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I apologize if this isn't quite the right place to pose this question, but I couldn't find a more appropriate stackexchange site to ask this question.

My goal is to have my USB drive loaded with a virtual machine that runs a linux distro (preferably Ubuntu, but I'm flexible). Now for the catch, I can create a bootable USB without any problems. What I want is the ability to plug in my USB drive to an already running machine, invoke the VM and get access to my linux distro. And one final catch, I should be able to persist data and applications directly on the USB drive too.

My initial thoughts are to have two partitions on the USB drive. One for the VM and OS and the other for the persistent data (though I may need a third for a swap space too, not sure yet).

Any thoughts/ideas are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • This is going to depend on having VM software available on the machine you plug it into. If you do have that, most of it can boot from a disk attached to the host without any problem. If not, it's harder. – Tom Hunt Oct 8 '15 at 21:23
  • If you want to be able to do this on an already-running (physical) host machine regardless of its OS, this is probably impossible.  If you want to be able to do it on a Windows host, you might do better on Super User.  Don't ask a new question; if you want to move this question, click [flag] and ask to have it migrated. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Oct 8 '15 at 21:28
  • @G-Man sounds to me like it's a matter of having a universal vm player, able to run on any known os. I'm not aware of one, but virtualbox has been built for many distros - in the autorun of the USB it might be possible to detect and invoke the correct portable vbox for the host OS, starting the desired guest as well. – Dani_l Oct 8 '15 at 22:21
  • @G-Man Thanks for your info. I would primarily be running a host machine of Mac OS X and sometimes Linux or Windows. – Nick Allen Oct 8 '15 at 22:25
  • @Dani_l You are stating exactly what I am looking for. You do have a couple of ideas in your comment to try and play with. I will see what I can do. Any other suggestions would be great too. – Nick Allen Oct 8 '15 at 22:28
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Have you looked into using an online host? There are several virtual machine services that allow you to setup your choice of distro and log in using a web browser.

  • Thanks for your option, but I'm not interested in a cloud based solution where the provider has access to all of my information. – Nick Allen Oct 9 '15 at 18:17
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insanely late reply but ...i have outlined how to run/edit/burn a persistent usb within a vm....if some how you had the edited iso be the same iso the persistent grub loader looks for then .....you could use persistent iso within vm then all changes would reflect on persis. drive when booted....

outline can changing permissions cause input/output errors

  • why a down vote - this seems exactly along the lines OP is searching....is expanding on connected old posts frowned upon now ?? – alex Sep 30 '18 at 10:41
  • Neither your answer nor the question you linked to therein has any connection to the original question. – Hermann Oct 2 '18 at 16:52

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