How Do I Create a Bootable USB Thumb Drive from an ISO?

ISO files are disk images often used to distribute software. In years past, we burned them to CDs. As the ISOs themselves became larger, we’d burn them to DVDs instead. In either case, we would then boot from the CD or DVD to run whatever the software provided. A good example might be operating system installation DVDs.

More and more machines are coming without optical drives — that is, they don’t have the ability to read a CD or DVD, much less boot from it.

Fortunately, there are tools we can use to take an ISO that contains a bootable image and place it on a USB thumb drive from which you can boot.

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Can a flash drive that has a Linux install on it become infected?

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Leo, I’ve got a USB flash drive with a full persistent bootable installation of Linux on it. Can this flash drive become infected if I plug into a Windows machine with a virus on it? Say at an internet café or a public library?

The answer is yes, no, and maybe. It’s complex, but it’s a good question to ask because the devil is in the details.

Let me explain how this works.

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How risky it is to run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

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I just installed Ubuntu on my 16 GB flash drive. I occasionally use it to edit documents or use the terminal to SSH to my server online, edit server files, and download online files to put on my server. Is my Ubuntu installation something that would cause my drive to wear out fast? There’s hardly any write activity during boot and shutdown. How long should I expect my drive to last?

Unfortunately, there’s no really clear answer to that question. To be honest, I don’t how much Ubuntu is writing to the installed drive, though my guess is probably not a lot. As long as you’re not memory constrained on the machine that you’re using it on, there’s a good chance that it’s mostly reading. When you become memory constrained, Ubuntu may fire up a paging file, which could cause a lot of write activity. But my guess is that Ubuntu itself isn’t doing a whole lot of writing.

I am a bit concerned about the flash drive, but it actually makes sense. Let me explain.

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How Do I Password-protect a Flash Drive?

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I want to put all of my websites and passwords in a text file and store them on a flash drive for safekeeping. How do I password protect it?

There are several different ways to do this.

You can purchase flash drives that have built-in password or PIN protection. They tend to be pricey, but they’re almost perfect for this kind of situation.

Frankly, I don’t recommend them. There are other solutions that are more flexible and less costly.

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