You might have heard about Linux a lot lately or you might have used it at some point. And if you have never tried using it, you must have thought of doing so. As some Linux distros are one of the best operating systems available right now.
But if you are a beginner, installing Linux on your PC might not always be possible. As you might be afraid of losing your data on your PC. You might also be afraid of Linux not supporting your system hardware.
But don’t worry there is a way to use Linux distros that you can use, without modifying a single file on your actual PC. No, I am not talking about installing Linux on Virtual Box. On VirtualBox, you can never know if it supports your system hardware or not.
And performance-wise also Virtual Box installation lags as you have to divide system resources. Instead, I am here talking about installing Linux on USB with persistence. This can be the best way to try out Linux distros without changing your system’s partitions.
What is Linux installation on USB with persistence?
If Linux distro supports USB persistence, then any changes you make and data you save will be present even after you restart your system.
It’s somewhat similar to installing a Linux distro on a normal hard drive. The only major difference is, in place of a hard drive you are using a USB flash drive. But, not every Linux distro supports installation on USB with persistence.
If you just want to use a specific distro that does not support persistence then you can use it in live USB mode. It’s like using Linux installed on your USB. The drawback as compared to persistence mode is, with live mode data gets erased as soon as you restart your PC.
Why to Install Linux on USB with persistence
Before proceeding on How to create a Linux USB with persistence. Let’s first see what are the advantages of doing so.
The first thing almost any beginner is worried about is what if installing Linux somehow damaged data on their systems. This problem vanishes as you are not installing Linux on any of your system partitions.
Now as you are installing on a USB another major benefit you have is your system is not restricted to any PC. You carry your OS in your pocket, just plug in the USB flash drive in any PC, and you can use it.
Now since you can directly use Linux on your system. You can be sure about if drivers are available and everything works properly or not. So when you are ready to install Linux on your hard drive you will already know what will work and what-not.
The other major thing is performance. As it utilizes your complete system hardware, you will know the performance as if it was installed on your actual hard drive. Now you might be wondering, okay but what is USB with persistence.
So here is the list of the best Linux distros that support installation on USB with persistence. If you don’t know which Linux distro should you use here is the answer.
How to Install Linux on USB with persistence
For this tutorial, we are going to install Kali Linux on USB with persistence. You can use any other Linux distro also.
Minimum System Requirements For Kali Linux
- Minimum 1GB of RAM (Recommend 2GB or more)
- A USB drive of minimum 8GB(higher recommended)
- Rufus for Windows as it’s open-source and it’s easy to create persistence using Rufus.
Let’s begin installing and if you face any issues do let us know in comments. We are assuming that you are using Windows.
Step 1: Download the latest version of Kali Linux
Download the Kali Linux live ISO file image from the Official site of Kali Linux. While downloading also be sure to download SHA256SUMS and SHA256SUMS.gpg files that are next to the image. Verify these signatures before proceeding to installation. This will ensure that files you have downloaded are from legitimate Kali servers.
Step 2: Create a USB drive with Kali and persistence
- Plug a USB drive in the computer (Note: It will get formatted and all data on that USB drive will be erased). Rufus auto-selects the USB drive but If there are multiple drives plugged in just check and select the one you want to use.
- Press Select and browse to the downloaded Image of Kali Linux and select it.
- Allot the amount of space you want to allocate to the persistence storage of Kali Linux(Depending on the capacity of your USB drive).
- Verify the Target system is at BIOS or UEFI(So that you can use this USB in both old legacy as well as new computers).
- Click Start and a prompt will appear warning you all data on that USB drive will be erased click OK(This will erase all your previous data on that USB drive).
Step 4: Boot from USB
Restart your Computer and at start press Boot key which is generally F10 or F12. Else a google search with your motherboard name will let you know boot key. The system will show you the option to choose the boot drive, select the USB drive with Kali to boot.
Or else Open BIOS menu by pressing F2 or ESC at startup. Then in the Boot tab bring USB at top priority.
In Kali boot screen select Kali with Persistence option and press enter. Now login in Kali Linux live system, use default username as kali and password as kali (keep this mind till you change it to something else).
This completes the install of Kali Linux on USB with persistence. Now you can verify if the persistence is working properly, just create an empty folder on Desktop. If it remains after reboot persistence is working properly so no need to worry. But if there are some problems you can always ask in the comment.
Now try using this best way to install a Linux distro without even changing your system partitions. And tell us in the comments do you like it.
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