Table of content:

What does multibootusb do?
Minimum Requirements
Install MultiBootUSB - Windows and Linux
Creating live linux on USB disk
Adding new/additional live Linux
Adding Persistence file
Removing or Uninstalling a distro
Write ISO image directly to USB disk
Reinstalling Syslinux
Edit Syslinux config files
Test ISO and USB with QEMU option
Using mltibootusb command line options
What if something goes wrong?


What does multibootusb do?

MultiBootUSB allows you to do the following:

  1. Install multiple live Linux distros and other operating systems to a USB disk and make it bootable without erasing existing data.
  2. Uninstall installed OSes later.
  3. Write ISO images directly to a USB disk (GUI for Linux dd command).
  4. Boot ISO images and USB disks directly without rebooting your system using QEMU.
  5. Boot USB on UEFI/EFI systems through GRUB2 bootloader support (limited support).

Requirements:

  1. Formatted USB disk:
    • FAT32, NTFS, ext2/3/4 or Btrfs filesystem. However, FAT filesystem is recommended and ext2/3/4 or Btrfs filesystems will only work under Linux.
    • Keep single partition (primary) to avoid later problems.
  2. ISO file of live Linux distro of your choice.
  3. Latest release of MultiBootUSB.

Installation:

  • On Windows:
    • The windows version of multbootusb is not a standalone program. You need to install it after download. Download the latest setup binary (.exe) file from here
    • The installation is fairly simple. Double click on the executable and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • On Linux:

    Pre-packaged:

    • Packages for various distros available here

    …or from source code:

    • The install.py script provided with multibootusb should take care of all dependencies and install multibootusb. Assuming that you have downloaded the archive named multibootusb.tar.gz in your home directory, issue the following commands to install multibootusb:
    tar -zxf ./multibootusb.tar.gz
    cd multibootusb
    chmod +x ./install.py   
    sudo ./install.py

Creating live Linux on USB disk:

  • Creating bootable live Linux on a USB disk essentially involves three steps:

    1. Step 1 - Insert USB disk and start the program
    2. Step 2 - Choose your ISO
    3. Step 3 - Click Install distro button.
  • Step 1 - Insert USB disk and start the program
    • Insert USB disk and wait for a few seconds so that operating oystem can detect it.
    • Linux:
      • All modern Linux distros should mount USB disks automatically after insertion. MultiBootUSB also has function to auto mount USB drive. However, if you still find your USB disk is not mounted, then open file manager and click on the USB disk icon to mount it.
      • MultiBootUSB needs administrator privileges to run. When running as normal user, a password window will popup and ask for your password.
    • Windows: Open multibootusb under Start --> Program Files --> multibootusb --> Click multibootusb

    • Once started, the list of USB disks can be found under the Select USB disk combo box. You can find the details of currently selected USB disks just below combo box.

    • Use the Detect Drives button to detect USB disks inserted after starting the program.

    • You can click on All Drives option to show all connected drives (including fixed system drives). Be careful with this option!
  • Step 2 - Choose your ISO
    • Clicking on Browse button located next to select image text, should bring file chooser dialog. The chosen ISO path will be available in the line edit for your review.
  • Step 3 - Click Install distro button
    • The third and final step is to simply click on Install distro. MultiBootUSB will check if ISO is supported by the program.
    • If the live Linux distro is supported, then a Review Selection window will appear and wait for your confirmation. The review window will indicate the selected USB disk, mount path of the disk and the selected ISO.

    • Choose Yes if you are ready to proceed.

    • Wait for the program to install ISO on a disk. If the installation is successful, the distro name should appear in the list box. The list box will show all the distros installed every time you open MultiBootUSB.



Adding additional live Linux distros:

  • You can follow Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 mentioned above for adding a new distro agan.

Adding persistence file:

  • Only distros based on Ubunt, Fedora and Debain are supported.

  • Once you complete the step 2 (Choose an ISO), multibootusb will detect the type of distro and a persistence size chooser slider would appear below MultiBootUSB tab. The maximum size of the persistence also automatically calculated according to the USB disk filesystem.

  • Choose the desired persistence size by dragging the slider to right and follow the Step 3 as usual.

  • Once distro installes successfully, you will find the additional persistence file under distro install directory.

  • Reboot your system to choose your favourite distro as persistence menu will be added automatically to menu entry.

Note: Few users have reported that Debian persistence option does’nt work properly.


Removing/uninstalling distro:

  • You can only uninstall distros installed by multibootusb.
  • Select disto from the list and click Uninstall Distro.

  • You will be notified after successful uninstallation.


Writing ISO directly to USB disk:

Be warned that this method will destroy all data on target USB disk.

  • multibootusb also has an option to write ISO file directly to an USB disk. You can choose this option if any of the above method fails to create live usb disk.

  • You can think of this method as a GUI to the famous dd program under Linux. In fact, it actually uses dd program for writing to disk.

  • To write to USB disk, you need to choose, the USB disk, ISO image and click on the Write image to disk push button available under Write image to disk tab.

  • A review window will appear for confirmation and select yes to proceed. Once selected, ISO writing will start and progress will be indicated in progressbar.

  • Please note that you need to select the whole disk /dev/sdb and not he device partition /dev/sdb1.

  • You need to format the USB disk if you have to revert back to original state and start using nondestructive method.


Reinstalling Syslinux:

  • There may be a situation when you want to install syslinux for various reasons (e.g. using other live usb creator will remove syslinux installation performed by multibootusb). In such cases situation you can reinstall syslinux from the Install syslinux tab.
  • First, choose an USB disk partition (eg. /dev/sdb1 or G:), then choose method and click Install.

  • This will install syslinux in the multibootusb directory on the selected USB partition.


Edit Syslinux config files:

  • Please perform this action with caution. Any change in the path will make your distro install completely useless.

  • View and edit syslinux.cfg file from the Install syslinux tab. This action will open syslinux.cfg in a default text editor.


Test your ISO and USB with QEMU option:

  • Test your downloaded ISOs and USB disks without rebooting your system.

  • QEMU binaries are shipped with Windows setup file by default. For Linux you need to install “qemu” package to enable this feature.

Booting ISO

  • Go to Boot ISO/USB --> Browse ISO --> Choose RAM size --> Click on Boot ISO.

  • Your ISO will boot in a separate window.

  • Maximum RAM size is currently limited to 2GB.

Booting USB

  • Go to Boot ISO/USB --> Select USB Disk --> Choose RAM size --> Click on Boot USB.

  • Your USB disk listed in the combobox will boot in a separate window.

  • Linux: You must select the whole disk (e.g. /dev/sdb) and NOT the device partition (e.g. /dev/sdb1).


Using mltibootusb command line options

  • You can invoke command line options using multibootusb -c.
  • Windows users must use source code to avail this option.
  • Here is the text retrieved using multibootusb -c -h command and ensure to run with admin privilege:
An advanced multiboot live usb creator which can be used from the command line
or via a GUI.

 Usage: python3 multibootusb [option(s)]

Options:
  -h or --help        :   Print this help message and exit
  -c or --command     :   Invoke command line usage.  This option is required;
                          if omitted, the GUI will be launched.
  -i or --iso         :   Path to ISO file(s).  If many ISOs are supplied,
                          they should be separated by ',' with no spaces in
                          between.
  -t or --target      :   Path to target USB device partition (e.g. "/dev/sdb1").
  -y or --yes         :   Default yes for user input during install.
                          Will not wait for user.
  -u or --uninstall   :   List and uninstall distro from an USB disk.
  -d or --debug       :   Enable debug messages (very verbose!)

Example for making a bootable USB from the command line:

Linux:
    python3 multibootusb -c -i ../../favourite.iso -t /dev/sdb1

Windows:
    python3 multibootusb -c -i ../../favourite.iso -t G:

Example for uninstalling a distro from a USB:

Linux:
    python3 multibootusb -c -u -t /dev/sdb1

Windows:
    python3 multibootusb -c -u -t G:

Example for installing multiple distros without user intervention:

Linux:
    python3 multibootusb -c -y -i ../../favourite.iso,../../other-distro.iso -t /dev/sdb1

Windows:
    python3 multibootusb -c -i ../../favourite.iso,../../other-distro.iso -t G:


What if something goes wrong?

  • Check if your issue is addressed in the Frequently Asked Section (FAQ) here .
  • If not raise an issue at Github Issue Tracker