Top 5 Linux Distribution Apps for Live USB Drives

Bootable live USB drives enable you to have access via a USB key, pen or stick to dozens of Linux distributions wherever you go. You can install them right on the USB device, along with the configurations, utilities and personal files you require, and automatically download them from the internet, too. You also get improved privacy, the security of being able to actually lock your files away, and the fast-starting of direct RAM access.

There are many excellent utilities available for creating bootable live USB drives.


LiveUSB Install 2.5.12


Capable of creating a live USB drive using either Windows (any version) or Linux, Live USB Install provides you with an easy-to-use interface with a comprehensive, clean layout. In ‘Distribution‘ mode, just access the required file by simply checking one of the three sources listed. In selecting from CD/CVD or ISO image options already existing on the source drive, the correct distribution will be auto-detected based on the file name. The internet option will enable automatic Linux distribution downloading and installation. WinGrub ISO Chainloader mode will let you boot almost any distribution from the USB drive and allow you to have any number of multibooting options.

Additional features are customization ability of the syslinux.cfg file in booting already stored distributions, writing IMG files to the flash drive and store ‘persistent’ changes to your selected ISO.




Your Universal Multiboot Integrator or YUMI evolved from previous multiboot ISOs to provide the capacity to create bootable live USB drives containing operating systems, utilities and diagnostic tools. Compatible with Windows 2000 and up, it is designed specifically to run multiple Linux operating systems from a USB device, on media that can be stored anywhere. You can install or uninstall USB bootable distributions conveniently anytime, anywhere.

The interface lists the four selection steps:

  • USB Drive
  • Distribution
  • ISO file
  • Optional persistent file size

Just click the ‘Create‘ button. Repeat the process for each Linux distribution you want to add. In YUMI, syslinux is used to boot the already extracted distributions stored on the USB device, while booting multiple files uses grub.


Universal USB Installer


The forerunner and alternative to creating multi-bootable live USB drives, the Universal USB Installer is very simple to use for installing a single Linux distribution. Selecting from the list of distributions, you then just choose the required file and the USB drive to install it on. Additional features are the ability to FAT32 format the drive and a ‘persistence’ option when you need to make changes. It can be used on all versions of Windows.




Small but inclusive of all your needs, Rufus will create USB installation media from bootable Windows or Linux ISOs so that you can work on systems that do not have the required operating system installed. Download and install Rufus and use the drop-down menus – Device, Partition, File System, Cluster Size, Label – on the comprehensive interface, check the format option boxes and quickly create your bootable USB drive. Rufus is compatible with a wide range of languages and works with all versions of Windows.




Give yourself the ability to create bootable live USB drives with UNetbootin, and get access to any number of Linux distributions using either Linux or (any version) Windows. Additionally, you can add any utilities you may require, as well as personal data.

After downloading and installing the app, select a preloaded ISO file and the required distribution package to download from the internet or local drive, select the target drive and install. Reboot to check that the USB drive is booting correctly. Bear in mind that your USB drive may require FAT32 reformatting first. UNetbootin includes support for downloading all the most widely used Linux distributions and many system utilities.

You’ll find convenience and time savings in the portability of having a fully functional operating system, along with the data you need, on a bootable live USB drive. And, of course, having a bootable USB device is a life saver in the case of a computer hard drive breakdown.