Fun with UnetBootIn

Distro Hopping on the Acer Aspire One

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    x1101 on UNetBootIn How-TO
    John on UNetBootIn How-TO
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UNetBootIn How-TO

Posted by x1101 on August 12, 2009

Hello again.

Today’s topic is another general introduction before we really get started on our journey. Since the AAO (like most net-books) doesn’t have a CD ROM drive, UNetBootIn is a must for installing a different OS. That being said, I thought it would be appropriate to spend a bit of time delving into the specifics of UNetBootIn so that anyone who wants to has enough information to try a distro or two out for themselves.

The only things you need use UNetBootIn are 1) A PC running Windows or Linux and 2) A USB drive large enough to hold the disk image (ISO) of your desired distro. For most distro’s a 1 or 2GB drive should be plenty, but if your prefer a meatier offering, such as Fedora, you will need at least a 6GB drive (because Fedora and others are DVD ISO’s, which are approximately 4.5 GB in size.) I have a 2 and an 8 GB drive for this, depending on how large the image is, and on which one is not being used.

To start off, open up UNetBootIn. You have two options on how to use it. Firstly, you can use the top portion of the application to download a specific version of your distro of choice (many are included, though often not the most up to date versions)and burn it all in a single step.


The image below shows this method with the live image for Ubuntu 9.04 chosen. If you were to select a location and start the process, you would download and install the Ubuntu live installer environment onto the USB drive selected below.


The other way to use UnetBootIn is to download the ISO on to your computer manually and then create the USB installer. Use this if your distro or version of choice is not listed in the automatic download menu.


With either option simply insert your USB drive and select it from the “Drive” menu. Then Press OK and the installation (and download if you selected the automatic download) will start.

If you selected the Automatic download your screen will look like this, and the download will begin. How long this will take depends on the size of the image you have chosen and your connection speed. This will download the ISO file of your selected distro and save it as a TEMP file in the default location for your OS. After the install you may want to go and delete this to save space.


Regardless of which method you choose, UNetBootIn will extract and copy files into specific locations to use for booting the installation environment. It will then install the boot loader and finish up.


If you are doing this download on the PC you wish to install the new distro on, go right ahead and click the “Reboot” option on the next screen. Otherwise simply select “Exit.” Either will close the installer. From here you simply insert the USB boot device you have created into your AAO (or other PC/Netbook.) Make sure you have “USB Hard drive” or similar chosen as your 1st Boot device in the BIOS (the initial start-up screen will flash press <Some Key> to enter setup, press that key to enter the BIOS and make changes, carefully) and boot up your new installer.


Hopefully this little UNetBootIn walkthrough will be useful to you. This is a very powerful tool for installing operating systems on any PC that does not have a CD ROM drive (as long as it has a USB port.)

Stick around, because next I will begin reviews in earnest. The first distro up is #!CrunchBang Linux, a minimalist project based on Ubuntu, running the OpenBox window manager.



2 Responses to “UNetBootIn How-TO”

  1. John said

    I find it is better to download the distro to your computer first because that is what it’s going to do anyway but unetbootin doesn’t save the distro to your hard drive. If it has this option I didn’t see it. Maybe the makes can add a sve download distro ISO option to the next version. At least if you download the distro first you will have a hard copy of the distro in the same amount of time. Also, if you choose to do it again you won’t have to wait for the distro to download again.

  2. x1101 said

    UNetBootIn (at least on Windows) does indeed save a copy of the ISO to your hard disk, it just hides it on a TMP folder. If you use the auto download option, simply do a search for *.iso to find it. I will investigate this on Linux as well tonight.

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