I'm trying to install Elementary OS on a USB drive so I can carry my OS with me. I have installed the ISO to the pen drive and can boot into the desktop no problem. When I come to do an install the installer doesn't see the pen drive as a disk it only sees my internal HDD's. Any ideas? Thank you

  • maybe try to set your usb stick the boot flag (with Gparted for example) – joH1 Mar 4 '16 at 22:44
  • Simply, you can't install the OS on the install media ;) Use two drives! – cylgalad Mar 5 '16 at 10:13

You need two pen drives. Select the second pen drive instead of the HDD on the computer. Also make sure to install the bootloader to the pen drive. It can't install to the pen drive you booted off of because it's still reading from it.


You can use a tool like Fedora LiveUSB creator. You can simply download your choice of Linux Image and generate on the go pen drive. I have successfully been using it with Ubuntu 14. https://fedorahosted.org/liveusb-creator/

  • this only lets you create a live USB, this is not what im after, im in need of a full install to the USB as if it was a HDD – twigg Mar 4 '16 at 23:13
  • Apologies, During our recent testing of custom ISOs, I used 2 pen drives, as mentioned by @Steven to install it into usb like hdd. You could also, boot using a cd, and use usb drive as your hdd. This was successfully done for CentOS 7. – user2588578 Mar 4 '16 at 23:23

The safest way is, I think, to use a virtual machine such as VirtualBox; mount the iso of the install system, and add the usb drive to the VM.

Otherwise, many installers will switch the boot loader portion of Grub to point to the USB drive. Then, the HD system will not boot unless the USB drive is present. I had this happen, but the USB drive got destroyed or became defective, and I had to do a bit of hoop-jumping to fix it.

Another way is to first disable the HD in the BIOS, then install the system to the only possibility, the USB drive.

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