Move WUBI Ubuntu Install to an external USB drive

In the following tutorial, we show you how to move your existing WUBI Ubuntu install to an external USB drive. This enables you to take your install of Ubuntu with you. Moreover, because WUBI is using loop files (files that once mounted, act as partitions), the remaining NTFS partitioned drive space is still completely usable by Windows for storage. If you ever should decide you no longer want to play with Ubuntu, you can simply delete it from the external USB drive without the need to delete partitions etc.

Note: This tutorial is obsolete and left for reference only. WUBI has migrated to Grub 2. Use this Move WUBI to a USB Flash Drive tutorial for the newer version.

WUBI Prerequisites:

  • WUBI Installation of Ubuntu preinstalled on your Windows XP system
  • An external USB hard drive (capacity must be greater than the local Ubuntu folder)
  • HP USB format tool

Ubuntu and WUBI are products of Canonical Ltd

Move WUBI Ubuntu install to a USB drive

  1. Format your external USB hard drive using the NTFS file system. In addition make sure to set the Volume label to USB:Format your external drive as NTFS with a Label of USB
  2. Next, from Windows, Click Start > Run, type diskpart and press Enter
  3. From the DISKPART command prompt, perform the following steps:
    • Type list volume, and locate your USB drive
    • Type select volume X replacing X with the volume number of your USB drive
    • Type active to make the volume bootable

list volume, then select volume, then activate

  1. Next, copy the following folders and files from your local hard drive to the external USB drive (note: you must be able to view hidden files):

    Your USB drive should now look something like this:
    Files on the USB drive

  2. Next, from your USB drive, navigate to ubuntu\disks\boot\grub and open menu.lst with a text editor.
  3. Scroll down to around line 132 and change all occurrences of root=UUID from root=UUID=1234567890 to root=LABEL=USB
  4. Save your changes and reboot. Set your BIOS or Boot menu to boot from the USB drive and attempt to start from the external drive.
  5. Select the Ubuntu option when prompted to boot from Windows XP or Ubuntu:
    Move WUBI - USB Ubuntu Boot Menu option

Note: If you prefer, to only use the portable WUBI installation, you can proceed to uninstall the Wubi Ubuntu install from your PC. However, make sure you have removed the USB drive before doing so. The uninstaller will remove its related files from any partition it finds them on.