How to create a bootable USB to install Linux in order to replace Windows

How to create a bootable USB to install Linux in order to replace Windows

In this article it is mentioned that Windows 7 is out of mainstream support. Yet a lot of computers still run on Windows 7. The logical step is to upgrade to Windows 10, but that comes with other issues such as the invasion of privacy with the forced telemetry (the amount of telemetry, or usage data, that is sent back to Microsoft can be configured, but not stopped altogether. Plus, every update seems to switch it back to the defaults) or simply because Windows 10 requires more (a lot more) grunt than Windows 7. Replacing a perfectly good computer is a waste of money and an unnecessary strain on the environment. 

Creating a bootable USB

In order to install a new operating system, you need to be able to boot the computer with an installation file. Unlike Windows, you can boot the USB into a live environment, and "play around" for a while before you decide to install or discard it. None of the changes made in the Live environment of the OS are reflected on your computer's fixed drive (harddrive of SSD), nothing is installed until you decide to install it. Do note, that when you reboot the computer, none of the changes you made or files you created during that session are retained. 

To create a bootable image, you first need to download the image file. It is a .iso file, usually around 1.8 - 2.2 GB. For this you need a USB stick (thumbdrive) with the required space. 4 GB is sufficient. You can find the download links in the article referred above - or if you are feeling adventurous you can visit distrowatch and download any distribution of your choosing. 
Here is how to download Feren OS (if that is your choice of OS)

When you have the .iso file, you cannot just copy it over to the USB stick - you need to "flash" the image on the stick. This is very easy to do, but does require some additional software. Go to and download Rufus. This is a very simple and small utility to flash your USB stick.  

You do not need to install the application, simply open it by doubleclicking the downloaded file.

You should at all times have an up to date and effective anti-virus program on your Windows computer! Whilst my download of this file was clean, you should NEVER trust anything that installs on your Windows computer, no matter what source. 

Rufus has a very simple user interface. First, select the device you want to burn the image to. This is the USB stick.
When flashing a USB stick with Rufus, all files present on that stick will be deleted!
Then click select and then browse to the downloaded .iso file. Complete the details and when ready click START. This process will take a while to complete
Do not remove the USB stick or turn off the computer during the writing operation. This may render the USB stick unusable.

Booting into the Linux environment

When the USB stick has been flashed with the bootable image, simply plug that image into a machine when it is powered off, and reboot. In most Linux environments (especially the ones listed in the referenced article) you can boot into a "live environment". That means the computer runs in the contained environment on the USB stick - no changes are written to the internal storage of the computer. Feel free to play around on the desktop - for the best experience, you should connect it to the internet via WiFi or Ethernet. Most (if not all) hardware should be detected and operational - there is no need to install any drivers (actually, you'd probably have a great experience just using the "free" drivers, instead of proprietary).
When you are ready to install the system to your computer, there should be an icon on the desktop to start the installation process.

Dual boot (installing alongside Windows, where at startup you choose which operating system to use) is NOT recommended.
Since the installation will wipe the entire content of the storage in the computer, it is recommended to only start this process when you have a full and verified backup of the contents (at least the contents you wish to keep).
If after the installation you want to go back to Windows, you must have a bootable image for Windows in order to reinstall it (note: Linux has many applications in the application repository to create bootable USB sticks, you must supply a Windows .iso file, and of course have a working product key). 
You may need to switch off "secure boot" - this is a feature to prevent other operating systems (usually meaning other than Microsoft) to be installed on your computer.
If after powering on with the USB stick plugged in, the computer boots straight into Windows, it is likely that the internal storage is your primary boot drive. Search by your computer's model on the internet for the key to press during the start of the boot cycle, to change the boot drive (this could be F2, F9, F12, or in case of some Lenovo models, the Blue ThinkVantage button - a simple search "change boot order <<computer brand>> <<model>>" would be a good start (replace the text between the <<>> with your computer brand and model).
No warranty or support provided by Aurelian Group for this process. Managed Services clients with an active subscription (Digital Business) can call for basic support.

Linux is not Windows

This is not an exhaustive manual on using Linux, you will be able to find excellent content on the web. Overall, Linux is exceptionally easy to use (contrary to popular belief). Here are a few pointers:
  1. There is no C:\ drive - or any drives. All storage is linked to the "root" folder (denoted by /), including USB storage. 
  2. All your files, including configuration files, are stored in your /home folder.
  3. Hidden files have file names starting with a . (i.e. .hidden).
  4. For operations that make changes to your system, you must provide a sudo password (sudo stands for Super User do) - in most cases this is the same password you used to set up the system for you to log in.
  5. You do not need to use the terminal - but eventually may find that it is not as scary as it at first seemed. It may be quicker.
  6. Typically, you install software via the Software Store. Look for Add/Remove software. 
  7. When you are in the software store, do first check for updates - the update process covers the Operating System as well as installed applications.
  8. In the software store, search for AppImageLauncher, and install this. This will come in handy when installing AppImage applicaitons such as Zoho Mail Desktop Lite.
  9. Zoho applications for Linux are not in the Software store, you can download these from the Zoho website (where applicable). 
  10. You do not explicitly need an AntiVirus on Linux, but it is available - search for ClamAV in the Software Store.
  11. There is no need to defragment the drive (even if it is a spinning harddrive). 
  12. You can run some Windows applications via WINE - however, this is not necessary, and not all Windows applications are supported.

Finally - you can make Linux yours. This is a screenshot of my customised Linux desktop (KDE on Manjaro)