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Live Disk Creation

Overview

Pop!_OS and Ubuntu are remarkably flexible. You can run a full version of Pop!_OS or Ubuntu from a USB drive (often known as a thumb drive, flash drive, or USB stick) in what's known as a live environment. Using a live environment (live disk) is useful for:

A live disk is a handy tool to have around. Support recommends using a live disk when doing hardware troubleshooting.

Downloading the ISO

In order to install Pop!_OS or Ubuntu, you must first download the .iso image. This is a disk image with the operating system and installer on it. You can download Pop!_OS here or Ubuntu 22.04 here.

Verifying the Download

Verifying your download is an important step: we generate a "checksum" for Pop!_OS images and recommend that you verify that your download matches that checksum before trying to install. This ensures that you've received the full, complete download and that it is not corrupted.

For Ubuntu/Pop!_OS

Assuming you downloaded Pop!_OS to your ~/Downloads folder, open the Terminal ( + T on Pop!_OS or Ctrl + Alt + T on Ubuntu) and run the following command:

For Intel/AMD iso

sha256sum Downloads/pop-os_22.04_amd64_intel_4.iso

For NVIDIA iso

sha256sum Downloads/pop-os_22.04_amd64_nvidia_4.iso

Note: The .iso filenames will change over time, so please make sure you are using the correct .iso filename.

If the checksum does not match the one on the download page, you may need to re-download your copy of Pop!_OS and ensure it completes downloading before re-verifying it.

For Windows

Assuming you downloaded Pop!_OS to your Downloads folder, open the Command Prompt and run the following command:

For Intel/AMD iso

CertUtil -hashfile Downloads\pop-os_22.04_amd64_intel_4.iso sha256

For NVIDIA iso

CertUtil -hashfile Downloads\pop-os_22.04_amd64_nvidia_4.iso sha256

Note: The .iso filenames will change over time, so please make sure you are using the correct .iso filename.

If the checksum does not match the one on the download page, you may need to re-download your copy of Pop!_OS and ensure it completes downloading before re-verifying it.

Making the Bootable Drive

In order to make the bootable live disk, you must have a flash drive and software to write the Pop!_OS .iso image to the drive. There's a variety of applications you can use to write disk images to a flash drive, but for this tutorial, we'll use the Disks utility for Linux and Etcher for macOS/Windows.

For Ubuntu/Pop!_OS

Press the / key then type 'disks' to launch the Disks application.

Disks

Next select the flash drive in the list on left and click on the three dots on the top right of the window. Now select Restore Disk Image... and select the Ubuntu or Pop_OS ISO file. Finally, click the Start Restoring... button and enter your user password.

Disks

Once the flash is complete (should look like the screenshot above), it's time to boot it up on the machine that you want to install Pop!_OS on!

For Windows/macOS

Etcher is an open source app for Windows, macOS, and Linux that allows you to burn disk images to USB drives. You can download it at balena.io/etcher/.

Once you have installed Etcher and downloaded the Pop!_OS.iso image, open up the Etcher application. You should see something like this:

Etcher Startup

Choose Flash from file and then navigate to where you downloaded the Pop!_OS ISO file (typically your "Downloads" folder). Click on the file then and hit the Open button. On Windows, it should look something like this:

Select Pop!_OS iso

Now click on Select Target:

Click on Select Target

Next, select the drive that you want to use by checking the box next to it. It should only show removable drives by default. After the box for your USB stick is checked, click on the Select button:

Flash Drive Select

Now hit the Flash button and it will start writing to the USB drive.

Click Finish

Now you'll see a progress bar, and some information about other projects by Balena, the company that makes Etcher. Wait for it to finish writing to the USB device.

Flashing the drive

When it's complete, you can just close the app.

Flash Complete

Now it's time to boot it up on the machine that you want to install Pop!_OS on!

Booting From the Live Disk

After creating the live disk, insert the USB drive into your computer, then reboot or power on your system. You'll need to tell the computer to boot from the live disk by holding a key right as you power on:

FirmwareLaptopsDesktops
Proprietary FirmwareHold F7/F1/F2Hold F12, F8, or F10
Open FirmwareHold Esc

If done correctly, you should see a boot device selection menu, like one of the following images.

This menu is on our Closed Firmware systems.

Boot Menu

This menu is on our Open Firmware systems.

One Time Boot

Use the arrow keys to select the USB drive, then press Enter to boot the selection.

Pop!_OS will boot into the familiar Pop!_OS desktop.

Live Disk

Using the Live Environment

The list provided at the beginning of the article provides links to other articles on using the live environment for hardware testing, restoration/upgrades, and boot repair.

Repairing an Existing Operating System

Since the live environment is a full Pop!_OS installation, it works just like the normal environment. There are tools and methods that allow to chroot (change root) into the normal installation and work in the existing operating system to repair a broken package or other problem that is preventing normal booting.

Backing Up Files

Perhaps you're reinstalling, or maybe you can't boot but you want to try and recover and back up your files? The live environment will automatically detect and mount most file systems including Linux and Windows. You can then copy files from the disk to another external disk using the familiar Files utility.