7 Linux portable distro that supports installation on a USB

Do you need to travel or use public computers a lot, then what better way to carry your own Linux system with you. For that all you need in a USB flash drive and a portable Linux distro. This allows you to be light on weight while traveling as well as to be secure when using public computers.

Installing Linux on USB drive flash drive has various advantages. And one major advantage is that you get to carry your own PC in your pocket. So let’s see which are these Linux distros that you can install on a USB flash drive.

Note: This list is not in any particular order so that you can choose the Linux distro based on your use and what you want to do with it.

1. Kali Linux

Kali linux for hackers and penetration testers

Kali has recently got very popular specially since people have started hearing about hacking and hackers. Nowadays in this world of technology almost everyone has though atleast once of becoming a hacker. And for this dream of hacking Kali Linux seems to be the first choice for many.

Thats why with rise in term of hackers and hacking enthusiast Kali Linux has become popular. Chances are you also have already heard about Kali Linux. But what you might not know is Kali Linux supports installation on USB with persistence.

So that you don’t always have to install Kali on your main system. Installing Kali Linux on USB comes with various advantages other than being easy to carry. You can install Kali Linux on USB and whatever you do with Kali Linux will not leave any trace on the host system it was being used on. Kali Linux also supports installation with Encryption of data this makes your data on USB secure.

But one thing that I would like to recommend is if you are not into penetration testing or digital forensics or any kind of hacking stuff, then don’t try using it for general purposes. Kali is a special Linux distro with a portable option and a specific purpose which it can serve very well. But for general usage there are various other distros, about which we are going to talk later in this article.

If you want to know here is how to install Linux on USB with persistence.

2. MX Linux

MX Linux light regular Linux

MX Linux is based on Debian and is described as a midweight Linux distro. It uses a lean Xfce desktop environment, which is a light and fast desktop environment. This could bring a new life to even the old PC’s. This is very beneficial when you want to install Linux on a USB flash drive.

This makes the booting and use of the Linux system from USB faster. Although this might not look fancy and smooth like other desktop environments because it’s a very lean desktop environment. But it will surely offer you decent speed and performance. This is required as read and write speed of a USB flash drive are normally slower as compared to SSD’s and hard drives.

MX Linux is easy to install Linux distro and also comes pre-installed with various basic software. This will make your experience using MX Linux great from the first boot. And as it’s based on the stable version of Debian that means the stability should also not be a concern.

It looks good from the first boot and also comes pre-installed with a set of tools that should make your experience using MX Linux great. MX Linux with its lightweight interface should make it suitable for installation on a USB.

3. Tails OS

Tails is a privacy focused portable Linux distro

Tails is a privacy-focused OS that is created to install on a USB flash drive and use a live operating system. This is the special distro for those who constantly worry about their online privacy. Tails aim to offer you anonymity in this world of constant tacking.

It is said even Edward Snowden used Tails OS to protect his e-mails and data transfers. This is possible as every communication from Tails OS is done over the Tor network using the Tor Browser.

Tails might not be your regular home distro. But you can use it for privacy-focused connection and anonymity even when you are traveling. Tails do not store anything on the host computer it was booted on unless explicitly specified.

So if you are travelling and are going to use public computers then Tails can be useful to you, to provide secure and anomality online.

4. Slax

Slax is a lightweight Linux distro

Slax is another portable Linux distro that you can carry around with you. You just need to format the USB drive with Ext4 format and then copy the extracted ISO file to USB, this will allow you to use fully functional Linux OS.

Without any changes, you can use this Linux distro directly from a USB. Slax supports persistence that allows you to install apps and make changes without losing them after reboot.

Slax has a minimal design and comes with a Fluxbox windows manager by default. It’s there to make Slax lighter and faster as USB flash drives generally have low read and write speeds. Slax also comes preinstalled with Wicd network manager and wireless drivers.

You can easily customize Slax according to your needs. So if you are looking for a lightweight regular Linux distro that is easy to use and easy to customize than Slax can be a great choice for you.

5. Ubuntu Game Pack

Ubuntu Game pack is a portable Linux Gaming distro

Live USB sticks are not only about a regular Linux distro or having Anominity online. But you can also game on a PC using a portable USB drive using Ubuntu Game Pack. It makes your USB flash drive a portable Gaming console, that supports around 55000 games.

Now you just need to plug this USB into a PC and you are ready to enjoy your favorite gaming title. In this setup, you are limited to the hardware capability of the host computer on which you have plugged in the USB. But if you stick with titles having medium hardware requirements you should be able to play games without much problems.

Ubuntu Games pack comes preinstalled with Steam to help you get easily started. Steam allows you to play your existing library of titles. It also comes with Lutirs or you can also use PlayOnLinux or Wine.

This can be heplfull to you if you are travelling and are at your friends/relatives place. Then you can just plug your USB with Ubuntu Gamepack in the PC nearby and enjoy your favorite games.

6. Porteus

Porteus as a Portable Linux distro

Porteus is a completely optimized Linux operating system created to run from a USB flash drive. It also a very light and fast operating system, that comes with the LXDE desktop environment. It comes under 300 MB and offers a fast regular distro.

Porteus can work like a alternative to Slax if you don’t want to use Slax. But this doesn’t mean Porteus is lesser in any manner. Its also a very nice Linux distro and comes with KDE desktop edition. Even though KDE is some what heavier than other desktop environments Porteus still manages it with easily.

It comes preinstalled with various basic apps to make your experience great from first boot. So if you are looking for a portable Linux distro with KDE then Porteus can be suitable for you.

7. Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux as a portable Linux distro

Puppy is an ultralight OS that is fast and versatile and comes with an easy to use interface. Its a collection of various Linux distros and comes with puppy specific tools to make it very light.

So if you are looking for a fast and light Linux distro that will boot fast and will work easily on even older than Puppy Linux is for you.


Now you might be thinking are USB sticks with Linux distros really worth the effort? So yes as you can easily carry multiple systems with you. Apart from that, you can also install Linux such as Tails OS that grants you anonymity online.

The other major advantage with a portable Linux distro on USB is you can use multiple Linux operating system without actually dual-booting your system.

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