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How to fix Ubuntu live USB not booting

So, you’ve created an Ubuntu Live USB stick, and you’re trying to load it from a USB. The only problem is, the live USB system will not boot since you have a graphics card that doesn’t fully support the open-source drivers included within the operating system. Don’t worry! All is not lost! As it turns out, there are a few tweaks within the Ubuntu Live disk that can be taken advantage of to boot, even when your GPU won’t let you! Here’s how it works.

Loading up the USB

The Ubuntu live disk has several different extra options in the boot menu that allow users to modify the live environment so that it has better booting compatibility. However, before we can go over the various boot options available on the Ubuntu Live USB, we need to go over how to load it up. To start, plug in your Ubuntu USB stick into the computer.

Once the USB is plugged in, reboot the PC and gain access to the BIOS. Unsure about how to gain access to your computer’s BIOS? Buttons may differ between operating systems, but generally, you need to press either Delete, F2, Escape, or F12.

Note: if none of the above keys work to boot into your Computer’s BIOS, consult the user manual. They’ll outline what button to press to access this area.

Inside of the BIOS area for the Ubuntu USB live disk, look for the boot order. In the boot order area, configure it so that the USB stick is set to load first. With the boot order changed in your PC’s BIOS, press the F10 key to exit and save the changes. After saving your BIOS settings, restart your PC and load into the Ubuntu live disk. When the live disk starts up on your computer, look at the boot screen and pay attention to the on-screen text.

On the Ubuntu live disk, it’ll try to load up the Ubuntu operating system right away into a live session. To prevent automatic boot, press the Down Arrow key on the keyboard. Selecting this key will print an on-screen language selection menu. In this selection menu, use your mouse and hover over the language you are most comfortable with.

Once you’ve chosen the language you speak in Ubuntu’s menu, press the F6 button on the keyboard to access the “Other Options” menu. Keep this menu open, as we’ll be using this menu to get around problems booting the Ubuntu live USB.

Using Nomodeset to boot without GPU problems

Nomodeset is a kernel parameter that users can specify in the boot sequence. When enabled, it shuts off the built-in Linux kernel video drivers. Nomodeset is a useful feature and one that many Linux live USBs, such as Ubuntu include. The reason that this feature is included with Ubuntu is that the Linux kernel drivers, though mostly good, can sometimes cause a black screen on specific GPUs, preventing it from booting up correctly.

Enabling the “nomodeset” feature on the Ubuntu live disk is done in the F6 menu. Look through the menu, find the “nomodeset” option, and select it with the mouse. Press the F6 button to open up the “Other Options” menu. Then, without selecting any of the options in the menu, press the Esc key to close it. You’ll then see a text box at the bottom of the screen.

Using the Left/Right keys on the keyboard, make your way to “quiet splash” and erase those two words. Then, replace the words with the code below.


After replacing the “quiet splash” code with “nomodeset” in the Ubuntu kernel boot parameters, press the Enter key to boot instantly. Your black screen issues should be gone!

Other booting options

Enabling the “nomodeset” feature on the Ubuntu live disk should be enough to get the Ubuntu live USB to boot. However, if you’ve tried this boot option and the live disk still hasn’t loaded, here are some additional boot options that you can try.

To add any of these alternative GPU boot options, press F6 to open up the Other Options menu. Then, without selecting any options in the menu, press Esc. From here, you should see a text area at the bottom of the screen.

Using the Left/Right arrow keys, move the text cursor to “quiet splash” and erase it. Then, add in one of the options below in its place.

nouveau.modeset=0 – Noveau.modeset is a boot parameter for those using an Nvidia graphics card. Works well, especially if you have trouble with “nomodeset.”

radeon.modeset=0 – Radeon.modeset is a boot parameter for those attempting to load up the Ubuntu live disk with an AMD graphics card. Usually works on AMD setups where “nomodeset” fails.

i915.modeset=0 – i915.modeset is a boot parameter for those with Intel motherboards. Typically, Intel graphics play well with Ubuntu. However, if you’re experiencing graphical issues when loading up the Ubuntu live disk, and “nomodeset” hasn’t worked, do try this one.

After replacing “quiet splash” with one of the boot parameters on this list, press Enter to boot.


  1. ‘but what if my live USB has been working for months and *suddenly* won’t boot anymore?’

    Happens to me every time as well.

    ‘It’s maddening!’ understatement. After I spend forever not only making a live USB but adding persistence, updating it, installing apps, etc., it works fine for a while, but eventually, it’s like my system can’t locate the grub file any longer, so it just reverts to my next boot option, which is just my hard drive.

    ‘If your USB no longer boots Linux after being able to previously, the contents of the USB likely are corrupted.’
    Okay. If this is the case, what causes the corruption, and how do I get it to stop? I could see if it were a rare occasion on a cheap USB stick from Dolla Holla, but I have tried dozens of USBs, the latest of which is a $59 Sandisk USB. It will boot lovely for a while, but eventually, it stops. My files are still there. I can boot Linux from my HD and see
    all the files.

    What gives?

  2. Using F6 is assuming you are using the legacy booting mode on Live USB Ubuntu. But what to do for the UEFI booting mode? At grub menu on Live Ubuntu, enter “e” and it gets me to a prompt:
    So what to type to set the nomodeset from there? Thanks,

    • If you are using UEFI, select the default grub boot entry using the arrow keys and press “e” and it should allow you to edit the grub entry to add in nomodeset as the post describes.

      If you’re not able to do this, it may be best to skip this process entirely and select “Ubuntu (Safe Graphics)” in the Grub menu. It may be able to load up the installer in a similar way that adding Nomodeset does.

  3. I’ve seen the nomodeset suggestion before, but what if my live USB has been working for months and *suddenly* won’t boot anymore? To me that suggests the video driver is not the issue in my case. This has happened to me with *multiple* distros in a live environment — Linux Mint, Zorin, Lubuntu and others (all Ubuntu derivatives, I believe, but I’m not suggesting a connection).

    It’s maddening! Almost all of them *booted and worked flawlessly* for weeks or months after I created the bootable flash drive (four different drives, by the way), yet almost as sure as a sunset, they have all eventually stopped booting, and all now hang on the logo/splash screen. Someone who knows more about Linux than I do can probably figure it out from those commonalities. I’m learning more about Linux all the time, but this has me stymied and baffled.

    If the author or anyone else can help I’d sure appreciate it!

    • If your USB no longer boots Linux after being able to previously, the contents of the USB likely are corrupted. You can try to boot it by changing USB ports, however, it is best to just re-download the ISO and create a new live USB.

      I’d also suggest that you use a different flashing tool to see if that helps.

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