Move WUBI to a USB Flash Drive

WUBI on USB? In the following tutorial, I'll show you how we moved a WUBI Ubuntu install to a USB Flash Drive. This is a followup of our previous move WUBI to External Hard Drive tutorial as it appears WUBI currently utilizes a different set of features and GRUB2 has replaced GRUB, making the previous tutorial obsolete.

What is really neat about Ubuntu's WUBI installer is that it utilizes a disk image to house the entire operating system, making it very portable already. You basically just need a bootloader to go with it to make it run from USB. Moreover, since the filesystem on your USB is NTFS, you can still use the device to store files in Windows.

Prerequisites for the following WUBI to USB tutorial

  • WUBI pre-installed on Windows
  • HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool 2.2.3
  • USB flash drive or external hard drive (capacity must be greater than the local Ubuntu folder)

Ubuntu and WUBI are products of Canonical Ltd
The USB Format Tool is a product of Hirens

How We Moved WUBI to a USB Flash Drive

  1. Download the HP USB Format tool, and format your USB Flash Drive using the NTFS file system
  2. Copy the following folders and files from your C: drive to the root of your USB device

    ubuntu

    wubildr

    wubildr.mbr

  3. Download and extract grubinst then run grubinst_gui.exe
    (right click – run as administrator in Vista/Win7)
  4. From the Grub4DOS Installer:
    (1) Select your USB Disk from the drop down
    (2) Click Refresh Part List
    (3) Select Whole disk [MBR] from the drop down
    (4) Type wubildr for the Boot File
    (5) Click Install
    Grub4Dos Installer Options
  5. Reboot your PC with your BIOS set to Boot from the USB Device
  6. Highlight the first entry in the Grub2 Menu and Press E to edit WUBI Grub2 Menu - Press E to edit the first selection
  7. Do the following while in edit mode: (see troubleshooting tips)
    (1) Delete all lines before line linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31
    (2) Change root=/dev/sda2 to root=/dev/sdb1
    (3) Press Ctrl+X to boot Modify WUBI Grub2 Boot Configuration
  8. Your WUBI install should now be booting from your USB device
  9. Once booted, open a terminal and type update-grub
  10. Reboot and try out your USB WUBI Install

Notes: update-grub automagically configures the new grub.conf file based on what it has detected from the running environment.

* Once you have verified that your portable WUBI boots, you can uninstall the local WUBI install from your PC. Just make sure to remove the USB device before uninstalling.

Additionally, to gain about 691MB of space, you can delete the "install" and "winboot" folders and the "uninstall-wubi.exe" file from the "ubuntu" folder on your USB device.

Troubleshooting Tips:

If Grub cant find your USB Wubi install, you can try a different root=/dev/sdx# during step 7 above:

Example, if your computer contains no other SATA devices:

root=/dev/sda1

Example, if your computer contains two other SATA devices:

root=/dev/sdc1

Disclaimer