Linux Mint is an extremely easy version of Ubuntu. It is well suited for ordinary users who come from Windows as it offers same level of easy and familiarity with the interface, Unity on the contrary may scare people off. We have a detailed manual about how to install Linux Mint on your desktop, laptop. But what if you just want to test full fledge Linux on your desktop without touching your hard-drive? No, I am not talking about the Live version. The live version is not good if you want to see if wi-fi or graphics drivers work well because you may need to restart the PC which will remove all the drivers or applications that you installed.
We got a query from our reader Mauro Chojrin: "I have a live usb for linux mint 11 created pretty much the way you describe here. Now, I'd like to save my stuff on the usb disk (some drivers like wifi, pidgin accounts, etc...) so I can fully test it before replacing my current installation (Mint 10). How can I achieve this? Thanks!"
The solution which I find to be the easiest is installing Linux Mint on a USB drive and test it on any machine you want -- experiencing full installation.
Before we start we need:
1. 2 USB sticks larger than 4GB capacity. One will be the LiveUSB of Linux Mint and the other one will be used as a medium where we will install Linux Mint
2. A PC capable of booting from USB
3. Device info which we will find now
Plug-in the USB Drive on which you want to install Linux Mint portable. Go to the Disk Utility feature and take a note of the device name of the USB on which you will be 'installing' the Linux Mint. As you can see in the window below the name of the device in my case was /sdc
Now, plug-in the LiveUSB of Linux Mint (read this manual how to create LiveUSB of Linux Mint) and restart your PC. Boot from the Live USB and follow these instructions to install Linux Mint on a USB. After restarting you will see this screen. In order to install Linux Mint 11, click on the Install Linux Mint button.
1. Select Language and click forward. English is the default language which you can easily change → forward
2. Preparing To Install Linux Mint → Forward
A window may pop-up warning you about a mounted partition. It is the same partition which is being used as the Live USB. So you can select No.
3. Allocate Drive Space: Select "Something Else" on this window → Forward.
4. You can see Free Space of your USB. If there is data on it, you can highlight the partition and click on Delete button which will erase all data and make free space for installation. Be careful and select the right partition. Select the free space and click Add
5. Create root for your portable Linux Mint
– Type for the new partition: Primary
– New Partition size in megabytes: Keep 1 GB for swap and enter the remaining space. In my case I have a 16GB so I gave 14GB to root.
– Location of the new partition: Beginning
– Use as: Ext4
– Mount Point: select / from drop down
→ Now click OK. It will scan the drive and create the root partition.
6. Create Swap for Linux Mint 11
Now we need to create a Swap partition. Select the free space and click on Add. A window will open.
– Type for the new partition: Logical
– New partition size in megabytes: You may give 1GB.
– Location for the new partition: Beginning
– Use as : select 'swap area' from the drop down menu.
– There is no option of mount point.
→ Click OK.
Now you can see the newly created root and swap partitions.
7. IMP: Now you can see "Device for boot loader installtion" at the bottom of the page. Select the USB drive from the drop down menu. Make sure it is the same USB Device which you noted from the Disk Utility. Select the root of the drive and not the one which is followed by a number. Example: select /sdx and not /sdx1. If you made any mistake at this stage you may wipe the stable partition on your PC.
8. Where are you. You will see a Map, you can select your location by either pin-pointing your position on the map or entering the region in the box below.
9. Keyboard Layout. If you are using non-American/English keyboard, you can select the language here. Once selected you can test if it is correct by typing in the box
10. Who are you?
In this window you have to enter your name. It will automatically create the computer name, which you can change if you want. It will also suggest a username which you can change in 'Pick a username' box. You will need this username to log into your system.
Next option is password. Create a good password and confirm it. If you want to skip the login window every time you restart your PC, you can select 'Log in automatically.
You can leave the Encrypt my home folder unchecked. → Forward
11. Now there isn't much for you to do. Linux Mint will start the installation process which will take couple of minutes. During the installation process you can enjoy the slideshow about the cool features of Linux Mint.
12. Once the installation is finished, click on the 'Restart' button to reboot the PC into your new system. Remove the CD/DVD or the LiveUSB before the PC starts otherwise it will boot into the Live Linux Mint again.
Now, your portable USB of Linux Mint is ready. You can insert this USB in any PC and run entire of from this drive. What ever you will install -- driver or software on this USB will remain on it and you can use it over and over.
Share your experience with us.