Install Ubuntu directly from hard disk

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux Distribution.According Ubuntu and Linux Mint are the two most popular linux distros.Linux Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu.It is a customized version of Ubuntu.

Since new versions of Ubuntu and Linux Mint are released every 6 months, there is no point in burning the iso files to blank cds.

So how does one install Ubuntu or Linux Mint without burning the iso files?

Two possible answers to the above question.

  • Install from bootable USB Flash Drive
  • Install directly from the hard disk

There are many guides and tools which help in you in creating bootable usb drives to install Ubuntu.

In this article I will be showing how you can install Ubuntu(and its derivatives) directly from hard disk.

Advantages of installing Ubuntu directly from Hard Disk

  1. Secondary media like CD,DVD or USB Flash Drive are not required
  2. Installation is faster
  3. No need to change boot order.You have to boot normally from your hard disk

Install Ubuntu from iso using Grub4Dos

  1. Install Grub4dos to your Hard Disk.Grub4Dos is powerful bootloader which supports iso emulation
  2. Download Ubuntu to the root of any drive.
  3. Add the following entry to menu.lst
    title Install Ubuntu
    find --set-root /ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso
    map /ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)  || map --mem /ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)
    map --hook
    root (0xff)
    kernel /casper/vmlinuz  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed noprompt boot=casper only-ubiquity iso-scan/filename=/ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso quiet splash --
    initrd /casper/initrd.lz
  4. Reboot and choose Install Ubuntu in the Grub4dos menu.
  5. After the live desktop loads, open terminal and enter the following commands.
    sudo umount -l /isodevice
  6. Now double click on Install Ubuntu.You should be able to install Ubuntu
  7. Notes

    Defragment the downloaded iso with Wincontig.If your iso is fragmented,grub4dos will attempt to RAM load the entire iso.This may cause problems if you have less RAM.

    The above procedure also works with Linux Mint.Just change corresponding iso file names in the menu.lst code.



About the Author: Bharat Balegere

Bharat Balegere is a 27 year old blogger from Bengaluru. He is a technology enthusiast and loves tinkering with computers and usb drives.

12 Comments + Add Comment

  • nice guide!

    but i dont have windows installed.. so can i do this from linux?

    what about unetbootin can i use that or some other tool?


  • thanks a bunch will try and see how it goes

  • i have only 512Mb ram…..and it shows error on the startup for low ram what should i do.
    help me before this i tried frugal install with unetbootin but that was failed too.
    desperate to get hands back on ubuntu.

    • Which version of Ubuntu are you trying to install?

      Also try to defragment the iso with Wincontig and then try.

      If the iso file is fragmented then grub4os will try to load the iso into ram.
      You avoid this by changing the line

      map /ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)  || map --mem /ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)


      map /ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso (0xff)
  • not working after 15 sec count down windows 7 started.

  • Cheers mate, I’ll try this with Mint 13 when it comes out.

  • Hello, i tried the above method but it does not seem to find the iso. i have to hard disk of 2 partions.

  • how about open suse??

  • Dear Bharat

    Since my cd drive is not working and booting from usb not supported, I tried your way of installing ubuntu in my computer E- drive as a dual boot with Windows XP on c drive. I followed the steps shown in your post, copying the commands you have given, grub4dos installed and then rebooted. Now the computer starts and and goes to grub and just stays there. I am neither able to go to my windows and neither able to install ubuntu. Please help me to get out of this mess. can I somehow remove or disable grub4dos right at the start in order to be able to reach to windows.
    Thanks a ton

  • It says :
    error 15: file not found

  • What is menu.lst?
    When you use terms that beginners are unfamiliar with it might be a good idea to explain those terms in your article. Would only take 1 sentence probably. Or you may not bother and not have 99.9% of the population be able to understand what you’re saying or be able to use your info for something productive.

    This is the problem with Linux. People familiar with it are too lazy and careless to take the time to explain basic things to nuubies. Yet they expect people to choose it.

    Here’s the solution: Show directions how to install it after downloading it, without the nonsense of burning anything (why bother with a USB or optical drive?). Most people have a hard drive lying around they’re not using. Its easy to format and partition to try out Linux. Download to a hard drive and install from there to another hard drive. Like a sensible person would do. Who even uses optical drives anymore?

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