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How To Fully Boot a Live USB to RAM and Remove the Disk in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 12

In this article, we will delve into the process of fully booting a Live USB to RAM and removing the disk in Ubuntu. This procedure can be useful in various scenarios, such as when you want to use the USB drive for other purposes while still running the system, or when you want to ensure that no traces are left on the drive after use.

Quick Answer

To fully boot a Live USB to RAM and remove the disk in Ubuntu, you need to add the toram boot parameter in the GRUB bootloader. This allows the entire filesystem to be copied to RAM during the boot process, allowing you to safely remove the USB drive after the system has booted.

Understanding the Basics

Before we get started, it’s important to understand what we’re doing and why. When you boot Ubuntu (or any other Linux distribution) from a Live USB, the system typically runs from the USB drive. However, it’s possible to load the entire system into your computer’s RAM, which is much faster than any USB drive. This process is known as “booting to RAM.”

Prerequisites

To follow this tutorial, you need:

  • A computer with Ubuntu Live USB
  • Sufficient RAM (at least equal to the size of the Ubuntu ISO)
  • Basic understanding of the GRUB bootloader

Booting Ubuntu Live USB to RAM

The process of booting Ubuntu Live USB to RAM involves adding a boot parameter in the GRUB bootloader. The parameter we’re interested in is toram.

What is toram?

The toram option tells the system to copy the entire filesystem to RAM during the boot process. This allows you to remove the live USB after the system has booted.

Steps to Boot Ubuntu Live USB to RAM

For UEFI Mode:

  1. Boot from the Live USB: Restart your computer and boot from the live USB. You might need to press a specific key (like F12, F10, or ESC) during startup to choose the boot device.
  2. Edit GRUB Menu: Once the GRUB menu appears, use the arrow keys to highlight “Try Ubuntu without installing” and press E to edit the boot script.
  3. Add toram parameter: Look for the line starting with “linux” and add toram right after “quiet splash”. It should look something like this: linux /casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash toram ---
  4. Boot the modified script: Press F10 to boot with the modified script.

For BIOS/Legacy Mode:

The steps are slightly different for BIOS/Legacy mode:

  1. Boot from the Live USB: As before, restart your computer and boot from the live USB.
  2. Access Boot Options: Once the language selection boot menu appears, select your language and confirm. Then, highlight “Try Ubuntu without installing” and press F6 to access “Boot Options”.
  3. Add toram parameter: In the “Boot Options” line, add toram after “quiet splash”. Then press Enter to boot with the modified configuration.

Post Boot Process

Once Ubuntu has fully booted into RAM, you can safely eject/unmount the live USB device. You can do this by clicking on the ‘Eject’ button in the file manager, or by using the umount command in the terminal.

Please note that booting to RAM requires a significant amount of RAM. Make sure you have enough available before attempting this process. This method has been tested and confirmed to work on Ubuntu 16.04 and 22.04.2 LTS.

Conclusion

Booting a Live USB to RAM in Ubuntu is a useful technique that can help you run the system faster and free up your USB drive for other tasks. Remember to ensure that your system has enough RAM to accommodate the entire filesystem. Happy experimenting with Ubuntu!

For more information on Ubuntu and its features, you can visit the official Ubuntu documentation.

Can I boot Ubuntu Live USB to RAM on any computer?

Yes, you can boot Ubuntu Live USB to RAM on any computer as long as it meets the prerequisites mentioned in the article, such as having sufficient RAM and a basic understanding of the GRUB bootloader.

How do I know if my computer is running in UEFI or BIOS/Legacy mode?

You can usually find the information about your computer’s boot mode in the BIOS/UEFI settings. You can access the BIOS/UEFI settings by restarting your computer and pressing a specific key (like F2, Del, or ESC) during startup. Look for an option related to boot mode or boot settings to determine whether your computer is running in UEFI or BIOS/Legacy mode.

Can I use the `toram` parameter for other Linux distributions?

Yes, the toram parameter can be used for other Linux distributions as well. However, the steps to access the GRUB bootloader and modify the boot script may vary depending on the distribution. It’s recommended to refer to the documentation or support resources specific to the Linux distribution you are using.

What happens if I don’t have enough RAM to boot Ubuntu Live USB to RAM?

If you don’t have enough RAM to accommodate the entire filesystem, the system may become slow or unresponsive. It’s essential to ensure that you have sufficient RAM before attempting to boot to RAM. If your system doesn’t have enough RAM, it’s recommended to use the traditional method of running Ubuntu from the Live USB without the toram parameter.

Can I save changes or install software when booting Ubuntu Live USB to RAM?

No, when you boot Ubuntu Live USB to RAM, any changes or software installations are not persistent. The system runs entirely in RAM, so any modifications or installations will be lost upon reboot. If you want to save changes or install software, it’s recommended to perform a full installation of Ubuntu on a separate storage device.

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