Note: This tutorial’s fraternal twin, Install GNU/Linux without a CD – using a liveUSB or external hard drive, is here .
Maybe you just don’t like to burn every distribution to a CD and fill the landfills with CD’s they only used once or twice. Maybe you don’t have a CD or DVD drive on your computer (e.g., if you have a netbook), or don’t happen to have any CD-R’s or CD-RW’s on hand. You may like the fact that installing off of a USB key or straight off a hard drive is considerably faster than installing from a CD. The USB key option also offers easier portability – if you happen to run into someone out there who would like GNU + Linux installed, it’s easier to have your USB key with you all the time than a CD. Or you may have multiple computers to install to, and it’s faster to have them all pull the installation files from a central location than to burn a bunch of CD’s every time.
There are a few ways to go about CD-less installations, but I’m going to cover the 2 most common ones. One is by using an external storage device that plugs into a port, such as a USB key or external hard drive (shown on another tutorial). The other is by creating a separate partition for this purpose on your internal hard drive, the one that’s already inside your computer (shown on this tutorial). Here are some quick facts about both to help you decide which will work best for you.
- simpler setup
- you can use it on more than one computer
- won’t work on older computers
- small portable devices are easily lost or stolen
- an external device is one more thing to remember to bring and carry around
internal hard drive:
- works great on older computers
- it’s always with your computer; no worrying about loss, theft, or forgetting to bring it
- usable only on the computer you’ve set it up on
- less straightforward setup – especially if you’re not familiar with hard drive partitioning
- more potential for messing up your existing data if you’re not careful – again, especially if you’re not familiar with hard drive partitioning
- the hard drive partitioning part only needs to be done once, so you don’t have to do it again if you decide to change to a different virtual CD later