How to install Linux on a computer without DVD drive

The -- very old -- laptop of a friend of mine died the other day and I offered to give her my old laptop as a replacement. Problem was, an old version of Windows was installed on my old laptop which I had to get rid of.

Since I did not have any spare Windows product keys at the time, I decided to install Linux on the device instead. While the main reason was that I could do so without paying a dime, it would improve the overall system security as well which is always a good thing.

Since I'm not really a Linux guy, I had to do some research on how to get Linux on the device. Turns out, it is pretty simple and straightforward.

Here is what you need for that:

  1. Grab a copy of the Universal USB Installer from this website.
  2. Download the Linux distribution you want to install, e.g. Ubuntu.
  3. Have a USB Flash Drive at hand with several Gigabyte of storage. I have used an 8GB Lexar Flash Drive for this but you can use more or less any other as well.


install linux usb

Start the Universal USB Installer program on your computer. It is a portable program that you can execute without installation. Once you have agreed to the License Agreement, you select a Linux Distribution (the one you downloaded), the actual ISO image on your hard drive, and the USB Flash Drive letter in the interface.


Insert the USB Flash Drive into a free USB slot on the laptop and boot it up. Depending on its configuration, it may pick up the drive automatically and boot from it, or you may need to modify the boot order in the BIOS prior to that.

I suggest you boot with the stick inserted and check if the Linux boot manager GRUB is loaded. If that is the case, you can proceed with the installation.

If not, monitor the first screen after you hit the power button. It should tell you which key to press to enter BIOS. This is usually F1, F2 or DEL.

When the boot manager is displayed, select install Ubuntu from the options. You can alternatively try it without installation first, which can be useful if you don't know if Ubuntu is the right operating system or if you want to use it without installation.

Once you have made the selection, wait until the installation dialog pops up.

  1. Select the language.
  2. Select whether you want to connect to a wireless network right away. This can be useful to download updates or other programs to the system. You can do so at a later time as well. Pick the wireless access point from the list of detected ones and enter the password to establish the connection, or click quit to skip the step.
  3. The installer will verify that enough drive space is available to store the system (6.4 Gigabyte in this case). If the device is connected to a wireless network, it is possible to select to download updates while installing. It is recommended to select that option to make sure that the distribution is up to date after installation. Last but not least, you can also select to install third-party software for media playback (mp3).
  4. On the next screen, you can select to erase the disk and install Ubuntu, or do something else. Here you can also select to encrypt the installation and use LVM for logical volume management. Depending on your needs, you may want to enable both options.
  5. Select your location in the world on the next step.
  6. Pick the default keyboard layout in the next step.
  7. Then you are asked to select a username and password, and enter a name for the computer as well
  8. Once done, wait for the installer to finish the process. This can take a while depending on the device itself and the selections that you have made during the setup phase.

You are asked to restart the PC after the installation to complete it.

This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News


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