27, Aug, 2019
Rufus: Creating A Persistent Storage Live USB With Ubuntu Or Debian From Windows
Rufus 3.7 beta, released yesterday, has finalized the persistent partition support for Debian and Ubuntu, allowing users to create persistent storage live USBs of recent Debian Live ISOs, and Ubuntu Live ISOs created after 1st of August, 2019.
Rufus is a popular free and open source graphical tool to create bootable USB drives from Windows. It can be used to create not only bootable Windows drives from ISO files or disk images, but also create bootable Linux USB drives from Windows.
This application is able to create persistent live drives that work in both UEFI (MBR or GPT) and BIOS mode, with casper-rw being used for the persistent storage partition, so it can have a size of more than 4GB.
Experimental persistent partitions support was first added to this Windows bootable Live USB creation tool with version 3.6, but it didn't seem to work properly, as in my test, any changes made to the Live USB did not persist between reboots. With the latest Rufus 3.7 beta though, the persistent partition feature works (I tested it with the latest daily build of Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine). But it doesn't support every Linux distribution out there.
The Rufus 3.7 beta release notes mention that with this release, the persistent partition support is finalized (so it's not longer experimental) for Debian and Ubuntu. BUT as far as Ubuntu is concerned, the persistence feature only works with ISOs of Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine created later than August 1st, 2019 (e.g. the Ubuntu Eoan Ermine daily ISO from here should work). The reason for this is a bug that caused persistence on casper-rw partitions to break when the mount sequence order was changed, which was only recently fixed.
For now, this bug fix has only landed in Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine. Even though the Ubuntu 18.04.3 ISO was released after August 1st, 2019, it does not include this bug fix, so creating a persistent storage Live USB of Ubuntu 18.04.3 using Rufus 3.7 won't work. The bug fix might land in Ubuntu 18.04 later on, so it will probably be included with the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04.4 release, expected on February 6th, 2020.
It's worth noting that this works not only with Ubuntu 19.10 daily ISOs, but also Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, etc. 19.10 daily ISOs.
The Rufus 3.7 beta release notes also mention that the new persistent storage feature may work with other Linux distributions too, "as long as they use a Debian-like or Ubuntu-like method, and, in the case of Ubuntu-like, if they use casper with the #1489855 bugfix". So the Rufus persistent storage feature should work with the upcoming Pop!_OS 19.10 for instance, among others.
To create a persistent storage live USB of Debian or Ubuntu using Rufus 3.7 beta or newer, select the ISO and a new Persistent partition size option will show up, with a slider that allows setting the persistent partition size. Setting this to 0 disables persistent storage, and setting it to any value larger than 0 enables persistent storage.
Use Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Debian and want to create a persistent storage Live USB with Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Debian? See Create A Persistent Storage Live USB With Ubuntu, Linux Mint Or Debian (UEFI, >4GB Persistence Support). Or maybe you want to customize the Ubuntu or Linux Mint ISO with Cubic.
Since Rufus 3.7 is still in beta at the time I'm posting this article, you'll need to click on Other versions on the Rufus website download section, and get Rufus 3.7 BETA from there.