Making Bootable USB Thumb Drives, and UNetbootin Wins for Linux


There seems to be a proliferation of USB utilities out there that can take an ISO image and allow you to put it on a USB flash drive (aka “thumb drive”) so you can boot off of it.  For Ubuntu, I quickly narrowed the choices down to YUMI and UNetbootin.  At first glance, they appear to be the same, but they do work differently.

YUMI creates a “YUMI” folder in the root of the USB drive, and apparently does this so you can put different operating systems or boot disks on the drive.  The idea seems to be that it makes it cleaner and allows you to store other things as well, such as data.

And, that is what I don’t like about it.  It is generally considered bad form to mix data and programs.  That is why even windows now has a home or user folder to put all of one’s settings and data in.

Still, if one is interested in boot multiple images, it might be for them.  However, since I used Ultimate Boot CD for a lot of things, even that seems redundant.  Worse, there really isn’t a lot of documentation, so the whole YUMI folder bit was a surprise, and there seemed to be no way to change it.

UNetbootin, however, works pretty much as expected.  No subfolders on the flash drive, and no gimmicks.  There also are versions for Windows and Mac, so you don’t have to go searching for something if you deal with multiple platforms.

So, in the end I choose UNetbootin.  If I constantly were experimenting with different boot images, then YUMI might make more sense.  However, I usually have special purpose thumb drives, and putting them all on one would mean I would have to wait for one machine to finish before I could do something different on another.  YMMV.