Understanding USB - for use as portable OS

It seems that I need an education on what a USB drive IS and CAN (and can't) do as well as how to set it up before I put a Zorin OS on it.

At this moment, what I am thinking is to use my 256 GB USB stick for a Zorin OS, store my files, and provide an 'exchange' location (partition) that I can copy bits over to an online (email) program without leaving my entire data visible to online.

The 256 GB stick I have already has files/data on it. Can I partition that drive without harming those files? When partitioning such a drive how does access to each partition work? [on my current laptop I have 3 partitions - one for Windows OS, one for Linux Mint and a third - OShare which allows me to copy files from the Windows and or Linux partitions so I can then paste over to the 'other' partition]

Thanks for all insights.

OK, so first off I would move the data that you already have to either your computer hard drive or another external device. You can install applications while running Zorin or any other live distribution, preferably one that is ubuntu based like Zorin and install MultiSystem and Xterm - you need Xterm to install MultiSystem.


Get MultiSystem from the post I made in the old forum here:


If Zorin is going to be the only OS you want to install, then after creating the MultiSystem USB formatted to FAT32 using GParted that comes with Zorin, test the USB that it boots, then, if you have Linux on your computer, use GParted to format the USB (you can't format a mounted USB from within MultiSystem!).
Shrink the FAT32 with MultiSystem to say 20 Gb which is more than enough, then just create a new partition and format to either FAT32 or NTFS which ever you prefer - you will get more storage with FAT32.

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I don't have any intention to do a multi OS on my USB, just use the USB for a bootable Zorin OS + file storage and bi-directional transfer means. Sounds like its best to make the Zorin partition FAT32 and then the 'storage' partition(s) NTFS since I will be using a newer Windows OS as net/peripheral equipment (printer, dvd drive etc.) interface.

Thanks for the tip to move all 'storage' OFF the 256 GB stick before partitioning. I really need to clean house on those files and can be selective of what I do bring back to USB storage when Zorin is downloaded.

Gday @Jain, I think i'm getting my head around this :smile:
Ok First Question: Are your chatting to us from the new Lenovo laptop, using Windows 10 maybe windows 11 ?

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Whilst you don't intend to use different OS's I find MultiSystem the best method of installing Zorin which is what I had to do tonight as my install got screwed after partial upgrade.

Clearly the author of the above article hasn't heard of GNU/Linux where it states you can't install an OS to FAT32, which is technically correct, bootable GNU/Linux FAT32 USB's aren't actually running installed OS's but live images.

Just to add it can also store rescue media for Windows such as Hiren's Boot CD which uses a Win PE image of Windows 10. So you can have a USB with Zorin OS and Windows Rescue media. To launch Hiren's you have to boot to BIOS first and choose USB UEFI.

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I am not using the Lenovo yet - i have more to investigate about what I want to leave and what I want to boot. The irony is that I have been finding it SLOWER than my older (ThinkPad) laptop. (Windows 11)

The more I read the more confusered I am getting (lol). I may need to pause and outline/flow chart what I am expecting. That way I can discover that elements I need to deal with and take those on one at a time (and with each other in mind).

Thanks again for all your input.

Ok Jain, Next Question
With the computer you have/had the you use "Linux Mint" on ..
When you start That computer, Does it start up start into "Linux Mint"? Or is it Dual Boot ( meaning you can choose either "Mac" or "Linux Mint", when the computer is starting up for the first time?.

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Al - the ThinkPad is a dual boot - Linux Mint or Windows 7 (which has crashed).
I have drawn out what I desire on the Lenovo. I will post that on a new Thread so that hopefully I am getting more on track with what it is that I need to do re Zorin and other programs. MANY Thanks for your patience and assistance!!

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Ok Great,
You can set up your new computer exactly like your old computer ( dual boot) , ( Also we can set it up so you can just plug in the usb drive & try Zorin, without changing the new computer)
I have studied both your post's on here hence, my question's :smile:

Ok Next.
My suggestion;
Use a second usb stick, just to get started with, ( so every time you want to try Zorin you'll just need to plug-in the usb stick,, )

Which we can help guide with Every step,

Do you have or can you get another usb drive/stick, minimum of 4gb or more..

Note: i will get back to your original question here,
but i think as you said " the Lingo" is the issue.

Re: Understanding running an OS & understanding usb.

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Sorry i see my post

Usb stick & drive are the same thing, people use different name. i'll try to use usb stick :smile:

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Yes the words/terms used are so many an varied - thumbdrive was the first I heard of, then memory stick, USB and/or flash drive. And I am NOT sure which to use (here) :laughing:.

And I do have another USB 'drive' (56 GB) but I need to 'clean' it up. And I may not need to do that IF my system flowchart works as I currently think it should/could. Am going to post it now and big kudos to all here who share their thoughts on it.

You 'guys' are fabulous :heart_eyes:

So true,
Ok do you have another usb STICK hehehehe,,,
4gb or larger?

Side note,
It would be more secure as well to keep your private data on your 256gb usb stick

Ok im here, sorry i had a bad day yesterday,, all's good now .
Ok i missread your last post...
Great at the 56gb usb stick..
let me got a coffee & we'll get you going

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Al, sorry about your bad day - those happen when one LEAST wants then to.
Today is starting to turn like that for me . . . I tried to TRY Zorin by loading the USB stick into my Lenovo and . . . NOTHING. Had just read that some Lenovo's will NOT allow another OS!! Grrrr.

Is downloading to my ThinkPad then copying over to USB then loading the USB onto Lenovo the procedure for TRYing Zorin?

Ok your answer to this Topic is, YES, you can create another partition & that becoming a bootable OS , but it's a difficult process at this point, What your need to follow in the link below, will do something like multisystems does, we'll just leave that there for now!

Ok to use your 56gb usb stick, Please follow the instruction in link,
When/if you have question or just get confused/stuck , Please start a new Topic, like help with bootable usb stick.

Ok jain the how to link above is very good.

AL turns out that the 56 GB USB stick isn't 'good' - gets error screen about needing scanned and will not 'eject'. Am copying the Core .ios file onto 256 GB USB stick to give that a go.

Will start new thread for TRYing this on my Lenovo.

basic steps
Download = balenaEtcher or Rufus ( both make the usb stick work on the computer.

Also download Zorin iso ,just to your computer, & you'll have all the instruction. I suggest Zorin core, because it has things you listed as must have's, eg: Thunderbird mail ect

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isn't how it works, open the link & start.