How to create an elementary OS Live USB drive in Windows

Elementary OS is one of the best looking Linux distros out there. It is super polished, inspired by Mac OS, and is based on Ubuntu. If you ever desired to take a look at it and wanted to try it out, making a Live USB drive is the way to go.

Here are complete steps on how you can make an elementary OS live USB. You can use the same drive as the installation media in case you loved the test drive and decided to make it as a daily driver too.

Creating elementary OS Live USB on Windows PC

You can grab your free copy of the elementary OS directly from the developer’s website. Note that when you go to download, at first, you may get surprised to see a mandatory LOOKING donation required for activating the download link. Don’t worry; it’s completely free.

All you need to do is enter 0 in the donation box and download link with be available immediately. Alternatively, I still recommend donating to the team for all their hard work in making this beautiful distro.

Step 1) Download the latest elementary OS. You should see an ISO file downloaded. For instance, mine is a 64-bit version: ‘elementaryos-0.3.2-stable-amd64.20151209.iso’

Step 2) Grab a USB drive with at least 1GB capacity. The USB drive will be completely formatted, so make sure you back up any valuable data to somewhere else.

Step 3) Download Rufus utility for Windows – it is a free portable utility and so doesn’t need installation.

Step 4) Launch Rufus. Click on the drop-down list in the ‘Format Options’ and select ‘ISO Image.’ Click on the icon next to it, browse through and select the elementary OS ISO file that you download earlier. Another thing to see in the Rufus settings is the ‘File system,’ which is usually the default FAT system or FAT 32. Set the ‘Partition scheme and target system type,’ which is a typical ‘MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI’ for most PCs and laptops.

Rufus Bootable USB Creator
Rufus Bootable USB Creator

Once you have everything set right, click ‘Start,’ and Rufus should create a bootable elementary OS installation USB for you.

Step 5) The next step is to plug in the USB drive to your computer before starting Windows and boot into it. There are different methods of booting into the USB drive, depending on the PC make and model. Pressing F12, F6, or Esc key during startup works for most computers to get a boot menu. After that, select the USB drive to boot into it.

elementary OS Live USB

After it boots into the elementary OS, you will have to choose the language and then click ‘Try elementary.’ ‘Install elementary’ is for those who would like to install the elementary OS in their PC. ‘Try elementary’ option is to test drive and booting into it as Live CD.

elementary OS installation
elementary OS installation

Welcome to elementary OS Freya! Note that you won’t be able to save anything in this mode. You can, however, access all Windows partitions and their files as well. In case you have Windows 10 installed, and you are trying to access that partition, then you may end up with the denied access error. This is due to Windows 10’s fast startup feature. You have to turn it off to access the Windows 10 file system and documents.

elementary OS desktop
elementary OS desktop

Kiran Kumar
Hi there! I'm Kiran Kumar, founder of FOSSLinux.com. I'm an avid Linux lover and enjoy hands-on with new promising distros. Currently, I'm using Ubuntu as a daily driver and run several other distros such as Fedora, Solus, Manjaro, Debian, and some new ones on my test PC and virtual machines. I have a day job as an Engineer, and this website is one of my favorite past time activities, especially during Winter ;). When I'm not writing for FOSSLinux, I'm seen biking and hiking on scenic trails. I hope you enjoy using this website as much as I do writing for it. Feedback from readers is something that inspires me to do more and spread Linux love!. If you find a time, drop me an email or feedback from the 'Contact' page. Or simply leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Have a good day!

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