Universal USB Installer – Boot from USB

Universal USB Installer (Imager) aka UUI is a Live Linux Bootable USB Creator Software. This ISO to USB imaging tool allows users to easily Boot from USB. Make a flash drive boot from a Linux distribution, Windows Installer, Windows to Go, Antivirus Scanner, Disk Cloning software or other System tool that can be made to run from removable media.

The software is as easy as 1,2,3 to use. Simply choose your distribution from the list, browse to the ISO file, select your target flash drive, and then click Create. Once finished, you should have a ready to run Live USB containing the Live Operating System, Windows Installer, or System Diagnostics utility you previously selected.

Unlike tools which simply use the DD (Copy and Convert) command to directly burn an ISO to a USB flash drive, UUI includes several other methods that natively allow you to continue using your removable device for storage purposes, whilst including a “Try via DD” option. The DD method of copying, also known as Data Destroyer works by overwriting the entire file system, making the device appear as a CD/DVD which is limited to the size of the ISO file. However, it may be possible to recover lost drive space and then create an exFAT partition for continued storage purposes.

Another key feature of UUI is the use of persistent storage, where available. This persistence feature allows you to save some changes and then restore them on subsequent boots. Ubuntu based Casper persistence works with FAT32 or NTFS formatted drives. An option to use a larger than 4GB casper-rw or live-rw persistent block file, (also known as an overlay image) is possible when the drive is formatted with an NTFS filesystem.

NOTE: If you are looking to add multiple Live Linux distributions, System Diagnostic Tools, Antivirus Utilities, and Windows Installers, you should use YUMI Multiboot Software, instead. As a multisystem tool can help you Boot Multiple ISO files from one flash drive.

Universal USB Installer (UUI)

Universal USB Installer Steps

Universal USB Installer - Progress Window

Download Universal USB Installer (UUI)

25 Nov 2021 Universal-USB-Installer-2.0.0.9.exe: Fixed to allow spaces in Windows user profile.

SHA-256:EB253493F0B1C6FDDB45A728CDBAD004C9B7E99EDB6B6FA28071889E04329744

Requirements to Create a Live Bootable USB Flash Drive

IMPORTANT: UUI shows drives detected by Windows as removable media. See the best recommended SSD Fast Flash Drives.

Your flash drive must be Fat32/NTFS formatted, otherwise Syslinux will fail to install an MBR (Master Boot Record), and as a result the device will NOT Boot.
Additionally, the Windows to Go option requires an NTFS formatted device with 20GB free disk space to hold the virtual disk. See FAQ for more info.

  • Universal-USB-Installer-2.0.0.9.exe to make the bootable drive.
  • Windows 11, 10, 8, 7 Operating System to run UUI.
  • Greater than 2GB *Fat32 or NTFS formatted flash drive. MBR partition table.
  • Computer with a BIOS that can boot from USB.
  • Your Favorite Linux ISO File.

Feel free to inform me of any unlisted Live Linux distributions that should be included or version revisions, and I will do my best to update the UUI tool to support them.

Universal USB Installer Changelog

The following Changelog outlines any recent changes made to the software. Only the latest revisions are listed.

  • 25 Nov 2021 – Version 2.0.9: Fixed to allow spaces in Windows user profile.
  • 18 Oct 2021 – Version 2.0.8: Updated to support writable persistence for Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu versions 20.04+.
  • 29 Aug 2021 – Version 2.0.7: Added Wipe option to reformat and restore a flash drive. Included a Try via DD option. Updated Archbang and Archlinux to use dd rawwrite method. Updated AmogOS download link.
  • 04 Aug 2021 – Version 2.0.6: Updated AmogOS with persistence download link.
  • 23 Jul, 2021 – Version 2.0.5: Updated to support AmogOS and HDClone.
  • 04 May 2021 – Version 2.0.4: Re-enabled the ability to run from earlier versions of Windows. Moved checkpoint to simply prevent NTFS format option from appearing on systems prior to Windows 8.
  • 26 Apr 2021 – Version 2.0.0.3a: quick revision to disallow (Disk 0) from being displayed.
  • 26 Apr 2021 – Version 2.0.0.3: Set to show local drives in addition to removable flash drives. Included a confirmation prompt before proceeding to format a device. Implemented a checkpoint to prevent running from Operating Systems prior to Windows 8.
  • 16 Apr 2021 – Version 2.0.0.2: Performed general cleanup of unused code. Fixed the broken Debian Live entry. Removed the Wipe option. Also switched to list only removable media. Note that devices listed as local (fixed) disks will no longer be detected.
  • 19 Mar 2021 – Version 2.0.0.1: Fixed Zorin persistence feature. Updated to support newer Clonezilla and OpenSUSE. Also removed old distros that are no longer in development.
  • 03 Dec 2020 – Version 2.0.0.0: Recompiled the tool using the newer Nullsoft Scriptable Install System Version 3.06.1.

UUI Supported Bootable USB ISO files

The Universal USB Installer (UUI) might be used to make a Bootable USB from ISO of the following Live Linux Portable Operating Systems, Windows Installers, Windows PE, System Diagnostic Tools, Cloning Tools, and Antivirus Utilities.

This ISO to USB Boot list is not all inclusive. Almost any Live ISO files can be converted.

Bootable USB Ubuntu (with persistence)

  • Ubuntu Live
  • Xubuntu Live
  • Kubuntu Live
  • Lubuntu Live
  • Edubuntu Live
  • Ubuntu Live Server Installer
  • Blackbuntu

USB Boot Linux Mint (with persistence)

  • Linux Mint
  • Linux Mint Debian Edition

USB Debian Live/Netinst Bit

  • Debian Netinst
  • Debian Live

Backtrack – USB Kali Linux (with persistence)

  • Kali Linux
  • Backtrack

USB Fedora

  • Fedora Desktop

USB OpenSUSE

  • OpenSUSE 32bit
  • *OpenSUSE 64bit

USB Puppy Linux Based

  • Fatdog64
  • Lighthouse Puppy
  • Lucid Puppy
  • Precise Puppy
  • Puppy Arcade
  • Puppy 4.3.1
  • Racy Puppy
  • Slacko Puppy
  • Wary Puppy

Linux Distros for Kids

  • DouDouLinux
  • Qimo 4 Kids 2.0
  • Sugar on a Stick

Other Bootable Distros Alphabetical

  • amogOS
  • AOMEI (Disk Cloning and Backup Tool)
  • Acronis Rescue CD
  • Android
  • AntiX
  • Antergos
  • ArchBang
  • ArchLinux
  • ArtistX
  • Aurora
  • BackBox
  • Baltix Linux
  • BCCD
  • BlehOS
  • Bodhi
  • Boot Repair Disk
  • Carmedia
  • CentOS
  • Chakra
  • Clonezilla
  • Crunchbang
  • DBAN 2.2.X
  • Deft Linux
  • Deepin Linux
  • DRBL
  • DSL 4.4.10
  • Dreamlinux
  • Dynebolic
  • EASUS Disk Copy
  • EasyPeasy
  • Elementary OS
  • Elementary Unleashed
  • Feather Linux
  • Finnix
  • Fuduntu
  • Fusion Linux
  • Gamedrift
  • Gentoo
  • GEEXBOX
  • gNewSense
  • GRML
  • gOS gadgets
  • GParted
  • Jolicloud
  • Kiwi
  • KNOPPIX
  • Kororaa
  • KXStudio
  • Leeenux
  • Liberte
  • LinHES
  • Linux XP Like
  • LPS
  • Macbuntu
  • Mandriva One 2011
  • Matriux
  • MCNLive Toronto
  • Meego
  • MicroCore
  • Netrunner
  • Ophcrack
  • OSGeo Live
  • Pardus
  • PartedMagic
  • PCLinuxOS
  • Pear OS
  • Peppermint
  • PING
  • Pinguy OS
  • Plasma active
  • PLoP Linux
  • Porteus
  • Redo Backup
  • Rescatux
  • RIP Linux
  • Runt Linux
  • Sabayon Linux
  • SalineOS
  • Satux
  • Simply MEPIS
  • SLAX
  • SliTaZ
  • Sn0wL1nuX
  • SolusOS
  • System Rescue CD
  • Tails
  • Terralinux
  • TinyCore
  • Trisquel
  • Uberstudent
  • Ultimate Boot CD
  • Ultimate Edition
  • WifiWay
  • WifiSlax
  • xPUD
  • XBMC
  • XBMCbuntu
  • StartOS
  • wattOS R5
  • Zenwalk Live
  • Zorin OS

USB Boot Live Antivirus Rescue CDs

  • AOSS (Malware Scanner)
  • AVG Rescue CD
  • Avira Antivir Rescue Disk
  • Bitdefender Rescue CD
  • Comodo Rescue Disk
  • DrWeb LiveCD
  • F-Secure Rescue CD
  • G DATA Antivirus
  • Kaspersky Rescue Disk
  • Panda Safe CD
  • Trinity Rescue Kit

Other USB Bootable Software

  • Falcon 4 Boot CD
  • Hiren’s Boot CD
  • Kon-Boot
  • Sergei Strelec

Windows to Go + Install Windows from USB

  • Windows to Go (on VHD)
  • Windows 10 8 7 Installer

Try an Unsupported Bootable ISO

  • Try Unlisted Linux ISO files

More Live ISOs, USB Windows Installers, portable Linux distributions and System tools will be added as time permits. Feel free to contact me to submit your recommendations and suggestions.

Troubleshooting, Issues, Bugs

The Windows to Go option does require the drive be NTFS formatted and have 20GB+ free space to hold the virtual disk. Most of the flash drives found at local department stores won’t be fast enough. You will need a very fast solid state flash drive. When Windows boots from the pendrive for the first time, it will go through the setup process and then reboot. You will need to boot using your Windows to Go flash drive a second time to finalize the setup process. And then finally boot into your full Portable Windows.

The tool expects the Volume Label of your device to be UUI in order for OpenSUSE, CentOS and a few other distributions to boot. It does attempt to automatically create this Label, but may fail. So make sure it remains UUI in order to allow those distributions to boot.

Persistence feature is currently broken with Newer Debian based distributions. This is due to upstream changes. In that Debian now requires a rename of the persistent block file and label from live-rw to persistence . In addition, it must house a persistence.conf file containing the text / Union. I plan to make all of the necessary changes and then provide a fix as time allows.

If you’re using Universal-USB-Installer-2.0.0.9.exe and you still receive Insane primary (MBR) partition notices,

Insane primary (MBR) partition. Can’t find myself on the drive I booted from

Your flash drive may be improperly formatted, contains more than one partition or MBR, or your BIOS is not properly detecting the device. In which case your firmware probably needs to be updated. You can also try to Format and Restore a USB.

An Error (1) occurred while executing syslinux

If you encounter a message stating;

An error (1) occurred while executing syslinux. Your USB drive won’t be bootable.

An error (1) occurred executing syslinux

The most likely cause is that the device is formatted as exFAT or some other unsupported format. You’ll need to reformat as fat32 (currently preferred) or NTFS.

My PC wont Boot from my Flash Drive, but supports USB boot!

Older flash drives shipped USB-FDD formatted and some systems will not boot USB-FDD. However, I have found that most systems can boot USB-ZIP, and or USB-HDD. If you are having a hard time getting your BIOS to detect your flash drive, reformat it. Then try again to see if your BIOS can detect and boot from it.

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • If you are running a Windows Vista or 7 Installer from your thumb-drive, after the first reboot, remove the thumb-drive and let the pc complete from the hard disk.
  • When browsing for an ISO, UUI will only display ISO Files that match what the tool is asking for. For example, if you chose to install ubuntu-20.10- Desktop-i386, the tool might not display your ubuntu-20.10-Server-i386.iso because you have not selected the server variant. However, you can force all ISO files to be shown by clicking the Show All ISOs box.

Auto Detection: If you also run UUI from the same directory containing an installable ISO, the script will auto detect the ISO and bypass step 2.

Universal USB Installer auto detection of ISO in same folder

* Although you can use an NTFS format, Ubuntu based “persistence” features will only work with a Fat16 or Fat32 formatted drives. In addition, some Linux distributions will not boot if the drive is NTFS formatted.

Again, UUI does not support booting from multiple Live Linux distros. Only one distribution can be installed per drive. However the YUMI can be used to create a Multi System USB boot device.

To try an ISO that isn’t listed, simply choose one of the the last three options in Step 1. I recommend “Try Unlisted Linux ISO (GRUB)” because it seems to be the most successful. Feel free to inform me of unlisted “Linux ISOs” you get to work via these options, so I can add them to the supported list.

OpenSUSE DVD and other ISOs with a single file that exceed 4GB will not work due to the Fat32 file size limitation.

The Universal USB Installer will NOT currently work from within Linux using WINE due to drive detection and privilege issues. I plan to revisit this issue when I find some spare time.