Possible Boot Issues Running Lubuntu OS Natively from USB 3.1 Flash Drive


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Feb 12, 2021
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Hello All,

I figured this forum was the best place to post this question on the site.

OS: Lubuntu 20.04.2 LTS

System Spec: MacBook Air 2013, 1.7 GHz Dual Core I7 Hyper-threading, 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, Apple SSD SM0512F 500GB

SSD Partitions:
  1. EFI 209.7 MB FAT 32
  2. 250 GB Apple_APFS (Mac OS)
  3. 250 GB NTFS (Win 10)
  4. 540 MB Win Recovery
I recently got interested in linux and want to start learning a lot more about using computers on a more technical level. So I bought a 128 GB USB 3.1 Flash Drive and actually want to install the Lubuntu OS onto the USB so I have a mobile OS. That process isn’t an issue as I have the means to do so without affecting any of my current boot sectors (aka a separate computer with easy access to SATA cables preventing any such issue, unlike my MB Air).

As indicated, my goal with this USB is to create an OS environment which I can plug into any computer and run. My only concern is that if I do so, does it put the system’s boot loader at risk? I’m particularly interested in running the OS from the USB on my MB Air, as I can comfortably play around with it and learn wherever I want when I’m on the go while not taking up storage on the SSD. Noted above, the computer has a Mac OS partition and a Windows 10 partition run via bootcamp. Most important by far is the Mac OS, due to critical info it stores, though not a concern as it’s easily backed up. In contrast, I don’t have a large enough NTFS drive to back up my Win 10 partition, though I have critical files there saved to the cloud.

To be 100% clear, both of these OSs are already present on the system and run stably together due to the bootcamp software. Hoping an appeal to a general audience will help me with this very niche idea.

So the TLDR, will running Lubuntu off a usb affect either OS, and if so, what work arounds can I try to ensure their safety? Thanks for all your time and help!

lets see if i can address and correctly understand your question in the most simplistic way . In the process of booting firmware software comes into play and does some hardware initialization. Then it hands over to a boot loader. Now if say you have Linux on a usb and at boot hit appropriate key, you will get a choice via a splash on screen basically which bootloader are you going to choose, the Linux on the usb or the one on your installed hd.

If you choose the usb , then boot loader on your installed Linux is not touched, the bootloader on the usb gets going and brings up the Linux OS on the usb. In this case the Linux on the usb is making use of the PC's hardware its attached to. Probably the only way as live Linux OS affects the files on the installed computer is if you intentionally mount them and do something. Others i'm sure will disagree or agree. By the way either you get an .iso file and use etcher etc , or dd command to put .iso "appropriately" onto usb or you can use Ventoy in which case the .iso is left intact and in fact you can drag and drop several intact .iso onto ventoy formated stick and have chopice of booting any one of them
Running Lubuntu Live from a USB should not mess with the bootloader that's on your Mac.

The only time you have to be concerned about bootloaders is when you decide to install Linux along with other operating systems on your machine.

I've ran many Linux distro's over the years from a Live USB and never had any boot loader issue's.