Is it possible to install Ubuntu Server without booting into the installer?

I have a home server that I plan to boot off a USB drive (NOT a live USB, but rather a permanent install to the USB drive). The usual procedure for creating a USB drive with a permanent install on it is this: you use two USB drives. One is a live USB that you boot into, which you then use to install the OS to the other as if it were a normal drive.

Is it possible to skip the middleman and create the permanent install directly? Can I run the installer as a CLI application from within an existing installation, instead of from within the live USB environment?

This might be an XY problem, in which case I’d appreciate any pointers to a better solution! My use case for this is that I’d like to automate my setup as much as possible. Ideally I’d have a script that creates a full installation on a drive without any manual intervention.

Asked By: Cassiterite


Yes, you can, because there is a compressed image of Ubuntu Server that is portable like the iso files. You need no iso file, no installer, only extract and clone from the compressed image to the drive where you want it, an internal drive, an external drive or maybe a virtual drive in a virtual machine.

I would recommend the jammy image that corresponds to version 22.04.x LTS.

See also the thread about the preinstalled image at the Ubuntu Forums, Ubuntu Server amd64 compressed image (when extracted) boots in UEFI and BIOS mode . Please read the whole thread before you start extracting and cloning to your computer.

Answered By: sudodus