Zorin as non-live USB installation

So I recently had the idea of installing ZorinOS on a spare USB stick to use as my portable OS to use on basically any computer while being able to encrypt it so it wouldn’t be so bad if it will get lost or stolen. And it would be possible to couple it with some third party cloud storage to have some sort of sync or backup as well.

So one possible use case could be document editing / presentations (or anything similar)on the fly anwhere as long as there is any computer that you are able to use

For me this is actually a really nice use case of Linux but the support for setups like this and I think this really is a shame so I wanted to ask if anyone else has made similar experiences or if ZorinOS plans to support this use case better anytime soon?

Mine are a mixed bag since installing it with the NVIDIA drivers on a USB stick makes it not able to initialize the driver on a PC with a build in NVIDIA GTX 980 and I don’t know why. It was just stuck in a loop. Maybe there are possibilities for ZorinOS to just scan the hardware on startup to use the best and supported drivers?

I was able to boot into the desktop environment after choosing the non NVIDIA option.

I also had to use 2 USB sticks to setup the OS on one of them and the installation took ages compared to creating a live USB stick since there was no image I could burn on my USB stick like compared to the PiOS for the Raspberry Pi so maybe there will be an option for a download someday?

My worst problem was that I always got a notification saying that I don’t have enough free disk space left on my system.

@Cederick: Hi, and welcome to the Zorin forum!
If you have Zorin installed on your machine, you could utilise this piece of software:
Tutorial video here:

You will need at least an 8Gb USB, formatted to FAT32 before you configure MultiSystem on it. :wink: :grinning:

If you are looking at persistence you should split your drive so that you have a separate data drive. You could create ‘persistence’ where data is stored but continual writes to the USB will shorten the life of the USB drive and if you were looking at that you should be looking at a minimum 16Gb USB Memory stick. No reason why you couldn’t sign up to pCloud and upload stuff using a web browser. The other consideration is that whilst you can happily go to any machine under your control and boot off the stick that won’t necessarily be the case when you visit other workstations as they may have USB boot disabled in the BIOS which you did not setup or you would need Admin rights to do so.

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This is actually something I was wondering about the other week before I just decided to dive in with dual booting. Useful to know though, ta! :slight_smile:

Well you can just connect Libre Office with Google Drive. It actually has implemented support for it.

I’m sure it won’t be a mojaor decrease since USB sticks and MicroSD cards (used by the Raspberry Pi) are both flash storage as far as I know so this was probably a general heads up?

I’m sure it won’t be a mojaor decrease since USB sticks and MicroSD cards (used by the Raspberry Pi) are both flash storage as far as I know so this was probably a general heads up?

I would suggest that both apply. Flash drives and the like lifespan is measured by write/rewrite cycles.
Not long ago, flash storage was seen as just that: Storage. And that is how we are used to using them. For writing a backup or memories you wish to keep and then storing the drive, flash is outstanding and will last a very long time.
But because flash is also so small and portable, it began to be seen as a means of portable ‘use’ instead of ‘storage.’ While the lifespan measure of the flash drive did not change.
Using a USB drive with Persistence means that it will be receiving consistent and constant rewrites. This is a different environment from a drive being used for basic storage and the shortening of the lifespan can be significant.
If you ever tallied up your months expenses only to find it was the Little Costs that cost you the most because they seemed small and they added up quickly, then you know what I mean. Those rewrites build up.
This is known and has been known all along for solid state drives and it is why spinning HDD’s have been consistently preferred by computer manufacturers.

There are many factors that are used to determine the exact measurement of the lifespan, including the quality of the material used, whether the cells are single layer, multi-layer or triple-layer and so on. The amount of rewrites can vary by a large number based on those factors. For many common flash drives, the average is around 10,000 rewrites for any given cell. As you can see, that can be reached swiftly with constant use or slowly with basic storage use.

Remember; just because a practice has become commonly used or is even being marketed, does not mean that it is risk free.


@Aravisian You have reminded me of my former boss who could not understand why their USB thumb drive had corrupt files on it!

I’m eager to learn about running Zorin on a USB stick, with a computer on which per policy I can’t install any software to the conventional hard drive. I’d like to be able to update/add programs to Zorin, and store such mundane things as browser favorites, and some screenshots… I don’t want just a ‘Live Linux’ that has to be configured each time. I think that to update/add programs something beyond routine ‘persistence’ is needed.

I can understand that temp files and status logging need some place to write and that could be frequent. I don’t know how practical it would be to give them a RAM area instead of ‘beating up’ the flash media. A long time ago when I experimented with Puppy Linux they were enthusiastic proponents of running from RAM. I don’t know how they performed what they did.

Ideally I’d like a Zorin installation option choice that at each boot would create a RAM drive (to be used for just the temporary portions of the system). Of course upon shutdown that would vanish. I know that drives and media get mounted, but I’m too new to know how to construct this. I think I’d want some structure to handle the savable/protected content like OS itself, Apps, Personal-data-files.

Thanks to others on this forum cautioning about video drivers impacting portability. For my use I can constrain to boot on only identical instances of PCs. Ideally, it would be great if Zorin could take advantage of a set of more advanced hardware/special drivers, but detect if it was booting elsewhere and had to revert to more generic drivers.

Hi rberke, and welcome! I don’t think on the USB front there is anything other than ‘persistence’ mode, but in the old forum there was a guy who submitted a ‘how-to’ that split the stick in two, utilising a FAT32 partition for DATA - remember the early Asus eeepc netbooks? They had SSD’s but were only ever formatted to FAT32 - because FAT32 is not a journaling system - that is what ends the life of SSD’s if used as it does USB sticks - but if you are going to continue doing re-writes regardless of how constructed, USB’s have a limited life, just like everything else.

In the meantime take a look at this interesting article on MX-Linux: