I am looking for a buyer's guide on usb boot drives that will be used for booting Linux distros. Specifically, I have the following concerns:

  • Should I opt for USB 2.0 or 3.0?
  • Are there size limitations, like 2GB vs 8GB vs 16GB?
  • Are there specific brands to favor or avoid? (ie formatting issues)
  • Does the physical style have any affect?

Any other considerations are more than welcome. I have been considering the Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 16GB USB 2.0 in particular.

I will likely be using UNetbootin to add the distros. This will be used to explore new distros and portable booting.


USB 3 is faster, but the target has to support it for extra speed. Both can be used interchangeably.

Installation DVD images are around 4GiB, 4 might cut it, but for Fedora 20 it was to small. I'd say 8GiB minimal


I have booted with small USB sticks, such as 2 GB. One thing that will assist is to load the version of the USB with the 'netinst' version. This boots a basic system in memory and then uses your Internet connection to bring in the rest of the needed files. I have used this with great success in the past.

One of the problems with a USB stick is that many older computers do no have an option to boot off them. If you have new computers that's fine, but many that I have scrounged do not allow a boot off a USB stick.

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