How to Run Ubuntu From an SD Card

Written by ben lingenfelter
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How to Run Ubuntu From an SD Card
Put Linux on an SD card for maximum portability. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The combination of Linux stability and SD card portability makes the installation of Ubuntu onto an SD card tempting indeed. And it's possible. You can install Ubuntu onto a 4 GB or larger capacity SD card, put it in your pocket, wallet or briefcase and take it with you wherever you go. You can boot the same system on every computer you use, whether at home, work, the library or wherever.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Install Linux Live USB Creator. The install can be found at Linux Live USB Creator's website. Download the most recent version.

  2. 2

    Download the .ISO image for the Ubuntu version you want to use on the SD card.

  3. 3

    Start LiLi (Linux Live USB Creator). Select the "USB Key" (the SD card) and the "Source" (.ISO image you downloaded).

  4. 4

    Wait while LiLi checks your .ISO. Check all three boxes in "Step 4: Options" and then move the "Step 3: Persistence" slider to at least 500 MB.

  5. 5

    Click the Lightning Bolt symbol in Step 5 to install the system onto the SD card.

  6. 6

    Reboot and your computer should boot from the SD card.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure that you have changed the boot order settings in your BIOS so that your computer looks for a system in the USB/Flash drives before the CD/DVD drives and hard drive. You can do this by hitting whichever F key you see flashed at you during the initial stage of start-up. "Press F_ to Enter Setup" will flash right at the beginning of start-up. Hit that F key, often "F10" or "F2," but sometimes it's "Esc" or "Del." Once in, it is usually easy to find the Boot Order menu and to move the SD card option above the others.

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