How to install multiple bootable operating systems on a USB stick

Do you want to run multiple operating systems from a single USB stick? Maybe boot into a live environment or even install the operating system? Learning to boot from USB is easier than you think!

Multiboot USB drives can host live Linux distributions and installation media for Windows. That is, small operating systems that are explicitly designed to maintain a computer from outside the computer’s operating system.

This article covers several free Windows programs that can create dual-boot and multiboot USB media. Make sure you are using a good quality USB drive, preferably one that is larger than 8 GB.

1. WinSetupFromUSB

WinSetupFromUSB is a highly recommended choice for installing Windows from a USB and multiboot USB. It’s an intuitive multiboot software option. WinSetupFromUSB is only compatible with Windows 2000 / XP and higher as well as Linux and BSD.

  1. Using WinSetupFromUSB is easy. Open the software and select your USB storage device from the drop-down menu.

  2. Next, enable the button next to your preferred operating systems.

  3. Then you need to navigate to the volume that contains the operating system that you want to install on your multiboot USB. When you’re done, click walk Button.

  4. If you’re interested, check out those show protocol Option to display detailed information about the operations.

  5. Finally, when the installation is complete, you will see a Job done Message.

  6. If you want to install a second operating system, try the process again.

Overall, WinSetupFromUSB is pretty easy to use and offers fast write time. It also has a QEMU mode and is a small, portable app.

Download: WinSetupFromUSB (For free)

2. MultiBootUSB

MultiBootUSB is quite a popular open source program for creating a bootable USB flash drive with multiple operating systems. The software is also a portable application, meaning it runs from your USB drive and doesn’t need to be installed. This gives you a lot of flexibility if you want to change something but are away from your home or office computer.

Adding multiple bootable operating system distributions is easy.

  1. Scroll under choose picture and choose your ISO. Note that while MutiBootUSB will run on Windows and Linux, you can only create Linux Live USB systems.

  2. After clicking your image, if you want to save files to the partition, choose the persistence you want and click Install installation .

A great feature of MultiBootUSB is the addition of the QEMU virtualization software, which allows you to test both individual Linux ISOs and your USB stick without restarting your computer.

For an easy way to keep multiple Linux distributions on a USB stick, MultiBootUSB is a great, lightweight option.

Download: MultiBootUSB (For free)

3. XBoot

XBoot has a lot more documentation than MultiBootUSB, but neither program requires a lot of instructions to use. XBoot offers a similar experience and is also a portable medium that makes it convenient for on the go.

Installing XBoot is pretty straightforward.

  1. Double click the executable file and it will open in seconds.

  2. From there it’s really easy to add your ISOs. Just drag and drop them into the main box.

  3. Then click on the Create USB Button. The program will ask you to select the USB drive you want to install the ISOs on and choose the type of bootloader you want to use. If your USB stick is formatted to FAT32, XBoot recommends Syslinux. If the USB stick is formatted to NTFS, Grub4DOS is recommended. You could also choose Do not install a boot loader , but since you want the pen drive to be bootable, you will likely ignore this.

  4. click OK, and we are on the way!

XBoot also has the same QEMU features that you can use to boot a Live CD ISO or the USB stick you just created.

Although it is a somewhat larger program, XBoot works a little faster than MultiBootUSB. Another nice touch is the ability to download ISO files directly through the XBoot downloader.

Download: XBoot (For free)

4. YUMI: your universal multiboot installer

YUMI is a well-respected tool that isn’t as feature-rich as others on this list, but is a solid choice for creating multiboot USB drives.

YUMI has a slightly different workflow. First select the distribution you want from the list before navigating to the ISO on your hard drive or following the link provided to the homepage of your chosen distribution. There are also two different versions of YUMI:

  • YUMI Legacy: Works with NTFS or FAT32 format. BIOS USB boot only.
  • YUMI-UEFI: Only supports FAT32 as well as BIOS and UEFI USB booting via GRUB2 (although this depends on the distribution).

So if you are booting one of the latest versions of Windows, e.g. B. Windows 10 or Windows 11 you will need to select the YUMI UEFI version (unless you are running your BIOS in CMS legacy mode). The UEFI version of YUMI is a relatively new tool at the time of writing, but a handy upgrade with support for modern operating systems. The following images are from YUUMI UEFI.

  1. Select your distribution, in this case Lubuntu, and find the ISO on your hard drive. Alternatively, you can use the Download link Option that takes you to the download page for the selected distribution or operating system.

  2. When you’re done, click Create . It takes a few minutes. You can then repeat the process to add additional operating system images to your drive.

YUMI does not have the QEMU tools from MultiBootUSB or XBoot. But what it does have is the support of countless network administrators and technicians who use it in their daily work lives!

Download: YUMI (For free)

One USB for all your operating systems

In order to use the USB drives you have created, you should know how to change the boot order on your PC so that you can choose which one to boot from each time.

Remember that once the operating system has booted, you cannot switch between operating systems. You need to select the operating system you want to use during the boot process and restart your computer to switch between the different operating systems the way you want to use them. Of course, if you a. want to use

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