Ubuntu – Clone Ubuntu system to a pendrive and make it bootable


I have Ubuntu 14.04 installed on my laptop. Can I clone the entire system with apps, settings, etc on a USB 3 pendrive, and then boot from that on other computers as a portable Ubuntu installation to take around with me?

I am trying a function that Timeshift has that's called "Clone the current system on another device". I've selected the pendrive as the target device. Timeshift was talking about this being bootable. But is it going to bootable on only this laptop, or on any system? For example, on an Intel Mac, or a Windows computer without the grub bootloader? Is that Timeshift function what I am looking for, or do I have to do something else?

Edit: The Timeshift clone failed to boot on the first system I tested it on. (A Dell Hackintosh that usually boots from USB just fine.)

Best Answer

When you install Ubuntu, you are installing it for that system. If you take that installation and boot it on another machine, it's the equivalent of making hardware changes. Ubuntu will in most cases still boot, but you may need to install drivers specific to the new system, you may need manually reconfigure some things for the new system (eg: sounds, graphics, network interfaces), or it may work flawlessly. It all depends on the hardware. This is not a good approach, unless you are using machines with identical hardware.


  • There are tools available for making live-DVDs from installations. I used to use Remastersys (outdated, not sure what active alternatives are available), and it worked great.

  • Build a customized Ubuntu ISO. This can be accomplished by extracting the squashfs, chrooting it, making desired changes, repacking, and swapping for the original squashfs in the ISO.

  • Setup a live-flashdrive with a persistence file/partition. Some live-flashdrive creators will even do this for you (eg: Unetbootin)!

  • Use a different distro like Puppy Linux, Porteus, TinyCore Linux, or Slax that is actually meant to be run as a portable OS used with multiple computers.

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