Ventoy: create a bootable USB by simply dragging the ISO to the pendrive

windy

When we want to test or install a Linux distribution, most of us create a Live USB or installation USB. There is a lot of software to do it (like Etcher o Rufus) on virtually any operating system, but few if any are as special as the windy that I personally discovered this week thanks to the blog Linux uprising. In addition to reporting its existence, the medium provides us with all the information necessary to install the tool on Linux (and there they also talk about the Windows version).

But what is it that makes Ventoy special? Well, once installed (it is installed on the pendrive) and this is important to take into account because you have to take a walk through the terminal to do it, creating a Bootable USB is as simple as dragging the ISO of a compatible operating system to our pendrive. And what is better, we can put several ISO images, so that the same USB can be used to install Ubuntu, Manjaro or even Windows.

Advantages offered by Ventoy

  • We can add several ISO to the same pendrive. When we add more than one, when we start from the USB we will see a menu that will allow us to choose which ISO to start.
  • Available for Windows, but also for Linux.
  • Includes graphical interface, but only on Windows. Linux users have to use the terminal as we will explain later.
  • The USB can continue to be used as a normal pendrive, which means that we can save documents in free space. If we need more space, we only have to delete one or more of the added images.
  • Support for "Legacy" and "UEFI Secure Boot".
  • It works with over 260 images, including popular ones like Debian / Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Windows 7-10, and less popular ones like ALT Linux.
  • Persistence support (save changes).
  • Self installation, which will work on supported systems.
  • WIM boot files supported.
  • Supports ISO images larger than 4GB.
  • Possibility of updating the Ventoy installation (which we remember is done on the pendrive) without formatting.

How to install the tool from Linux

Bearing in mind that this blog is about Linux (although haters must be reminded that sometimes we write about other topics for general interest reasons), the only thing we are going to say about the Windows version is that it includes graphical interface very intuitive. Next, we are going to explain how to install Ventoy on a pendrive from Linux, and I personally thank Linux Uprising for the work done and on which this article is based:

  1. We download the file for Linux from the download page. At the time of writing this article, the available version is ventoy-1.0.12-linux.tar.gz and the direct link to its download is this.
  2. We extract the tar.gz file downloaded in the previous step. If you don't make changes in the future, right now we find three folders and two scripts. The first is Ventoy2Disk.sh, which will install the tool on the USB, and the second is CreatePersistentImg.sh, which will create a persistent image.
  3. Now we have to identify the name of the USB device. To do this, we connect it to the computer and write the following command:
sudo parted -l
  1. Once the above command has been entered, it will show us the disks and partitions that are attached to the computer, including the USB. We have to find out what it is. The best thing to make things easier is that there is only one connected, the one we want to use. One possible result would be / dev / sdd. If there are partitions, there will be numbers behind it, such as / dev / sdd1 or / dev / sdd2.
  2. Next we have to unmount the partitions with this other command, where we have to replace "sdXN" with our partitions to unmount. In the example above you have to write after the command (once per partition) / dev / sdd1 and / dev / sdd2:
sudo umount /dev/sdXN

Installing the software

  1. Now the time has come to install Ventoy, but not before warning that, as usual when we are going to use a pendrive for these things, ALL DATA WILL BE LOST. In this step, we have to open a terminal and navigate to the path where we have extracted Ventoy.
  2. To install Ventoy on the USB drive we will use these commands (we remember to change the X for the letter of the name obtained in step 4):
    • Without Secure Boot:
sudo ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i /dev/sdX
    • With Secure Boot:
sudo ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i -s /dev/sdX
  1. It will ask us if the USB name is correct and we will have to confirm with the letter «y», then press Enter.

And that would be all. Now we can drag the ISO into the unit and start from the one that suits us best.

How to create a bootable USB with persistent storage with Ventoy

If what we want is to create a USB with persistent storage, in addition to the previous steps we have to do these others:

  1. We open the terminal again.
  2. We move to the folder where we have extracted the files, where the scripts with the .sh extension are.
  3. In the correct path, we write this command, which will create a 4GB EXT4 image. If we want the persistent part to be larger, we have to increase the number 4096 (which is 1024MB -1GB- multiplied by 4)
sudo ./CreatePersistentImg.sh -s 4096
  1. The created file will be called "persistence.img" and should be available in the Ventoy folder. We connect the pendrive on which we have installed Ventoy and copy the "persistence.img" file to the USB drive.
  2. Now comes the more technical part. We have to create a json configuration for Ventoy containing the paths to the ISO image and the persistent files. On the USB where we have installed the tool, we create a folder called "ventoy", without the quotes.
  3. Inside this folder we create a file called "ventoy.json", also without the quotes.
  4. We open this file with a plain text editor and paste the following:
{
    "persistence" : [
        {
            "image": "/ISO-file-name.iso",
            "backend": "/persistence.img"
        }
    ]
}

From the above we have to change "ISO-file-name.iso" by the name of the ISO (and paths if they are not in the root of the USB) and "persistence.img" by the name of the image file and path, in case we have changed the name and it is not located in the root of the USB.

An example of how it would look if we have added several ISOs would be the following:

{
    "persistence" : [
        {
            "image": "/ISO-file-name.iso",
            "backend": "/persistence-ubuntu-20.04.img"
        },    
        {
            "image": "/linuxmint-19.3-xfce-64bit.iso",
            "backend": "/persistence-linux-mint-19.3.img"
        }
    ]
}

And that would be all. It is clear that, at least in the Linux version, things get a bit complicated, but I think it will be worth it when we can drag ISOs to create installation USBs and even use them with persistent storage.

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  1.   Marcelo said

    Cool!!!! I did not know about this program. Great information.
    Very thankful!!!!!

  2.   shinjikde said

    Good option to create USB Multiboot in Linux, I did not know it, it is similar to Easy2Boot in Windows.

  3.   logan said

    remarkable! .. it will save me time in distrohopping XD

  4.   Luis Guillermo said

    Please no more absurd distributions.
    You have to make software for the common and current user.
    This is why Linux does not succeed on the desktop, because it is made by programmers for programmers.

  5.   Dario said

    It is the software version of what iobb (and Zalman) did for hardware with their sata disk bays (although with fewer functions than the hardware version) ... I imagine that the software will work on portable disks

  6.   Raul said

    I did it from linux ubuntu but when I went to use it on a laptop it told me that the laptop did not support uefi how do I change that in linux I saw that in windows the gui has for that but in linux I don't know how to do it. someone help me with that please

  7.   Victor said

    Good!! I would like to know if after creating a live usb I can continue using the pendrive to save things. That is, if once I save the iso I will NOT be able to use it to save movies and files, etc.

    Can I have several linux live ISOs on a pendrive?

    Buy a large capacity usb and have everything there (iso linux live, music, movies, etc), or have at least 2 (in one the linux live and in another several files)?

  8.   Jesus Medina said

    Download the vento livecd and install it with the linux boot boot creator and voila, add your isos and there is no console,

    That's what people really need ease of use, remove the console for the common user.

  9.   Hernán said

    Excellent program! I have tried it and it is wonderful!
    Thanks for this note, very good!