Creating and Using a Live Linux CD

This document explains how to download an iso image file for a bootable Ubuntu Linux CD, how to burn the image on a recordable CD, and how to configure your computer to allow it to boot from the CD.
  1. Download the CD image file.
    1. Go to
    2. Choose the latest version of Ubuntu if it is not already selected.
    3. Select a location from the drop down list. Choose a location from within the US.
    4. Click Begin Download.
    5. When prompted, save the file to your hard drive and remember where you saved it.

  2. Burn the image file to a recordable CD.
    1. Insert a blank, recordable CD into your recording CD or DVD/CD drive.
    2. Open your CD burning software, such as Roxio or Nero.
    3. Find the command to burn a .iso image file to a CD.  (This is not the same as simply copying the file to the CD.)  In my version of Roxio, the command is File > New Project > Copy > Burn an image.
    4. When prompted, browse for and select the image file that you downloaded in Part A.
    5. Burn the CD.
  3. Configure your computer to allow it to boot from a CD.
    1. Restart your computer and enter Setup mode before Windows loads.  Watch for a text message, such as F2 = Setup, that tells you which key to press to enter setup mode.
    2. On the setup screen, look for an item labeled something like "Boot Sequence."  Follow the onscreen navigation and selection directions to select Boot Sequence for configuration.
    3. Check the current boot sequence.  The boot sequence tells the order in which the drives are checked for an operating system.  The first operating system found is the one that the computer will load.  In order to run Linux from the CD instead of running your normal operating system installed on the hard drive, you have to make sure that your CD drive comes before your hard drive in the boot sequence.  In my computer, for example, I have the boot sequence set as follows:
        1. Onboard or USB Floppy Disk
        2. Onboard or USB CD-ROM Drive
        3. Onboard SATA Hard Drive
        4. Onboard Network Controller (not present)
        5. USB Devices (not present)
    4. Follow the directions for editing the boot sequence, if necessary, to put your CD-ROM earlier in the sequence than your hard drive.  (Do not rearrange any of the other devices.)
    5. Follow the directions for saving your configuration settings and exiting setup mode. 
  4. Boot from the CD.
    1. Insert the Linux CD that you burned in Step 2.
    2. Reboot your computer.  You should now see your computer start to load Linux instead of your normal operating system.  If you are prompted to install Linux or your Linux settings to your hard drive, say No.  
Linux should now load and run entirely from your CD drive.  You will be able to explore and test it.  You probably won't be able to use your network or internet connections, or your peripheral devices like printers or scanners, because Linux can't save your settings to the CD.  But you can get a feel for what it's like to open and use applications, search the file system, and read the help files.