You are on a holiday trip and your windows laptop strikes. Now what?

  • You could use your friends´ new Window$ 10 NSA computer but you don´t like the idea to leave your passwords on a random hard disk which is almost sure to get hacked…
  • You don´t recall that one important password anyway…
  • Moreover the files you were working on and the photos you want to send are all on the crashed device and you don´t know how on earth you can recover them quickly…
  • And of course the alien machine has a different mix of programs so you are strongly handicapped…
  • You have this sked on your ham radio but of course your XYL´s laptop does not have an RTTY program on it… Come to think of it, it also lacks your favorite logbook program and the satellite predictor..

No reason for despair, provided you are prepared for such a catastrophe!

Put Linux on a USB stick and run your OS from the stick!

18238580_1503526646355787_1517543866535038366_oThe procedure is simple:

  • Connect your stick to the computer
  • Switch the computer on
  • While it is booting, push the ESC, or F12 key, depending on the brand of the machine. The boot menu will appear now.
  • Choose the USB device with your portable OS on it and press Enter…

I have prepared an image for a 16 GB USB stick which contains Lubuntu Linux and a ntsf Data partition which can be read on Windows and Linux. Lubuntu Linux has a look similar to Windows XP, so you will not encounter any problems to use it. It contains all the tools you will need for disk maintenance, Internet browsing etc. and you can add your own programs later. For my ham friends I made sure a working copy of FLDIGI 4.0.3 is on board, so you can start using it straight away…

Download at:

The image for a 16 GB stick (preferably USB3, as it is faster even when your machine has only USB2).

How to prepare the USB stick? On Linux it is very easy using a terminal:

  • Unzip the image file (´gunzip lubuntuimage16.img.gz´)
  • Make sure which device you want to write (´lsblk´), probably /dev/sdb
  • Write the image to the stick with:
    ´dd if=lubuntuimage16.img of=/dev/sdx bs=4M status=progress´

On Windows you have to do some more work. First you have to install the programs you need to handle the image. They are both .exe files and you get them at:

Once you have installed these 2 programs the rest is easy:

  • Unzip the archive with 7-zip.exe
  • Write the image to the USB stick with win32diskimager.exe.

desktop 3_009

What can you do with it?

The stick contains a complete linux operating system (lubuntu 16.04.2 LTS) which enables you to do everything you are used to do in Windoze. It also includes a 8 GB ntsf partition which you can use to store data for portable use. The programs will NOT use the had disk, which means your data is safe in all circumstances!

You can use it in different modes:

  1. Run linux from the stick in persistent mode, it will remember your data
  2. Run Linux in RAM and write the data to the stick before shutdown
  3. Run linux in RAM without remembering the data
  4. Install lubuntu to your hard drive, dual boot with windows or alone.

I have used the last possibility after having used Windows 10 for 2 full days. I have concluded that it is better for my temper not to get ¨help¨ from Micro$oft all the time, and take decisions myself.

It will make me live longer…