COOL TOOL: Throwaway the CDs & DVDs, use your Flash Drive + UNetbootin to install Linux!

I’ll admit it, I still have a floppy-drive attached to my maturing beast, which is primarily used as my day-to-day development box. Floppies come in handy for that odd install of XP or below that require RAID drivers (though you can just use nLite and bundle it by default).

But what about the CD-R’s and DVD-R’s in the days of Cloud Browser based Operating Systems (funny)? I recall burning ISOs like no tomorrow when new versions of Ubuntu were released – and I’m sure everyone else who has gone down the Linux or BSD route has had similar experiences.

But before you go burning that ISO at the next install (maybe Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex at the end of the month) you might want to consider an alternate route – and whats more, I’ll bet you it will install faster on newer systems.

I bought a Corsair Voyager GT 16Gb (pdf info-sheet) flash drive a few months back, whilst I’ve been fairly disappointed that its advertised speed fell short of expectations due to the Samsung manufactering process changes, I still kept it dear to myself having paid about AUD$109 for it. (I name things, the drive was dubbed DrSporky). Even though its rated at about 34MB/S read (so realistically it should do about 25-30MB/s) I’ve managed to clock about 19-21MB/s copying a 500Mb file using Teracopy – a real benchmark not a synthetic test and 8Mbp copying it back to the drive (see below). Nothing to sneeze at, but the difference between the GT and the non-GT was the 30MB/s+ read-speed I figured.

I use it almost daily and it carries around a bootable version of Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) thanks to the multi-platform utility UNetbootin.

UNetbootin is written in C++ using the Qt4 Toolkit engine (full information is available on the Universal Netboot Installer page on Launchpad) so its compatible on Windows and Linux. Simply download the latest version, insert your USB drive and either let UNetBootbin download the distro you’d like to try _or_ browse to the Disk image to one you’ve already grabbed.

Give it a go and see what you think, installing Ubuntu 8.04.1 on a mates system (ASUS P5KPL-CM & Core E2180) took less than 10minutes (at most 20 if you inlude boot and configuration)!!! The best part is that you can easily reuse it easily formatting etc *AND* store your own things ready to utilise whenever you need it.

So the next time you got install _anything_ give UNetbootin ago and make use of that fast USB Drive instead of wasting CD/DVD writables that you usually endup throwing away.

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