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UNetbootin allows for the installation of various Linux/BSD distributions to a partition or USB drive, so it's no different from a standard install, only it doesn't need a CD. It can create a dual-boot install, or replace the existing OS entirely. This is meant for people who want to create a bootable USB drive or install Linux without using a CD. The following versions are available, and support their respective distributions (though others can also be installed using the Generic version, provided that you have ther required kernel and initrd or floppy/hard disk image):

Generic UNetbootin Loader: can install Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, CentOS, Debian, Frugalware, FreeBSD, or NetBSD. Can also load floppy/hard disk images, or kernel/initrds, for installing other distributions.
Browse older UNetbootin downloads (other distros/versions, rpm/deb/sh packages)


NOTE: The following versions are depreciated. Use the Generic Version instead.
Ubuntu (and official derivatives) 7.10, 7.04, 6.10, 6.06 LTS, and upcoming 8.04 LTS
Fedora 8, 7, and Rawhide
openSUSE 10.3, 10.2, and Factory
PCLinuxOS 2008
CentOS 5.1
Debian Stable/Etch, Testing/Lenny, and Unstable/Sid
ArchLinux 2007.08
FreeBSD 7.0 and 6.3
NetBSD 4.0
Frugalware Linux Stable, Testing, and Current
Foresight Linux 1.4.2
Damn Small Linux 4.2.4
VectorLinux 5.9
Mandriva 2008.0 and 2007.1
Slackware 12.0

UNetbootin can also be used to load various system utilities, including:

Parted Magic, a partition manager that can resize, repair, backup, and restore partitions
Super Grub Disk, a boot utility that can restore and repair overwritten and misconfigured GRUB installs or directly boot various operating systems
Gujin, a graphical bootloader that can also be used to boot various operating systems and media.
Smart Boot Manager (SBM), which can boot off CD-ROM and floppy drives on computers with a faulty BIOS
Offline NT Registry and Password Editor, which can reset forgotten Windows passwords
FreeDOS, which can run BIOS flash and other legacy DOS utilities.

UNetbootin uses a Windows or Linux-based installer to install a small modification to the bootloader (bootmgr and bcdedit on Vista, grldr and boot.ini for NT-based systems, grub.exe and config.sys for Win9x, or grub on Linux), uses the bootloader to boot the desired distribution's installer or to load the system utility, no CD required. After the distribution has been installed, or once done using the system utility, the modification to the bootloader is then undone.



Installation Instructions

Before installing, remember to back up all your data, in case you do something wrong in the partitioning stage of the installer. Then, download the appropriate file for your existing OS (UNetbootin Windows Version or UNetbootin Linux version).

  1. If using Windows, run the file, select a distribution, floppy/hard disk image, or kernel/initrd to load, select a target drive (HDD/USB), then reboot once done.

  2. If using Linux, install dependencies (libqt4), make the file executable (using either the command "chmod +x unetbootin-linux", or going to Properties->Permissions and checking "Execute"), then start the application, and select a distribution and install target (Hard Disk or USB Drive), then reboot when prompted.

  3. After rebooting, select the UNetbootin entry from the menu list as the system boots up. If using Windows, this should appear:

  4. If using Linux, select the UNetbootin entry in the GRUB menu, as shown below:

  5. Then, follow the installation instructions provided for specific distributions further below, and wait as the packages are downloaded and installed. This portion of the installation can take up to several hours, depending on your connection speed and the amount of packages you install, so be patient.
  6. Reboot, and select your newly installed GNU/Linux system to run.

Ubuntu Instructions

There is a screenshot-based guide for installing Ubuntu or Fedora using UNetbootin at HowtoForge. A text-based guide is also available at the forums.

Note that if installing Ubuntu or its derivatives (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Gobuntu, UbuntuStudio, Ubuntu Server, etc) you MUST select a desktop environment package at the "Software Selection" stage of installation, or you will be left in a commandline-only system with no GUI. To select a package for installation, first hover over the entry, such as "Ubuntu desktop", then mark it by pressing "SPACE" so that an asterisk (*) appears next to the package name. Make sure that the asterisk mark (*) appears next to one or more packages, indicating that you have selected them to be installed, BEFORE you proceed with the installation by pressing "ENTER".

Also note that the progress bar will remain at 6% as the files are downloading, and if on a slow connection, the installation may appear to be hanging at 6% or at other stages while displaying the words "Please Wait". Ignore the progressbar and wait, as once the packages have finished downloading, the installation will quickly finish.

Fedora Instructions

If installing Fedora, select "FTP" as the installation source, and for the server, specify:


and for the folder, if using the standard (32-bit) version, specify:


or if using the 64-bit version, specify:


A Fedora specific guide is available here and here. There is also a screenshot-based guide at HowtoForge.

Alternatively, if you would rather use a pre-downloaded Fedora install DVD iso file, you can use that by first partitioning your disks using the PartedMagic Partition Manager (download) in order to create a partition to install Fedora in, and placing the iso file into any partition other than the ones you aim to use for Fedora. While still in PartedMagic, take note of the partition number of the filesystem containing the iso file, as presented by GParted, such as /dev/sdb4 if it is the fourth partition on the second drive. Then, install the UNetbootin Fedora installer, reboot, and when prompted for an installation source, select "Hard Drive". You will now be prompted to specify the partition and folder containing the Fedora iso file; enter in the partition, such as /dev/sda1, in the first field, and in the second field, specify the folder containing the iso, such as /linux/install/ if the path to the Fedora install DVD iso file was X:\linux\install\Fedora-8-x86_64-DVD.iso in Windows.

openSUSE Instructions

If installing openSUSE, after rebooting, ignore any error messages and select back if prompted for a CD, then go to the main menu, select the "Start Installation" option, choose "Network" as the source, choose "HTTP" as the protocol, and for the server, specify:


and for the folder, if installing openSUSE 10.3, specify:


Or, if installing openSUSE-Factory, specify:


An openSUSE specific guide is available here, here, and here.

PCLinuxOS Instructions

If you have already downloaded the iso file for PCLinuxOS or one of its derivatives, rename it to "ubniso.iso" and place it in the same directory as the UNetbootin PCLinuxOS executable installer if using Windows, or if using Linux, place it into /tmp/ubniso.iso, in order to skip the download process. Otherwise, the PCLinuxOS Minime edition will be downloaded and used. After installation, reboot, and PCLinuxOS will be able to boot in liveCD mode. However, if installing PCLinuxOS to the hard drive, first use PartedMagic Partition Manager (download) to make room for a partition for the PCLinuxOS install, prior to starting the PCLinuxOS installer from the liveCD mode, as you will be unable to directly modify the partitions from PCLinuxOS. Alternatively, you can use the "copy2ram" boot parameter for PCLinuxOS in order to be able to resize partitions from within liveCD mode, without needing to use PartedMagic beforehand. Afterwards, once the disk has been partitioned, launch the PCLinuxOS installer using the icon on the PCLinuxOS desktop, and proceed with the standard install. A PCLinuxOS specific guide is available here.

Mandriva Instructions

If installing Mandriva, first use PartedMagic Partition Manager (download) to create 2 spare partitions: a 4 GB one to store the ISO temporarily for installation, and a larger one to install Mandriva in. Then, download Mandriva Linux "Free" (NOT "One") 2008 to the new 4GB partition. Then install UNetbootin, reboot, and select "Hard Drive" as the installation source, select your 4GB partition and the folder containing the ISO, then proceed with the standard install process. A Mandriva specific guide is available here.

CentOS Instructions

If installing CentOS, select "FTP" as the installation source, and for the server, specify:


and for the folder, if using the standard (32-bit) version, specify:


or if using the 64-bit version, specify:


A CentOS specific guide is available here and here. There is also a screenshot-based guide here.

Arch Linux Instructions

If installing Arch Linux, start the installer by entering at the console:


Then, select "FTP" as the installation source, go to "Network" and configure your network interface, then select a listed FTP mirror in the "Select Packages" section. An Arch Linux specific guide is available here and here. More instructions are also available at the Arch Wiki and Official Installation Guide.

Foresight Linux Instructions

First, resize your existing partitions to make room for a partition to install Foresight into, using UNetbootin Parted Magic. Then, download the latest Foresight installation DVD iso file to a partition other than the one you are installing to. Then, install the UNetbootin Foresight Linux package, reboot and start the installation procedure, and when prompted for a source of installation media, select "Hard Drive", specify the folder and partition you downloaded the iso file to, then the main installer will start, and you can proceed with the standard installation procedure.

FreeBSD/NetBSD Instructions

FreeBSD/NetBSD installation instructions are located here and here.

Vector Linux Instructions

Vector Linux installation instructions are located here.

Slackware Instructions

Slackware installation instructions are located here and here.

Removal Instructions

  1. To undo the changes to the Windows bootloader, simply boot Windows, and the uninstaller should begin. Press "OK", and it will undo the changes done to the bootloader, or uninstall manually from "Add/Remove Applications". Note that this uninstallation process will only remove the UNetbootin loader itself, not your Linux installation. If using Linux, if you used the .rpm or .deb package, then remove the "unetbootin" package, or if you used the .sh version, then use the command:

    sudo unetbootin-uninst

  2. To remove the installed Linux distribution itself, see this guide

Notes For Vista Users

Vista has its own partition manager, which can be started with the command:


It can be used to shrink the NTFS partition to make space for Ubuntu's partition, and may work better than Ubuntu's partitioner. Details on using the graphical tool are available here and here. Should the graphical tool not work, you can also use diskpart, a commandline tool:


Details on using diskpart are available here and here.

Running UNetbootin from a liveCD or using it to make a bootable USB net-install drive

The .sh (shell script) version for GNU/Linux can operate in 3 different ways; installmode=tohost operates like the rpm/deb packages, chainloading off the existing grub install, installmode=nohost can be used off a liveCD/liveUSB when there is no existing OS installed, while installmode=usbdrive can be used to make a bootable net-install USB drive. Syntax and options are as follow (remember to run the script as root using 'sudo' or 'su', and make it executable using 'chmod +x ./unetbootin-fedora8rev49.sh' before executing):

If you are running this script from a host, hard-drive Linux install, and want the GRUB bootloader installed in /boot to be used, enter:

./unetbootin-fedora8rev49.sh installmode=tohost

Otherwise, if you are running this script from a liveCD or other live, non-hard drive media, or the installmode=tohost option fails, or you want to specify your target partition (targetpartition=/dev/sda1) or (optionally) the bootloader (bootloader=grub or bootloader=lilo), enter, in addition to the targetpartition and formatpartition options:

./unetbootin-fedora8rev49.sh installmode=nohost targetpartition=/dev/sda1 formatpartition=yes

Otherwise, if you want to install to a USB drive, enter, in addition to the targetpartition and formatpartition options:

./unetbootin-fedora8rev49.sh installmode=usbdrive targetpartition=/dev/sda1 formatpartition=yes

Using UNetbootin If You Don't Have an OS Installed

If you have a liveCD/liveUSB, boot it and use the UNetbootin .sh version as described above in the section for the "installmode=nohost" option, then reboot and the installer will start from the hard drive.

Alternatively, if the machine can boot off a USB drive, and you have access to another machine that can run Linux from a liveCD or hard drive, then make a bootable net-install USB drive using the UNetbootin .sh version as described above in the section for the "installmode=usbdrive" option, then boot the install-USB drive on the target machine and the installer will start.

If all else fails, or if you only have access to floppies, then first, download the Debian minimal-install floppies. Then, install Debian. Once installed, download the UNetbootin deb package using wget $unetbootin.deb, install it using dpkg -i $unetbootin.deb, then once done, reboot, and select UNetbootin in the GRUB menu.

Offline Installation Using Pre-Downloaded Installation Media

Some distributions, such as Fedora, CentOS, openSUSE, Slackware, Mandriva, and Arch Linux, allow you to use packages from your hard drive as the installation media. If you already have the installation (not livecd) iso file downloaded, first partition your disk using the PartedMagic Partition Manager (download) in order to create a partition to install Linux in. If you don't already know your partition devices, such as /dev/sda1 you can check them in GParted as you will need them for the installation. Then, transfer the predownloaded iso file to any partition other than the ones you plan to install Linux into. Then, install the appropriate UNetbootin build, and select "Hard Drive" as the installation source after rebooting. Then, when prompted for the partition and folder, specify the partition device label, such as /dev/sda1, and the folder containing the iso, such as /linux/install/ if the path to the Fedora install DVD was X:\linux\install\Fedora-8-x86_64-DVD.iso in Windows.

Installing Other Distributions Using UNetbootin

Download the Generic UNetbootin Loader, and supply it with the appropriate floppy/hard disk image, or kernel and initrd files when prompted (see first screenshot). See your distribution's FTP mirrors, or the contents of the iso file, to find these files. If special booting options and parameters are required for the kernel, check the distribution's boot configuration files (usually after the "kernel" line in either isolinux.cfg, syslinux.cfg, menu.lst, or grub.conf) and supply them on the "Option" line.

Packaging UNetbootin for Other Distributions

Thanks to UNetbootin's portable architecture, it is easy to add support for other distributions. If you would like to create UNetbootin packages for other distributions, first make sure you have installed the "bzr", "alien", "fakeroot", and "wine" utilities, which are installable through your package manager, then check out the source with the command:

bzr checkout http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~gezakovacs/unetbootin/devel-new

Then add the name of the distribution, referred to here as {distroname}, into the file "targetdistros" in the checked-out source, add the netboot initrd and kernel, with the naming scheme "ubninit-{distroname}" and "ubnkern-{distroname}" into the "initkern" folder, then cd to the source directory, and run the command:


Then, the ".exe", ".deb", ".rpm", and ".sh" packages for distribution will be created in the "dist" directory. More info is available in the readme file in the source folder.


If you encounter errors with UNetbootin or need help troubleshooting, post a question at the UNetbootin Thread on Ubuntuforums.

Source Code and License

UNetbootin is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 2 or above. Source code is available at the launchpad page.


UNetbootin was created and written by Geza Kovacs (Launchpad), contact info.


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