in the upper left corner. The icon looks like this:

Search Icon.png

Search for “Gmount” without the quotation marks and open the GUI to see the program like this Image


A 3rd program worth looking at is called ISOMaster

Type this command in Terminal to install ISOMaster


install isomaster.png

After installing isomaster you can start the program directly from the Terminal by typing isomaster. This will then load the GUI. Notice when “X’ing out of the program” that it then also closes the program in the Terminal as well resulting in the feedback “Quitting.”

load isomaster-terminal.png

ISOMaster GUI image.png

A 4th program is called Furius ISO Mount Tool

Furius Mount Tool Install-terminal.png

Furiusisomount GUI.png



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