I'm trying to do a full install of elementary OS Freya on a USB 2 drive to create a portable OS. I want the full install so that I can do full upgrades. I've created something similar with Ubuntu GNOME. This works fine but is a little bit unresponsive sometimes. My thought is that elementary OS is a little lighter and would be more responsive.

I've downloaded the ISO file from elementary.io and created the Live USB stick using UNetbootin. The Live USB boots fine and works well when I run it in "Try Elementary" mode. I then install from the Live USB going through the steps and selecting "Something else" creating two partitions, one / that I set as primary, ext4 journal of 11GB and one swap of 4GB and setting the USB drive as "Device for boot loader". The installation goes quite slow but it creates a bootable USB drive. However it is almost impossible to use since it runs so slow. It is very slow to load applications etc.

Anyone with previous experience in doing a full install of elementary OS on an USB drive? Any suggestions what I might be doing wrong?

1 Answer 1


I have a booteable usb with elementary OS, and it's fast, light and with no issues.

I recommend installing it on a single partition / without swap. The swap partition requires so many hits per use, which eventually damaging the USB in a short period of time, and slows down the performance, since the usb access speed is less than a hard drive or ssd.

  • Thanks @bitseater. I did one install without the swap partition and it works great. What are the implications of not having a swap partition?
    – g3blv
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 7:03
  • The swap partition helps the computer tasks that require more RAM than the one installed. If it have 1 GB of RAM and it run a server with little active use, this is often shifted to the swap, to perform tasks that require this ram, such as opening a big image for treatment or rendering video. Therefore, no swap, you can not perform tasks that require high consumption of RAM, or simultaneous tasks, unless the computer has much RAM. A recommendation for a persistent USB, not using desktop enviroments that require large resources, better xfce than gnome, use a light wallpaper and so
    – bitseater
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 7:44
  • @bitseater You do not need swap if you have more than 4GB of RAM.I run elementary OS on my 6GB RAM laptop without swa
    – Suici Doga
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 1:04
  • Well, it depends on what you do with your computer
    – bitseater
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 1:45

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